Training Shoes and Racing Shoes?


March 13, 2013 by IowaTriBob

Saucony Kinvara 3Several weeks ago I started noticing some minor aches and pains in my right ankle after some of my longer runs.  It seemed each week the aches were getting more noticeable and I even started feeling some minor tweaks in my knees and joints.  As I scoured the Internet forums and blogs for what could be the reason it became quite clear that one possible issue might be – my shoes!

It seems the general consensus (unless you own a pair of Newton’s) is that a typical running shoe starts to lose its cushioning and support anywhere from 250-500 miles depending on the type and brand.  Checking my Garmin Connect account I realized that I’ve put around 350 miles on my Saucony Kinvara 3’s in a relatively short period of time.  If nothing else, what a great excuse to go shoe shopping and check out all the latest run and training gadgets while I’m at it!

When talking with the rep at one of the local running stores and sharing with him a typical workout week, he brought up the idea of having 2 pairs of shoes.  His rationale (other than just being a good salesman) was one pair of shoes for training and one pair for race days / race simulations / or short speed intervals.  Keep in mind that my race days consist of 5K and 10k events this season.

The explanation provided was that the trainers could be a little heavier shoe providing a little more cushioning with a touch more stability.  This in theory would allow me to add on the distance without the added stress of using flatter, less cushioned racing shoes.  The race shoes would be lighter, more flexible, and provide less cushioning and stability (thus the lighter weight) for racing and speed.

So being a good listener and good customer, I’m the happy owner of a new pair of Nike Zoom Elite+ 6 for my training

Nike Zoom Elite+ 6





and a new pair of Saucony Virrata’s for my racing.

Saucony Virrata






In a separate post I’ll provide a more detailed review of each as I get more mileage and experience with them.  However in the first week, I’m not entirely sold on the training pair vs. racing pair concept.

I’ve had 3 runs in the Nike Zoom Elite’s with distances of 8 miles, 5.5 miles, and 4.5 miles.  Each time I’ve come away from the workout without the ankle, joint, or knee pains but have traded them for sore calves, hamstrings, and glutes!

I’m a forefoot striker and am used to running in the Saucony Kinvara 3’s with a 4mm heel to toe drop, so I was really surprised that going to a very cushioned forefoot shoe would cause anything but utter bliss in my longer runs!  The soreness has gotten better with each run but its something that I can still definitely feel and its new and different from the previous 4 months of running…  I don’t know if the soreness is caused by adding a few ounces of weight per foot or if its the bouncy cushion provided.

I haven’t had a chance to run in the Saucony Virrata’s yet but as I break them in around the house and work, they feel much more like the Kinvara’s that I’m used to.

I’m planning to give it another week or two but I’m starting to question the sales reps advice and my decision to follow that advice – especially so close to my first race, only 3 short weeks away.

So my question to everyone is – do you train and race in different shoes?  If so, what is the difference between them? And, what was your experience like when you first went this direction?

10 thoughts on “Training Shoes and Racing Shoes?

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Just one pair… I don’t race enough, but I’ve heard of the 500 mile rule too.

  2. Carrie says:

    I’ve heard of the two-shoe philosophy, but I use only one pair of sneakers. I love my Sauconys! I’m also dying to try some Newtons. :)

    • IowaTriBob says:

      I tried a couple different Newton’s on and just couldn’t get comfortable with them – although the sales rep said most people will take 2-3 weeks before really being able to run in them. He also said its not unheard of to get 1000-1500 miles out of a pair because of the lugs… I just couldn’t pull the trigger on them this close to the race season kicking off.

  3. I train and race in Kinvaras, just rotate them (and try to find them on sale :) ) I’m a believer of training and racing with the same equipment so there are no surprises come race day. For longer races, I may look for something with a bit more cushioning but I love my Kinvaras

    • IowaTriBob says:

      I loved my Kinvara’s as well and am really excited to give the Virrata’s a try this week. I’m betting these become my primary shoe and the Nike end up sitting in the closet for a rainy day. I’m starting to think I just don’t run enough to get any real benefit out of the multi-shoe approach.

  4. Chatter says:

    I use a single pair of shoes, mostly out of affordability. But, if my local running store had a pair of shoes half off and in my size, I would have 2 pairs of shoes or more(almost happened recently but they were a size larger). I would also recommend looking into a pair of Sole inserts for your shoes. They go a long way and make your foot strike more natural.

  5. kruzmeister says:

    I train and race in Asics Gel Kayanos. I’ve worn them ever since a podiatrist put me onto them 18 years ago. They are great for support. I also wear Asics Gel Nimbus for gym and treadmill or shorter runs just so I can get more mileage out of my Kayanos. I’m not game enough to run in anything else though several of my friends wear the Newtons.

  6. elisariva says:

    I train and race in the same shoe. With a tendency to pronate, I need support. I do, however, always hve two pair going – each run I alternate between Nike Lunar Eclipse and Brooks Adrenaline. Similar shoe but keeps me from getting “used to” one type.

    • IowaTriBob says:

      Solid advice and this makes complete sense. What I’ve learned so far with 2 pair myself is that I did start to become very used to my last pair of shoes, including muscle use. As I’ve started running in a new shoe I’m feeling a different workout and some soreness (in a good way, not bad) that I hadn’t running in my old pair.

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