What Are Tempo Running Shoes? What Are Super Trainers? - The Running Channel Advertisement

What Are Tempo Running Shoes? What Are Super Trainers?

BY: Mark Dredge
19 June 2024

As part of a running shoe rotation, you’ll have your daily trainers for most of your runs, then you might have trail shoes for going off-road and carbon plate shoes for racing. But what about shoes to wear for fast training sessions?

Here we look at why you might want a pair of running shoes which you use for intervals, tempo runs and workouts, and we’ll tell you all about a new category of running shoe: the super trainer. 

WHAT ARE TEMPO RUNNING SHOES FOR?

These are the shoes you use when you want to run faster. They can be for longer tempo runs, threshold runs, intervals and track sessions. They’re designed to help you run faster during your training which can help you improve for races. 

WHAT ARE TEMPO RUNNING SHOES LIKE?

Tempo trainers will typically use a brand’s premium foam as they’re made as performance shoes. They may be lightweight, to help with foot turnover and speed, and the stack can vary from low to the ground like a racing flat (or specific 5km and 10km shoe), or they could be high-stack with lots of responsive foam. Some include a plate to add more responsiveness to the ride.

Some good examples of tempo and workout running shoes are Puma Deviate Nitro, adidas Boston, Hoka Mach, Saucony Endorphin Speed, Nike Zoom Fly, New Balance Pacer, ASICS Novablast.

These shoes are often a partner shoe to a brand’s carbon plate racing shoe – you train in one, race in the other. So you might wear adidas Boston in training and adidas Adios Pro in races. 

You can do most of your training in these shoes if you prefer the feel of them over daily trainers, though we don’t recommend using plated tempo shoes for more than a couple of runs per week. 

HOW ARE TEMPO RUNNING SHOES DIFFERENT TO CARBON PLATE RACING SHOES?

Some tempo shoes will have a carbon plate, some may have nylon or plastic plates, and others don’t have any plate in them, but the structure of many of these shoes is similar to a carbon plate shoe in that it uses the most responsive foam and has a design optimised for efficient faster running. 

Carbon plate running shoes tend to be more expensive and we often save these to use in our races or key sessions ahead of a goal race. The workout trainer is a faster pair of shoes that we can wear year-round.  

WHY DO I NEED TO DO FASTER RUNS IN TRAINING?

Good question! The only way to get faster as a runner is to actually run faster in training. That may sound flippant, but by running shorter intervals at fast speeds, it can help improve your overall running performance by making you stronger and fitter. By building up those harder sessions we gradually become more efficient at running faster for longer. 

There are different types of faster runs: Tempo runs are faster paces you might hold for 20-60 minutes (or more if you’re marathon training). Threshold runs are similar to VO2 Max workouts and are fast efforts lasting from two minutes to two miles. Intervals and track runs will be short fast reps anywhere from 100m to one mile (or more).

DO I NEED TEMPO SHOES TO RUN FAST?

No, you don’t need to wear tempo running shoes and you could run your faster workouts in your daily trainers, but a dedicated workout shoe is a good option for runners who regularly do faster sessions and who like to have a rotation of shoes. A tempo should is especially good because the responsiveness in them can feel better when running fast compared to heavier and softer daily trainers.

If you don’t run many intervals, or are happy to run faster in your daily trainers, then you don’t need to have a tempo shoe.

One option if you don’t want to buy a new pair of shoes is to use an old pair of carbon plate shoes that you no longer race in. These make a perfect tempo shoe.

IF I DO WORKOUTS ON THE TRACK THEN DO I NEED SPIKES?

You see pro runners in flat shoes with spikes, but you don’t need these and you can wear whatever shoe you like on the track for training, whether a daily trainer, tempo shoe or carbon plate shoe (just don’t wear your trail running shoes!). 

Spikes are typically only used by runners who race on the track, and the low profile of spikes can take some getting used to for runners. There are good options of low-stack racing flats and trainers designed for faster 5km and 10km track or road running (just without the spikes), like Nike Streakfly, ASICS Metaspeed LD, Adidas Takumi Sen. Or just wear your tempo day shoes.

WHAT ARE SUPER TRAINERS? WHEN DO I WEAR THEM?

A new category of running shoe was created in recent years. It’s a high-stack shoe with a lot of super performance foam and a carbon plate. With all the foam, they’re designed to help reduce impact and fatigue in the legs while also allowing you to run fast and far. 

These shoes can work for a variety of runs from easy daily miles to races, but work best for longer tempo and threshold runs. Just try to avoid doing all of your runs in carbon plate shoes as they can cause some strength imbalances in your feet and legs.

Some of these super trainers have a stack height greater than 40mm, which means they are illegal for professional runners to use in races, but non-elites are fine to wear these.

Some good examples of super trainers are adidas Prime X, New Balance SC Trainer, ASICS Superblast and Hoka Mach X.

***

Do you have a pair of shoes that you save for tempo running, intervals and workouts? 

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