7 Reasons to Get Racing Flats

Between my 5K PR, third place age group win, and the USA Outdoors Track and Field Championships, I’ve had speed on my mind. Now I know I’ll never be able to run an 800 as fast as Kate Grace, her nickname is fast Kate after all, I can’t help but feel inspired by the incredible strength and speed of the runners at Nationals.

In my time off between training cycles, I’ve made a habit of doing at least one speed workout every week. I’ve been going to intervals on the track at work every Wednesday and then I try to make one of my other weekday runs a progression run.

After reading Lora’s post about her coach recommending she buy racing flats, I started thinking, maybe that’s what I need. Last weekend I went to my local running store, Aardvark Sports Shop, to “just look” at what they had. After talking with the owner, he picked out some for me to take some test runs in. But the minute I put my feet into the Saucony Fastwitch 6 I knew they were the ones. They felt like an extension of my own feet and when I went running in them I swear I already felt faster.

Saucony Fastwich 2

Weight: 6.2 oz

Drop: 4mm

If you’re thinking about getting your own pair of racing flats here are 7 reasons that may sway you:

  1. Improve Running Economy– It’s kind of a no brainer that the less weight you have on your feet, the easier it is to speed up your stride. If you need more evidence, studies show the less weight on your feet, the better your VO2 max.
  2. Mental Boost– You will feel faster the moment you put them on (I did!). While this may not be science, feeling fast will give you the confidence boost you need during a hard workout or race to push the envelope.
  3. Elites Where Them– I’m not an elite, and I never will be, but look at the elite field at any major race, are any of them wearing a stability shoe? No. There’s a reason elites where them and it’s because the less weight on their feet, the faster they run.
  4. Shoe Rotation– It’s good to train in multiple shoes. I have two right now in my rotation and I’ll be adding the flats in for speed work and short races.
  5. Increased Muscle Strength in Feet and Lower Legs– This is in line with the theory behind minimalist running shoes. The less shoe you have on your foot, the harder you muscles have to work. This is a good thing! The stronger the muscles, ligament and joints in you lower legs and feet, the better runner you will become.
  6. Better Form– Again, like minimalist shoes, a lighter racing flat has proved to improve running form overall.
  7. They’re pretty!– This is by no means a legitimate reason to ever buy a pair of shoes but there’s something special about putting a pair of racing flats on. With their neon colors and sleek design you’ll be feeling like Shalane Flanagan in no time!

Saucony Fastwich 1

I haven’t run in them yet (besides the test run at the store) but I think I’m mostly going to use them on the track and maybe for racing short distances. As I look toward the beginning of Marine Corps training I’m planning on taking note in my log of what shoes I wore with what workout. I didn’t do this with Big Sur but I think it’ll be beneficial to keep track. I can’t wait to try out my new flats this week, you can be sure I’ll write a follow up post.

Do you run in flats for speedwork or races? If so, what’s your go-to pair?

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25 thoughts on “7 Reasons to Get Racing Flats

  1. Those sure do look pretty! I don’t have racing flats but I tend to run in more minimal shoes. I’m also gearing up for MCM. Trying to settle on a training plan as I type! Any advice on plans :)

  2. Thanks for detailing reasons for racing flats. I’ve thought about them but haven’t pulled the trigger. Reason #5 resonates with me as I’m getting through some injuries and finding my feet and legs muscles aren’t as strong as I thought. I definitely consider purchasing a pair. Good post!

    • Thanks! They are definitely good for shorter distances and as long as you transition into them slowly you should be feeling stronger in no time!

  3. Awesome post! Definitely agree with your comments. Our Form/Base models are not what some would consider terribly minimal, they may be closer to a flat for many people.

    The main difference between a pair of “flats” and “minimalist shoes” is probably more so related to the stiffness of the outsole, and not the stack height.

    • Thanks for the comment! I totally agree with you on the difference between minimal and racing flats. For me, I need some arch support and many minimal shoes don’t provide enough. But these flats felt really great!

  4. I’m glad you wrote this because I’ve been contemplating racing flats for a while now – I’m actually looking at the same pair you got! I’m still undecided, but you’ve given me some good points to consider.

    • What a coincidence! Definitely try out a bunch of pairs at your local running store. I noticed a considerable difference between these and others I tried.

  5. Great article, Hannah! I love that your review spoke the importance of such shoes. Currently, I run in the Saucony Virrata’s which has a 0mm heel drop. It was quite interesting to move from the Saucony Kinvaras which has a 4mm drop to these and how such a 4mm decrease can make such a difference. Happy Running! :)

    • Thanks! I’ve heard good things about both the Virratas and Kinvaras. My go-to shoe for most training runs is the Asics Kayano 19 so these flats will be a big departure from that. I’m excited to try them though!

      • I am on the lookout for a new pair of shoes to add to my runs. I may have to look into the racing flat you mentioned. Although, I keep saying that but am now on my 5th pair of Kinvaras and first pair of Virratas. Lol. I just love them so :) This is where I throw a shout out to #saucony #findyourstrong lol. Maybe I should see about them sponsoring me now. Haha

    • I was concerned about that too, but if you transition into them slowly you should be ok. I would suggest going to your local running store and asking them for advice if you’re interested in flats. They’ll be able to examine your foot type, heel strike, and get you in the right shoe.

      I’m planning on mostly using these for short speed workouts and I might run 5Ks in them but I won’t be using them for any significant distance. I know some people are able to race half-marathons and marathons in racing flats but I haven’t built up my foot strength enough for that yet.

    • Definitely spend time in them before a race. Wear them around casually or during your general strength and mobility work. Use them for some of our EZ runs, or even just the warm up to a track workout. Maybe (like me) you’ll even find you prefer the flats to a thicker shoe for all distances. I’ve worn the same model for the 5k to the 100 miler.

    • Glad to hear they’re awesome! They felt fast the minute I put them on so hopefully that’ll translate to the roads.

  6. I actually switched to lightweight shoes (Brooks PureCadence) a little more than a year ago. Made the transition slowly, as the last time I’d worn shoes that light was back in 2000, when I wore them for a season of college cross country races. (It was DIII. Don’t get too impressed.) I wear them full-time now and have three pairs in my rotation (all in obnoxiously bright colors, by the way). This has me thinking, though, that I may invest in racing flats if an extra wad of cash mysteriously shows up in my wallet.

    • Love the Brooks Pure line! I have the PureConnect and wear them for cross-training a lot. I haven’t tried running in them yet but maybe I should give them a shot- if anything they do come in great colors.

  7. I’ve rotated through three pair of Brooks Ghost 4s and purchased my first pair of Altra Intuition (minimalist) earlier this month. I absolutely love the light weight feeling but am only wearing them once a week for now, on short runs as I get used to the different muscles needing strengthening.

    • Sounds like you’re transitioning properly which is great! I’ve heard great things about Altra too, enjoy them!

  8. Pingback: It Was Love at First 400m | Fit Girl. Happy Girl.

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