Despite putting in a lot of hours pounding the pavement, I have never been the fastest runner. It’s not for lack of trying! I do fartleks, interval runs, tempo runs—you name it. I read an absurd number of articles about proper running form, and hyper-obsess over minute differences workout-to-workout from running watches and my UA Hovr Infinite shoes. But after running with ASICS’s Glideride sneakers and EvoRide smart shoes at CES, I have a much better idea of what the hell I’m doing wrong.
ASICS’s debut at CES was primarily focused on showcasing how the company’s sneakers can help runners be more efficient with the help of technology. First up, ASICS decided to humble whatever pride in my running form I had by showing me everything I was doing wrong. To do that, they had me run in a normal pair of shoes and then again in a pair of its Glideride sneakers. The Glideride has a special sole that’s designed to reduce how much your ankle flexes during a run. According to ASICS, the more your ankle flexes, the less efficient you are at running. The less efficient you are, the more energy you waste and the faster you tire out on long-distance runs.
Each run was recorded on video and then run through ASICS’s proprietary Run Analyzer program. After that, I got a chance to look at my results and it was honestly one of the first times I’ve realized how many little things go into running. ASICS told me I have decent form—as in I don’t bounce too high, which is bad for knees. And compared to their dataset of 10,000 runners, I generally fall within acceptable averages for arm and leg movements. That said, in the normal shoes my ankles flexed 35 degrees. The same run in the Glideride shoes dropped that number down to 24 degrees. Since both runs were fairly short, it’s hard to say how that would translate over longer distances like a 5K or a 10K. Maybe I’d be able to run longer at my max pace, but it’s impossible to know for sure without testing it for myself.
After trying out the Glideride, I then stuffed my feet into a pair of the EvoRide. My interest was piqued because each shoe has a sensor in its sole. Conversely, my pair of UA Hovr Infinite only has a sensor in the right shoe. I was also curious because the EvoRide shoes measure way more than just speed-centric metrics like cadence or stride. It also measures things like overall efficiency, vertical movement, landing load, kicking force, foot strike, stride height, and ground contact time. And because the sensor is in both shoes, you can get a picture of how symmetrically—or asymmetrically—you run.
Turns out, I am an average runner with an overall score of “B.” ASICS told me that while I’m pretty efficient overall, I have a problem in that I push upward instead of forward with my steps. It also severely roasted me by saying my legs are weak and that I don’t have enough strength in pushing off the ground. It also had the nerve to suggest that if I want to improve, I do more lunges and squats, an exercise I hate with my entire being.
My results also gave me more supporting evidence for a theory I’ve had for a long time—I favor my left leg over my right. My contact time was lower with my left foot, while my stride was longer. This would explain why my left calf is so much beefier than my right.
I’m always pouring over my running data, and this isn’t the first time I’ve taken smart shoes out for a whirl. That said, ASICS did an impressive job of contextualizing all the numbers I try to puzzle together while giving me concrete tips on how to improve. I now know to focus on a more forward step and strike angle. I also begrudgingly accept that I really shouldn’t skip leg day if I want my race times to improve.
I’d have to test both shoes out for a longer period of time to see whether using them could significantly improve my running form. However, I did appreciate the chance to get feedback about where I’m at without having to go to an expensive lab. The Glideride shoes are already available for about $150, but ASICS didn’t have a price nailed down for the EvoRide. That said, the EvoRide shoes will be available worldwide starting February 7.
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