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Could cushioned shoes be faster?

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Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Stephanie on Sat May 19, 2012 7:51 pm

Awhile back, after I had a rather challenging long run, a few people recommended I get a more cushioned shoe (I ususally run in Kinvaras) to help cushion my body as I move toward longer training runs. I picked up a pair of Brooks Ravenna's, and wow, I am in love!!!

Is it possible that I would be able to race faster wearing the Brooks even though they are heavier than my Kinvaras since I feel as though my lowers legs, my calves, shins and arches in particular are less fatigued when I wear the Brooks? I figure my body may be able to handle me pushing the pace more in the Brooks than I can in the Kinvaras because my feet definitely have to do more work in the Kinvaras. Any thoughts? This does go against the usual trend of people moving towards a lighter shoe for races.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  fostever on Sat May 19, 2012 7:58 pm

Heavier shoes definitely equal more energy expenditure and slower times, that's always been my experience since high school, 1974.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  mul21 on Sat May 19, 2012 9:05 pm

Generally, yes, lighter shoes will result in faster times. However, especially for the marathon, you need to be as comfortable as possible. If the Ravennas are the shoe that will get you to the finish line, so be it. Getting there in your first is a major accomplishment, so every little bit of help you can get makes a difference.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Chris M on Sat May 19, 2012 10:08 pm

GregC, who is one of the fastest guys here, runs in a much heavier shoe than guys with his speed do. I think if you could run in little 4 ounce shoes with no problems, that's the way to go. Lighter is faster if everything else is equal. But it becomes counterproductive at some point to wear flats that are too minimalist and you will end up with slower times if the lightweight shoes cause additional stress and fatigue on your muscles. Its a balancing act and I would err on the side of MORE shoe and not less.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Jerry on Sat May 19, 2012 11:05 pm

@Chris M wrote:GregC, who is one of the fastest guys here, runs in a much heavier shoe than guys with his speed do. I think if you could run in little 4 ounce shoes with no problems, that's the way to go. Lighter is faster if everything else is equal. But it becomes counterproductive at some point to wear flats that are too minimalist and you will end up with slower times if the lightweight shoes cause additional stress and fatigue on your muscles. Its a balancing act and I would err on the side of MORE shoe and not less.

+1

GregC way is never wrong.

I can run with my 9 oz shoe on grass for 180+ cadence easily. It's not the shoe, it's our minds that can take us faster. lol!
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  fostever on Sun May 20, 2012 10:43 am

To clarify my answer more, I was speaking of racing. If the Kinvaras feel like they make you work more, then you may need the cushion to help propel you. I agree, if you are talking marathon or even half, then go with the shoe that's going to keep your legs from fatigue even though you'll have plenty of that no matter what, in the full. In shorter races the Kinvaras will help you PR. I personally don't go much less than 9oz except for 8K or less. However I did run in spikes for my winter trail series up to 20K, of course that was on ice and mud.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Mark B on Sun May 20, 2012 12:05 pm

I hope I'm remembering this right, but Dave-O and I once had an online conversation a couple of years ago about wearing Frees vs. Lunar Racers for racing a marathon. He argued that, while using a more minimal shoe to build strength makes sense, using a shoe that offers more protection makes sense during a race because it slows the fatiguing process, getting the most out of your enhanced strength.

I was skeptical, and still am, but I have to admit that my marathon PR did come when I decided to take his advice and try the Lunar Racers....
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Stephanie on Sun May 20, 2012 7:48 pm

@mul21 wrote:Generally, yes, lighter shoes will result in faster times. However, especially for the marathon, you need to be as comfortable as possible. If the Ravennas are the shoe that will get you to the finish line, so be it. Getting there in your first is a major accomplishment, so every little bit of help you can get makes a difference.
Yes, these will definitely be my marathon shoe, without a doubt. I'm even toying with the idea of wearing them for my 3rd half in 4 weeks.

