Racing flat

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The athletes in this race can be seen to be wearing racing flats. Notice how they are slightly smaller than regular sneaker.

Racing flats, or simply flats, are lightweight athletic shoes designed for "long distance" track and fieldcross country, and most often, road races. They differ from normal training shoes mainly by the lack of a substantial heel (hence the name). 

Flats are more lightweight than regular running sneakers so they do not last as long. In 2014 some racing flats weighed as little as 3 oz as companies competed to generate the lightest racing flat.[1] Their soles get worn down faster and therefore they have shorter natural lives. In 1997 Jim Fixx's Onitsuka Tiger racing flats were seen on the front page of his book entitled "The Complete Book of Running". This book was a #1 best seller.[2]

They are mostly sold as "for use up to 10k", but are used by some runners at any distance, including ultramarathons.

Construction[edit]

Racing flats have only small or no heel lift, and little padding or support. The heel lift of flats ranges from 4mm to 10mm which is closer to the heel lift seen in trainers. They allow a prepared athlete to use their natural foot strength, elasticity, and proprioception to run quickly.[3]

A typical flat consists of 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 sole is constructed of two materials: a engineered lightweight foam upper sole attached to a hard rubber base. The uppers are often mesh so that moisture can escape, even on crosscountry variants.

Racing flats vary in weight, ranging from 230g (7-8 oz) down to the mere 70g (2.46 oz) of the women's New Balance 5000.[4] Reducing the weight to obtain the natural feel for a runner can result in a shorter lifetime for the shoe. In general racing flats will last fewer miles before wearing out compared to trainers. A typical racing flat will last for about 150–300 miles.[5]

Minimalism[edit]

Racing flats were predominately used before the invention of high heeled and cushioned running shoes in the early 1970's. Before the invention of the cushioned Nike shoes in the 1970s, all runners used flats because that was the only shoe available for road running.[6] The goal in the shift towards higher-heeled and softer midsole shoes was to reduce stress on joints and improve arch support. High support shoes are still prevalent in many current running shoe models, however, many long-distance road runners began to transition back to the minimalist racing flat shoe in the early 2000's. [7]

Saucony Kinvara 4 Racing Shoe

Studies[8] 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 trend is known as minimalism. Running with minimalist shoes is useful to strengthen important muscle groups and improve running technique overtime.

Uses[edit]

Because of the lack of support and cushioning in racing flats, they are typically not recommended for use by beginner runners or those who are not competing because of their lack of lower leg/foot strength. Studies show the locations of the load and pressure on different areas of the foot when using training shoes versus racing flats. The style of the shoes can alter the stress on the runner's foot and one should consider this when determining the best shoes for their personal level of skill.[9] As an athlete progresses with their training, they will be able to use racing flats more safely and effectively.

Manufacturers[edit]

Popular examples of racing flats include the Saucony Type A6, Saucony Fastwitch 5, Merrell Road Glove, Nike Zoom Streak, Nike Zoom Marathoner, Nike Lunaracer, Nike Flyknit Racer, Nike LunarSpider, Nike Mayfly, Adidas Adizero PR, Adizero RC, Asics DS Racer 10, Asics Piranha SP 4, Puma Taper, Mizuno Wave Universe 5, and numerous others.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Brief History of the Running Shoe". Runner's World. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  2. ^ "A Brief History of the Running Shoe". Runner's World. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  3. ^ 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. PMID 20111000. doi:10.1038/nature08723. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ "New Balance 5000". New Balance online catalog. New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Learning Center: Running Shoe Types". www.runningwarehouse.com. Retrieved 2017-05-09. 
  6. ^ Abshire, Danny (December 1, 2010). Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running. Boulder, CO: Velo Press. ISBN 978-1934030653. 
  7. ^ Douglas, Scott, (2013) Runner's World Complete Guide to Minimalism and Barefoot Running.
  8. ^ "Daoud AI, Geissler GJ, Wang F, Saretsky J, Daoud YA, Lieberman DE. (2012) Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: a retrospective study. Med Sci Sports Exerc." (PDF). 
  9. ^ Wiegerinck, Johannes; Boyd, Jennifer; Yoder, Jordan C; Abbey, Alicia N; Nunley, James A; Queen, Robin M. (January 14, 2009). Differences in plantar loading between training shoes and racing flats at a self-selected running speed. Gait and Posture. Volume 3. Issue 29. Pages 514-519. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2008.12.001