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The Next % Dilemma

14 February 2022

I’m half way through my training plan for Brighton Marathon and I’ve realised that even if I make it to race day intact, my trainers will not. I run in New Balance 880s – basic neutral road shoes. They’re good; comfortable, no injuries and they last well. But lately, my eye has been wandering and I’ve been wondering: what if I’m the only person on race day without carbon plate shoes?

Everybody’s doing it now

This photo was taken at the race I did yesterday: the Valentine’s 30k – run by a local club Stamford Striders. It was a great event with a real community feel, run around country roads. It’s not an elite race, but a fair proportion of runners of all speeds were wearing Nike Vaporfly Next % shoes – or similar ones with a carbon plate.

The last time I raced over a similar distance was in early 2020, when Next % shoes were still a talking point – considered to be expensive and still pretty rare. At the start line, a couple next to me were wearing matching ones, and other runners were nudging each other. Now, most marathon runners I know either own them already, or are saving up to get some. They’re common at parkrun and I even saw someone lining up at a cross country race in them last weekend.

Would I wear them for a cross country race? Of course not. Spikes, or shoes with lugs, make me faster at cross country, and I have always worn them. Would they make me faster at Brighton marathon? Probably. If I were an elite runner competing against others, or up against the clock trying to get a Boston qualifying time, I would be off to the Nike store right now. But I set my marathon pb wearing road shoes, and if I beat that pb now (as if) wearing carbon plate shoes, I would always think, “it was the shoes that did it”.

And so…

Am I going to buy a pair? I don’t think so. If someone gave me some as a present, I would be interested to see what happened, but no, I’m grateful for a reason not to spend the money.

I do occasionally panic that I will be the only one lining up in Brighton in normal shoes, but don’t you worry. If I can run sub-3:30 for a marathon in regular road shoes at 46 years old, I will make sure everyone hears about it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. @_amy_runs_ permalink
    14 February 2022 3:37 pm

    ❤️ NB all the way because I’m biased and wear them (860s) too lol! 💚🖤💛

  2. africker permalink
    21 February 2022 12:24 pm

    Fancy carbon plates at Parkrun? pfff

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