@Chris M wrote:GregC, who is one of the fastest guys here, runs in a much heavier shoe than guys with his speed do. I think if you could run in little 4 ounce shoes with no problems, that's the way to go. Lighter is faster if everything else is equal. But it becomes counterproductive at some point to wear flats that are too minimalist and you will end up with slower times if the lightweight shoes cause additional stress and fatigue on your muscles. Its a balancing act and I would err on the side of MORE shoe and not less.

@fostever wrote:To clarify my answer more, I was speaking of racing. If the Kinvaras feel like they make you work more, then you may need the cushion to help propel you. I agree, if you are talking marathon or even half, then go with the shoe that's going to keep your legs from fatigue even though you'll have plenty of that no matter what, in the full. In shorter races the Kinvaras will help you PR. I personally don't go much less than 9oz except for 8K or less. However I did run in spikes for my winter trail series up to 20K, of course that was on ice and mud.
I definitely think the Kinvaras make my lower legs work harder now that I've tried these other shoes. In my second half 2 weeks ago, during the last couple of miles I was really feeling it in my calves so I am wondering if wearing the heavier shoe may reduce this fatigue and allow me to push my pace a little more. I am also curious if they will reduce the amount of recovery I need too.

@Mark B wrote:I hope I'm remembering this right, but Dave-O and I once had an online conversation a couple of years ago about wearing Frees vs. Lunar Racers for racing a marathon. He argued that, while using a more minimal shoe to build strength makes sense, using a shoe that offers more protection makes sense during a race because it slows the fatiguing process, getting the most out of your enhanced strength.

I was skeptical, and still am, but I have to admit that my marathon PR did come when I decided to take his advice and try the Lunar Racers....
Yes, this is exactly what I am curious about too and based on my limited experience and how my body has pleasantly taken too these more cushioned shoes, I don't doubt Dave-O at all. I think I will give 'em a try in my next half 3 weeks from now and compare my results/experiences to the half I did a couple of weeks ago. My fitness won't have improved that much in this time frame so I think I should be able to make a reasonable comparison between the 2 races.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Chris M on Sun May 20, 2012 7:58 pm

I'm jumping on this bandwagon and taking partial credit for guiding Stephanie into more cushioned shoes in advance of the HUGE PR she is about to run! Ha ha.

For what its worth, I'm still wrestling with the same topic. For every all out race I've done, I've worn Lunar Racers. But I've been toying with going to the Brooks Launch (a much heavier shoe) for the next marathon i race. I seem fine in the lightweight ones up through the half but I'm not convinced I'm able to handle the Racers for 26.2.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Stephanie on Sun May 20, 2012 8:18 pm

@Chris M wrote:I'm jumping on this bandwagon and taking partial credit for guiding Stephanie into more cushioned shoes in advance of the HUGE PR she is about to run! Ha ha.

For what its worth, I'm still wrestling with the same topic. For every all out race I've done, I've worn Lunar Racers. But I've been toying with going to the Brooks Launch (a much heavier shoe) for the next marathon i race. I seem fine in the lightweight ones up through the half but I'm not convinced I'm able to handle the Racers for 26.2.
Haha sounds good to me Chris!!! I'll let you know how it goes.

Btw, my 2nd half I ran 2 weeks ago was a pretty big PR so another may be hard to beat but it may just come down to the shoes. It'll be a good experiment. I ran my first half in 2:06:49. Two weeks ago I ran my 2nd half in 1:56:47. I still can't believe that my race pace had an 8 leading it. Smile My 3rd half is in 4 weeks today.

Thanks for your help everyone!!!
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Mark B on Sun May 20, 2012 8:41 pm

@Stephanie wrote:
@Mark B wrote:I hope I'm remembering this right, but Dave-O and I once had an online conversation a couple of years ago about wearing Frees vs. Lunar Racers for racing a marathon. He argued that, while using a more minimal shoe to build strength makes sense, using a shoe that offers more protection makes sense during a race because it slows the fatiguing process, getting the most out of your enhanced strength.

I was skeptical, and still am, but I have to admit that my marathon PR did come when I decided to take his advice and try the Lunar Racers....
Yes, this is exactly what I am curious about too and based on my limited experience and how my body has pleasantly taken too these more cushioned shoes, I don't doubt Dave-O at all. I think I will give 'em a try in my next half 3 weeks from now and compare my results/experiences to the half I did a couple of weeks ago. My fitness won't have improved that much in this time frame so I think I should be able to make a reasonable comparison between the 2 races.

