Unless you’ve been trapped under something heavy, you’ve seen the news of Eliud Kipchoge’s historic run last weekend to break the 2-hour barrier in the marathon. Since then, observers from Ryan Hall to Amby Burfoot have called attention to the shoes he wore; as Burfoot writes today, “it appears that running, the original and most elemental of sports, now faces the same tradition vs. scientific innovation challenge that other sports have encountered.”
Are the limits of equipment being pushed too far? — Terrell
Those Superfast Nike Shoes Are Creating a Problem
A Tale of Two Marathon Records and Nike’s Magic Shoes
Not sure about equipment, i just know that dude could tie wonder bread bags on his feet and still smoke me.
When news first circulated that Kosgei achieved this incredible thing, I noticed a lot of my runner friends criticize the fact that he had pacers, special shoes, a pace car etc. I was suitable impressed with the accomplishment regardless of the items listed above. First and foremost, Kosgei needed to have the physical ability to even do what he did. That is just absolutely amazing in and of itself. I could have pacers, special shoes and a pace car and I would still never be able to do what he did. I would certainly finish the marathon, and maybe finish a few minutes faster than I have ever done - but it would still be twice the time he did it. What distressed me about my friends comments was that nobody mentioned his awesome talent. That man worked his rear off to get to where he is. He deserves the credit. Who knows, now that he knows he can do it maybe the next time he runs a full he will break 2 hours without the pace car etc. But, it should be said that all elite athletes wear special shoes and they all train with pacers and it's not unusual for a group to work together in a race to pace each other.
It’s ridiculous to give credit to the shoes. The man still needed his body to move him at that blistering pace for 2 hrs. If you can put those shoes on any human and get the result well then it’s the shoes. I promise you his muscles converting energy, his lungs taking in oxygen and the heart it took to accomplish it all are why he ran sub 2hrs not his shoes.
He has the shoes, he has the pacers, the trainers, but he has to have the heart, or none it will work. He has to have the drive and ambition, or running is just a hobby, as it is for most of us.
Let's not forget Kipchoge ran Berlin in 2:01:39 last year. That's pretty darn close to a sub-2 without a pace car, pacers, wind shield, or "the shoes!" Maybe the shoes helped a little, but I say it 99% the man!
An interesting comparison is the issue of baseball bats. In the major leagues, players must use wooden bats. At every other level, aluminum bats are acceptable. I have used both, and there is a difference. To reference a prior comment, are the shoes available to everyone? I think the answer is no, because Kipchoge's shoes are custom-made. Yes, there is a mass-produced shoe available to the masses, but it isn't the shoe that Kipchoge wears. The same holds true for all of the top-tier elites. I do think shoes affect performance. That's a no-brainer. But they don't affect MY performance like they would an elite runner. I'm confident that Ryan Hall in his prime wore custom shoes too. I saw him run a 10K in Cincinnati 12 days after he ran the Boston Marathon (the year that Meb won Boston). Ryan ran just over 30 minutes and looked like it was a walk in the park. He won the race by over 3 minutes. He's a pro, and he has all of the equipment, nutrition, and coaching that a pro has earned. That includes shoes. But the bottom line, as someone mentioned previously, is that the pros put in the work to make the most of the God-given gifts that they have. You won't hear me complaining because Kipchoge has shoes that cost an arm and a leg. The owner of the local Fleet Feet Sports franchise where I live is a friend. I asked him if the Vaporfly would make that much difference for me. He didn't think it would be all that noticeable, and he knows as much as anyone about my ability level. It's not unlike the skis that Olympic skiers wear that cost more than a Tesla.
This is a great question. Part of me is like, if it's a shoe and it's available to everyone then why the limitations. I don't believe in performance enhancers as in crazy supplements and drugs but if you find a shoe that is light and cushioned and you are a badass hardcore runner who puts in the miles then using shoes or bands or whatever is ok. (maybe not actual springs in the shoes though.. i mean, come on.)
They could just give every runner in the next marathon a pair and see what happens. Nike has the ability, and if everyone performed better they would become the gold standard. As for me I don't care for Nikes whether they make me faster or not. I just like to run. Besides that was 8 minutes faster than my last half-marathon. But if they did test them in this manner and it proved true what's the next step?
When I first heard the news that Kosgei had shattered the old marathon record in Chicago, my first thought was to look into the shoes she was wearing. HaHa, of course, a pink pair of the Vaporfly. You want to do better in a tri- change up your bike, get a better wetsuit, and now you can maybe buy a pair of super fast shoes. The women that I run with have all set new PRs in the last 2 or 3 months wearing Nike Vaporfly shoes. One woman, 65 years old, who consistently ran 2:10 - 2:30 for a half marathon, last weekend posted a career PR of 2:05.38! Guess what shoes she was wearing? Can't just be that just because you have these shoes it mentally gets you going faster. I think it's a combination of both. And as long as what the pros use is available to the neighborhood runner, then go for it. My kids have already asked if those shoes are what Santa should bring her for Christmas!!
When I was a kid, every time I got a new pair of shoes, my older siblings would tease me that I could now run faster. Maybe it is that memory, but I like getting a better pair of shoes to help me run better. I am not at the place right now where I pay full price. I usually get them from Amazon. Nevertheless, in the 4 years I have been running more pointedly and doing races, I have always trIed to improve the ones I use. I am currently on my 2nd pair of Nikes after using some great Sauconys for a couple of years. The ones I have right now help me with some physical limitations I have. I guess my longer answer is that I do not feel they are being pushed too far, unless like Sarah joked, springs are being used. I think the human endeavor is to strive for better and improve ourselves wherever and however we can. So since I will probably not be first to the finish line, but will only be seeking continual improvement, I am all for better products to help me do my best.
Fun topic. This is exactly what has been going on in other sports for years, it just took time for spring shoes to become a reality. A 30% greater energy return is a big deal. Of course, just like using a Pro V1, you have to be good enough to take advantage of the technology, but it is an advantage.
The Carbon fiber plate is a mechanical advantage because it acts like a spring. The USGA Sets limits on equipment to keep competitive advantage through equipment in check. Seems this will be the issue for IAAF and USTAF
Those of us who truly appreciate this accomplishment are the one that are out there putting in our own miles. Whether we are elite ultra marathoners (not me) or just human beings trying to stay healthy in this sport by participating in local non competitive events (trying to run my own half in two hours :)......we know what a sub 2 marathon entails and it is just freakin' AMAZING to get anywhere close to that.
In my opinion, as a non-elite half marathoner, there will always be a push for better equipment. With the money and sponsorship behind the elites, good or bad, the push will continue.