The sportswear market has become increasingly flooded with high-end “super shoes” for running, often constructed from lightweight materials and containing a carbon plate, such as the Nike Vaporfly, which claims to significantly boost the wearer’s running time. In a recent challenge video, Mark and Sam from the Global Triathlon Network attempt to answer one of the questions on every runner’s mind: is it worth spending more on running shoes?
They conduct a series of tests to determine whether the pricier, so-called super shoe has any more of an impact on running speed than a cheaper shoe, comparing the On Cloudboom, which retails at £170 (around $230), includes a carbon plate running from heel to toe over a super foam layer, and weighs only 225 grams, and the more basic Sollomensi, which costs just £30 (or $40), and weighs the same as the Cloudboom.
“We know there’s a lot of variables at play here,” says Mark, “but we wanted to do this basic test to cut through the advertising and see what the basic differences are on the ground.”
First, they each run two sets of 400 meters, one wearing the super shoe, the other wearing the cheap shoe. Then, after allowing some time for recovery, they switch shoes and run the same distance twice again.
“That was a long 400,” says Sam, having run in the cheaper shoe. “It doesn’t feel like they give you anything. It just feels like you’re really working hard… it’s like running on hard sand.” Mark, similarly, notes that the cheaper shoe lacks the energy return he experienced with the other pair. Both guys achieve better times in their 400s wearing the Cloudbooms.
The second test is two sets of a 2K tempo, where once again, Mark and Sam switch shoes between runs.
“It’s not necessarily about time, it’s also about how it felt, but I ran slower and it felt harder,” says Sam, after running 2K in both pairs of runners. “I thought there wouldn’t be that much in it, but it just makes such a difference.”
Mark adds that a super shoe is far from necessary for casual runners, but that they’re not going to do the running for you. His advice would be that spending as little as £20 / $30 more than the Sollomensis would likely yield results, as opposed to shelling out hundreds of dollars on top-of-the-line racing shoes.
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