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Supershoes - training, racing or both?

  • 13-01-2022 11:55am
    Registered Users Posts: 10,414 ✭✭✭✭

    I see this topic coming up more and more in the individual logs, but thought it might be worthy of a thread on its own.

    It seems more and more people are training big sessions in shoes like Vaporfly Next%, Endorphin Pro etc.

    My own preference is to do the key sessions in the more everyday versions - Zoom Fly, Endorphin Speed etc. But the other day I was running from the office and used what was lying around - an old but low-mileage pair of Odyssey Reacts. The session was fine, and I wondered afterwards if we are all just playing into the hands of the shoe companies. I'm all for shoe technology, but the surprisingly sustained high prices of these shoes, despite a lot of competition now, suggests the demand is increasing.

    I'm thinking, if you train by effort it really shouldn't matter what the shoes are, as long as they're fit for purpose and in good condition.

    There's the argument that 'the supershoes allow faster recovery so you can train harder/longer' but I'd like to (a) see more independent data on this, and (b) know what the benefits of this are, if we are training to proper effort anyway.

    Interested to hear everyone's thoughts. I know the elites are doing everything in 'the shoes' - Kipchoge is never photographed in anything else, and you can see our own top guys doing the same at the various Track Club sessions etc. But is it really necessary/advisable for everyone else?

    For now I’m saving the supershoes for race day only.

    Post edited by Murph_D on



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,582 ✭✭✭Swashbuckler

    I struggled with this for a long while. It just felt wrong to me that people would train in the carbon plated technology. I've since come round and now the carbon plated shoes are part of my general training rotation.

    The Fuelcell TC and Endorphin Speeds were purchased with training in mind. The Endorphin Pro and Nike 4% were always intended to be racing shoes for me but it just hasn't worked out that way. The introduction of the Next% and Alphafly for me has meant I'm never really gonna pick the Endorphin Pro or 4% for any race - therefore they have entered training rotation.

    I have noticed a difference in terms of recovery with the carbon shoes - agreed that training to effort means , in theory , it shouldnt matter. It may not be a case of effort but moreso volume. Put me in Adidas Adios 4 and send me out for a 15 mile run with "stuff" and send me out doing the same session in Endorphin Pro and I'll know the difference the next day (and within the session itself). It means I'm in better shape for the session two or three days later.

  • Registered Users Posts: 604 ✭✭✭echancrure

    I don't own any carbon plated shoes.

    But one important aspect of racing flats is their light weight and weight at the end of your legs is important... Of course, racing flats are harder on your legs and hurt your muscles much more than cushioned/plated shoes.

    How much hurt can you take before it impacts your pace? Probably not very much on average and widely variable from runner to runner. Hence on longer runs (marathon and up) carbon plated shoes have an advantage over super light racing flats for most runners. Where that transition is though is hard to objectively state but it seems that for most people and elites (who are low weight and have great gait), carbon plates win in the end.

    Is there a way to improve the tolerance of racing flats without compromising pace due to fatigue? Losing weight, improving gait? Perhaps for sub-elite runners who have a slower pace, racing flats should be persevered with for a longer time (it at least forces better gait) before thinking of switching to carbon plated shoes and trying to measure the effect.

    Elites already have super gaits, for most of us it is something we have to learn through pain in the legs and pain in the legs come quicker in racing flats: so to improve your gait you need to experience pain time and time again until your mind and body improve it: you'll get quicker there with flat shoes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 661 ✭✭✭marathon2022

    This is simple for me. Use them when appropriate, training or racing doesn't really matter

    Life gets in the way, study, kids, work or just bad nutrition, none of us is perfect and sometimes the super shoe can be enough help (mental and physical) to get a session done when the thought of wearing old hard bricks leaves you cold. A case in point is the Tuesday session this week; I really didn't feel like going out and doing the planned 6 x 1.2km reps at 10/5k pace fit in the middle of a 10 miler so I put on the Vaporfly Next 2 which I keep for parkrun and away I went knowing I would get it done with less effort. And whether its in my head or not, knowing I would feel better next day after using them than a other trainers.

    The run was lovely, the pace felt more like MP than 10k and not a bit stiff after the run.

    Basically I see them as a tool for performance and a crutch when needed. Great tech

  • Registered Users Posts: 342 ✭✭MrMacPhisto

    I have recently just started wearing the "super" shoes for some of my sessions. Previously, I would have trained in traditional shoes or the "super" shoes little brothers such as the Endorphin Speed. I would have saved the special ones for race days. For the same reasons as Swashbuckler, the super shoes have made their way into my training rotation as they have been downgraded from Racing to Training shoes after logging a good few racing miles in them and the purchasing of a new pair for racing days.

