A number of outside factors have been impacting the running footwear market in 2023.By Beth Goldstein, Footwear
Circana (formerly IRI and The NPD Group)
The footwear industry has been on a wild ride over the past few years. I liken it to one of those pendulum rides at amusement parks that swing high up in the air, from one side to the other. In 2020, footwear units sold in the U.S. declined by 16 percent, then grew by 14 percent in 2021, and declined by five percent in 2022, according to Circana’s Consumer Tracking Service.
Running footwear has followed a similar sales pattern. As running participation increased during the pandemic in 2020, the category gained market share. However, those market-share gains have declined since then. Running participation numbers have also fallen to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).
However, there is one factor that has continued to positively impact the running footwear market: fashion. Of course, we cannot discount the performance aspect of running footwear, but I don’t think anyone can argue against the fashion element becoming increasingly important in buying decisions.
Looking Good, Performing Well
The popularity of outdoor and fitness activities during the pandemic has propelled this fashion
influence. Participation in hiking, outdoor running and other activities increased, so the aesthetics of gear that is related to these activities grew in popularity. And even though many Americans now find themselves with less time to allocate to these activities, interest is still high relative to pre-pandemic times. By donning the goods, everyone can look and feel like they just came off the road or trail.
To be clear, the blurring of active footwear and fashion footwear is nothing new. It took off about 15 years ago as interest in fitness activities grew. The athleisure concept was born and it now represents about one-third of total U.S. footwear sales.
Until recently, performance athletic shoes were mainly reserved for performance athletics, but this attitude has been changing. In 2022, one-third of running-shoe unit sales were attributed primarily to athletic, sport or exercise use, which fell five points versus 2019.
Just over 60 percent of unit
sales were attributed to other uses – including casual or everyday use, weekends, and work – rising three points versus pre-pandemic 2019. A smaller percentage (five percent) was attributed to “equal use for all,” which is two points higher than in 2019. These increases underscore the growing appeal of wearing running footwear more broadly.
After dropping in 2021 due to high demand and low supply, the percent of footwear units sold on promotion has returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, the level of running footwear promotion remains below 2019. This is partially due to Hoka, On and other non-promotional brands gaining share in the running market. Their rise can be attributed not only to their performance features, but also to their fashion and comfort elements for everyday use.
Pricing Leveling Out
Adult running footwear category sales revenue grew five percent, year over year, in 2022 — 17 percent higher than 2019 levels. However, unit sales declined by four percent versus 2021 and fell eight percent compared to 2019. This trend shows that while price increases are keeping sales revenue growing, unit demand has slowed.
Based on Circana’s Future of Footwear report, we expect pricing growth to level out in 2023, which will mean that sales revenue will begin to decline unless unit sales pick up. With that being said, retailers and manufacturers
need to identify opportunities for continued growth in the market.
One of these growth opportunities is the women’s footwear market. The women’s and men’s running segments are very similar in sales volume, at about $3 billion each annually. However, while men’s running footwear represents about nine percent of all men’s footwear sales, women’s running footwear comprises only seven percent of total women’s footwear sales. This might not seem like a big difference, but if women’s running footwear closed that two-point gap, it could translate to almost $800 million in annual sales.
Making It New Again
Another opportunity can be found through newness and innovation. According to Circana’s Retail Tracking Service, the share of running shoe unit sales generated by new releases was only about 12 percent in 2022. This number has not only declined since 2021, when the percent of unit sales generated by items released in that year was 23 percent, but also fell below the industry average. We should be seeing more innovation at retail, not less. In thinking about innovation, the industry needs to consider both performance and fashion elements.
A third opportunity is finding ways to attract a younger consumer base. According to CivicScience, consumers aged 18-24 are two times more likely to run or jog for fitness on a weekly basis, compared to the general population.
Younger consumers make up a growing segment of the running footwear market. They seem to be leaning into the recommendations of fitness influencers on social media and participating in online and offline running and walking communities that promote fashion, as well as fitness.
To continue to grow, the running industry needs to retain buyers gained since 2020 – approximately eight million, according to Circana’s Checkout data –and continue to acquire new participants. With casual running and jogging participation increasing, according to SFIA, and with core participation declining, the fashion piece of the running footwear industry puzzle may be even more important than we realize. n
Younger consumers make up a growing segment of the running footwear market. They seem to be leaning into the recommendations of fitness influencers on social media and participating in online and offline running and walking communities that promote fashion, as well as fitness.
After dropping in 2021 due to high demand and low supply, the percent of footwear units sold on promotion has returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, the level of running footwear promotion remains below 2019.
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The Instagram page of Seven Hills Running Shop is packed with photos of newly released shoes. Seven Hills owner Phil Kochik also sprinkles in regular shoe reviews, including his own side-by-side comparisons of updated models against their predecessor.
In many ways, updated running shoe models represent good news for Seven Hills. Kochik says new launches generate excitement on social media and at his Seattle-based retail store with events like shoe demo runs. But in other ways, updated models, specifically those on 12-month timelines, create business challenges.
“At that kind of quick cadence, it’s hard to be fully stocked and loaded and not have a lot left over that you’re forced to discount,” Kochik admits, while also acknowledging that longer model lifecycles stir their own challenges. “Even the most popular shoes get stale.”
Defining the right lifecycle for performance running shoe models is a complex and layered affair and something many of the run specialty market’s footwear players continue to evaluate.
Extending Some Updates
Traditionally, major running footwear brands have operated on a 12-month timeline for footwear updates. Once upon a time, and like clockwork, a new edition of the Nike Pegasus dropped every summer while ASICS rolled out the latest version of the Nimbus with the turn of the calendar year.
While the 12-month update cycle remains prevalent, even the norm, footwear brands are increasingly bucking tradition and embracing longer timelines, extending model updates to 18 or even 24 months.
Five years ago, Altra largely operated on a 12-month cadence with its footwear
updates. Increasingly, though, Altra has introduced 24-month life cycles, as seen with models like the Olympus, Timp, Paradigm and Superior.
To decide if a particular model will sit on a 12- or 24-month cycle, Altra senior product line manager of footwear Alex Lind says brand leadership considers a range of factors from how established the model is in the marketplace and the extent
of its following to the needs of the brand’s retail partners.
“We never want to be making updates just to update,” Lind says. “Product has to have a reason to be.”
Sometimes, Lind allows, shoe updates on a 12-month timeline can feel like changes on the fly, particularly for established shoes. A longer lifecycle, however, enables Altra’s team to look at the update as a new
product and hit the market with releases that are purposeful and impactful.
“If you can spend more time planning out updates, then you can steer a little easier,” he says.
The Two-Year Cycle
For some brands, the 24-month lifecycle is the norm, not the exception.
Topo Athletic has long favored “at least” two-year life cycles for its shoe updates. As an up-and-coming challenger brand with a heavy run
specialty presence, Topo product manager Russ Stevens says longer lead times on inventory allow the company to better manage cash flow, help the brand’s retail partners regulate Topo inventory and enable customers who enjoy a particular model to replicate that experience multiple times throughout a given model’s lifecycle.
“A lot of customers like the fit of the product, so we want to keep giving them that familiarity,” Stevens says, adding that Topo, while comfortable with its
two-year cadence, wouldn’t hesitate to update a model sooner if deemed necessary.
The two-year product lifecycle brings its challenges, namely running the risk that Topo appears stagnant on the shoe wall (or an e-commerce website). To counter this, Topo – like others with longer update times – regularly introduces color updates, though the cadence of that varies by model.
“We still want our customers to see interesting and lively products from us,” Stevens says.
“But as a discovery brand, even if our product is in the market for more than a year, customers are still discovering it, so it feels like new product to many.”
For many brands, the pandemic and its manufacturing, sourcing and supply chain hiccups urged pause and earnest reflection on product flows and introductions into the marketplace, which included evaluating the traditional 12-month timeline.
Danny Orr, general manager of performance running at New Balance, says he and his team have embraced an opportunity to become even more intentional with updates, evaluating models one by one. New Balance continues operating on the traditional 12-month cadence with many models, particularly those with hefty innovation or aimed at the tip-of-the-spear consumer. In other cases, though, New Balance has extended updates.
Case in point: New Balance initially slotted the release of the 1080 version 13 for March, a 12-month update. But leadership paused that update and sent the shoe back to the innovation team for further refinement. The revised 1080, featuring added forefoot stiffness and new foam, will now drop in November.
“We were more progressive with what the update will be for us and it’s a more impactful update for the runner,” Orr says of the 1080.
New Balance will continue to assess update timelines, Orr says. In cases where newness, innovation and freshness are
especially prized, a quicker cadence may win out. With footwear targeting more traditional consumers, the cadence might be more methodical.
“Our intention is to be more thoughtful, analytical and consumer driven regarding what our updates are looking like,” Orr says.
Run Retailers Weigh In
For running retailers, longer update times bring challenges, particularly if a brand releases new colorways that adhere to minimum advertising pricing while discounting older colors of the same model. Lengthier update times also make it easier for a consumer to order the second shoe online and bypass a visit to their local running store since they know precisely what they’re getting.
Jess Hoepner, co-owner of the four-store Performance Running Outfitters chain in Milwaukee, prefers annual updates, saying new shoes drive excitement among staff and customers and also allow the store to showcase its customercentric, specialty vibe.
“Updated models give us the opportunity to have conversations with our customers about what the updates are, which leads to us educating the customer and showing our value,” Hoepner says.
Kochik, meanwhile, considers the 18-month timelines “the sweet spot” — not too quick to cause inventory management and profitability dilemmas, yet not too long that a model gets stale. With the 12-month updates, Kochik finds a notable number of customers waiting for the new model to drop, so they can either: a.) get the latest technology; or b.) purchase the previous model at a discount.
“With 12-month updates, especially the most popular models you need to have on hand, it’s hard to be fully stocked and loaded without having a lot left over,” he says.
Kochik does favor the traditional 12-month cadence in one particular instance, though.
“If a shoe’s a bust, then 12 months is ideal,” he says. “Get it out and move on.” n
For running retailers, longer update times bring challenges, particularly if a brand releases new colorways that adhere to minimum advertising pricing while discounting older colors of the same model.Topo Athletics introduces the Phantom 3 this month, two years after its predecessor made its debut in May 2021. The updated Phantom features a softer, lighter and more responsive ZipFoam.
For Every Runner
Run specialty insole leader Superfeet is making big changes this year, including updating all packaging and changing almost every product name across the more than 30 insole styles the brand sells. Running Insight talked with Matt Gooch, Superfeet VP of Product & Innovation, to learn more.
