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2013 Running Shoe Guide: Road Tested

  • By Aaron Hersh
  • Published Aug 26, 2013
  • Updated Sep 6, 2013 at 8:45 PM UTC
Photo: John David Becker

Lightweight Trainers

Ecco Biom Evo Racer Lite
Buzzwords: Explosive, versatile
$130, Ecco.com

Responsiveness
The shoe is very responsive and is reminiscent of a racing flat, but with a little more material and support. “It definitely explodes off the ground,” said our tester. “Striding on my forefeet was easy and felt natural with this shoe.” It’s best suited to faster runs because landing on the heel felt “unnatural” in this shoe.

Weight and support
This shoe is capable of accommodating any run stride. “It’s so light and pliable that I didn’t feel it forced my foot to move or stride in any certain way,” said our tester. Striking the ground below the hips felt natural and easy.

Fit
The upper wraps effectively around the foot, binding the shoe to the runner without creating any pressure points. “It fits well without constricting or rubbing,” said our tester. He gave it one of the highest compliments a shoe can receive, saying, “It felt so comfortable and naturally fitting that I didn’t think about it during the run.”

Nike Free 4.0
Buzzwords: Cushioned, flexible
$95, Nike.com

Responsiveness
Ample cushioning takes the sting off the pavement that many equally flexible shoes send up to the runner. Their sensation when running fast, however, is less energetic than other minimalist shoes. “It provides substantial cushioning, but reduces a bit of the springiness compared to some others,” said the tester.

Weight and support
Of all the shoes tested in this category, the Free challenges the runner most to provide his or her own stability. A 65-minute run left the tester’s feet feeling “fatigued,” even after acclimating to the shoes. While it isn’t ideal for racing or long runs, this shoe is great for building strength that is truly running-specific.

Fit
The arch fits snugly and creates a “sock-like” feeling, said our tester, but the elastic upper also allows for a bit more flexibility than in most shoes. While tighter and more secure than many Nike shoes, the Free 4.0 didn’t constrict the tester’s foot.

Avia Avi-Mantis
Buzzwords: Explosive, good value
$80, Avia.com

Responsiveness
When running fast and landing toward the front of the shoe, the Avi-Mantis feels “propulsive and springy,” according to our tester. It has a discernable “pop” off the ground that inspires fast running. Land on the heel, however, and the shoe gives way without much resistance, making it a good choice for mid-foot strikers only.

Weight and support
When landing on the forefoot, “the sole is plenty robust,” said our tester, “but it falls short when heel striking.” It snaps off the ground and feels “exceptionally light” without the flimsy feeling of some pure racing flats.

Fit
The smooth inner liner prevents any hot spots and firmly holds its shape without stretching or expanding. It is cut for slightly bigger feet and fits much more generously than other equally explosive shoes.

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FILED UNDER: Gear & Tech / InsideTri / Run TAGS:

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh is the Senior Tech Editor of Triathlete magazine. To submit a question, write Aaron at Ahersh@competitorgroup.com.

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