When you earn miles, you better focus on performance. Regardless of your individual needs and preferences, you can ensure that your selected footwear delivers by choosing a brand with running tech references and family tree.
Let’s start with the big hits. It may be a multisport, global giant with extremely chic marketing and fashion-friendly design, but since the first waffle sole in 1974, Nike has been a powerhouse in running technology. Among the many breakthroughs, the “innovation kitchen” gave us the free midsole for more “natural” running in 2004, both before the barefoot madness and before survival.
Last year, the shoe, developed for Eliud Kipchoge’s less than two-hour marathon attempt, gave speed-conscious consumers the same “spring” midsole footplate for forward propulsion in the Zoom Fly. The new React midsole foam offers an impressive combination of softer landing and greater energy return when pushing off, while the Pegasus is such a trustworthy all-round classic that it has existed for two decades and is evolving gently.
This other mainstream giant, Adidas, is not far behind. The groundbreaking Boost midsole material rewrote the rules for cushioning and energy return in 2013 and is now the basis for many excellent Adi running shoes and sneakers, from the immediate classic Ultraboost in the fourth iteration to the slimmed-down Speedster, the Adios Adizero Boost, worn by Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany in big marathon victories.
Core Running Brands
The Japanese brand Asics has a massive and extremely loyal following among runners and has a serious running pedigree. Nike founder Phil Knight sold Onitsuka (the former name of the company that still adorns its retro models) running shoes from a van before the Swoosh was a wink to a marketing man, and they go on to be reliable and innovative.
Another starting point for runners who deliver quality across a variety of different shoe types is Saucony with classics such as the fast Type A, the pronation control guide and the neutral padded all-rounder Kinvara in the long-term of stability.
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Others worth considering are Brooks, New Balance, which has recently taken a serious look at running again, with a new focus on its legacy, a great new midsole material made from ‘Fresh Foam’ and some excellent ones Shoes – and 361 degrees, a relative newcomer to the West. but an established mega-brand in their home country of China.
Finally, there are a number of niche shoe brands, each with their own USP and narrower focus. Hoka One One released its first “maximum” cushioned shoe in 2009, which offers a tremendous amount of midsole padding and a “rocker” shape to propel you forward. It was a formula for success that achieved exponential growth and created a whole new category of running shoes.
Another outfit that does things differently is ON. Since 2010, the Swiss brand has used its characteristic cushion sleeves (which it evocatively calls “clouds”) on the underside of its shoes. They look distinctive to say the least, but the design – which compresses on impact to deflect shocks, snaps together briefly to create a stable platform, and then pops apart to push your foot off the floor – works well and has deservedly won a cult following and numerous industry awards.
Finally, Altra’s unique selling point is to promote natural movement through “zero drop”, which means that there is no difference in sole thickness between the forefoot and heel of the shoes.
The brand also uses an oversized toe box to allow your toes to spread and move as nature intended.Kacamata Rayban