Why make these updates?
Superfeet’s updated product names and packaging better serves the demands of ever-evolving retail environments, making it easier for new sales staff to recommend the right products and providing a clear path for unassisted shoppers to understand how each Superfeet product will fit and feel under the foot, and how it will fit in the shoe. The changes provide consistency across the Superfeet product line and easy differentiation between styles, and they set Superfeet apart as the insole brand for all types of consumers.
How does the new packaging help tell the story?
New product names provide a direct indication of what the insole does and how it can be used. Both the product names and packaging follow a consistent formula driven by the most
frequently asked questions during the insole fitting process: What can I use the product for? What does the product do for me? How will it fit? How will it feel?
How does this impact the product names?
The new packaging clearly communicates the fit, feel and experience of each style while showcasing the values and authority of the Superfeet brand. Superfeet set out to make its packaging easy to understand and inclusive, mixing biomechanical science and personality to invite more people into the brand. Validation from extensive consumer testing indicates that this updated packaging appeals to all types of runners — from those just starting out to seasoned marathoners.
How do these changes impact Superfeet running-specific insoles? While our products have not changed, this update helped us streamline and better communicate the full spectrum of Superfeet styles to fit every runner. Among our running-specific insoles, runners can choose whether they prefer the structured, more responsive feel of EVOLyte® carbon fiber-based insoles in our Run Support insoles or the flexible
support of our Run Cushion insoles. With the addition of our new Run Cushion Medium Arch product, available for booking now, we have the most wellrounded product offering in the industry, to meet the needs of every shopper that comes through your doors.
What’s next in 2023 from Superfeet? Get Superfeet shape under more feet! We are on a mission to be the essential, life-changing shape under every foot. With these updates, we can help more people discover and enjoy Superfeet, removing barriers that may prevent them from being active, comfortable, and confident on their feet. And when that happens, people can do more of what they love and live happier, healthier lives.
CUSHION MEDIUM ARCH
All the bene ts of signature Superfeet shape with soft underfoot cushioning and exible support, now available in three different arch heights to t every runner.
The case for carrying kids’ footwear – and selling the category well.
As long as Allie Vincent has been on the payroll at Swags Sport Shoes in Louisville, KY – 16 years and counting, she reminds – youth footwear has inhabited a space in the business.
“When families come in, having youth footwear allows us to be their one-stop shop,” says Vincent, Swags’ general manager.
The two-store operation typically carries upwards of 15 models from brands such as New Balance, ASICS, Saucony and Chaco with sizes to accommodate toddlers to preteens. Last year, it added Diadora to the mix. And this year, Swags is incorporating youth models from On and Hoka.
“Our philosophy is that if we get kids into good footwear when they’re young, then we’ll become their go-to shoe store,” Vincent says.
While some run shops reject youth footwear altogether and some have entered and exited the category over the years, others have maintained a firm commitment to kids’ footwear and invested in inventory, programming, partnerships and staff training to make youth shoes a steady part of their business.
Why Carry Kids Shoes?
Like Swags, Playmakers in Okemos, MI, has been carrying youth shoes for decades. In fact, when Playmakers acquired a neighboring storefront years ago, it sliced that space in half and devoted the front entirely to kids’ footwear. That space currently features 14 different athletic shoe models, including options from New Balance, Saucony, ASICS and Nike in addition to casual footwear options, including sandals and boots, from brands such as Keen, Birkenstock, Teva and Chaco.
Playmakers leadership views kids’ shoes/ By Danny Smith
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Kids Rock (continued)
as a long-term investment in its customers, optimistic that a quality pair of shoes excites young customers and cultivates affinity for Playmakers. Yet more, a strong selection of youth footwear positions Playmakers to earn doctor referrals, a significant contributor to its adult business, says Playmakers coowner Jake Crowe.
In Bethlehem, PA, youth footwear has been a longtime staple at Aardvark Sports. The 39-yearold running store typically
carries six-to-eight footwear models in various colorways.
While Aardvark footwear buyer Jon Notary wouldn’t call youth footwear a financial windfall for the store, he says having kids’ shoes on hand engenders goodwill and spotlights Aardvark’s longstanding commitment to its local community.
“We serve the whole community, from eight to 80, so that means making sure we have something for everyone who comes through our doors,”
On and Hoka Enter The Kids’ Game
Within the last two months, two of run specialty’s leading brands began courting kids (and their parents) as both On and Hoka debuted youth footwear.
In March, On launched the kid-oriented Cloud Play and the Cloud Sky for pre-teens, two new products spurred by company leaders entering parenthood, social media messages and even handwritten notes requesting youth footwear.
“We see the value in reaching out to younger consumers and building brand loyalty,” says Gerald Marolf, On’s global head of product.
While both of On’s youth models feature the distinctive hallowed cavities look of On’s adult footwear, On adapted its youth shoes to the needs of small but growing feet. The CloudTec midsole technology, for example, was designed with biometrics in mind and activates at much lower weights. Both models also feature a fortified toe cap for protection and durability as well as elastic laces, while the Cloud Play incorporates a Velcro closure.
Hoka, meanwhile, launched youth versions of the Speedgoat 5, Clifton 9 and Ora Slide on April 21. Starting with Hoka’s best-selling adult shoes and the brand’s performance and comfort-oriented DNA, Hoka then addressed Generation Alpha’s interest in environmentalism by using sustainable materials like sugarcane EVA and rPET meshes.
“Hoka is always looking ahead and now we are also focused on ways to inspire young athletes to fly on the road and on trails,” says Hy Rosario, product director of outdoor/kids for Hoka. “Our ethos for this collection was to create ‘big performance in small sizes.’”
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Kids Rock (continued)
seasonality into your futures, knowing when demand will surge and having product booked for that time,” Notary says.
Ordering, meanwhile, isn’t as straightforward as it is on the adult side. Crowe found a learning curve when he began overseeing youth footwear buying at Playmakers. Some brands, for instance, attach different SKUs to infant, preschool and grade school models.
“You absolutely need to be detail oriented and double checking your orders to avoid a costly mistake,” Crowe says.
And then there’s the issue of price. While adults have largely endured price increases in their footwear, it is a more finnicky issue on the youth side given the damage many kids inflict on shoes and how quickly some children grow. With many parents, Notary says, cost drives the purchase, which heightens the importance of offering models with accessible price points.
Fueling Youth Shoe Sales
With youth footwear on hand, run shops, of course, want to move it out the door.
These initiatives help build awareness for Swags’ offerings and ingratiate Swags with locals, Vincent says.
In Pennsylvania, Aardvark has teamed with organizations such as Girls on the Run and Healthy Kids Running Series and often brings Aandy, the store’s kid-approved blue aardvark mascot, to events. The store also spotlights its youth footwear in digital marketing, particularly around the back-toschool season when interest in the category climbs.
Playmakers, meanwhile, is intimately involved with the Michigan Mile. At the end of the school year, students from local Michigan counties participate in a one-mile race at Jackson Field in Lansing, MI. Playmakers hosts the event’s packet pickup in its parking lot and fills the day with inflatables, face painting and, yes, youth footwear sales.
It’s important to note, however, that spending on youth footwear is on the rise. Consumer tracking firm Circana recently identified youth shoes as the footwear market’s fastestgrowing category.
Challenges of Youth Footwear
Investing in youth footwear, of course, isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.
Youth footwear sales are often seasonal. The back-to-school and cross-country seasons in
August represent the category’s historical peak. At Playmakers, Crowe notes a steady rise in traffic starting in March and rising throughout the summer as track programs begin and kids have either “grown out or blown out of their shoes” from the previous fall. Other months, however, can be hit or miss.
The seasonality of the category combined with the scattered availability of fillins makes thoughtful inventory planning a must.
“You need to build the
While Swags sponsors crosscountry and track teams as well as races to build relationships with local schools and clubs, it has also directly courted families and kids with targeted store programming. The Louisville store hosts a running camp for elementary school students each summer, has offered shoe-tying clinics to train youngsters on knotting their laces and concocts family-friendly activities like scavenger hunts that begin and end at Swags’ two Louisville locales.
“There’s so much traffic here that we’re able to take advantage of it and sell a lot of shoes that day,” Crowe says, adding that Playmakers will often grab end-of-life youth product at a discount before the Michigan Mile event to offer compelling deals and earn solid margins.
Throughout the year, though, Crowe says treating Playmakers’ youngest customers as valued customers is critical. In particular, Playmakers emphasizes devoting the same time and attention to the fit process with kids as it does adults.
“That rounds out the experience and builds trust with the kids and their parents,” Crowe says. “You don’t want to take any customer for granted.” n
Caught in the Midsole
As a footwear innovation, the midsole might be said to have evolved from the foamed rubber insole of the Converse athletic shoe, familiar by its near ubiquity. Adolph Dassler, he of the eponymous Adidas brand, expanded on the unification of midsole and outersole, but for aesthetic purposes enshrouded it in a foxing of rubber, as seen in their current lifestyle Gazelle model.
Meanwhile, Kiachiro Ontisuka’s Tiger running shoes, today known as ASICS, were among the first to show a distinct midsole. This was also adopted by Nike after Blue Ribbon Sports detached itself from the Onitsuka Tiger brand. The combined innovations of nylon uppers with multi-layered midsoles by Tiger, Adidas and Nike, which arrived at the intersection of the first running boom of the 1970s, prompted other brands to do likewise. Research from the 1930s allowed the discovery of materials that are still often thought of as modern marvels — plastics that are used in textiles as well as a myriad of configurations which almost defy comprehension. One amusing aspect is that plant-based by-products are also chemically derived, organically, though we think of organic products in a different category than those that are manufactured in a factory, which we ironically call a “plant.”
The running midsole innovation that has raised much of the attention in our current technological climate is the nitrogen-infused midsole foam materials from a variety of brands, whereby a block of plastic is put under heat and pressure while a super critical fluid is forced into it.
What? You’ll remember your Junior High science class where your science teacher explained that there were three states of matter — solid, liquid and gas. Well, it turns out that there are other intermediate states depending on a variety of conditions!
Over the past several decades, some of the materials and processes used were not very environmentally friendly because the key ingredients needed to get the desired reactions were notably harmful, whether long-term environmentally or immediately, personally.
That situation is now changing because of clever engineering and discoveries of cleaner and greener solutions. To shine a light on the best practices for better running shoe creation, we turn to two industry sources – the Craft Design and Engineering Team and Todd Falker, Puma Running – for their solutions and new products that have been developed for this favorite sport of ours, running.