    My thinking previously was that I am training by effort and therefore, as long as I keep the effort correct, then the shoes shouldn't really matter too much, within reason. On race day, the fancy shoes may make the effort at race pace slightly easier leaving me a bit of margin, or I could increase the effort and therefore pace to match my training efforts.

    I don't have any opinions on recovery at this stage, as I havent trained in them enough to notice any perceivable difference. But, if they do assist in recovery then this would be very useful.

    In my last marathon, I did have a bit of regret in not using my racing shoes a little bit more in training. My gait and stride rate is slightly different in the fast ones and I did feel that certain muscles were being worked more or in a different manner (glute, calf and hip flexor) than they had been in training. The next time around I will use the super shoes sparingly for key marathon pace sessions.

    I guess the market is now flooded with different versions of plated shoes. It is no longer innovative. The product is prob still in the growth phase but moving towards maturity. We are bombarded with marketing, and the training plated shoes such as the Saucony speeds can be picked up at the same prices of what a Nike pegasus would have been 5 years ago.

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    my take on them super shoes is simple:

    1. Call me cheap 😁. I just don’t want to spend 200€ on a training shoe. Heck I don’t even spend that much on a racing shoe. Most I have paid so for is 187€ and I made damn sure I get a decent mileage in return! So it isn’t about “feeling bad” or cheating but - do I really need to spend all that money?
    2. and that’s just my opinion and I’m not an expert, coach, elite runner, physio etc. this whole thing about “faster recovery” to me is nonsense. Your body recovers as fast as it can and sometimes it is good to have a longer recovery phase just to make sure that you recover faster in the long run! That means:

    if you use a standard trainer, that is stiff and makes your legs really fatigue on a daily basis you are basically helping your body to adapt and adjust. You are helping your body to learn about which muscles are needed and train them. So yes, at the beginning it might take longer but after a while there is not really any noticeable difference. On the contrary your legs are stronger and you have less risk of injuries as your legs/body don’t get the artificial support they get from carbon plates and extrem cushioned shoes. As that is the next thing, we are all too much influenced by the media and marketing: we need new shoes every 400km. Make sure to switch early enough to have the cushion available for a soft landing otherwise the impact causes stress fractures and so on. All BS in my opinion. If that is true why weren’t their more injuries back in the 60s to 90s? Sure, back then they managed fewer races at max speed/effort but nowadays it seems to me injuries have increased because of this whole hype about cushion/carbon plate shoes.

    So I’m saying the opposite: get a pair of new runners. Enjoy the first few runs when the cushion is in good shape but man keep using them until you can see your foot through the sole. And when you think the runners are done for add a further 4 runs just to make sure your muscles learn and get stronger. The important part is to know what session/ run to use them for. At the start I would use new runners for workouts and long runs depending on the shoe, the more I run in them though the more I switch to shorter and shorter runs with slower pace. Just to ensure that the impact when hitting the ground remains similar. This helped me to prevent injuries.

    same applies to carbon shoes. Have them for races first. And the moment you realise they are no longer good enough for a race run them for as long as you can on easy and long runs. If they are still good enough for workouts they are also good enough for races so no need to waste them on training runs. Which is again back to my first point: I’m cheap 😁

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  • Registered Users Posts: 735 ✭✭✭Treviso

    Before the carbon plated super shoes came into existence, did people wear their racing shoes during sessions or have different shoes for different reasons like now (genuine question as I wasn't running back then)?

    The main reason people didn't start wearing these shoes for training was they are/were really expensive compared to normal everyday shoes, plus their marketing campaign stated they would only last for 100 miles or so. Now that the price of these shoes have reduced and can be obtained for little to no extra cost (AlphaFlys were available for 150 euro during Xmas) to normal runners, there was bound to be an increase in their usage in training. Also, from experience, these shoes can handle high mileage, with two of my NEXT% pairs coming up to 300 miles and showing no signs of breaking down.

    I agree with SB on the recovery part. I was focussed a lot on pace when I first started wearing them but have redirected my attention on effort now.

    I, for one, have no issue wearing these shoes for all my sessions. They are now part of everyday training, similar to Maurten drink and gels. The main thing you need to realise and get used to is there is no magic improvements when it comes to Race day. Your training pace is your race pace, there is no more magic shoe effect come race day.

