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I bought a pair of Asics about 3 months ago and it's about time to replace them. I usually like Asics, but this pair just never fit quite right. (And of course I didn't find out till after I put a couple of weeks work of miles on them.)

Anyway, I was thinking about getting a pair of racing flats and was wondering if anybody wears these for normal training. If anything, I tend to under pronate (so I really don't need the stability) and I'm definitely a forefoot runner, so any heal cushioning is just extra weight.

I would like to stick with either Asics or NewBalance. (Wide Feet) Should I get a pair of normal trainers to run in and save the flats for actual races? Any thoughts and opinions?

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I have a pair of Brooks Racers...only 7 ounces for each shoe. I wear these for my 5ks and 10ks and sometimes for speedwork sessions.

Unless you are light weight and a biomechanically efficient runner, I strongly recommend not wearing flats for daily training and long runs...flats do not provide much support and stability for your feet.
If you are new to flats, I would start by wearing them for a short period of time during your speed workouts. Your legs will feel sore for the first few times in them because they are still adapting to the reduced support the shoes have to offer. Later you can wear them for your short distance races.

Also, since racing flats lack the cushioning and support regular trainers provide, they wear out faster. The more weight you sacrifice, the shorter the life of the shoe. That's another reason why I save them only for races or important workouts. Flats are expensive to replace so often...
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What Tim said. The forefoot cushioning in trainers is still significantly better than what exists in a racing flat. Training in flats is a sure path to injury unless your running form is very efficient.
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I also think running once in a while in racing flats is not a bad idea just to see how they feel. I would do some tempo runs or speed workouts in racing flats just to get the feel of "race conditions"
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Just to let you hear the other side...I haven't worn a pair of training shoes in almost ten years. I don't even own a pair. 100% of my running is done in racing shoes. In fact, I know some runners who refer to training shoes as "injury boots" and that running in them equates to running with anvils strapped to your feet. The theory is that, because heavy trainers restrict the foot's natural motion, they serve to help weaken the foot and lower leg muscles. Also, the lower heel lift in racers helps prevent achilles and calf injuries by not shortening their natural motions. Furthermore, if you only wear racers on race day, you'll be using your muscles in a new and different way, and I'm not sure that's a good thing on race day.

This theory is very controversial and is the subject of many fights at places like letsrun.com. My bottom line: do what works for you. Certainly don't be afraid to do some of your training in racers. You may just find that you like the feeling of running without the extra weight. I know I have. If it works for you, go with it. If not, don't.

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I'd echo MM's comments. I run 100% in racing flats (I use the Saucony Kilkenny Flat). It is true that they wear out quickly. Actually, they don't wear out so much as they get stretched out so much that they don't fit anymore. So you find yourself trying to lace them up tighter and tighter until finally they won't fit no matter how tight you lace them.

However, having said that, my first pair lasted me two full running seasons (I'm primarily a "spring, summer, fall" runner and I run a lot less in the winter. In any case, my experience with flats is this:

I had read a lot of the arguments, pro and con, about standard running shoes. I thought there really was no way to resolve the issue than to experiment myself. I eased into it by doing runs in the flats occasionally. My initial runs experimenting with midfoot (and even forefoot) striking left me EXTREMELY sore in my calves. This, at least to me, was an indication that my old shoes (and running style) were not emphasizing my calf muscles nearly as much. I decided that it was wise not to use the flats again until my calves were no longer sore. in fact, that is how I developed my schedule for transition from standard running shoes to flats. I think after that first run it was probably two weeks until my calves were not sore at all any more (I had continued my "normal" running schedule).

My second session with the flats left me about as sore for about as long as the first session. Over time, however, I slowly stopped getting as sore (partially due adaptation and partially due to improving my stride). It was about 2-3 months before I was completely off the old running shoes. I was doing maybe 1/2 the distance that I used to do because I was very wary of developing an injury by switching over 100% too quickly. It took about 6 months before I was fully back to the distance i was used to (I generally do about 6-8 miles per run 3-4 times a week). So it took me one full running season to adjust and I've been using the flats for two more full running seasons and currently in my third.

