Dominic Collichio1, Kyle Edgar1, Erik Hanson, FACSM1, Claudio Battaglini, FACSM1, Mark Belio1, Lilly Niehaus1, Zack Bennett1, Brian Jensen1, Benjamin Gordon2. 1UNC, Chapel Hill, NC. 2University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a carbon fiber plate on running economy (RE) in commercially available shoes of nearly identical midsole composition, geometry, and stack height. Three running shoes were compared; a traditional running shoe, no carbon plate, Razor 3 (R3), a half carbon plated shoe Razor Speed Elite Hyper (SE), and a full carbon plated shoe, Nike Vaporfly (VF). Methods: Nine male participants (18-35 years old) who had completed a 5 Km run in under 18 minutes and no injury or training disruption within a 6-month period of participation completed this 3-visit study. Participants completed a familiarization session, followed by a second visit in which a VO2max test was performed to determine ventilatory threshold (VT). Visit three included a shoe comparison of three different shoes running on a treadmill at a prescribed intensity: 5-10%% above and below VT for a total of six running bouts. Data were collected on VO2, RPE, shoe comfort, and running economy. Data were analyzed using a linear mixed model. Results: When comparing SE vs. R3, the carbon fiber plate did not change RE, when running at intensities below (p = 0.355) and above VT (p = 0.715). There were no differences in heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) in either the R3 (p = 0.875) or VF (p = 0.054) relative to the SE when performing below VT. However, relative to the SE, the VF showed a 2.8 % and 1.6% improvement in RE below (p = 0.005) and above VT (p = 0.019) respectively. The main effect of running intensity (above vs. below VT) was observed for VO2 (p < 0.001) and HR (p < 0.001). R3 remained unchanged independent of running speed relative to the SE (p = 0.827), while RE in the VF was increased (p = 0.046). No shoe condition x speed interaction was observed for HR (p = 0.323) or RPE (p = 0.125). Conclusion: The current findings of this study suggest that a carbon fiber plate alone may not account for RE improvements but play a contributory role in racing. While not statistically significant, the SE may provide physiologically significant improvements at faster running speeds. The current study is ongoing, and additional data are necessary to determine the true benefit or lack thereof of a carbon fiber plate on performance metrics.

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