Are race trainers best for triathlon?

Choosing the right run shoes for race day can be stressful, to say the least. Do you stick with your training shoes or do you opt for a more race-specific pair? James Witts has this advice…

Runners feet running on road close up on shoe, male triathlete runner

Unless you’re a large triathlete or have biomechanical issues, we’d say yes, race trainers are definitely worth it for racing triathlon.


This is partly down to distal weight which, broadly speaking, is the pendulum weight of your lower limb.

Why choose lightweight running shoes over training shoes?

The heavier the weight hanging from your knee – in this case, your shoe – the greater force required to get it moving. Ergo, a strong argument for choosing lightweight racers over your slightly heavier training shoes.

According to a study by former Nike coach Jack Daniels, adding 100g to a shoe increases the aerobic demand of running by 1%. This, he calculated, equates to around a minute over a marathon.

Those of you who’ve read the rather magnificent Sports Gene by former Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein will already be aware of this distal-weight concept.

It’s why, argues Epstein, the Kalenjin tribe of Kenya has produced runners of the calibre of Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto. The Kalenjin tribe has particularly thin ankles and calves. Ergo a lower distal weight and faster, more sustainable leg turnover. That’s why weight’s of importance but it’s not everything.

How important is propulsion and stability in a race shoe?

In our experience, you’re still after a shoe with a bit of fizz, one that delivers a healthy return on your landing force. So we’re after propulsion. And stability.

A slipping foot leaches energy, as well as raising the spectre of injury. As our racing amphitheatre kickstarts with transition, we’re also after a swift and stable foot entry.

Top image credit: Getty Images