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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Fitness > June 2019 > THE ART AND SCIENCE OF SPEED

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF SPEED

The latest scientifically created running shoes promise to help you run faster, save energy and smash your personal best. But how robust is the research? And can hi-tech shoes really make you a better runner?

The big sportswear brands are locked in an expensive, science-fuelled arms race to build ever-faster running shoes. That’s not surprising, seeing as the global athletic footwear market was valued at a colossal $37.8 billion in 2017 and is predicted to reach $95.14 billion by 2025. But what many people, even regular runners, know much less about is what goes on behind the scenes – how companies arrive at the seemingly endless innovations designed to boost your speed, stamina and running economy.

In February, Asics launched the game-changing Metaride. Priced at £225 in the UK, it’s equipped with a curved Guidesole designed to “rock” your foot more quickly from heel to toe with each step. Research by Progressive Sports Technologies, an innovation consultancy based at Loughborough University, suggests the shoe can deliver a 20% reduction in energy loss around the ankle joint, helping to make runners faster and more efficient.

Nike’s seminal Vaporfly 4% Flyknit (£209.95) – worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he slashed the marathon world record to 2hr 1min 39sec in Berlin in September 2018 – features an energy-returning foam sole, derived from aerospace innovation, which is believed to improve your running economy by 4%. The upper is constructed from a featherlight yarn, while the stiff carbon-fibre plate running from the heel to the toe minimises unwanted flexion during push-off to power up your forward propulsion.

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