There has been a lot of hype in the past few years about the addition of high-tech carbon to running shoes - particularly after Nike’s introduction of the Vaporfly 4%, which is considered to be the running shoe that kicked off the carbon-fibre plate revolution. Virtually every major running shoe manufacturer is on board with the trend, and the industry has been infiltrated with carbon-fibre infused running shoes that promise to take your training to the next level.
But runners across the GTA have lingering questions about this newest craze: what exactly is a carbon-fibre plate? Why is it being used in running shoes? Should I be training in a pair of carbon-fibre running shoes? Let’s take a closer look at the carbon-fibre plate movement, and how it can help benefit your training!
Alright, we’re going to get technical for a moment - but when it comes to carbon-fibre shoes, science is an important part of understanding what’s going on under your feet! Carbon fibres are thin, strong polymers that are composed of carbon atoms. When you twist them together, it creates a specialized material that is remarkably stiff, lightweight, durable and resistant to temperature changes.
Carbon fibres are commonly used in aerospace, military engineering, motorsports and, most recently, competitive sports; however, they are relatively expensive in comparison to similar fibres, which has been a drawback to using them more regularly in everyday manufacturing.
So why put these unique fibres into running shoes? The rigidity of the plate helps provide energy return (some runners call it a pleasant "snap") that propels you forward, while the lightweight nature of carbon fibres makes it a great compound for running shoes (a lighter shoe is preferred by most runners to help with speed and ease of movement). The rigidity also helps with stability, keeping runners supported while they run. Most carbon-fibre plated shoes are made with a generous amount of cushioning, which counterbalances the rigid plate, creating the perfect balance between performance and comfort.
Simply put, shoes with a carbon plate have proven beneficial impacts on running performance!
You don’t need to be an elite athlete to reap the benefits of carbon-fibre running shoes! We recommend these types of shoes to all sorts of runners, as they can help give your training a boost in many ways:
So how should you use 'em? They are an obvious choice for race day, but we recommend wearing carbon-fibre running shoes during your shorter, quicker efforts, like intervals, hill sprints and general speed work. You can also use them during tempo runs, especially when you're practicing your race pace. Incorporate a second pair of shoes (preferably with a good amount of cushioning and a different drop) for your easy runs, long runs and recovery runs.
Although it might be tempting to use your carbon-plated shoes for every run, this can be hard on the muscles and joints over time. It's highly recommended that you alternate your carbon-fibre shoes with another training shoe regularly. Not sure about the perfect combo? Reach out to the BlackToe team, and we'll be happy to make some recommendations that fit with your specific needs and goals.
If this is your first (or even fifth!) pair of carbon-fibre shoes, be sure to speak with one of our BlackToe Running team members about picking the pair that's right for you. We carry one of the biggest selections of composite and carbon-fibre shoes in the GTA, including models from Nike, New Balance, Hoka One One, Adidas, On Running, Asics and Saucony. It's important to have an expert walk you through your options, and perform a thorough fitting to ensure that you've got the perfect pair of new shoes.
You can check out our lineup of carbon-fibre plated running shoes online, visit us in-store, or book a virtual consultation to learn more about these speedy running shoes!