Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Two of my favorite things in one blog — running and innovation. Normally, I run 5K during the week. On the weekends, I find 8K and 10K races. While I would say I run at racing speed, I enjoy the atmosphere and the cold beer at the finish.  
My shoe of choice forever has been New Balance, 9 ½, EE. These fit like a glove and in all of my years, I’ve never had any problems. But then I read an article in Business Week that had me thinking.
How Nike Started a Sneaker Arms Race” talked about running and innovation. Nike’s innovation has led to a new shoe with a carbon fiber plate, lightweight foam, and a stiff forefoot that rocks you forward. According to the brand, out of the box, you are 4% better.  
The article offers technical discussion of the shoe and competitors complaining about unfair advantage. But innovation is innovation. And, as a runner, I was curious. 
Of course, Nike’s latest shoe comes at a price. Much more than I wanted to spend. But the article indicated that Hoka, as a competitor, came a close second, and at a lower price. So, yes, I purchased a pair of Hoka One carbon-fiber-plated shoes, More on how that turned out later. Let’s first look at the research into this new innovation in running shoes.

Innovation in Running Shoes

The New York Times published scientific details on Nike, Hoka and other shoes in its article “That Spring in Their Step? Even a Bigger Edge.”  Apparently, the carbon-fiber plate stores and releases energy with each stride and acts as a kind of slingshot or catapult to propel runners.  The lightweight foam also increases running economy.  
The Times analysis suggested, “that the advantage these shoes bestow is real — and larger than previously estimated.” Their findings:
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As for my training? I saw results too. Every year a 15 K “Hot Chocolate” Race is run in 18 cities in the US as well as Mexico City and Guadalajara for the “Make-A-Wish” foundation. I participated in 2018 and 2020. My time in 2018 was 2:09:29 running in New Balance 990. With the Hoka One One, my time improved to 2:03:14. That’s an improvement of 4.75%.10596_6542665_enm1767435957ram-1.jpg
I would like to say I trained better for 2020. But, maybe it was the running shoes. Or maybe I was just more motivated by the power of innovation on my feet!
Let me know your running style. We can get a couple kilometers in next time we see each other.