During the 2008 Olympic Games swimming was briefly transformed. Speedo released their new ‘fastskin’ earlier on and it kept true to its name. It really was fast! The problem is, it was too fast with FINA banning it in 2009 – practically every world record was broken. This lead to the obvious question – what about swimmers who broke records? Did their performance count? Are they actually the best in history or did they just happen to have a sponsor with the fastest suit?
Running is struggling with a similar issue. By late 2019 every man and his dog had a pair of new carbon plated running shoes – from your 90 minute half marathoner to pro runners, we were all involved. Cries of ‘carbon shoes are cheating’ were seen, and calls for the shoes to be banned were everywhere on twitter (mainly from older coaches). The problem is, they weren’t banned and the cat is now out of the bag – carbon shoes are here to stay and if you want to be competitive then you’ll need a pair.
This leaves the running world with two groups. Firstly, those pros who are sponsored by brands without carbon shoes and secondly, runners who can’t afford these carbon shoes. The size of the first group is decreasing as most brands (apart from a few notable exceptions) now have carbon plated shoes, this has also brought the cost down but they’re still expensive – often twice the price of their non carbon counterparts.
Should I buy a pair? If you think you need them. They might make you faster, they might not. Some people are better responders than others. I don’t train in them – but I know people who run regularly in theirs. Carbon shoes are most definitely revolutionary and have permanently changed running but there’s no substitute for a well structured training plan. This ensures you’ll get to the start line fit, healthy and fresh for racing!