This week's column:
Should I Switch to Speed Boots?
Oct. 24, 2012
Hi, Bill: I own a pair of Rollerblade Speedmachine 100s [Editor's note: the Speedmachine is a marathon skate with a medium-high cuff]. This past summer I hit my goal of doing a 25-mile skate (complete with some good blisters) and I am hoping to keep going. I have always worn a high-cuff boot and was considering making the jump to a low-cut racing boot. I am nervous about shelling out $400-plus to find out I don’t like them. What do you think? Will the low boots allow me to go longer distances without butchering my feet? Thanks for the advice. - Matt from Michigan.
Hi, Matt from Michigan: To go further, you need to go faster. And to go faster, you need speed boots.
To develop high speed on skates, you have to do three things:
1) push your knees forward over your toes
2) lower your butt (as though you are sitting), and
3) bend your torso forward at an angle of 90 to 107 degrees.
These things are not easy to do, especially for middle-age or older skaters. But they are all the more difficult if you are wearing high-cuff boots.
High cuffs restrict your ankle motion. This makes it difficult to bend your knees enough to sit back in your skates and keep your knees over your toes.
On the other hand, low-cut boots leave your ankles free to move, allowing you to assume the proper skating position.
It's true that low-cuff boots take some getting used to. They put more strain on your ankles, so you are likely to feel wobbly until you develop your ankle strength.
Low-cut boots are also more rigid, which can result in blisters and hot spots on your feet.
But you can avoid these by having your boots properly fitted or heat-molded and by wearing, if necessary, ankle booties or doughnuts.
From what you have told me, it sounds like you are ready for speed boots and would probably enjoy them once you get used to them.
So go head, buy yourself a quality pair of speed skates with 110mm wheels or a hi-lo setup with three 110s and one 100.
Once you get used to them, you will probably never want to go back.