TWO RUNNERS: SARAH & CLAUDIA
Looking for a little motivation to get you out on the road? How about a new pair of running shoes! We asked Nike, Asics, Newton, Hoka, and Brooks to send us their top picks for a lightweight neutral trainer. Since different runners like different shoes, I invited Sarah Toland, co-author of Lindsay Vonn’s recently published book, Strong Is The New Beautiful, and a 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the 5K and 10K, to road test these running shoes with me. She’s a tall and lanky gazelle of a runner, while I’m shorter and more compact in my running style — what Sarah describes as “a recreational marathoner with zeal”. My goal is simply to get from point A to point B. Hers is to do it fast! Here are two different runners thoughts on five of the newest top trainers:
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NIKE LUNARGLIDE 8 $120
Nike says: The LunarGlide 8 offers breathable support and exceptionally soft cushioning to help you glide through your longest runs. Engineered mesh provides comfortable breathability while Flywire technology adapts to your foot for a secure fit. The soft, contoured Lunarlon midsole has precision-lasered cuts on the sides that collapse during footstrike to help you reach a smoother stride. A dynamic support platform adds comfortable, lightweight stability without weighing you down.
Sarah says: I loved how the Lunarglide fit my narrow foot and offered a great combination of a firm feel and well-cushioned ride. I wish it was a bit more springy and responsive, otherwise it might be my favorite out of all those we tested.
Claudia says: That’s so funny, I found it very springy and responsive! It was super lightweight too. I loved it. The sole is very flexible, which is something I prefer, and I found it to be a great cross training shoe as well. I wore them in a couple of the High Intensity Interval Training and boxing classes I’ve been taking this month in my 31 Days of Fitness challenge. They come in lots of great colors too.
NEWTON GRAVITY V $175
Newton says: The Gravity V neutral trainer is built for runners who want a daily training shoe that also functions brilliantly as a faster tempo pace run or a race shoe. This model is the pinnacle of performance and comfort. Runners get better comfort and breathability from the new seamless engineered mesh upper and newly modified, 4-way stretch mesh metatarsal panel. The Gravity V combines the highly responsive POP1 platform with a innovative new bottom for enhanced flexibility and full foot cushioning.
Sarah says: I’ve been a fan of Newtons since the brand first appeared in the shoe game. The forefoot plate on this model, like most Newtons, provided a sense of forward propulsion that I’ve always liked, but I do believe the plate works best for midfoot strikers, which I am. The shoe was probably the firmest of all we tested, which I also liked, but it could be too firm for runners used to soft-feeling or pillowy trainers. But overall, I really liked the shoe and felt it was the most responsive of all the pairs we tested.
Claudia says: I prefer a bit more heel cushioning as I’m more of a heel striker, but I found I adjusted my stride for the shoes. I did really like the forward propulsion the lugs on the sole provided. I found I ran pretty fast in them too!
BROOKS LAUNCH 3 $100
Brooks says: Rocket through runs in this streamlined, neutral women’s running shoe. The DNA midsole cushioning dynamically adapts to your size and speed for amazing energy return, the midfoot is shaped for fast heel-to-toe transitions, and added rubber in the forefoot gives you extra-springy push-off. Plus, the ultra light upper maximizes ventilation to keep your feet cool and dry. It all comes together in these women’s running shoes to make for fun, comfortable, and out-of-this-world runs.
Sarah says: I was pleasantly surprised by the Launch, especially since I’ve run in many pairs of Brooks over the years and have never been wowed like this. After my first few runs in the model, I thought the shoe was well-cushioned, firm and fast. Admittedly, it lost some of its early appeal over time as I tested more models and did additional runs, but I still think it’s a great choice, especially for Brooks fans.
Claudia says: I have never run in Brooks before and I loved these shoes! They have become my favorite pair in the closet. They are lightweight, cushioned, responsive and fast!
ASICS FUZEX $110
Asics says: Versatile and polished, the fuzeX™ shoe provides optimal cushioning with a contemporary appeal. Midsole is a fusion of Gel® property and foam for the ultimate rearfoot shock absorption that transfers to the forefoot during take off. This exciting addition offers a unique ride with full ground contact and a quick responsiveness to keep you moving.
Sarah says: This was probably my favorite model of all the pairs we tested. It offered the rare quaternion of being well-cushioned, firm, responsive and springy. It also fit my narrow foot the best and felt as if it has a pod under the arch, which provided a sensation of support.
Claudia says: We really are so different. I didn’t love this shoe. The sole was a little too stiff for my personal preference and I didn’t find the cushioning as responsive as I would have liked.
HOKA CLIFTON 3 $130
Hoka says: The Clifton 3 improves upon its decorated heritage with this new release. The upper features a new fit with a more accommodating forefoot, as well as a seamless speed frame construction for lightweight and supreme comfort. A similar midsole geometry means that the industry leading ride remains as light and smooth as ever. When cushioning and light weight are your top priorities, look no further.
Sarah says: This shoe was definitely the most pillowy of all the pairs we tested. I was also surprised by how light and fast it felt, despite its high-profile sole. I probably wouldn’t opt to run speed or tempo work in the model, but it’s great shoe for daily training or recovery runs.
Claudia says: I agree. While the high profile sole is too much for me, the cushioning felt great and it’s surprisingly lightweight. I think it’s perfect for someone who wants to put in the miles, but needs more impact absorption to go the distance.
Sarah Toland is the Editorial Director of Excelle Sports