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    i Can only speak for myself: no, I didn’t use my racing shoe for training until the moment I found a better racing shoe. Only then I switched them to training runs. That was also down to “I want this bit of extra nice feeling on race day” which is basically like “train with heavy shoes but race in feathers”.

    completely agree to the last point: if you can’t hit a certain pace in training using them shoes don’t expect to miraculously now hit it on race day!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,314 ✭✭✭Bluesquare

    I don’t have super shoes myself but I thought one of the selling points was that you could hit a pace with a lot less effort on race day especially over a marathon helping to ensure you meet your target ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    Depending on which you are going for, definitely!

    But only if you also put in the training! The point is more on the fact of - if you use them for training and can only manage a 6min/mile pace during training, don’t expect a 5:50pace on race day. However, if you use a non carbon shoe in training and can barely hit a 6:00min pace you can still have some hope of hitting a 5:50 pace on race day (if you have put in the training as well as the shoes will not run for you 😉).

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,079 ✭✭✭BeepBeep67

    Depending on the super shoe I have found that there is a learning curve you potentially need to go through to maximise the benefits of the shoe for your gait. With that in mind, they should be used for race paced sessions so you develop a feel for how to use the shoe to your advantage.

    I have got a good selection of carbon plated/rod shoes at this stage and use how I see fit, example similar to above I'm approaching 500 miles on a pair of Endorphin Pro V1's and have never raced in them. The Endo Speeds and Adios Pro 2 are great long run shoes, even at 8min/ml where you can clip along at an easy pace and the legs still feel fresh.

    I tend to use more basic although modern non plated shoes for recovery runs, Razor Excess and Magic Speed are 2 particular favourites at the moment, where I feel I need a bit of comfort.

    To answer the question on racing flats, previously I found them good value and typically cheaper than over structured 'training' shoes unless you were buying past season stuff.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,414 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    There is no doubt the shoes improve your running economy - that's been borne out in the research, so yes, more pace for the same effort (all else being equal). My point is whether that boost is necessary during all or most of your big training sessions, or if it's worth it given the shoes' extra cost (I know you can pick them up at a discount, but you can pick any shoe up at a discount, and these shoes always come at a big premium).

    And I'm not just talking about financial cost, by the way - we are a wealthy country, and many runners can afford to pay the premium. And in the scheme of things the cost of your shoes is just one factor to bear in mind - especially if you're training for say the NYC marathon, which is going to cost you an arm and a leg any way you look at it.

    I just feel these shoes are driving consumption in many different ways, and for me that kind of goes against the grain in terms of the supposed simplicity of the sport.

    Some great points above, but I'm still keeping the shoes mainly for racing only - agree with BeepBeep that you need to accustom yourself obviously to the shoes in training, but one or two sessions might be enough for that. babacool's point about injury is interesting, and goes against the grain of the received wisdom (myth?) that supershoes lead to faster recovery - again, I don't think there's much research on this, or at least none that hasn't been sponsored by the industry. Correct me if I'm wrong on this. I do know at least one other runner who suspects these shoes DO lead to increased injury risk, but again that's just anecdotal.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,582 ✭✭✭Swashbuckler

    Nobody should ever pay full price for these shoes. As said above there are always deals to be had. the Speeds, Endorphin Pro, Fuelcell TC, Alphafly and Next% were all available at a price that I used to pay for Adios 3 or 4 back in the day. SO price shouldnt really come into it if you're patient.

    Before the supershoes I did use my race flats for a lot of sessions and use the same brand (but less miles on them) for race day - namely the Adios 3 or 4.

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    please don’t get me misunderstood here. I’m not saying supershoes are going to cause injuries! If used correctly they probably do prevent them from happening (to a certain extent). My point is that by using them we may start to neglect vital parts of the training (ie correct strength work) or push harder than we should “because them shoes will let us and protect us”! And that will lead to injuries in my eyes.

    is there an answer whether we should or should not use them? Dont think there is. Give me 100 pairs for free (with the obligation that I can’t pass them on to others) and I will probably use them for any run. What else would I do with them otherwise? Let them rod away? But do we need it training/improvement wise? My take on this remains - no, not really. It just takes a bit longer to get the same recovery benefit from normal shoes but you get there eventually.

    Question for you is: how patient are you?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,208 ✭✭✭shotgunmcos

    I subscribed to the hype and finally dove in last year. Did a 10k in the next% and bagged PB. Then got injured and have had 4 pairs of carbon plated shoes just gathering dust for over 6 months. I barely thought about them until our new dog dragged a Next% with just 4 runs on it to his bed and started to chew on the laces. I casually took it off him but 6 months ago I may have been livid. How time changes perspective. Now I just see them as shoes for different purposes. I'd rather race in a shoe so trained in so I don't intend to save an shoes especially for a race.

