Racing flats, or simply flats, are lightweight athletic shoes designed for "long distance" track and field, cross country, and most often, road races. They differ from normal training shoes mainly by the lack of a substantial heel (hence the name).
They tend to be of less substantial construction and so have shorter natural lives. But this is mitigated by the gentleness of ground contact of the runners that use them.
They are mostly sold as "for use up to 10k", but are used by some runners at any distance, including ultra marathons.
A typical flat consists of just a nearly flat sole, and a minimal upper to hold it onto the foot. Frequently the thin insole is glued in place to reduce movement and weight. The uppers are often mesh so that moisture can escape, even on crosscountry variants.
Racing flats vary in weight, ranging from 7-8 ounces down to the mere 2.46 ounces of the women's New Balance 5000.
Because of the lack of support and cushioning, racing flats are typically not recommended for use by the uninitiated because of their lack of lower leg/foot strength. But as an athlete progresses with their training they will be able to make full use of them.
Studies[which?] have suggested that some running injuries can occur as a result of the significant arch support and cushioning found in "traditional" running shoes. As a result, a growing number of runners train and race exclusively in racing flats, other minimalist shoes, or barefoot. This is known as minimalism.
Popular examples of racing flats include the Saucony Type A3, Saucony Fastwitch, Merrell Road Glove, Nike Zoom Streak, Nike Zoom Marathoner, Nike Lunaracer, Nike LunarSpider, Nike Mayfly, Adidas Adizero PR, Adizero RC, Asics DS racer, Asics Piranha, Mizuno Wave Universe, and numerous others.
- Lieberman, Daniel E.; Venkadesan1, Madhusudhan; Werbel, William A.; Daoud, Adam I.; D’Andrea, Susan; Davis, Irene S.; Mang’Eni, Robert Ojiambo; Pitsiladis, Yannis (28 January 2010). "Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners". Nature (Nature Publishing Group) 463 (7280): 531–535. doi:10.1038/nature08723. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "New Balance 5000". New Balance online catalog. New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- Abshire, Danny (December 1, 2010). Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running. Boulder, CO: Velo Press. ISBN 978-1934030653.