How does the Nitrogen cause the creation of the midsole foam?
Pure nitrogen and/or carbon dioxide is flushed as the singular foaming agent. The elements are fully integrated under high temperature and high pressure and many micron-sized bubbles are formed through rapid venting to form a uniform distribution. The bubbles create pores with a distribution that is uniform and dense throughout the finished product. — Craft Design and Engineering Team.
Nitrogen is the good stuff when it comes to Nitro and super critical foaming. We call it super critical, because the nitrogen is not a gas or liquid or solid. The nitrogen is put
under high pressure and high heat, so it enters a super critical state of matter. This allows the Nitro to infuse through our Core starting embryo, in a consistent and high-quality way. The end result is we have a light, cushioned and responsive foam that is one of the best in the industry. For that reason, RunPuma uses Nitro and Nitro Elite foams in all of our premium and every day running shoes. — Todd Falker, Puma Running
Does the plastic block’s composition (i.e. EVA, PEBA, etc.) make a difference in the process?
First we use both higher quality raw materials, mostly TPEE and PEBA, occasionally others, but not really 100 percent EVA. Second is the process of physical foaming, nitrogen in a super critical state, that allows for a better foaming process. The final result, which we’ve trademarked Nitro, is more consistent in structure, for a better ride
thanks to a lightweight foam that maintains the excellent rebound and delivers a more effortless run to consumers. —Todd Falker
The starting compound does make a difference. Whether it is EVA or PEBA to start does give a different result. Also, how those compounds are tuned gives variance in the performance. Our Cr Foam starts with specially tuned EVA and is flushed with nitrogen. The
result is a very high rebound unit that has what we believe is best-in-class deceleration.— absorbing a great deal of energy on impact and not sacrificing toe off acceleration. — Craft Design and Engineering Team
Anything particularly special about the uppers of your shoes?
The key statement technology is PwrTape, utilized mostly in race-day shoes, but also in many trainers going forward. PwrTape is targeted support in key areas. Also, we have had a partnership with First Mile for the past five years and they have a great story you can find on their website. — Todd Falker
Are there unique properties for your brand’s outersoles?
The Pure Trail outsole has a lug configuration that mixes ground penetration qualities and optimum surface area. The surface areas allow the siped rubber to grip to wet surfaces and piercing lugs dig through soft ground and mud. There is also a rock plate that protects the foot from rocks and debris, and it also disperse wight across the lugs to optimize performance of the various lugs.
The CTM Ultra 3’s bottom unit is about versatility. It handles like a road shoe on the pavement and like a trail shoe in the dirt. The cut-out areas keep the unit lightweight and the low-profile lugs both dig into light soil and grip tarmac. This shoe is part of our hybrid category that we call “the gravel bikes” of running shoes. — Craft Design and Engineering Team n
The Slow Road
Ten years ago, Martinus Evans got some stern advice from his doctor: “Lose weight or die.” First defensive, but then defiant, Evans vowed that day to run a marathon, though his doctor thought he was crazy.
Since then, Evans has run eight marathons and hundreds of other distances in his 300-something body, created his own devoted running community and has been featured on the cover of Runner’s World.
“Slow AF Run Club” is a blueprint for those who may not fit the image of a “traditional” runner – that is, someone who is larger in size, less athletic, out of shape, or dealing with any kind of health issue that slows them down – to feel empowered to lace up their shoes and embrace the body they have right now.
As Evans says, the incredible benefits of running – better sleep, strong muscles and bones, better cardiovascular and mental health and a sense of community – can and should be available to everyone. His practical handbook contains specialized advice to make getting started less intimidating, covering everything from gear and nutrition to training schedules, recovery tips, races (it’s okay to come in DFL! [i.e., dead f*cking last]) and finding a running group.
Full of essential advice and humor from a former newbie who fell off a treadmill on his first run (literally), The Slow AF Run Club is for anyone who wants to pick up running for the sheer joy of it.
As part of the May Running Shoe issue of Running Insight, we asked Evans to provide an excerpt from the soon-to-bereleased book that focuses on the most basic piece of equipment for all runners — even slow runners.
RUNNING SHOES (YES, YOU NEED NEW ONES)
Running shoes are the most important piece of running equipment in your arsenal. These are something you don’t want to pinch pennies on. There are no magical shoes that can make running easier for you, but a bad shoe can and will ruin your running. There’s nothing worse than being on a run and having to stop because your shoes are rubbing up against your pinkie toe or because you have a blister. Furthermore, worn-out or ill-fitting running shoes could cause injury. So if it’s been a while since you bought a pair of running shoes, then you guessed it, you need new running shoes!
How to Buy Your First Running Shoes
As I was driving home from the appointment that would change my life, I passed by a specialty running shoe store. I realized I didn’t own a single pair of running shoes,
made an illegal U-turn, and headed inside.
At that point I learned how much I didn’t know about running or running shoes at all. If this is your first pair or your tenth, you might not know much either. That’s perfectly fine! You don’t have to be a shoe expert.
The only thing you need to know is that you need a gait analysis. The word gait refers to the way you walk or run, including how your other body parts move in relation to your walking and running. Say it loud, say it proud. Say. It. With. Your. Chest. GAIT ANALYSIS!
If you go into a store, say those two words to the staff and if they look confused or respond with “Gait what?” politely excuse yourself and leave! Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not buy shoes from this place, because nine times out of 10 you’re not going to leave with what you need.
What is a Gait Analysis?
A gait analysis (or a shoe fitting – I’ll use these interchangeably) is the process by which the store staff will determine which running shoe is best for you.
If you haven’t had a gait analysis before, then you’re in for a treat! It’s one of the greatest displays of customer service that I’ve experienced.
Here’s what you can expect during a gait analysis/shoe fitting session:
• Typically, the process takes about 20 to 60 minutes (sometimes it is faster!)
• The customer service people will take a foot measurement either with a traditional Brannock Device or one of the many high-tech fitting systems now available and then compare the results to the size of shoes you’re currently wearing. Most people need to go a half or whole size larger than their street shoes. You need the extra room to allow your feet to flex and your toes to move forward with each stride.
• They may ask a series of questions about your current running routine, future aspirations, or previous injuries.
• They may check the wear pattern on your current shoes. This can usually tell them what type of gait you have so they can make recommendations based on that.
• They may have you walk around the store or on a treadmill. In this way they can assess your walking patterns, if your arches are collapsing, your ankle mobility, and more.
• They may do the wet foot test (spraying your feet with water and having you step on a piece of paper). This will indicate the type of arch you have.
• They may have you put on
a neutral cushioned running shoe, and ask you to run on the treadmill or around the store. Such a shoe has no stabilizing features and thus allows your foot to move and flex without any guidance from it.
Depending on the store that you go to, this may be the most intense kind of shoe shopping you’ve ever done! After you go through the steps above, the sales associate will bring out a few pairs of shoes for you to try on.
The only way to know how shoes fit on you is to try them on. Be sure to put on both shoes and take them for a run around the shop, on the treadmill, or on the sidewalk. As I said, finding
the best fit when you are starting out is very personal. As you get familiar with running shoes, you’ll start to develop your own preferences. Also, note that a good running shoe store won’t have the same restrictive return policies as a regular shoe store. Yes, they will take your shoes back even if you have run in them outside.
I hear you asking, “Martinus, just how do I know which pair is my solemate?” Here’s how to tell if you have the right pair of shoes for you!
• When you are standing with both shoes on, make sure you have enough space for your thumb between your longest toe
and the tip of the shoe. This will ensure that you have enough room for your toes in the toe box and enough room for when your feet swell.
• Next, close your eyes and really FEEL how they are fitting. Imagine running for 45 minutes to an hour. Does anything feel weird, funny, annoying, off, or uncomfortable? I mean any little thing. Maybe the collar is rubbing against your ankle or your pinkie toe is a little cramped.
• Those annoyances will be front and center during your run. That cramped pinkie toe is going to sprout a painful blister over time.
• If the shoes feel uncomfortable anywhere on your feet, DO NOT BUY THEM! Trust me, your feet will thank you later. I repeat: Do not buy shoes that are uncomfortable, regardless of the brand, price, or style of the shoe.
• P.S. Don’t let the sales associate tell you that they need to be broken in, either. That’s a lie. It won’t get better over time.
As a general rule, running shoes should be retired every 300 to 500 miles. But if you have a larger body, you may need to change your shoes every 100 to 300 miles. Keep track of the purchase date in your training log and record the miles daily so you know when it’s time to get a new pair.
Also, pay attention to how your shoe feels over time. If your favorite pair is leaving your legs or feet noticeably tired after each run (and you can’t chalk it up to a more intense training plan or another shift in your habits), it may be that the cushioning has lost shock absorption. It’s time to retire those puppies. n
THE MADE FOR WOMEN DIFFERENCE
A SHOE THAT WORKS WITH YOUR BODY, NOT AGAINST IT.
RykäQ Technology™ is based on the “Q ANGLE,” the inside angle of the quadriceps muscle that is 3-4% GREATER IN WOMEN THAN MEN, which impacts a woman’s stance and weight distribution on her feet.
Extra stability for every squat + lunge
A more secure fit for every run
Meticulously tested for more bounce, flexibility + energy return
Fine-tuned for a woman’s body weight
Got Used Sneakers?
It is obvious to anyone reading this issue of Running Insight that a plethora of new running shoes is coming down the pike and with all of the choices consumers will soon have the question arises: What to do with their old, worn-out running shoes. One solution: Send them to GotSneakers, a Miami-based sneaker recycling program whose dual goal is to reduce waste in landfills and provide shoes to those who need them most.
OUTDOOR PLANS/ By Trish Carlton
Mesa, who is the co-founder and COO of GotSneakers.
Founded by two childhood friends, GotSneakers was born in 2016 as an organization with the aim of disrupting the typical clothing donation model. Today, the company has reused and recycled up to 2.5 million shoes and has prevented an estimated 75 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Sneaker recycling programs have grown in popularity over the past decade as sustainability has become more important to consumers, although the history and inspiration behind GotSneakers runs much deeper than recent trends — its story stems from CEO and co-founder Steven Salstein’s upbringing and family business.
He is a fourth-generation salvage, used clothing and shoe jobber whose great-grandfather (a tailor) and grandfather (young entrepreneur) started Bay Rag Corporation in New York City and migrated to Miami in the late 1960’s re-creating a business around the buying and selling of excess clothing and footwear. That business grew and in the late ’80’s began to focus on assisting small and large retailers reposition reusable inventory out of domestic distribution channels and into secondary markets around the world. Then more change took place.
