Elastic shoe laces are a fantastic invention for triathletes. The laces reduce the time it takes to put your shoes on and get running by removing any fumbling you get with standard tie-up laces (especially if you have cold/tired hands).
This improvement is possible for all athletes, whether you’re finishing on the podium or further down the field; if you want to finish with a quicker time overall then elastic laces are a great buy and, as a relatively cheap purchase, you’re getting very good bang for your buck considering the potentially high time saving.
Thoughts about comfort and support are common among athletes thinking about going elastic. Yes, triathlon’s elastic laces can lessen the shoe’s support, but there are a number of designs that aim to reduce this, such as Xtentex laces with bobbles on to reduce slippage while retaining comfort similar to that of a normal tie-up lace.
It’s certainly useful to practise with elastic laces, and work on getting your shoe on quicker for T2, but running too frequently with elastic laces may well be detrimental to your biomechanics.
Most running shoes are designed to be worn with standard laces, and the extra movement of your foot in the shoe when wearing elastic laces can result in the shoe not doing the job it’s made to do. Over a longer period this could increase your risk of injury. This also means that they could be more suitable for shorter distance races rather than middle and long distances.
To get around this, you could always opt to have a pair of triathlon racing shoes with elastic laces on permanently and a separate training pair. Alternatively, you could just change laces before each race. Whichever option you choose, most people find that elastic laces are a beneficial investment that will ultimately lead to faster transition times without detriment.
Or you could always wait until these Back to the Future-esque, self-lacing running shoes come in from Nike…!