In terms of innovation, the running world has seen it all. Over the years the gap between brands has become smaller and smaller. Designers are now examining running shoes the same way a scientist builds a rocket ship. Extracting the absolute most, from the absolute minimum. What we now know as ‘super shoes’, each brand are constantly exploring and developing ways in which to help propel their athletes to the top of the leader boards.
This boundary pushing obsession has always been prevalent within running. Starting with lower profile, lightweight runners such as the Nike Daybreak worn by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1984 or the Nike Zoom Streak Ekiden worn by Paula Radcliff in 2002. In 2017 though, things began to change. The 2 hour marathon was in the eyesights of Nike and INEOS. An elusive time never before thought to be achievable. This was of course the ‘Breaking 2’ project.
With one eye looking back 63 years into the past, when the famed Sir Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile, and the other focused on this new phenomenon. It led running giants Nike, into a whole new world of super shoes. One which made every other running brand take note. Though the barrier wasn’t broke (all be it by only 25 seconds), it showed the possible, may in fact be possible.
Fast forward to 2023 however and the carbon plated super shoe is now a normality within all major performance brands. Nike with their NEXT% line, adidas with the Pro Evo 1 and now brands such as ON, HOKA, Mizuno and Saucony have entered the game.
So, why are they called super shoes we hear you ask. This comes down to the technology housed within each shoe. Each with similar concepts in-terms of tech but each doing it in their own unique way. All in aid of pushing the boundaries of possible. It sure has made sure the racing regulators are doing their jobs!
Super shoes tend to be composed of three key design components. Although the specifics between each brand varry, the overall template stays the same:
Highly reactive midsole foams : Giving greater energy return and additional cushioning reducing strain to the joints. Most brands utilising PEBAX foams.
Carbon fiber plate : Offering a greater energy return within each stride, propelling the athlete that little bit more than the standard running shoe can offer.
Rocker type design : Reducing the amount of flexion within the ankle joint, creating a better stride pattern for the athlete as well as conservering more energy. Encouraging the wearer to land more so on their forefoot than anywhere else.
Here are some technological variants between some brands: the Nike Alphafly has been known to feature additional Air units, adizero Adios Pro utilises carbon rods (rather than a carbon plate) to replicate the metatarsals in the foot, whilst Saucony uses their Speedroll technology as their ‘rocker’ mechanism.
The list could go on!
Although the giants continue to battle it out for this year’s elusive top spot, it’s evident that everyone wants a slice of the pie. adidas athlete Tigst Assefa stormed through Berlin in a pair of Adizero Adios Evo Pro 1’s with an incredible women’s world record of 2:11:53, only for Kevin Kiptum two weeks later to do the same in Chicago in Nike’s unreleased Alphafly 3, dominating the course with a new men’s world record of 2:00:35.
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As well as on the center stage though, these super shoes are becoming more and more available to the everyday runner. With the most extreme versions hitting the online stores to be purchased but also filtered down versions to make products available to all types of runners and all types of runs.
Make sure to stay locked to our social channels for updates on the launch of the Nike NEXT% Alphafly 3, coming soon to Footpatrol!