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Training vs. Racing Shoes

Training vs. Racing Shoes

Training vs Racing Shoes

There are many different types of running shoes, and it is important to note that each athlete will have a specific pair/type of shoe that works best for them. There is a wide variety of shoes, ranging from minimalist to max cushion/support, and each type of shoe has a different purpose.

While researching shoes and determining what works best for you, the two types of shoes that most triathletes will lean towards are everyday trainer shoes and racing shoes.

Everyday trainers are meant to be shoes that take the majority of your training time and give the most comfort/support. Racing shoes are generally plated shoes that offer more spring in your step and allow you to run the fastest time possible. Using a rotation of everyday trainers and racing/plated shoes will not only help your shoes last longer, but it allows your body to adapt to the different shoe style and helps you get the most out of your training.

Everyday Trainers

Everyday running shoes are designed and created for high mileage situations and should be the most used shoe in your rotation. To create these shoes, brands will utilize more cushion and support so that you are able to recover faster following these runs. They are also engineered to provide protection against the high impact of running on pavement.

Classic training shoes, such as the Hoka One One Clifton 9 are made to last up to 500 miles. These shoes will offer a more responsive foam that increases the ability of recovery and cushion that allows for higher mileage athletes to utilize daily. The outsole is made mostly of rubber that will resist abrasion and protects the softer midsole, which increases the longevity of the shoe.

Everyday trainers will generally weigh more than racing shoes because of the increased number of materials used to help them last longer. For example, outsole rubber will be greater than that of a racing shoe, which will add weight, but increase the overall longevity of the shoe. Thicker uppers and tougher foam midsoles will also increase weight marginally but will help with the overall comfort of the shoe.

Racing Shoes

Racing shoes historically have been seen as “racing flats”, where the lighter and least amount of material in the shoe meant the better and faster you would run. That has changed over the last few years with the introduction of the “plated” shoe, which involves developing the shoes with a midsole carbon or nylon plate that increases energy feedback for the runner.

Racing shoes are not used as often as everyday trainers because the lighter materials decrease the longevity of the shoes. Race shoes should be saved for race day or for a key workout to simulate what you will try to accomplish on race day. Shoes such as the Hoka One One Cielo X1 embrace new technology that includes a carbon plate and a rocker shape to the shoe that helps the runner stay on their toes and embrace the energy return from the midsole plate.

Racing shoes are a great addition to your shoe rotation, but you do not necessarily have to buy big purchase items to achieve the energy return. For example, the Saucony Endorphin Speed boasts a nylon plate, as opposed to a carbon plate, that offers a similar energy return. The Endorphin Speed also utilized “SPEEDROLL” technology, which increases the rocker motion and increased the support, rebound, and forgiveness of the shoe. The nylon-plated shoe is a little less expensive than that of a carbon plate but gives similar performance.

Proper Shoe Rotation

To increase the longevity and effectiveness of your shoes, it is important to create a rotation of 2 or 3 pairs of shoes. I encourage all my athletes to create a shoe rotation based on their equipment and budget. This will differ based on your goals and training background, but it is always a good idea to have a plan in place. If you are interested in learning more about my coaching methods and how I create shoe rotations with my athletes, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Coach Michael Rourke is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach, Level 3 Playtri Coach, and an American Swim Coaches Association Level 4 swim coach. He coaches junior and adult triathletes of all levels, as well as high school elite swimmers. He is also a 70.3 World’s Qualifier and USAT Age Group Nationals Qualifier. Coach Michael is currently taking on new athletes, so if you are interested in Remote Swim Analysis or Individual Coaching Programs, send him an email to

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