    I do have a gleaming new pair of Adidas Adios Pro (The orange ones with the yellow streak) in a box untouched. Its not that I'm saving for a summery race day. I've set a personal fitness goal to give myself permission to use, they are just that beautiful. Otherwise I wore NB Fuelcell TC for an easy run this week and will have no problem picking up a cushioned supershoe for long training runs... once I have worn the current lot until my toes break through!

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,414 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    I get that and tried to address it above - basically, ALL shoes can be bought at a discount. But these are always more expensive on average (and why wouldn’t they be - they are more complex structurally, as well as the demand-induced premium).

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,414 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    Question for you is: how patient are you?

    Me personally? I’d say pretty patient and methodical, to the point of being pretty boring about it! 😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    Well, there is your answer: you don’t need to use them for training runs as you are not looking for short term benefits/improvements 😁. Then again, would you like to wear them for training runs (let’s assume they wouldn’t cost more than normal runners - as some don’t!)?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,414 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    Haha, that’s true enough re need - but as I’ve said I do wear the mid-grade carbon plates for training, and I do enjoy the race day boost from the vaporflys.

    But it’s not about what I want/need. Just wanted to have the debate!

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    Oh I love a good debate but I think on the shoe topic there have been plenty of takes already and it’s been accepted as the new standard. Question is what is next? What comes after the plate that give the “next%” and are runners jumping on that train again or will they stick to the current norm thinking “not going through all that again”?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,771 ✭✭✭jebuz

    The argument for wearing them in racing is indisputable regardless of your opinion of them. If you're competitive, you simply have to wear them or you're starting the race at a disadvantage to your peers and that's just the way it is. They're here to stay.

    As for wearing them in training, I'm still undecided on this but it's not something I'd overly concern myself with either. Over the past couple of years, a time that shall one day be referred to as the prehistoric period of the supershoe, I've been firmly on both sides of the spectrum but now I just find myself somewhere in the middle and caring less.

    Arguments for wearing them in training:

    • We did it beforehand and nobody cared. I used to wear my minimal racing flats in sessions because a) I could run sessions faster and b) I wanted to get used to the feel of racing in the shoes for race day and hidden reason c) running sessions faster makes you feel better and looks better on your Garmin. So why should it be any different for the new shoes? Cost is not a good excuse. Pre supershoes, racing shoes used to cost a relative small fortune also.
    • Getting more out of yourself for less energy. That doesn't mean you don't work as hard in a session, I'm saying you work as hard but you can hit speeds that you might not hit with standard shoes. Maybe that's a good thing for the body to physiologically adapt to these faster paces so you can sustain them for longer periods in a race.
    • The recovery factor. I don't think this is bull as some posters have claimed. While there may not be scientific papers on it yet, the recovery factor is real and I've witnessed it. I know from experience that running sessions in flats compared to sessions in Next% that there's a world of difference in how the legs feel the next day. The same can be said for the Dragonfly spikes versus standard spikes.

    Arguments for not wearing them in training:

    • When the shoes came out, the initial gains were so significant that there seems to be a guilt or shame attached to wearing them in training. I felt that. Are you cheating in training? Now that things have settled I'm more ok with it because who the hell cares what you do in training. As competitors our only bar of evaluation is racing. If you can wear them in training and bang out savage sessions while backing it up in races then there's no shame or guilt in that.
    • The psychological factor of training in standard shoes and then feeling like you have rocket launchers on your feet come race day.
    • The cost. I think early on there was a valid argument for saving the shoes for a race especially when we heard figured being bandied about regarding how many miles the shoes can take. For a shoe that costed €250 and capable of performing 150 miles, I wouldn't blame people. At this stage though we probably all have so many pairs and from various brand that we can afford to hang on to old pairs and use them in training. My original pair of Next% now occasionally accompany me on my long runs or a tempo if I feel the legs are a bit too battered.

