TL;DR: wear the right type of running shoes for training and racing.
I’m a huge sucker for fast running shoes, I just get enough of them. Thankfully, high stack running shoes with integrated carbon plates are aplenty these days and being a fitness writer, I also get to test them quite often which is a real boon. A recent running shoe I really enjoyed testing was the ASICS Metaspeed Sky which fits the bill perfectly and reminded me of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% quite a lot, actually. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed training in the Metaspeed Sky so much it almost ruined my legs.
You see, running shoes such as the ASICS Metaspeed Sky and the aforementioned Vaporfly NEXT% are not meant to be worn for everyday training for the exact same reason that makes them perfect for racing. These racing shoes feature a soft foam that’s bouncier than foams found in running trainers, such as the Saucony Kinvara 12 or the Hoka One One Mach 4, as well as an embedded carbon plate for propulsion. The upper of racing shoes also tend to be tighter than usual to make sure there is minimal amount of chafing during longer races.
And I love all of these features. I love it when the upper tightly envelopes my feet, the bouncy sensation I get when I land on the thick foam and the propulsive energy the carbon plate provides during toe off. It’s a fantastic experience and you really feel like you have trampolines strapped to your feet as opposed to shoes. When I first ran in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky, I tried pacing myself at the beginning but after just a few minutes, I started sprinting as it felt more natural to run as fast as I can in the shoes.
The Metsapeed Sky encapsulates all the best aspects of what makes modern racing shoes so popular (and controversial): it’s blisteringly fast and thanks to the energy return it provides, it feels like you can run for longer and faster with less effort. I felt the same when I was running in the Vaporfly and other shoes such as the Hoka One One Carbon X 2. These shoes don’t make me faster but enable me to optimise the way I run and provide better energy returns, keeping my legs fresher over longer periods of time.
The trouble is, you aren’t supposed to be going this fast every day. You run differently on races than you do during everyday running training, the latter being slower and focuses more on form and technique. Running trainers enable you to do that but controlling high stack shoes is a whole different ball game. Landing on and pushing yourself off from the soft foam uses different muscles, or at least uses the same muscles differently, especially around the shin, so running in high stack shoes day after day might result in pain in the lower leg.
Which is exactly what happened to me after a few days of running in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. The problem is, even though I knew what was going on and that I shouldn’t be running in the shoes day after day, I enjoyed the experience so much I couldn’t help myself and kept on using them, despite the pain in my legs. Finally, after a week or so, I gave my legs a break and went on to wear a different pair for running (one I can’t talk about just yet).
And as a final note, the ASICS Metaspeed Sky was released in tandem with another, very similar running shoe, the Metaspeed Edge, the former being designed for ‘stride runners’ while the latter for ‘cadence runners’. To find out which one is right for you, head over to https://www.asics.com/gb/en-gb/innovationsummit/ and answer a short questionnaire.