Lighter Running Shoes For Speed Performance

It seems self-evident that all runners should wear the most lightweight shoes possible.

The matter is more complex than it may initially appear. It is not only about speed in running there are other things to consider and each runner has different requirements and obstacles.

It has been suggested that although wearing a lightweight running shoe could make you faster, in some cases it might also be a hindrance to your speed.

Light Shoes Make You Run Faster

The data that is accessible strongly implies that wearing lighter shoes will help you to run more quickly. Research spanning the last four decades has indicated that for every 3.5 oz of extra weight carried, the runner must apply more effort, leading to the burning of an additional 1% more energy.

It has been generally accepted that the greater the amount of energy input, the slower the performance will be.

In the year 2016, the Locomotion Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder, led by Rodger Kram, administered a study to evaluate the theory. Dr Wouter Hoogkamer was the head of the team of researchers, who employed Nike Zoom Streak 5 running shoes.

To examine whether improved running efficiency leads to faster running times, the same shoes were worn by all the test participants, but the researchers added extra weight by sewing lead beads into the footwear.

This approach is the most effective for controlling the number of factors and thus accurately measuring the effect of the weight of running shoes without any other factors being taken into consideration.

Research is usually not taken into consideration when it comes to the fact that various shoes created by various companies have varying levels of advantage for dissimilar runners. It can be argued that cushioning is advantageous, and structure can be helpful for particular types of athletes.

As an example, people with poor foot positions, like over-rolling and under-rolling their feet (supination) when taking strides, require more supportive running shoes. In some cases, they may even need custom orthotics.

Using lightweight shoes with minimal features will not fix any pain or injuries someone may be having while running.

The Pros And Cons Of Lightweight Running Shoes


It’s evident why lightweight running shoes are becoming more prevalent: they feel very light on the foot, and research has proven that higher speed can be achieved with lighter shoes.

One of the clear advantages of using lightweight running shoes is that less energy is expended while running, which causes less exhaustion and a quicker total time for the run.

Proponents of lightweight running shoes believe that wearing them will enhance their running form. This statement sparked the popularity of running without shoes and curiosity about minimalistic running shoes.

It is suggested that wearing lightweight footwear leads to a more organic jogging style due to the small heel-toe incline.

Companies in the running shoe industry are consistently working to make their products increasingly comfortable while keeping the weight to a minimum; to accomplish this, they are inventing new materials and strategies to provide support and cushioning using less heft.

The trend of wearing minimalistic “barefoot” style running shoes peaked around ten years ago, but there is still an appeal surrounding lightweight racing flats.

It’s unavoidable that having less weight on your body will make you run quicker – regardless of whether it’s coming off your shoes!


The advantages and disadvantages of wearing light running shoes are both apparent and not recognizable.

The first and most glaring issue is durability. The material is not as thick, and the fabric weave is as delicate as feasible. In general, it should be expected that lightweight shoes will not last as long as heavier ones due to their material composition.

It is a good idea to replace your running shoes after running in them for 300 to 400 miles, or when you start to see physical damage. Some shoemakers suggest changing the lighter shoes after running around 200 miles.

The downside to carrying light shoes is that you won’t get the same amount of padding as with bulkier shoes.

Wearing light shoes would likely make your jog less pleasant, resulting in conditions such as shin splints and Plantar Fasciitis from possibly appearing over some time.

There are other cons to lightweight footwear as well. You may discover that these shoes aren’t as versatile as a sturdier, regular running shoes. If you habitually put on a heavier running shoe, transition slowly to another one to avoid any harm.

For instance, if you’re accustomed to wearing footwear with lots of cushioning and a high difference in height between the heel and toe, it is likely your gait involves heel-striking. If you then decide to go running in lightweight shoes, this could lead to discomfort and pain.

Rather than making an abrupt switch to lightweight shoes, it’s better to get accustomed to them first and then practice your strides while wearing them.

Running In Heavy Or Light Shoes

No definite solution regarding running shoes exists. It is up to the individual runner as to which type of running shoe – heavy or light – is preferable.

Benefits can be reaped from both heavier and lighter running shoes. In general, having shoes that are heavier when running helps to reduce the chances of getting injured.

A denser midsole may make the shoe heavier, but it provides a sturdier base, as well as cushioning to protect from any harm, such as Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis.

There is overwhelming proof that runners can gain advantages by having footwear that suits their individual requirements.

Research from 2000 indicated a potential link between one specific flawed running shoe and Plantar Fasciitis, which was resolved when the subject changed to another pair of shoes.

It is a widely-known fact within the field that adding cushioning can help enhance the running experience for individuals who have gone through an injury in the past, are of a heavier body weight, or are elderly.

Shoes that have a lot of cushioning are said to be beneficial to your joints and extremely comfortable. The negative aspect of that padding is that it will increase the weight.

The use of high cushioning to reduce running injuries is a debated topic in the sporting sphere.

Studies have shown, and researchers have argued, that very soft running shoes can lead to injury due to increased rigidity in the legs. However, a study published recently in the Journal of Biomechanics did not find any evidence to support this.

In the end, it is up to the runner to decide whether to go with a heavier or lighter pair of running shoes.

The evidence is unmistakable that wearing lighter running shoes will enhance running speed. Using lightweight running shoes is a good idea if you want to improve your running performance. Running is certainly a popular activity in the world!

Do lighter shoes result in faster performance?

