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Super Shoes - When and Wear (get it)




Super shoes blasted onto the running scene in 2016, impacting world records, causing concern for allowance in the Olympic Trials, and igniting the famous Breaking 2 Project with Eliud Kipchoge.


What came as a shock was that when super shoes (“Supers”) dropped they were not only marketed for professional athletes but also for the average runner.  Supers boast that they will take your runs and make them 1%-2% faster.  The price of supers started out pretty costly; but, as the technology advances you can find them ranging from $195 to $400.


The original marketing campaign for supers was geared towards race day performances; however, now you see many athletes implementing them into their workout sessions and practicing in them on long runs.


The lingering question is – should I train in supers on a daily basis?


We are going to explain a few pros and cons to what supers can do for you, your training, your race, and your recovery.


What makes a super shoe….super?


1.    A full-length rigid carbon plate is in the shoe.

2.    A high stack layer of light and highly responsive foam.


Super Shoe Benefits


Improvement to efficiency, fatigue, and recovery. 

One of the main benefits of supers is that they return energy efficiently. This means that you can go faster for longer distances.  This also translates to less fatigue over the course of your race.  Let’s say you normally start to fatigue at mile 20, with supers’ return of energy, you now may not feel fatigue until mile 23. With less fatigue comes improved recovery.


Most runners notice a notable reduction in muscle damage and faster recovery after their race day efforts. 


Pros and Cons of Training in Super Shoes


So, what are the pros and cons of training in supers?


Improved Recovery = Increased Training Volume.   However, we caution runners when implementing in their supers too much.  They’re likely beneficial for key sessions, but you shouldn’t wear them too frequently for several reasons. They may affect certain aspects of training adaptation and due to their life span, are not cost effective.  Due to these things, it is smart to restrict these to key sessions and races.


Super Shoes and Training Adaptation


Training adaptation is key for success in endurance events. When we stress our body, we want to be able to adapt and become stronger. When running, we expose our cardiovascular system, muscles, tendons and bones to a level of stress. 


If supers help to reduce fatigue, there may not be the required stress to create adaptation. However, in some circumstances like cardiovascular improvements, being able to go longer can be beneficial. So, it is important to understand what you are trying to improve and how it fits into your training plan. It is also a good idea to become comfortable with the shoes you will be wearing on race day so any mechanical changes in form or gate should be practiced and adapted for.


It is also important to note that since supers are still relatively new, longevity studies may not be completed and there may be additional research that we don’t know the impact on runners yet.


While supers allow you to complete more quality training.  One concern is whether wearing them too frequently may interfere with training adaptations of your muscles and tendons.

If worn too frequently, then overtime, this reduction in stress could limit adaptation. 


For example, your upper leg muscles— like the quads, glutes, and hamstring muscle— may experience less stress compared with running in regular trainers. 


This may seem beneficial in the short run. However, over time, this could lead to gradual reductions in strength and resilience. It may lead to weaknesses in certain muscles and create vulnerabilities when not running in supers.


Injury Risk


As we stated above, there are currently no published findings on the impact of supers to injury. There’s only “anecdata” of injuries on one side and a theoretical benefit on the other side.


It is important to understand that we are all built differently and have our own strengths and weaknesses, so if there is a risk for one person, it may not be for another. This is the case for all types of shoes and training in general.


Of the injuries reported, the causes may be because of the stiffness of the shoes. The carbon plate reduces the work that the foot naturally provides, so running too often in these shoes can lead to weakness in your foot muscles if you don’t actively strengthen them already.


Cost


Also mentioned previously, cost can be a driving factor to only do key sessions and races in super shoes. The typical life span is around 200miles, so doing any more than a few sessions and races would start to add up.


Conclusion: Should you train in Super Shoes?


It is believed that using supers for 1-2 key training sessions per week may be beneficial. In fact, they likely enhance recovery following more intense training sessions. 


It’s good practice to wear them for some race pace training before important races.


It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Running in supers too often can lead to reduced training adaptation, possible increase in injury rate, and weaken important muscle groups needed for running.


Wearing them for the occasional session where you need a mental boost is also ok. We are human after all and sometimes there are days that you want to use them.

 

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