Unique Characteristics of Triathlon Running Shoes
If you’re a triathlete, you know how much gear you need throughout training and on raceday, notably for swimming and biking. You might think the run is one leg you don’t really have to think about. You throw on your shoes and go, right? Not so fast. When transitioning from the bike to the run, the main goal is to put on your shoes and get out to the last part of the course as quickly as possible. Finding a quality pair of triathlon-specific running shoes can make a huge difference when it comes to speed and overall comfort. If you’re struggling to fit your foot into a shoe or tie the laces, you’ll be spending more time in T2 - instead of crushing the course. For some, running shoes can be the difference between a personal record and an almost-record.
Of all the unique characteristics of triathlon running shoes, most of them serve one simple purpose: to help you move quickly. The most basic (and some would argue the most important) feature is the type of laces. Unlike typical running shoes, triathlon shoes have elastic “speed laces” that allow you to put the shoes on quickly but securely. Instead of struggling to tie your shoes, all it takes is a simple tug of these special laces and you’re off on the run.
A good triathlon shoe will also have a liner that enables you to run sockless. Not only will this help your speed in transition, but the material will stretch to account for swelling and to cool the feet. Because tri shoes have vented midsoles and drainage holes they won’t retain moisture; they’re designed to allow water/sweat to drain out of the shoe (and not seep in when you're sloshing through a water stop). In turn you’ll feel lighter and will avoid dreaded blisters and chafing.
Depending on the type of runner you are, there are different options for insoles to complement your gait. The level of cushioning varies by model but generally, triathlon running shoes are much lighter and are designed to aid in efficiency. They encourage a midfoot strike and quick turnover while still offering some support. Another small but extremely useful feature? Loops on the heels and tongue. They’re there to help slide the shoes on quickly.