“In 2011, we lost a large customerreturned footwear program that we held for 23 years,” Salstein explains. “The program produced around three million pairs of shoes annually, so it created a significant
inventory void within our business.”
As a result the initial idea behind GotSneakers was to create an additional source of supply to offset the loss of such a large quantity of footwear and continue to provide its customers around the world with quality footwear at affordable prices.
From there, Salstein decided to take his family business model up a notch and create a consumer-driven brand backed by digital marketing tools and the software systems needed to operate in today’s tech-driven environment.
Taking It To The Next Level
None of it would’ve been possible without his partner and best friend of 30 years, Eric
“I approached Eric in 2016 with an idea to collect used sneakers to export to our existing customer base while compensating with financial reward to the domestic community,” Salstein explains. Eric was working with a medical tech company at the time, but he was intrigued with the idea and the two shared a similar vision. They officially started GotSneakers in 2016 with the concept of disrupting the donation model — Goodwill, Salvation Army, shoe drive companies, etc. — by offering the community a simple, free and financially rewarding alternative for their used sneakers.
Unlike other clothing donation and sneaker recycling programs, GotSneakers incentivizes people to participate by offering cash payments for their donations rather than tax credits. Individuals can get involved by shipping their old shoes to GotSneakers directly, signing up for a fundraiser kit to set up their own sneaker drive or by donating them at their favorite retail locations — all while getting paid for their contributions.
“We believed offering a free program with cash payments rather than tax receipts would be a compelling value proposition for people looking to extend the life of their unwanted sneakers and avoid or prolong putting them in a landfill,” says Salstein.
With more brands pushing for environmental initiatives and the use of recycled materials, it might seem that new products are not creating nearly as much waste as they did 10 or 20 years ago. While this may be true, Salstein says the footwear industry still has some ways to go and before achieving higher standards for sustainability.
“Although the footwear industry is pretty tight, there is truly a lack of collaboration and standards as it relates to sustainability
and making new purchases while purging their old items. However, choosing which retailers to partner with is equally as important to GotSneakers in fostering that sense of community and ensuring that transparency is available at every level of the business. That’s why the company prioritizes data and reporting as a key contributor of its success.
“Because of our mission and our mantra of being a zero-waste organization that promotes a circular economy, we provide reporting back to our partners about the environmental impact that they’re making with their sneaker contributions,” Blomberg adds, pointing out that many of them use that data that they get to show their customers, “hey, look at what we collectively did this last month in our store!”
for the community, elevate GotSneakers’ mission and drive sales in the store.
“605 Running Company has been privileged to partner with Denise Blomberg and GotSneakers,” says assistant store manager Derrick Ettel. “Our biggest initiative was implementing a donation drive leading up to and through the 2022 Sioux Falls Half Marathon: Skedaddle. We were able to accept donations to benefit a local family contending with medical needs for their two sons.”
That effort provided GotSneakers with product to repurpose, helped a local family in need and drove traffic to the store.
and end-of-life recycling. Brands are hesitant to share information with each other,” says Salstein. “There is also a stigma or stereotype against resale. End of Life Recycling is not an easy process — it requires heavy, expensive machinery and more R&D to create and develop a functioning solution at a low expense that can breakdown footwear into reusable parts.”
The Retail Benefit
Even with its challenges, the benefits of sneaker recycling programs can be significant to both retailers and the customers they serve. Retailers can partner with GotSneakers to elevate their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by integrating the recycling program into their store to help recycle their extra inventory and give
customers a physical location to donate their old shoes as well.
“The retailers (400-plus) that we work with across the country are a very mixed and diverse group who all use sneaker recycling as a way to engage their customers and community in a variety of different ways, with the common denominator being the environment and making a difference in the lives of others,” explains Denise Blomberg, director of strategic partnerships. “So many of them donate the compensation they receive to groups that they are passionate about.”
To that end, GotSneakers provides retailers with an opportunity to further the connection with their customers and identify the values that will keep them returning to their stores
Similarly, retailers enjoy working with GotSneakers because of the effect sneaker recycling has had on their stores and the direct impact it’s had on giving back to their local community. A South Dakota-based retailer, 605 Running Company, located in Sioux Falls, sees the benefits as trifold — collect sneakers to raise money
“I cannot overstate the impact that our partnership has had on our store and local running community while also serving GotSneakers’ global vision,” Ettel adds.
The Future of Shoe Recycling
Salstein predicts that there will be more recycling programs popping up within retail stores during the next few years.
“We see sneaker recycling programs becoming the norm in all footwear retail stores as recycling access points providing simple, easy access for customers to dispose of footwear that no longer serves them particularly but can serve someone else domestically or abroad, to avoid the landfill, and ultimately have an opportunity to be recycled into reusable materials,” says Salstein.
“A branded high-quality made, used sneaker will always be more desirable than a poor quality, new non-branded sneaker.” n
THE 2023 RUNNING SHOE GUIDE
As 2023 nears its midpoint, Running Insight surveyed run specialty’s major footwear vendors to gather insight into what the second half of the year will look like on shoe walls across America. We asked each brand – ranging from street to trail and from comfort to recovery – for a “focus shoe” that best defines their running lineup for late 2023 as well as A Look Ahead to tease what’s coming down the road in the early months of 2024. While run retailers surely have many of these footwear models ordered for Fall 2023, we suspect many featured in these next pages will stir some interest and warrant further investigation. Run on!
361 Degrees Focus Shoe: Futura
The Shoe: 361 Degrees is continuing to explore the possibilities with the newly introduced Engage foam found in its Centauri. First up is its latest trail offering, the Futura, which will feature a full-length Engage midsole coupled with a full-length Vibram outsole. The Futura will release on July 1 in four colors — two for women and two for men. The shoe is for those looking to “engage” the trails with more comfort and control.
A Look Ahead: Engage foam will continue to round out the collection in 24SS with the Kairos 2 featuring an innovative stable platform geometry.
RUNNING Focus Shoe: Ultra Boost Light
The Shoe: The brand’s lightest Ultraboost ever thanks to the Light Boost midsole, a new generation of Adidas Boost. Made with 30 percent lighter Boost material, each tiny capsule within the shoe’s midsole works together to deliver energy in every stride. The upper is made in part with recycled materials and the shoe uses Primeknit+ Forged technology to provide a cushy, socklike fit that won’t slip. The outsole is reinforced with Continental rubber that grips all kinds of surfaces and provides enough flexibility to ensure a smooth stride.
Focus Shoe: Terrex
Soulstride Flow Trail
The Shoe: Adidas Terrex recently released its Soulstride Flow for trail runners with Repetitor EVA midsole, providing soft and lightweight cushioning, an engineered mesh upper for zones of breathability, stretch and support and Continental Rubber outsole for grip across roots, rocks, dirt and wet or dry surfaces. The shoe is made, in part, with a minimum of 50 percent recycled materials.
ALLROUNDER BY MEPHISTO Focus Shoe: Allright-Tex
The Shoe: The Speed lacing system on the Allright-Tex ensures a superior foot adjustment and freedom of movement. Extra padding creates support for instep and heel and a slip-resistant grip out-sole creates a secure and stable grip on any terrain while the removable anatomical footbed ensures a soft and supple feeling. The hydrophobic materials, combined with the water repellent and breathable Allro-Tec membrane, provide comfort while stabilizers between the forefoot and heel areas ensure a smooth and stable walk.
ALTRA Focus Shoe: Rivera 3
The Shoe: The Rivera 3 neutral road running shoe features the brand’s Slim FootShape Fit and molded heel collar for a secure feel that emphasizes performance. A slightly higher stack height of 28mm is constructed with Altra EGO midsole foam for a soft, yet responsive, ride. A breathable tongue and layered mesh keeps feet cool.
ASICS Focus Shoe: Noosa TRI 15
The Shoe: Fall ’23 brings an update to one of ASICS’ most fun and versatile shoes, the Noosa TRI 15. This daily neutral runner evokes a feeling of fast with its Guidesole technology, curving the midsole to help propel the foot, and the FlyteFoam underfoot is increased in stack, giving a solid, protective feel in a lightweight package. The Noosa franchise is known for vibrant colors and will launch with a unisex colorway splashed in bright yellow and aquarium and a total of five colors for women and three for men. The Noosa TRI 15 will arrive in July, 2023.
A Look Ahead: ASICS will end 2023 with an update to its lightweight, energetic everyday trainer, the NovaBlast 4, and in 2024 will be unveiling updates to race products.
The Shoe: The Tahoe Winter GTX is an evolution from its Tahoe Mid GTX, based on the same EVA mono density platform with enhanced stability from the Asolo Stability Technology shank. The Sigma Grip compound outside provides traction on wet or snowy surfaces and the lug pattern provides for self-cleaning. The seven-inch upper is a combination of suede and polyester utilizing Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort footwear technology to create a warm, comfortable and waterproof boot.
ASOLO Focus Shoe: Tahoe Winter GTX BROOKS Focus Shoe: Ghost Max
The Shoe: New to the Ghost franchise, the Ghost Max, coming October 1, 2023, features a midsole that will remain configured of light-weight DNA LOFT v2 technology, but now with max cushioning — +4mm heel and +10mm forefoot of cushioning to be exact. Additionally, the shoe will assist with transitions with its GlideRoll Rocker technology while still keeping runners in their habitual motion path.
A Look Ahead: In 2024, Brooks will continue to invest in its cushion experience and trail innovation along with new investments in the speed category.
CRAFT Focus Shoe: Pure Trail
The Shoe: This premium trail running shoe features a full Cr Foam midsole, which provides cushion and stability with reduced weight and explosive rebound. The shoe comes with an exposed rock plate, delivering stability and midfoot pretection, along with a full traction outsole for a variety of off-road use. The upper is a single layer TPU mesh that is ultra-light, flexible and durable.
A Look Ahead: New foam and rubber compounds and new platforms from Craft are planned 2024. “You will also see one of the most compelling collaborations in the running footwear space early in the year,” says Eric Sarin, head of Craft’s Footwear Development. “One of our big focuses is innovating in the hybrid road/trail space. We call these the ‘gravel bikes’ of running shoes. Today’s runners are seeking shoes that feel like shoes on the pavement and trail shoes in the dirt. We are designing and engineering to meet those shifting needs.”