I will note, though, that I continued to train in Frees and switched to Lunar Racers for faster runs and the race itself. Training in softer shoes might feel good in the short run, and even let you go faster, but it might set you up for more injury down the road for many reasons, not the least of which is that softer shoes will let you get away with overstriding. Just something else to consider.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Martin VW on Mon May 21, 2012 10:31 am

I wonder if shifting the focus from how much the shoe weighs to what is addiing weight might help?

A cushined training shoe will be made of materials that have the durability to allow you to use the shoe for 300 - 500+ miles. Denser foam, thicker uppers, etc.

A good racing shoe probably sacrifices some of that durability for lighter weight. In some cases, that shoe may have less cushioning, and definitely some shoes more than others.

But, you might be able to find a shoes that has 90% of the cushioning and yet is still lighter in weight.

I've raced marathons successfully in LunaRacers but as a heavier riunner found that the shoe deconstructed too much. Now I race in adiZero Adios', still a lightweight shoe, but with more overall structure to support my weight. You can "see through" the uppers, which is where they took some of the weight out.

Once you have a line that you like, look at other shoes in the same line and see if they have something similar in overall structure, but with lighter weigth materials. Then only use that shoe for racing (other than some break-in)
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Admin on Mon May 21, 2012 10:44 am

The lighter the shoe, the faster you will run. However...

If the shoe causes problems you will lose time as distance increases. The trick is to find the lightest shoe you can race in without problems. In my PR race (2010) I ran in 3.8oz flats. Consider that in my first marathon training cycle back in 2004 I experienced peroneal tendinitis and was told I overpronate and should be wearing motion control shoes. Back then, I went with the recommendation for Brooks Beast which weighed something like 14oz. The point is that you can build fitness to support the ability to race in a lighter shoe. It just takes time. Time and racing experience.

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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Dave-O on Mon May 21, 2012 12:04 pm

Along the same lines as what Matt said: Cushioned shoes aren't faster, but they may allow a better race performance if you body needs the additional support and cushioning. For example, the Lunar Spiders are the "fastest" shoes I have, but I would race a marathon in Lunar Racers for a little additional support.

So to your original question, it sounds like you may benefit from racing a marathon in something with a little more to it.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Dave-O on Mon May 21, 2012 12:07 pm

@Mark B wrote:I hope I'm remembering this right, but Dave-O and I once had an online conversation a couple of years ago about wearing Frees vs. Lunar Racers for racing a marathon. He argued that, while using a more minimal shoe to build strength makes sense, using a shoe that offers more protection makes sense during a race because it slows the fatiguing process, getting the most out of your enhanced strength.

I was skeptical, and still am, but I have to admit that my marathon PR did come when I decided to take his advice and try the Lunar Racers....

With regards to the Free, I consider them a training tool. They are intentionally built in a way to make running more difficult by putting extra stress on your feet. I think it an unwise decision to race in them. But I think they are very valuable to strengthen your feet, which will then in turn result in a better race performance in something with more strength below your feet on race day.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Diego on Mon May 21, 2012 2:13 pm

@Mr MattM wrote:The lighter the shoe, the faster you will run. However...

If the shoe causes problems you will lose time as distance increases. The trick is to find the lightest shoe you can race in without problems. In my PR race (2010) I ran in 3.8oz flats. Consider that in my first marathon training cycle back in 2004 I experienced peroneal tendinitis and was told I overpronate and should be wearing motion control shoes. Back then, I went with the recommendation for Brooks Beast which weighed something like 14oz. The point is that you can build fitness to support the ability to race in a lighter shoe. It just takes time. Time and racing experience.

Thank goodness we are moving away from the heavy motion control shoes and getting folks in lighter shoes that allow their feet to run as they were designed.