There is clearly a balance that must be struck between the weight of the shoe and its ability to provide cushioning. Having an excessive amount or an inadequate amount of either can hamper an athlete’s running efficiency by increasing the labour of the muscles.

It is not too different from the drastic alterations in sentiments that we observe in the sports world, for instance going from consuming simply water when thirsty to drinking electrolytes, or having all carbohydrates to none at all.

The surface the athlete is running on should not be disregarded.

An athletics track with a soft, spongy surface offers a bit of cushioning, so a shoe with less cushioning is more suitable for running on the track than on a hard, flat roadway.

When running across roads and trails that have bumpier surfaces, you can take advantage of additional padding even though it may add extra weight.

Could it be that lighter weight doesn’t always equate to greater speed?

The results found in the laboratory during the 1980s were significant, but it needs to be said that it is on the track where races are actually won. The inquiry that must be addressed was: “Will heftier running sneakers bring about slower running times?”

In 2016, a study that was carried out by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder was released and it examined the issue at hand.

For this experiment, 18 male runners who had recently run 5km in less than 20 minutes were recruited. Throughout three weeks they ran three indoor 3,000m time trials with either a regular pair of shoes or an identical pair of shoes with either 100g or 300g of weight added to it via lead pellets stitched into the tongue and side panels.

The athletes had no knowledge of any weight change, as they thought they were involved in confirming a performance prediction equation using VO2 max (maximal oxygen intake) and running economy (the athletes ran on a treadmill the week after the last track activity).

The researchers assisted the athletes in putting on their shoes so that the purpose of the study was not obvious.

Slade et al. (2014) concluded that athletes were able to detect minor variations in the weight of shoes when they held them in their hands, but not when they had them on their feet.

The athletes were informed that carefully lacing up their shoes was essential since the tiny accelerometer fastened to the front of the shoe required delicate handling. I’m sure all would agree this was an ingenious ruse.

Out on the track, the results were clear.

The performance times increased by an average of 0.78% for every 100g increase in shoe weight, which verifies the previously reported outcomes from the Nike experiments in the 1980s.

The researchers found it remarkable that there was a visible improvement in performance at only 3,000m, and they discussed the potential effects of their results; taken to the extreme, if an elite marathon runner wore shoes that were one hundred grams lighter than usual, they could possibly finish one minute quicker.

That might be the contrast between emerging in first place and unobtrusively falling to the fourth. This was the verdict: lighter equalled greater speed.

What do new shoe innovations mean for performance

Ever since then, the running scene has been revolutionized by innovative footwear advances. As previously noted, the Nike Vaporflys have created an average 4-5% increase in running efficiency, which can vary from person to person.

A small increase of 1% might not seem noteworthy in the world of competitive running, but an improvement of 4% could have a significant impact on athletes and the final race results.

There has been a lot of disagreement about what is acceptable for professional runners to use due to the level of improvements that have been made possible.

The conversation is not about how much the new Nike ZoomX Next% shoes are, even though they are only 190g, it is about a great deal more.

It is about upgrades to the foam material used, allowing for greater height in the stack as well as the incorporation of carbon plates; Nike’s latest version known as Nike Alphafly is said to have three of them!

Since the introduction of Nike’s groundbreaking footwear to competitive running, there have been remarkable achievements in decreased running times.

At the 2019 Chicago marathon, Brigid Kosgei set a new world record for female runners in a mixed-sex marathon race by achieving an incredible 2:14:04, reducing the previous ‘untouchable’ 2003 time of 2:15:25 set by Paula Radcliffe by an amazing 81 seconds.

This broke the marathon record from 1967, outperforming the previous record by 4 minutes and improving Kosgei’s best personal time. Eliud Kipchoge’s incredible achievement of crossing the two-hour boundary happened only a day ago at the event in Vienna that came with a helping hand.

The two athletes both wore Nike’s most modern designs to achieve their successes – Kosgei was wearing the Next%’s, and Kipchoge put on the Alphaflys, said to have been designed especially for him.

There has been a clear pattern of superiority in the biggest marathons for the past several years.

At major marathons in 2019, the majority of the podium finishers – 31 out of 36 – wore some type of Nike footwear.

One might maintain that Nike only supports the top athletes, and in the 13 months before Eliud Kipchoge smashed the two-hour mark in the marathon, the five swiftest marathon sprints of all time were carried out by competitors wearing the Nike ZoomX Next%.

No matter if we are pleased or displeased, we are now going through a phase of running advancements, which are a consequence of modern advancements in shoe technology. Consequently, a once record-setting marathon time is now regarded as a normal marathon time. We now believe it is possible to surpass what we earlier considered impossible records and surpass them.

How have shoe innovations been affected by World Athletics’ regulations

People are blaming World Athletics for turning a blind eye to the current situation for the past several years and allowing Nike-sponsored athletes to take advantage of unfair practices.

It’s anticipated that other shoe companies are making strides to keep up with Nike, and New Balance, Saucony and Hoka are now offering similar shoes which can give a performance boost. Nevertheless, given that Nike has put in applications for patents, it is uncertain how much farther the others can subsequently catch up with them.

Over the next few years, the running community must become familiarized with the ever-growing technology of footwear, and determine how to approach the topic.

The main point of contention appears to be the question of fairness. World Athletics is facing significant choices and we don’t anticipate that everyone will be pleased with the outcomes.


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