The amazing thing, to me, is that I'm still adjusting my stride. I think one can never overestimate the way that typical running shoes modify your stride. If you're in your 30s, like me, then those normal running shoes have literally shaped the way you run (and probably how you walk) since you were a small child. The transition to a stride that is more natural takes a very long time. I'm 3 years in and I'm still making adjustments, seeing how it feels, and then adjusting some more. I am, without question, faster. I haven't developed any injuries or nagging pains and i do credit my caution for that. I felt pains along the way but I backed off as needed and I was especially cautious during the transition.

I was forced to replace my very first pair of flats last week. The thin sheet of padding inside had torn loose and was getting shredded. There was a lag between the time that I could no longer use them and the time that my new pair arrived (I use mail order because it is not easy to find the flats I like). So I thought I'd put on the old running shoes that I still had sitting in the closet. Now, I don't want to say that the experience was horrible. In some ways it is easy to see why standard running shoes are so seductive. Running takes on a "rocking horse" quality when you have such a large and padded heel. You're almost required to heel strike and the shoe makes that feel OK. If I ran the same way in my flats it would be like kicking a wall. But at the same time the flow of the run can feel pretty good. I was slower and when I tried to speed up it felt all wrong. Mindful of causing a stupid injury I backed off and did a very light and easy run.

Overall I wish I had a short recommendation to make but I really don't. I think for everyone it will be a personal decision to make. Once you start to read the arguments on both sides it will become clear that there is no definitive "right" answer for all people. For me, I think I'd rather stop running than go back to using standard running shoes. My last run in those old standards was almost no fun at all. I have developed a need to feel the ground and to be able to dial up and down in a way that I could never do in standards. The flats afford me a lot more flexibility. In fact, I'm really trying to figure out a way to make barefoot running work but I think that is a transition I'm not likely to make.

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I've played around with barefoot running and its really strengthened my lower legs. I agree with MikeURL. I switched from Brooks Glycerin 7 to Nike Free 5.0. I didn't have to adjust too much because the Free is basically a flat with immense amounts of cushion. It was a good shoe to learn a proper form in though.

I bought the Glycerin initially because I had cheap shoes and got shin splints in them. The Glycerin's fixed the shin splints, but I still couldn't push myself beyond a mediocre pace at a mediocre distance. Since I switched to the Free, my form is much better thanks to how light they are. I'm thinking about switching to the Saucony Kilkenny flat because its the cheapest with really good reviews. My only real reason for switching is because I want to feel the ground better, the Free has too much arch support, and the Free's heal cushion is too high. I would just go barefoot, but I'd have to drive to a golf coarse to find enough grassy areas to run in without getting bored with the same scenery. People do run on pavement barefoot but that's impossible in Louisiana summers
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Hey, good luck! As a follow-up I am trying to transition to barefoot running. Because over time even the Kilkenny feels like WAY too much between me and the ground. I have, of course, started slow but the feel of it is really amazing. The ability to get into a really zen-like stride is greatly improved when there is nothing at all between your foot and the ground. In NYC this will be a really long term project because there are only a few places i feel safe to run barefoot.

As I recall the nike free is very much a standard running shoe. I'd emphasize again that I think the key to any successful transition is taking it very slowly and immediately backing off if you feel any pain at all.
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Try Five Fingers KSO, Those are my current running shoes.
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unless you have great form and are training regularly on a good surface (track, soft grass) you should go with trainers.

flats are called "racing flats" for a reason. throwing in one workout every other week in flats is one thing. training every day in racing flats is not smart.
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Hi there

New to the forum, but I have an opinion on this one.

I like minimalist shoes, I have only even suffered injuries (calf strains) wearing cushioned running shoes.

I think there is a wealth of evidence that running barefoot a little or in minimalist footwear IS good for your feet and legs, and your running style.

No, you don't want to heel strike in them, but your body was not designed to do that anyway. Forefoot, or at worst, mid-foot footfall is how your body is designed to run, using the shock absorbing structures you have built in. The heel was never designed to be pounded, but modern running shoes tend to encourage that by design.

There really is no excuse not to make a change to your running style, and change that will be safer, more effective, less tiring, and more natural than you have been used to.

Start slow, take it easy, practice increasing your cadence and shorten your stride. Over time, you will come to love running this way, after all, that is the natural way!
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