Many of us run on our heels when fatigued during the last 10-15k of the marathon. Having the extra cushion(maybe not necessarily at too much of an increased weight cost(1-2oz)) can definitely improve our times.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon May 21, 2012 3:04 pm

Essentially you want to "race" in the lightest shoe that you can get by with barring injury. I "race" marathons in the same Adidas shoe that MVW uses, the Adidas Adios. I did notice after Boston that one of my lower legs (where I have had Achilles issues in the past) was more fatigued than the other. In the past, the lightest shoe that I ever "raced" a marathon in was my Brooks Launch. I also train in both of them and add in a Brooks Ghost (more cushioned and a bit heavier) when my legs are fatigued a bit and need a change.

I think the lighter shoes have helped my training in that my feet and lower legs are stronger, but I need to monitor that lower left leg to make sure what shoe is right for me for a marathon.

PS I use a much lighter shoe to race up through a half marathon in with no ill effects.
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Re: Could cushioned shoes be faster?

Post  Stephanie on Mon May 28, 2012 3:44 pm

@Mark B wrote:I will note, though, that I continued to train in Frees and switched to Lunar Racers for faster runs and the race itself. Training in softer shoes might feel good in the short run, and even let you go faster, but it might set you up for more injury down the road for many reasons, not the least of which is that softer shoes will let you get away with overstriding. Just something else to consider.
Good point Mark! I believe I used to overstride and moving into the Kinvaras definitely moved me away from that but I will watch myself when I am in the more cushioned shoes. I definitely don't want to go back to bad habits.

@Mr MattM wrote:The lighter the shoe, the faster you will run. However...

If the shoe causes problems you will lose time as distance increases. The trick is to find the lightest shoe you can race in without problems. In my PR race (2010) I ran in 3.8oz flats. Consider that in my first marathon training cycle back in 2004 I experienced peroneal tendinitis and was told I overpronate and should be wearing motion control shoes. Back then, I went with the recommendation for Brooks Beast which weighed something like 14oz. The point is that you can build fitness to support the ability to race in a lighter shoe. It just takes time. Time and racing experience.

I hope to find this balance between a light enough shoe that doesn't overly fatigue me more than what is reasonable in a race. I look forward to lots of time on the roads with lots of racing experience.

@Dave-O wrote:Along the same lines as what Matt said: Cushioned shoes aren't faster, but they may allow a better race performance if you body needs the additional support and cushioning. For example, the Lunar Spiders are the "fastest" shoes I have, but I would race a marathon in Lunar Racers for a little additional support.

So to your original question, it sounds like you may benefit from racing a marathon in something with a little more to it.
Sounds good! I will be sure to race my 1st marathon in my new, more cushioned shoe. And the nice thing is that I don't find them ridiculously heavy.

@Dave-O wrote: With regards to the Free, I consider them a training tool. They are intentionally built in a way to make running more difficult by putting extra stress on your feet. I think it an unwise decision to race in them. But I think they are very valuable to strengthen your feet, which will then in turn result in a better race performance in something with more strength below your feet on race day.
I am going to use my Kinvaras now as a training tool as I move up to the marathon distance. I think this will be a good way to incorporate variation in the shoes I wear... and a girl can never have too many shoes. Wink

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Essentially you want to "race" in the lightest shoe that you can get by with barring injury. I "race" marathons in the same Adidas shoe that MVW uses, the Adidas Adios. I did notice after Boston that one of my lower legs (where I have had Achilles issues in the past) was more fatigued than the other. In the past, the lightest shoe that I ever "raced" a marathon in was my Brooks Launch. I also train in both of them and add in a Brooks Ghost (more cushioned and a bit heavier) when my legs are fatigued a bit and need a change.

I think the lighter shoes have helped my training in that my feet and lower legs are stronger, but I need to monitor that lower left leg to make sure what shoe is right for me for a marathon.

PS I use a much lighter shoe to race up through a half marathon in with no ill effects.
Sounds like me and my shins Michele... gotta watch old injuries. I'm going to wear the more cushioned shoe for my next half and I will compare times to 6 weeks earlier. I am hoping the cushioned shoe will also reduce my recovery time so I can move right into my next training plan for Twin Cities. I'll let everyone know how that experiment goes.
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