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Finlay McAndrew  •  Running Gear •  09.04.2024 •  8 min read

When should you run in super shoes?

Any good running plan should incorporate runs at a range of paces and intensities. They can be highly complicated, or as simple as easy run days and hard run days. For most, a running plan is building towards an event that has a specific goal attached to it. This often means chasing a personal best. Whilst the training plays the most important role in reaching a new PB, the right running shoes play a key supporting role. There’s no doubt that the evolution and increase of choice in super shoes is helping runners lower their previous best times, both in training and racing.

With the variability in how runners train and race, there’s clearly a lot of ways to incorporate super shoes into your routine. For clarity, when we refer to super shoes, we mean running shoes that feature super foams and rigid structures, such as carbon fibre plates. This article breaks down when you should consider using super shoes, and when you might want to leave them under the bench. 

3 running shoes stacked on top of each other


If you’re targeting a time in a race, whether that’s a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon, it’s a very good idea to wear super shoes. Super shoes can improve running economy across a wide range of paces, and they’re not just for elites. For example, the right pair of super shoes could be the difference between breaking 4 hours in a marathon and not. 

Some might say you should just train harder, but that’s the great thing about super shoes. You can enjoy life and get some extra help when you need it. Who’s to say a faster runner has worked harder than a slower runner? We all have different commitments, stressors and available time to train. 

Other benefits of racing in super shoes

Races are hard on the legs, particularly marathons. It takes time to recover from one and it’s important to take some rest afterwards. However, you might find your legs feel fresher than you expect if you race in super shoes. The advanced technologies can reduce the stress on your working muscles to the point where your legs feel noticeably better than if you were to run in standard running shoes. How you feel after a marathon could be the deciding factor on whether or not you do another one. 

It’s a good idea to do a shorter distance race in the build up to your key event. For example, you might want to test yourself in a half marathon a few weeks before your marathon. The only problem is that a race effort could leave you pretty sore and fatigued, which can play havoc with the intended training plan. Again, super shoes can mitigate the chances of you having to deviate from the plan, because your legs should feel better faster. 

When should you train in super shoes?

Long race pace efforts

Long race pace runs are very demanding on the body. Running at close to, or just above, half marathon and marathon pace for a prolonged period of time places a lot of stress on your cardiovascular system and your musculoskeletal system. It’s also likely that you’ll be carrying some fatigue from previous training sessions, and life, into these preparation sessions. These are some of the best sessions to use super shoes in. They’ll help you hit your target paces with more ease, and you should recover faster. Helping you to keep up your training routine and volume. 

Additionally, unless you’re a pro, you’re unlikely to have the luxury of lying on the sofa for the rest of the day. As most of us do our longer hard runs at the weekend, we normally have to get on with the rest of life as soon as we’ve had a quick shower and wolfed down a recovery shake, alongside whatever is in the biscuit tin. It’s much easier to spring into the next test of endurance if you’ve done that long hard run in some carbon-plated assistance. 

Author’s Note:

Personally, I do my last key marathon workout in the super shoes I’m going to race in. This is normally a new pair that I want to break in, but keep as fresh as possible for the race. While super shoes offer substantial benefits for the first 100-150 miles, they tend to offer the most help when they’re relatively fresh. I use an older pair of super shoes in the longer workouts that come before the final preparation run. I also tend to opt for an alternative model to my preferred choice. We all respond differently to super shoes, and I save the ones that feel fastest for when I need it most. My current favourite are the Nike Alphafly 3 Road Racing Shoes.

Fast interval runs

There’s lots of ways to do intervals, but in simple terms, you’re trying to run for short periods of time at a pace that’s above your threshold. By interspersing the intervals with periods of active recovery, you can accumulate more work at that pace than if you tried to run at it continuously. Needless to say, these workouts are very challenging and it can be hard to hit our target pace, even with recovery periods.

It is a great idea to wear super shoes on these sessions. You’re likely to hit your paces with more ease and improve the quality of your training. You might also find you can do slightly more total work, because your legs feel fresher for longer. There’s the added benefit that your legs will probably feel better the next day too. 

Author’s Note:

You’re best using an older pair of super shoes, that you won’t race in, for these weekly interval sessions. Or you could opt for a more durable take-down version of an all-out race day shoe. Models such as the adidas Adizero Boston 12, Saucony Endorphin Speed 4, and Nike Zoom Fly 5 are more durable and affordable than their race day counterparts. 

Tempo runs

If you're a serious runner, you're likely to be acquainted with tempo runs. These are typically 20-40 minute long efforts at a hard, but very sustainable pace. The exact intensity and duration of the tempo effort is very much dependent on the training history of the runner. However, the perception of effort will be relatively high. Super shoes can definitely improve performance on these sessions. And again, help improve your recovery time. If you want to keep your super shoes for the hardest sessions, models such as the adidas Adizero Boston, Saucony Endorphin Speed and Nike Zoom Fly should be great options for weekly tempo runs. 

When should you not train in super shoes?

It’s not the best idea to wear super shoes for easy to steady paced runs. There’s actually a number of reasons as to why this is the case:

You might notice less benefits in race day

One of the main benefits of super shoes is that they make race pace feel easier. The difference between running at race pace in standard daily mileage running shoes versus super shoes is enormous. If you train in super shoes on lower effort run days, you’ll probably feel much less of a difference when you need it. The power of the effect that a reduction in perception of effort has on performance should never be underestimated. 

Potential injury risk

Whilst super shoes might reduce post run muscle fatigue, they’re likely to transfer loads higher up the kinetic chain than standard running shoes. It’s very common for runners to notice their quadricep, hamstring and glute muscles have worked more after running in super shoes. This is simply because these muscle groups are being loaded in a slightly different way. Rotating super shoes with softer, more flexible running shoes should help reduce the likelihood of an area becoming overworked. 

They might not feel as comfortable

Super shoes feel best when you’re running at a faster pace than your slower to steadier efforts. This is because the midsole is working with your feet and legs to help you move forward as efficiently as possible. While we still want to move forward efficiently when we run slower, our feet spend more time on the ground as we slow down. As cushioned as super shoes are, the stiff and rigid nature of the midsole doesn’t feel that natural to run in when you slow down. Without getting too technical, running slowly in super shoes is essentially fighting what the midsole is trying to do. A softer and more flexible midsole construction should feel more comfortable on lower intensity days. 

Super shoes are expensive

Of course, super shoes are typically more expensive and less durable than daily mileage running shoes. The reason they’re less durable is because weight is such an important factor when it comes to improving running shoe performance. Adding more durable rubbers that protects the cushioning defeats what’s trying to be achieved. It’s definitely a false economy to wear super shoes when you’re not getting the maximum benefit from them. 


There’s always some exceptions to the rules, but this guidance should help you get the most out of super shoes. If you use super shoes correctly, irrespective of what level you’re at, there’s a high chance they’ll increase your enjoyment of the sport. That’s because they can bring something to your running journey that is completely unique. And they’re very likely to improve your race times. 

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