DANSKO Focus Shoe: Peony
The Shoe: Peony is a high-performance walking sneaker that features a comfortable and supportive footbed built with Dansko Natural Arch Plus technology for arch support. The arch technology is contoured and integrates a shock absorbing heel cushion and its signature, energy return Propel forepart, while 100 percent recycled textile linings are treated to reduce odor and 100 percent recycled mesh uppers are treated with 3M Scotchgard for stain resistance. Peony also features a cushioned EVA midsole and a durable rubber outsole for lightweight, long-lasting wear.
AMPLIFY YOUR PASSION
Why Zamberlan? Three generations of family-owned, Italian boot-making expertise, quality craftsmanship, relentless innovation, and unfailing durability.
334 CIRCE MID GTX WNS
The latest addition to our Epic Women’s collection, the Circe blends the lightweight feel of a trail running shoe with the support and performance of a hiking boot, all with a ﬁt designed speciﬁcally for women.
The Shoe: Atomo is the first technical running shoe made in Italy in the last 30 years. The new Atomo V7000 boasts cushioning and comfort in addition to lightness and reactivity, guaranteed by the use of a new technology: the special DD anima compound. Designed to meet all needs, merging performance and comfort in one shoe.
DIADORA Focus Shoe: Atomo DYNAFIT Focus Shoe: Ultra 100
The Shoe: The Ultra 100 bridges the gap between maximum cushioning, grip and energy return. The 6mm drop height as well as a Heel Preloader keeps feet protected through mixed terrain. The new Vibram Traction Lugs provide improved traction and a grip so that runners can move securely on any surface with precision. The sole’s rocker shape helps lead a fluid roll-through for cushioning all the way to the last step. The curved sole is designed to aid in the smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off.
HANKS RUNNING SHOES
Focus Shoe: Bronco 1
The Shoe: The brand’s first shoe is the Bronco 1, one of the first American-made (Los Angeles to be exact) performance running shoes to hit the market. It is a comfortable distance shoe made with a 100 percent recycled knit upper, a responsive rocker design, Vibram outsole for grip and a extra roomy toe box.
HOKA Focus Shoe: Tecton X 2
The Shoe: The Tecton X 2, which launched in April, is a speedy, carbon-plated trail shoe that has been refined for 2023 with a completely redesigned upper featuring a lightweight, hydrophobic Matryx textile construction. This update improves the fit, durability and protection from the elements, enhancing the propulsive ride that celebrated the original Tecton X. Weight: 7.4 oz. (W); 8.8 oz. (M). Stack: 30mm/25mm (W); 32mm/27mm (M).
HYLO Focus Shoe: Impact
The Shoe: The Hylo Impact is built with maximum cushioning for high performance and less impact. Features include max cushioning from supercritical bio-based midsole, support and stability to ensure a smooth ride, a breathable and comfortable upper built to perform and last for easy road running. It comes in four colorways.
INOV-8 Focus Shoe: Roclite G 275 V2
The Shoe: For runners who tackle all types of trails and want one shoe to do it all, the Roclite G 275 V2 boasts more comfort and an improved fit with an upgrade to a Powerflow Max foam midsole that delivers greater energy return and cushioning, while the upper and tongue have been redesigned for a locked-in feel that adjusts with the natural movement of the foot. The upper mesh material itself is 25 percent stronger than on the V1 and is made of a tighter – yet still breathable – weave that means less grit can enter the shoe. A soft, springy Boomerang footbed has been added for extra bounce and cushioning, while a flexible underfoot rock plate protects from sharp debris. The super-durable 6mm Graphene-Grip studs remain unchanged
KEEN Focus Shoe: WK400
The Shoe: Following three years of development and more than 5000 miles of testing, Keen launched the WK400 walking shoe in February. Keen discovered that the foot moves in a constant arc when walking — a pattern that is uniquely different from a runner’s stride. To enhance this constant arc, Keen created its patent-pending Keen.Curve technology that combines constant curve geometry, underfoot plate technology and a high-energy midsole to create a feeling of forward momentum that makes walking feel like rolling. Additionally, a 30mm toe spring gives a smooth and easy transition from heel strike through to toe off. A 10mm last drop between the heel and forefoot further promotes forward momentum in the gait, while also aiding stability.
A Look Ahead: Keen is launching Waterproof and Leather versions of WK400 this fall.
LAMO Focus Shoe: Cassidy
The Shoe: Runners can experience cozy comfort with the Cassidy shoe, a balance of fun upper patterns and a premium sheepskin lined footbed. Comfort and durability come from its Lamo-Lite EVA outsole. All of Lamo’s footwear with Lamo-Lite outsoles have a 30-day comfort guarantee.
LA SPORTIVA Focus Shoe: Jackal II Boa
The Shoe: The protective upper on the Jackal II Boa features the Boa Fit System for a micro-adjustable precision fit that can be customized on the move. By utilizing a dual Boa dial and wrapping performance fit solution, this mountain running shoe offers improved ankle stability across the most technical sections of the trail. It features two L6 dials and new-generation TX6 textile laces for adjustability across two distinct zones of the foot. This dual dial configuration provides a secure heel hold and midfoot lock-down for a more connected fit.
LOWA Focus Shoe: Citux
The Shoe: Lowa is entering the all-terrain running (ATR) category with three models, including the Citux, made for competitive fast trail running with a a lightweight design utilizing dual-density Dyneva high-rebound cushioning, a carbon-reinforced rebound plate, a full length EVA shell and proprietary Lowa Trac speed sticky rubber outsoles. The combination of the 4mm heel drop with all of these components makes the Citux a high-performing shoe with minimum weight. The tongue construction is comfortable and highly breathable. Two other new shoes from Lowa are the Amplux, for runners that want to go further and faster, and the Fortux, for longer distances.
MERRELL Focus Shoe: MTL
The Shoe: Described as “the ultimate race-day shoe,” coming in under seven ounces while still maintaining 5mm lugs for peak mountain traction. The two-part, dual density FloatPro Foam midsole sandwiches the FlexPlate technology to provide stability and protection at a fraction of the weight. Also featured are a breathable engineered mesh and TPU upper, 100 percent recycled laces, microfiber lining, 100 percent recycled mesh footbed cover, Cleansport NXT treated for natural odor control and lightweight FlexPlate technology for torsional rigidity.
MIZUNO Focus Shoe: Wave Sky 7
The Shoe: The Wave Sky 7, a maximum cushioned neutral daily trainer dropping July 2023, features Mizuno Enerzy Core, Mizuno Enerzy (Foam), an X10 outsole, smooth stretch woven upper and gusseted tongue.
NAKED RUNNING Focus Shoe: Naked T/r
The Shoe: The Naked T/r trail race shoe is an extremely lightweight (but not minimalist) running shoe constructed on Naked’s performance last that offers supportive performance in whatever direction the foot is traveling. It also integrates a unique split forefoot, curved carbon plate into its EVA midsole that propels runners and uses less energy. A Lineloc non-slip stitched-in insole, Vibram outsole and Knit Cuff complete the package.
NEW BALANCE Focus Shoe: FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3
The Shoe: Specifically designed for race day, the FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 is super lightweight and loaded with energy return through the use of FuelCell midsole with the Energy Arc system. It is designed with a dual focus on energy return and lighter weight, with the dynamic energy return of the Energy Arc system complemented by a breathable, engineered knit upper featuring a built-in tongue, for a secure, locked-in fit.
NIKE Focus Shoe: Structure 25
The Shoe: The Nike Structure 25 is designed as a stable, comfortable runner for long distances. The legacy of the Structure lives on with an updated model that offers more cushion and support than earlier versions. A single-layer mesh provides improved breathability while enhanced arch support and extra cushioning for heel-totoe transitions support runners that tend to overpronate. Cushlon 3.0: An updated form of the Cushlon foam brings better energy return and a softer ride. The Nike Structure 25 releases beginning Fall 2023.
NEWTON Focus Shoe: Isaac
The Shoe: The Isaac is Newton’s first max cushion trainer. It still features its patented Action/Reaction technology, but the forefoot lugs are minimal and in a new configuration. The midsole foam is its proprietary NRG foam – it is the same foam that has won Badwater in its Gravity+ model – but the midsole has a larger stack height than the brand has ever used, featuring even more NRG foam. The strobel board is a Hytrel Foam and the drop is 6mm.
A Look Ahead: This fall Newton will be launching its first carbon super shoe that pairs its Action/Reaction technology with a carbon plate.
NNORMAL Focus Shoe: Kjerag
The Shoe: . With the Kjerag, every runner at every level gets lightweight reactivity, high-speed comfort, extreme grip and stability. Made by people committed to protecting the planet, the Kjerag is available in green, white and black.
NORDA Focus Shoe: Norda 001
The Shoe: Built with the world’s first seamless, bio-based Bio-Dyneema upper and a Vibram midsole and soleplate, the 001 is engineered with the lightest and strongest materials for mindless comfort on mindful pursuits — designed to prove that true sustainability is found in durability. The laces feature a diamond design pattern with bio-based Dyneema and recycled polyester. The insole is customdesigned TPU for the highest possible energy absorption and return.
A Look Ahead: Norda’s sustainability mission is to get the best performance out of the world’s best materials while leaving the lightest footprint possible. The brand plans to continue to break the historic boundaries of performance and sustainability with cutting-edge materials such as bio-based Dyneema, the world’s strongest and lightest fiber, as well as G+ graphene. It plans to debut new styles with the 003 and 004 in 2024.
The Shoe: The men’s Kaholo athletic shoe offers a combination of performance, durability and style with the brand’s newest trainer sneaker. Then, utilize the drop-heel design to cool off the feet. Colors are black, Moonlit Ocean, Vapor and white.
ON RUNNING Focus Shoe: Cloudsurfer
The Shoe: The training shoe with computer-optimized technology for next-level cushioning. Designed for road running, everyday training, tempo runs and competitions from 10k to marathon, the running feel of CloudTec Phase is comfortable and smooth. Combined with a Helion foam sole, the Clouds compress and interlock perfectly one after the other, like a domino, ensuring a smooth stride throughout the foot’s roll and proper energy return. Since CloudTec Phase does not incorporate a Speedboard plate, less material is needed for the midsole. Finally, 100 percent of the polyester used is recycled, bringing the total recycled material in the shoe to 30 percent.
OLUKAI Focus Shoe: Kāholo OOFOS Focus Shoe: OOmg Sport
The Shoe: The OOmg Sport is an athlete-inspired recovery shoe — built for postgame recovery, yet street-ready for any occasion. Designed on the foundation of OOfoam technology and patented footbed geometry as other Oofos models, the midsole of the OOmg Sport is accentuated by a tapered sidewall paired with a four-way stretch FibreFlex upper that forms to every move, providing foot mobility in an athletic, closed-toe silhouette.
