It Was Love at First 400m

Lehigh TrackI ran in my new racing flats for the first time this week and it was love. On Wednesday, I went to the Lehigh University track to tackle some 400 repeats. It was a hot, humid evening with storms looming in the distance but the minute I put on my Fastwitches I knew it was going to be a good night.

Megan came with me and our plan was to do 6-8 400m repeats, depending on how we felt. I’m still very new at speed workouts and my pacing tends to be all over the place. For 400m I usually do anywhere from 1:44-2:00- much too wide of a range. Megan told me to try to hit 1:50 even for all of the repeats.

After a 1.25-mile warm up we stretched and got to work. The first 400m I went out a little fast- 1:37. I chalked this up to excitement and trying to chase Megan and just told myself to calm down and take the next one super easy.

Well, the next three were 1:44, 1:43, 1:43. I was feeling good but usually this is the beginning of a gradual slowing down for the rest of my speed workout. We rested a bit, I took a swig of Nuun-infused ice water and we got back to it. Except now, Megan told me to try to maintain the speed I had been doing and hit the final four 400s at 1:44/1:45.

I hit the next three all at 1:40 flat. We were about to do our eighth and final 400m and Megan gave me a challenge- sub-1:40. I was still feeling great and after all, it was the last one so you might as well go balls to the wall because then you’re done.

That’s exactly what I did and ran a 1:34- three seconds faster than my first 400m repeat. Needless to say, I was absolutely pumped and praising my new racing flats for all of their hard work.

We cooled down and did some hurdle walkovers and called it a night. This was my first run in the new Saucony Fastwitch 6 racing flats and I thought there was a noticeable difference. My feet and legs felt light, I was able to maintain a faster turnover, and they seemed to grip the track better than any of my other running shoes. I know it’s still early on in their running shoe life and I’ll have to try them on different surfaces and different runs but so far so god with the Fastwitch 6s. It was love at that first 400m.

Workout summary:

1.3 mile warmup at 8:40/mile pace
8x400m
(1) 1:37
(2) 1:44
(3) 1:43.2
(4) 1:43.6
(5) 1:40.2
(6) 1:40.4
(7) 1:40.8
(8) 1:34.7 (!!!)

400m cool down

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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?