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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

Racing Flats

Created specifically for fast workouts and races, they’re typically best for runners with solid form and stability.

Mizuno Wave Ronin 5
Buzzwords: Snappy, balanced
$105, Mizunousa.com
*Top Performer*

Responsiveness
The sole is rigid and highly responsive. It feels firm underfoot and sends energy back up to the runner during a fast 5K or 10K. The Ronin 5 jolts off the ground yet provides “plenty of protection” for a 70.3.

Fit
The redesigned upper is “less restrictive and more breathable” than prior versions of the shoe, according to our tester. Despite these benefits, it still locks the shoe into place with a fit that feels balanced from the front to back and is anchored by a dependable heel cup that prevents slippage.

Support and cushioning
Despite the low weight and flexible sole, the Ronin doesn’t require a massive adjustment for athletes accustomed to heavier trainers. With a 10mm heel-to-toe drop, it helps support calf muscles fatigued from a hard ride.

Karhu Flow Light
Buzzwords: Protective, comfortable
$110, Karhu.com

Responsiveness
Robust cushioning under the mid-foot “provides a feeling of protection underfoot,” said our tester. Although it rode nicely for longer tempo runs, it lacked the extreme snap required for fast intervals and track workouts.

Fit
With a nearly seam-free upper, the Flow Light is exceptionally comfortable without socks. “The shoe fit my foot securely from heel to toe, but was on the narrow side in the forefoot,” said our tester.

Support and cushioning
Considering its minimal weight, the Flow Light provides a relatively sturdy foundation and barrier from the ground. It feels robust laterally and doesn’t allow the foot to cave in toward the center of the body as some light shoes have a tendency to do.

New Balance RC 1400
Buzzwords: Snug, cushioned
$90, Newbalance.com

Responsiveness
Ride feel in this shoe is substantially softer than the other two race flats. Its light weight helps promote a quick stride rate, but the added cushioning provides a more forgiving feel.

Fit
The rear of the shoe is cut to average width, and the front fits like a pure, traditional race flat. “It provides a snug heel fit and wraps the mid-foot well,” said our tester. “Runners with a wider forefoot will feel squeezed in the toe box.”

Support and cushioning
This shoe feels “low to the ground but still provides a fair amount of cushioned protection underfoot, which will serve more efficient runners well over the long haul,” our tester said. “It is light enough for shorter races and speed workouts, but cushioned enough to keep you comfortable for longer distances.”

RELATED – Sole Decision: Hybrid Run 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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