The Shoe: Comfort — magnified. Magnify Nitro 2 takes Puma’s favorite tech and doubles down, offering the most Nitro foam yet. Nitro provides a lightweight, responsive ride no matter what type of runner. Magnify’s new performance last is built for a fit that works for any runner and a breathable knit material that feels just right. A 3D-molded heelpiece maximizes comfort and holds the foot securely while durable Pumagrip rubber offers multi-surface traction. Available July 2023.
PUMA Focus Shoe: Magnify Nitro 2 REEBOK Focus Shoe: Floatride Energy 5 Adventure
The Shoe: The latest evolution of the Floatride Adventure series features a new outsole and upper with durable road-to-trail performance. Floatride Energy Foam offers high rebound with lightweight cushioning for road and trail and the Codura Recor Upper is lightweight and durable plus reinforces toe and sidewalls from an outsole rubber wrap and overlays. A redesigned outsole provides traction for the trail while providing enough comfort and cushioning to perform on the road. Available July 2023.
A Look Ahead: Reebok showcased is newest concept, FloatZig 1, at The Running Event 2022. The goal of FloatZig 1 is to bring more excitement to the running consumer both in terms visual and experience. Through 2024 the brand will be expanding on the FloatZig platform with three additional models being introduced to cover a range of running needs from trail, road and racing product.
The Shoe: Designed for performance running with neutral cushioning, the Euphoria running sneaker features ASF (Absorb/Support/Flex) technology with three midsole areas to support each phase of a runner’s stance, plus CradleFit technology to increase foot contact and promote natural ball position. Also featured is a breathable mesh and reflective toe and heel printing with a padded collar and a SecureFit lacing system to enhance fit and reduce friction.
A Look Ahead: For Spring 2024 Ryka will be launching a stability running platform with a slightly higher stack height and molded support for motion control, with its signature Made for Women fit and CradleFit technology.
RYKA Focus Shoe: Euphoria SAUCONY Focus Shoe: Ride 16
The Shoe: Pillowy soft: The PWRRUN foam midsole means a softer stack of cushioning for the most comfortable run yet. Run smooth: A fluid ride that transitions effortlessly from heel to toe. 360° fit and feel: With higher sidewalls, runners sit into the shoe instead of on top of it, creating an underfoot sensation. An XT-900 outsole provides durability and traction while a strategically placed mesh upper adds durability and breathability. This style is vegan and contains recycled materials.
The Shoe: Available in mid-September 2023 for everyday women who run for wellness and performance, this neutral, road running, multi-distance shoe features a soft, yet responsive feel using supercritical foam technology, a molded heel and a knit upper with midfoot support. Saysh started with the female foot as a last and base for its
SAYSH Focus Shoe: The Felix SCARPA Focus
Shoe: Spin ST
one-piece molded heel, similar to Saysh One, but with enhanced fit and performance features: breathable mesh liner and double top eyestay for adjustability when cinching. The forefoot is constructed with an airy and light knit, with a reinforcement in the toe and a unique midfoot lacing manufactured with a seamless warp knit web. MSRP: $165
The Shoe: Featuring an aggressive lug profile with Vibram Traction Lug Technology, the Spin ST is for muddy or snowy trails, obstacle-course racing and orienteering. The shoe minimizes cushioning in favor of maximum traction and the Vibram Megagrip sole uses 7mm lugs, with smaller lugs on the sides of larger ones for added traction. This design increases surface area by 50 percent on the sole and helps improve traction up to 25 percent overall. The upper – made with a 95 percent recycled fabric – features an extended ankle collar to keep the elements out. It also employs Scarpa’s EXO construction, which uses welded PU overlays to wrap the foot for lateral stability.
SCOTT Focus Shoe: Kinabalu 2
The Shoe: Scott’s most versatile trail running shoe, the Kinabalu 2 is equipped with a Versatile Traction outsole to create traction on any trail. The responsive Kinetic Foam midsole returns 14 percent more energy and feet stay dry and warm thanks to the Gore-Tex technology.
SKECHERS Focus Shoe: Go Run Speed Beast
The Shoe: The lace-up running shoe design of the Skechers Go Run Speed Beast features a breathable monomesh upper with a removable Arch Fit insole, an ultra-lightweight Hyper Burst Pro midsole, a Hyper Arc rocker bottom and a durable Goodyear performance outsole. A carbon-infused winglet plate puts more spring in a runner’s step.
SKINNERS Focus Shoe: Super Compression 2.0
The Sock/Shoe: Not a sock, not a shoe — a sock shoe. Skinners 2.0 sock shoes were developed primarily as compact gym footwear to provide a maximum level of grip, comfort and natural posture in combination with a reasonable level of protection. Manufactured on feet-friendly ergonomic lasts with zero drop tilt, Skinners increase athletes’ proprioception and equal bodyweight distribution towards the surface more than other footwear traditionally used in gyms. The multi-layer one-piece 3D knit with torsional channels and removable insole affects the moisture-wicking ability and provides a true second-skin feeling.. A newly developed combination of artificial and natural yarns optimizes the functional properties on the inner side of the knit while securing a durable pilling-free design of the product on the outer side.
SPEEDLAND Focus Shoe: GS:TAM
The Shoe: Speedland’s third commission, the GS:TAM, is named after Mt. Tamalpais and inspired by the trails in Marin County. This Dylan Bowman commission will donate a portion of all profits directly to Bowman’s non-profit of choice, Footprints Running. It features a proprietary drop in midsole blend containing Pebax elastomer, 100 percent beaded Pebax external midsole, PerformFit Wrap powered by the boafitsystem Li2 Fit System and a Michelin Fiberlite outsole.
TELIC Focus Shoe: Cloud9
The Shoe: Created by athletes for optimal after-sport recovery, this shoe offers a combination of apex cushioning, orthotic-grade arch support and energizing rebound and is made earth-friendly with an outsole constructed from Novalon Eco (30 percent recycled materials). Soft, lightweight and supportive, these shoes are designed with a collapsible heel to be easily slipped on and off and offer immediate relief and comfort. The top reflective PU band locks the foot in while giving optimal visibility at night and the upper is lightweight, flexible and breathable. The extralarge, soft, shock-absorbing midsole offers cushioning, arch support and relief.
A Look Ahead: Coming down the pike is Apres-Ski 2.0 and Aftersport 2.0.
TOPO Focus Shoe: Fli-Lyte 5
The Shoe: Built for daily training, up-tempo workouts and gym work with a balance of cushioning and ground feel. The lightweight and breathable recycled mesh upper offers a secure fit and the 23 X 20mm platform features a new ZipFoam midsole for a softer, lighter and more responsive ride. The improved heel and forefoot rocker design provides a smooth transition while a new rubber outsole offers increased durability and traction. Launch Date: August 2023.
TYR Focus Shoe: SR-1 Tempo
The Shoe: This interval training shoe weighs in at 7.6 ounces (M9.5) with a 4mm Heel to Toe Drop and ultra lightweight stretch Monomesh construction. Also featured is a Surge Nrg+ foam midsole with 10 percent Pebax and 10 percent Poe for response and support, along with lock-down reinforcement in the quarter panels for security and stability and a responsive insole with a molded sockliner. Available August 1.
A Look Ahead: Tyr is building out its running category with an ultra lightweight carbon fiber-plated running shoe. The Valkyrie Elite Running shoe will boast a responsive and springy carbon plate secured in the middle of a plush LaunchPX midsole and made with 100 percent Pebax foam. Coming Spring 2024.
Focus Shoe: HOVR Machina 3 Clone
The Shoe: The HOVR Machina 3 Clone combines UA’s HOVR cushioning technology with a new UA Clone upper for a 1:1 anatomical fit that provides runners with dynamic motion and comfort in every stride. UA HOVR responsive cushioning returns energy to help eliminate impact and propel runners forward and UA Clone mesh auxetic upper stretches and adapts to every runner’s unique foot shape and stride for a custom 1:1 anatomical fit.. Release Date: July 1, 2023.
VEJA Focus Shoe: Impala
The Shoe: Veja’s Impala training shoe provides comfort and support with bio-based and recycled materials. It’s designed for gym sessions, strength workouts and treadmill runs, with breathability from its engineered mesh that alternates its size of stitch to promote air exchange. A one-piece EVA midsole with a larger forefoot offers enhanced support and stability. It is 58 percent bio-based and recycled.
A Look Ahead: In early 2024, Veja will launch the updated Condor 3 running shoe, its model designed for easy runs and recovery sessions.
VELOUS Focus Shoe: Hoya Slide
The Shoe: The Hoya Slide is designed for runners and athletes looking to restore, revive and reenergize before and after training. It has an adjustable slide upper for a custom fit that works for wide to narrow feet and a soft but stable heel cup. Like other models in the Velous collection, the Hoya Slide’s ergonomic design features its patent pending Tri-Motion technology that focuses on providing a three-part solution, with a soft but stable heel cup for max cushioning, arch support and forefoot flexibility to allow toes to stretch and relax.
VIBRAM Focus Shoe: V-Run Retro
The Shoe: From Vibram, introduced in 2023 and a reworked version of a previous model, The V-Run Retro is a minimalist platform that is lightweight, flexible and comfortable incorporating the new Vibram technology. Featuring a grippy 4mm XS Trek performance and a rubber outsole that provides protection, a 2mm foam insole, poly sock liner and minimal EVA arch pad. The nylon upper is soft while the lacing system provides a secure, snug fit on running surfaces. Designed for running and can be used for cross training.
VIMAZI Focus Shoe: Trail Z3
The Shoe: The Vimazi Trail Z3 is designed and engineered for running on trails between 10:00-15:00 minutes per mile (6:009:30 min/km). With an aggressive tread, external rear stabilizer, rock-ready toe protection and built-in forefoot control for a better push-off, the Trail Z3 delivers optimized cushioning and max efficiency. Perfect for five-mile trail runs between 40-60 minutes, and amazing on 30-mile runs in the five-to-eight hour range. Available late summer 2023.
VJ SHOES Focus Shoe: Ace
The Shoe: The Ace is VJ’s new premium winter running shoe for comfort and grip on snow, ice and slippery winter conditions. The Ace features a new foam formula that is lighter and more comfortable than EVA and offers more rebound, 17 carbon carbide studs that are durable and offer grip on icy and snowy weather, a Performadry waterproof membrane that keeps feet dry and a one-piece knitted upper and foorshape last for fit.
