From springy carbon fibre plates to slipper-like one-piece uppers, here are five of the latest innovations setting the pace in the running shoe arms race.
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New Balance FuelCell Rebel
One in a four-strong line-up of shoes that pack New Balance’s cutting edge FuelCell foam, the Rebel is made for the everyday runner who wants to go fast in training and come race day.
At 208g it’s super lightweight but not so stripped back that it’s only for vest-wearing speedsters and short, fast runs.
That rebound FuelCell foam is more than a match for adidas BOOST or Nike React, and makes for a versatile running shoe that’s as comfortable over longer distances as it is eating up pacey speed sessions. And despite the lack of a carbon fibre plate, you get a run that’s highly responsive, fun and fast when you need it to be.
Throw in a knitted mesh bootie that makes the upper snug and supportive and you’ve got a winning shoe. (Note: it comes in small, so buy one size up from your usual.)
HOKA Carbon X
Recently used by champion ultra runner Jim Walmsley to smash the 50-mile world record, the Carbon X is HOKA’s answer to Nike’s ‘Next%’ record-breaking marathon racing shoe.
Its carbon-fibre plate provides less aggressive propulsion than the Next%, and combined with a long-run friendly wedge of cushioning and snug-fitting upper, you get a versatile, lightweight shoe you can use to run ultras, tackle long, fast training runs or even race a marathon.
The MetaRide wants to change the shape of running – literally. Built to help heel strikers or forefoot runners who drift back onto their heels when they get tired, its curved sole encourages a heel-to-toe rocking motion with every strike.
Compared to normal running shoes, this roll reduces energy wasted at the ankle joint by 20 per cent. It’s a tad heavy, but for anyone running at a four-to-seven-hour marathon pace, it’s worth a look.
UA HOVR Infinite
The HOVR Infinite has a sensor tucked into the sole of the right shoe that tracks your runs and provides stats for running stride length and cadence. All the info is automatically beamed to the MapMyRun app for you to check later.
But this connected shoe isn’t just a chip-toting gimmick: it runs well, too. The upper is supportive but lightweight, and the cushioned sole delivers excellent comfort and plenty of bounce.
Nike Joyride Flyknit Run
Pitched as the perfect shoe to lace up for go-slow DOMS-day recovery runs, the Joyride features four pockets – spread from toe to heel – filled with thousands of tiny plastic beads that move, compress and expand as you run. The aim: to create a comfortable ride that’s personalised to your unique foot strike and your gait.
At a weighty 325g for a UK size 9, it’s more running’s luxury saloon than a sports car. And the deliberately less responsive, super-comfy ride translates to slower miles on the road.
The upper is a combination of Flyknit and neoprene, with plenty of wiggle room for your pinkies and a sock-like fit that adds to the overall comfort.
That combination might make the shoe ideal for ticking over short runs with minimal impact on your beleaguered feet and muscles, but £160 is a lot to shell out for a trainer you only use for recovery.
If you’re a couch-to-5k beginner runner, or a style-hunting sneakerhead who enjoys well-cushioned strolls around town, it might be worth a look. No one else really needs it.