    I think I've even given the topic too much credit, it doesn't really matter and it's completely individual. Personally it's a bit of a mix for me and I will throw them on on occasion when I either feel like I want psychological boost (we all do it) or I simply don't feel recovered. That said, I always like to know I'm progressing year on year so wearing the non-super shoes for the majority of sessions and running faster than I have say 2 years ago gives me affirmation that I'm actual improving and it's not all down to footwear. Wear what makes sense for you.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    Not really much to add to this. Only thing would be that I personally have no issue and never had one with runners getting PBs in them. After all that’s what they are designed for. I only have an issue if someone all of a sudden runs a 3min PB and just thinks “I’m a great runner now”. I prefer those who appreciate the benefit that comes from the shoe and if you are a 3:00 marathon runner in normal shoes and now get a 2:57 in a super shoe than frankly you don’t have improved. You just found a better tool to get you there. And that’s ok!!!

    With regards to using them in training it’s again a more individual thing. I have seen runners that improve using them in training and I have seen runners that don’t. Usually it comes down to knowing when to use them and when to stick to a different pair of runners. But like you said, it should be up to everyone how and when.

    what I disagree with though is that you have to have them on race day as otherwise you already start with a disadvantage. I think this depends on the race itself. I have had races that I didn’t do in the best shoe available to me but knew that even with the best shoe my time could have been better but my position wouldn’t have 😁. That means, you don’t really have to have them if you know your competition on race day.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,582 ✭✭✭Swashbuckler

    To be fair , someone like jebuz would be at a distinct disadvantage not wearing the supershoes in races. Take a look at his training log. 7th in Newmarket. Sub 15. Everyone around him wasnt wearing Asics Gel 1000 thats for sure.

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    as said, not debating the fact that you have a disadvantage but more like clarifying that it isn't always needed. Some races you are still ahead of everyone and some races they wouldn't help you to gain a position as you are too far off the person in-front of you anyways (yet still ahead of everyone so you wouldn't lose places either). Like me at the Dublin Half 2019. A pair of Nike would probably have improved my overall time. Yet I still wouldn't have caught the guy ahead of me. That's all I am saying - not always needed if you just go by ranking in a race!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,771 ✭✭✭jebuz

    I see your point babacool but it's semantics if you're taking about specific races. The point is that in a competitive race you're generally at a disadvantage without them and they are needed if you want to race in a level playing field. Sure, a small majority of people don't seem to get as much of a benefit or in some cases no benefit from them but I'd say about 95+% of people do and I'd wager that some of those claiming they're not getting a benefit just aren't as fit as they think they are.

    And by the way I completely agree on your point of people acknowledging the shoe when they run big PBs. There are unfortunately a few still with their head in the sand thinking they've made a massive jump in performance. I think after about 3 years of supershoes now though we're starting to appreciate what a good time is again and in a way standards are resetting themselves. The sub 2:30 marathon for example has now become very much achievable for the higher calibre club-runner, it's no longer this holy grail of achievements so you'd really need to be running under 2:25 now to raise eyebrows. Maybe that's a good thing in the name of standards improving independent of the shoe tech.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,807 ✭✭✭skyblue46

    Speaking of supershoes.....I can't wait to hear the theory behind this one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    I think we are on the same page 🙂. I’m not against them shoes, nor will I not wear them on training runs if I feel like I would otherwise struggle to get out at all.

    what I was always wondering though, we are talking about supershoes with the benefit of the plate in the shoe but no one seems to be talking about using those carbon insoles that you could basically add to any shoe. Sure most likely it won’t give the same benefit but perhaps some? And the next question would then be supershoe + carbon insole = super saiyajin shoe? 😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 361 ✭✭babacool

    Have to say looks like awkward running 😂 and the heel to toe drop not to mention.

    let’s see. I personally have lost all overview of what’s out there. What’s fast, what’s just plain marketing etc. too many choices (which is also good!), too many copy cats. I’m more interested to see who comes up with something new like a shoe made out of goose feather with a plate. Lightweight and fast 😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,771 ✭✭✭jebuz

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 20,364 Mod ✭✭✭✭RacoonQueen

    I haven't trained hard enough or been anywhere near racing since these became mainstream. Anyone who is around here long enough knows I was once the shoe queen...knew about every shoe that was out and what was coming, but know next to nothing about these.

    I wear racing flats for all runs and have done for years now I always had a rule that I wouldn't pay more than €100 for shoes which I've had to drop now as all shoes are gone up in price, paying 200 + for shoes seems obscene for me but I did start looking at them for the first time recently. Would be interested to do a few runs in them to see how they feel and I'm sure you get used to them.

    I currently plod 25 slow miles a week, so well away from racing and considering them anyway 😂

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,508 ✭✭✭Ceepo

    In these so called super shoes, the carbon plate is for stability, due to the stack height of the pebax foam.

    So I don't think putting carbon insoles would have any real benefit