WOOLOOMOOLOO Focus Shoe: Woolf
The Shoe: Woolloomooloo’s new Woolf, available in five colors, features max cushion construction paired with a deconstructed modern premium Merino upper that provides all-day comfort and support while the flared outsole also ensures maximum stability. The Woolf also has an ergonomic Merino lined footbed so the foot is surrounded by wool. This shoe provides stability, comfort and breathability year-round.
XELERO Focus Shoe: Steadfast II
The Shoe: For Fall 2023 Xelero is introducing the Steadfast II, which is lighter weight and with more volume in the toe box than the earlier version. Xelero’ s motion control technology keeps the foot in alignment, resulting in less stress to the foot, ankle, knee and lower back.
XERO Focus Shoes: Born to Run Mesa Trail II; Zelen Road Running Shoe
The Shoes: Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run,” and Eric Orton, co-author of “Born to Run 2”, have an exclusive footwear collaboration with the barefoot-inspired footwear brand — the Mesa Trail II trail shoe and Zelen road running shoe.
MSRP: $119.99, Mesa Trail II; $129.99, Zelen Sustainable Road Running Shoe
ZAMBERLAN Focus Shoe: Circe Low GTX
The Shoe: The stable Circe Low GTX is designed for fast and light outdoor adventures in a variety of weather conditions and terrain. It marries the comfort of a trail runner with the support of a hiking boot while sharing the proven design of its sibling, the Circe GTX. The boots feature a microfiber suede effect upper with Zamberlan’s Vibram Junko Megagrip outsole and a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining. Durable rubber rands protect the toe box and uppers from rock and debris while preserving the life of the boot.
Switchback in RI
Five ways running brands and retailers can authentically commit to sustainability — now.
Sustainability is here. No, not as a fad, but rather as the only path forward on this planet we call home and as an imperative element to being a thriving and successful running business or brand.
All of us know deep down that humans cannot keep living the way we are and still have a habitable planet for generations to come. The overwhelming majority of us know that climate change is here, caused by the choices of human beings, and is something we all need to collaborate on to solve.
Consumers and communities are speaking up about the importance of being respectful and considerate of the effect that consumer items will have on our planet. For an environmentalist like myself, that makes my heart happy, but it also brings along an anxious anticipation, because where momentum and movements come, corporations like to find loopholes to essentially take away all meaning of the words used to demonstrate that change.
Racing towards “net zero” is the current loophole being utilized by major corporations to avoid the hard work required for real change. Net zero means investing money into carbon “credits” (paying to offset the emissions put out into the world through the lifecycle of that product or service). While yes, this does fund organizations working to mitigate the effects of climate change, it also allows corporations like Shell, Amazon and Delta to continue on with harmful practices, avoiding doing the real work of reducing their emissions.
As a brand in the running space,
you may not have the humongous budgets of Shell or Monsanto, but that does not mean that sustainability should not be a priority in the coming years or that the running community will let harmful practices go by without question. Running consumers are savvy. Running consumers do their research and are intentional with their purchases. Running consumers are becoming wise to greenwashing and as conversations continue to develop, companies that are not including sustainability as a core component will be left behind.
With that said, here are five ways to authentically commit to sustainability without appearing performative and risking it all./ By Tina Muir
1. Calculate your own carbon footprint
The biggest thing a brand or company can do is work to reduce the carbon footprint of each of their products to have a starting point. This means figuring out what carbon emissions are put out into the atmosphere through the manufacture of each item. This carbon footprint is measured in kg of CO2 per item and looks at the five phases involved in a product’s life cycle: materials, manufacturing, transportation, product use and end of life.
This sounds complicated, but Allbirds has done a lot of the work to make it easy. Allbirds has sustainability at the core of their business and recognizes that being a leader in the space means not holding their methods hidden away in a safe, but instead sharing the blueprint for others to follow.
Through its life cycle assessment tool, available on its website, a brand or business can calculate the carbon footprint of any product or service. Allbirds even created a manual to make it as easy as possible, along with a carbon footprint label to show commitment to reducing the number.
While the goal is to get the number close to zero, consumers will respect and appreciate the transparency of a brand that is honest and authentic, even if the number is higher than they would like. Running consumers and the greater community will recognize the courage and vulnerability required to publicly display that number and share that your business is working to lower it, increasing brand loyalty.
2. Go beyond one line of sustainable products
Many of the bigger companies begin by testing the water through offering one line of products that are made sustainably. This is intended to assess whether consumers genuinely care about sustainability — but the problem is, this is not an accurate assessment, especially when combined with a higher price tag and a limited period of time.
Another issue is that those selling the items in running stores, at expos and other events need to be educated on how they are different from the other lines offered by your brand. It is difficult to do so when only partial commitment is available and can actually be more harmful to your brand. It shows that there is the potential to make changes to the phases of production and transportation, but gives the impression that the brand just does not care enough to follow through.
While customers who are passionate about environmentalism will be prepared to swallow the extra cost, in most cases, it is never going to work as a way to display commitment to sustainability.
Rather than offering one line, work on reducing one element of the materials, production and delivery of all items. As most of the kg carbon comes from materials and manufacturing, consider what changes can be made to reduce this number across all of your items. This is the important work that will pay off in the years to come.
3.Be transparent about your materials makeup
Using recycled materials is
becoming a trend and a way to lure consumers into thinking that they are purchasing items that are “good for the planet,” without understanding the meaning of recycled materials. This greenwashing tactic involves claiming that a product is made of recycled materials, when only a small percentage of it is.
When a tag says that it is made with recycled materials, but the label is the only part that is, it is at best, ignorant, at worst, manipulative, and will cause customers to have disdain for your brand for years to come once they figure it out.
When it comes to materials, making products that are vegan has become a popular way to declare commitment to the planet, but many consumers are unaware that vegan products are made from petroleum, which contributes to climate change in a major way. Once again, consumers are trying to do something that is better for the environment, even though it is more expensive, but are adding more fossil fuels into rotation.
Finding materials that are naturally derived and longlasting, such as Merino, castor beans and even sugar cane, is a far better investment than vegan products. Technology has come a long way with what we are able to create and make durable through natural materials; it is time we make the most of that.
4. Get a third party certification
Words like “eco-friendly,” “natural,” “green,” and even “sustainable” have lost a lot of meaning. Getting a third party certification does the work for
you to make you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.
While this requires a commitment to completing the work needed to reach the standards and a financial investment to sustainable practices, the payoffs are big. Consumers now understand the importance of third party certifications and by having one of these, brands can get an automatic respect and trust from consumers who will be loyal for years to come.
The market you are in will determine which of these (ideally multiple) certifications works best for your business. Certifications can go from investment of profits to environmental action through 1% for the Planet, to the power of recognition worldwide that comes with getting a B Corp certification, while a Cradle to Cradle certification proves commitment to moving towards a circular economy.
These certifications are often featured in the media for consumers to know which brands to trust. Those who have them proudly display the certification logos on their products to show the actual work that has been done.
Some other certifications that may be relevant include becoming FSC certified, Green America’s Green Business certified, Fairtrade certified and Rainforest Alliance certified.
5. Be a leader
Sustainable leaders obsessively focus on reducing their carbon footprint, knowing that the time is coming when carbon labels are as common as food labels on packaged products.
Sustainable leaders are paving
the way for others to follow. Customers want something that looks good and feels good, but increasingly they want to purchase a product from a brand they believe has a heart, that they believe is doing the best they can to make the world a better place.
By setting sustainability as a focus now, you will be set up for financial success, while also being able to sleep at night knowing you are making this world a better place.
All of these methods require work and a financial outlay. There is no way around it and of course it is easy to ignore this article and get back to doing what it feels like everyone else out there is doing: the bare minimum. Sure, you may be able to get by for a few more years with these practices, but then have to have a massive investment or change when the industry is in a reckoning.
Just as the maternity and pregnancy clauses in shoe contracts kicked up a big negative media storm for the brands who left their contracts as they were, hoping for the best, it eventually came back to get them. Sustainable practices are here to stay and you get the choice of whether to be a leader who makes changes from a wholesome and genuine place or are playing catchup for years to come.
The choice is yours. n
about the author
Tina Muir is the founder and CEO of Running for Real, host of the award-winning podcast of the same name and co-host of Running Realized. Instagram @tinamuir88
Hot on the Trail
There’s good news out there for any retailer or vendor focused on the trail — runners are back!
That’s the takeaway from one of the most comprehensive reports on trail running participation that was recently released by runrepeat.com in conjunction with World Athletics. The State of Trail Running 2022 covers trail running race participation from 1984 to 2022 and includes 15.6 million race results from 116,947 races in 127 countries, making it perhaps the most extensive report on trail running participation ever conducted.
While the impressive entire report can be viewed at https://runrepeat.com, here are some of the key conclusions:
• Trail running has grown 231 percent in the last 10 years.
• COVID-19 cut trail running participation by 97 percent comparing April 2020 with April 2019.
• Despite a strong comeback in race participation, 2022 has had 15 percent fewer finishers than in 2019.
• Races are getting longer. The 5k distance used to account for 75 percent of all races, now it accounts for only 45 percent. Trail races are on average 24.63 km long, which is 140 percent longer than road races.
• Trail running is unique compared to road running by having an extreme diversity in distances, whereas road running is centered a lot around the classic 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon.
• Races are getting bigger. In 1984, 72 percent of all runners finished a race with less than 500 participants. Today that number is just 12 percent.
• Trail running races have 91 percent fewer participants per race compared to road running races, so while the races are getting bigger, they’re still smaller than road races.
• Small races (less than 500 participants)
have grown 629 percent in the last 10 years, whereas big races have grown 5252 percent in the same time period.
• Trail runners have never been older with an average age of 39.5 years old.
• Female participation has grown from 13 percent in 1997 to 46 percent in 2022.
• Men are generally attracted to longer distances.
• For every one trail runner, there are 5.3 road runners. So while trail running is the little brother of running, its growing popularity cannot be overlooked and today trail running accounts for 15.8 percent of all race finishes.
• In the past 20 years, trail running has grown by 2394 percent, and using the most recent 2022 data, trail running has grown by 231 percent in the past 10 years.
• So far, 2022 is 106 percent stronger than 2021. However, this is still not enough to catch up with the strong season of 2019. Compared to 2019, 2022 is still 15 percent behind. Runrepeat believes that by the end of 2022, participation was back to normal.
• The 5k trail race is by far the most popular distance in trail running. It accounts for 17 percent of race finishers. The second most popular distance is the 10k trail race at 9.4 percent of participation.
• While the 5k and the 10k are the most popular distances, one thing that sets trail running apart from traditional road running is that the distance varies greatly. In traditional road running, the 5k and the 10k account for 51.5 percent of all race results, whereas for trail running, they account for only 26.4 percent combined.
• Another difference is that in trail running, the popular distances are generally longer than the popular distances in road
running. Looking at the 10 most popular road distances, the average distance is 10.27 km, whereas for trail running the number is 24.63 km (+140 percent longer).
• Trail running is still significantly smaller than road running. In 2018 numbers: Road running had 7.9 million participants; Trail running had 1.48 million participants With this trend it’s also obvious that trail running will have fewer participants per race. This remains (part of) the beauty of trail running: few participants per race. An average trail race has 133 participants, whereas road running races had 1541 participants on average.
• Trail runners are getting older. In 2000 the average trail runner was 37.7 years old. In 2022 the average trail runner is 39.5.
• Women’s representation in trail is growing. Back in 1997, only 13 percent of all trail runners were women. Today, women represent 46 percent (almost half) of all trail runners. And looking at distances below 10k, there are more women than men.
• Men prefer long distances, women prefer short ones. Men are more attracted to longer distances. There’s a clear cut from the half marathon to the marathon, where there is a drop off from around 47 percent to just 33 percent female participation. n
This report was put together by Jens Jakob Andersen. Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5k PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he’s among the fastest 0.2 percent runners. He previously owned a running store when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, the BBC as well as peer-reviewed journals.
I would always emphasize the importance of both continued education of our business and industry as well as the benefits of networking with our peers. The relationship value of meeting with current vendors, as well as searching out new opportunities, in a setting like this can have a very positive impact on your business.”
Run to Runchella The Sustainability Issue
RIA set to unveil Product Data Collaborative at Runchella 2023 in the Windy City this month.
The Running Industry Association’s (RIA) annual member summit, set for May 8-11, in Chicago, IL, will not only feature 180 retailers representing 80 stores, 20 top footwear, apparel and accessory brands, 14 emerging brands and six business partners that are part of this two-and-a-half-day event. It will also mark the debut of the association’s Product Data Collaborative (PDC), launching this summer.
“We are excited to host the third annual Runchella event later this month in Chicago,” Terry Shallow, RIA executive director, tells Running Insight. “This year attendees have been provided with multiple options for connecting with our brand and associate partners, making it a true ‘Your show. Your way.’ experience.
“In addition, we are thrilled to announce some major new membership benefits, including the accessible-to-all RIA Product Data Collaborative,” he adds. “Our goal is to continually add value for our members each year, with this year being a big one.”
The PDC Database Explained
The PDC is described as a democratized, universal database that removes the burden of gathering, formatting and managing
brand product data by providing a repository that centralizes and standardizes the information. It’s simple — brands provide seasonal product data and the system standardizes it for retailers to easily create product assortments for upload to POS providers, e-commerce and digital marketing solutions.
The PDC includes hard and soft data that includes model, SKU, UPC/EAN, color (description and code), size, width, wholesale cost, retail price, MAP and images.
Schalow emphasizes that the PDC is neither a digital product catalog nor a competitor for any online tools provided by brands or third-party platforms. Instead, it is quite simply a “single source of truth,” a repository for secure clean, standardized brand data, available to all. In this fashion, the PDC acts to support brand and thirdparty tools and services.
The ultimate goal is to save time and money for retailers, brands and associate members by sharing and managing product data. For retailers, this means dramatically reducing the resources currently required to collect and manually format data from brands. For brands, it increases data quality and efficiency and minimizes data inquiries
As a neutral entity within the run specialty channel, the RIA is uniquely suited to provide a centralized repository for brand product data, creating easy access for all existing platforms or tools that require product data and avoiding potential productization of data.
Other Runchella 2023 Happenings
Connection has always been the keystone of the event where running, chatting, working, eating and drinking with industry colleagues rules the day. Here are some of the flagship Runchella experiences:
• Brand + Retailer Meetings: This year retailers get to choose what brands they want to see during the two days of sessions that include brand overviews,
business planning sessions with sales managers, one-on-ones with executives, product demos and technical discussions.
• Business Partner Sessions:
Attendees can also dive into training for digital business tools (marketing, POS, e-commerce), market data presentations, merchandise advice and more.
• Daily Group Runs: Each day a sponsor (ASICS, Saucony and emerging brand crew) will lead a run through the streets of Chicago, plus offer a product experience and swag for those willing to get out of bed early.
• Specialty Run + DEI: There will be an informative panel discussion, in collaboration with the Running Industry Diversity Coalition, focused on what stores and brands are doing to drive the channel forward and make progress on DEI initiatives.
• The Runchella Skyline Party, Sponsored by Brooks: This pinnacle evening event allows attendees to connect casually in a social, lively environment overlooking the Chicago skyline. n
RIA To Induct Four Into Run Specialty Hall of Fame
Four industry veterans, including Mark Sullivan, co-founder of The Running Event and the former editor of Running Insight, will be inducted into the Run Specialty Hall of Fame during the opening reception at the RIA member summit, Runchella, in Chicago, on May 8, 2023.
Joining Sullivan in the Class of 2023 will be retailers Pat and Jan Sweeney, of Fleet Feet Sacramento, along with Ted Goodlake, of On Running.
The Hall of Fame was initiated in 2006 and since then there have been 50 inductees, including industry leaders such as Don Lucas from Luke’s Locker, Ellen Wessel, the founder of Moving Comfort, and Fred Lebow, the long-time director of the New York City Marathon.
The intent of the award is to spotlight individuals pushing the run specialty channel forward by contributing to the health and prosperity of the industry. Whether through innovation, leadership or peer support,
each inductee has made run specialty better in a unique way.
“The RIA is thrilled to reboot this important recognition in 2023 after a multi-year hiatus,” says Terry Schalow, RIA executive director. “This year’s inductees have been pivotal to run specialty, and I’m personally excited to be a part of honoring them at Runchella in front of their industry peers.”
Starting in 2023, the RIA will manage the nomination and selection process as the industry’s trade organization. This year, nominees for the three categories (brand, retailer and industry influencer) were vetted by the Hall of Fame committee, chaired by John Benedict, and made the final appointment.
For the 2024 class, members and non-members will nominate industry standouts based on their contributions and the committee will cast a final vote.
My Dad’s Shoes
A reminiscence of a father’s life well lived — and his size 16-4E running shoes. / By Tom Griffen
Back when I was a kid, I found a list of goals my dad had written for himself. He wanted to travel a bunch. Publish a book. Always be kind. Live to be 110-years old. But the goal I remember the most was written in all caps, as if to imply it was the one he most wanted to achieve. It said, “RUN A MARATHON.”
My dad grew up in Oakland. His father was a decorated WWII veteran and his mother was president of the local PTA. He was the oldest of five kids and a middle-ofthe-pack cross-country runner. He used to say he’d have been a basketball star if his height (6-1) was commensurate with his foot size. His military-issued boots were a whopping 15-D and way too small. He needed a full size larger and two sizes wider.
When I had a Fleet Feet store, I insisted my inventory contain at least a couple pairs of shoes that would fit someone with feet like my dad’s. The multiple 16-4E boxes needed a shelf of their own. Typically these shoes only sold at clearance sales. But on the few occasions when a customer entered assuming a special order, they usually bought me out. The one time my dad managed a visit, he asked me to ship his new kicks home because they took up too much space in his luggage.
Last month my dad passed away in his sleep after enduring a decade of declining health. His aliments stemmed from a prolonged exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. My dad never let on how much he was suffering. In fact, he always insisted on a good prognosis. I was dumbfounded when I received the dreaded call, but after looking over his health records I was more marveled by the fact that he lived as long as he had.
As for his goals — My dad never did much traveling. Never wrote a book. Was only 76 when he died. And he never ran that marathon. In fact, most of his goals from that list were left unachieved.
Last week as I rummaged through his den, I found a three-ring binder labeled Western States. Back in 2007, I asked my dad to pace me as I attempted my first 100-miler. At the time he was overweight and hadn’t run in decades. Still, he agreed, and immediately changed his diet, started running again and dropped down to fighting weight. This dusty binder was filled with event ephemera. Printed emails, his flight confirmation, hotel receipts, course descriptions and his yellow pacer’s bib with the safety pins still attached. My mom told me pacing me for the final few miles was one of his proudest moments. I also came across multiple copies of books I’ve written and magazine articles I’ve published over the years. They were all
organized on his bookshelf, neatly curated in chronological order. I never knew he read my work, let alone save copies. Shoot, I don’t even do that.
Hanging from a deer antler above his desk was the brass medal from my first marathon. In 1991 I was a PFC in the Army and based in Darmstadt, Germany. One morning in formation, the CO asked if anyone wanted to represent our unit at the Frankfurt Marathon. I was the only taker and the following weekend I hammered the rain-soaked cobblestones and narrow streets, smugly enjoying beer stations along the route. I mailed my finisher’s medal to my dad with a note saying, “I did it for you.”
This past weekend my mom and I sorted through their bedroom. I emptied drawers and closets and piled my dad’s things on the bed for my mom to sift through. I collected no less than 10 pairs of my dad’s voluminous shoes. The mountain of 16-4Es made my mom and I crack up. Tears joined our laughter.
With a sigh, my mom looked at the stack of shoes and said, “Let’s take them all to the Goodwill. Someone with feet like dad is going to be overjoyed and that would make him happy.” We bagged everything up and donated it the next day.
As the chaos of loss settles and I adjust to a new normal, I catch myself thinking of my dad’s goals again. How so many of his goals became mine. And maybe this illustrates what we’re all actually here to do — inspire others to reach just a little bit higher than us. What a joy it should be to watch the people around us surpass us.
As for my dad’s goal to live more than a century, well, I think I’m okay leaving that one behind. Longevity would be cool, but it’s certainly not necessary for a full life.
Which reminds me of something he used to say, “You only live once, and if you do it right, once is enough.” I guess I’ll just keep on trying to do it right. May we all. n
NOV 28-30, 2023
Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX
SPEAK AT THE RUNNING EVENT 2023
The Call for Education is Open!
We’re looking for diverse voices to share new perspectives and industry expertise with our passionate community of run and outdoor specialty retailers.
• (1) complimentary registration pass that provides access to all sessions, keynotes, networking functions, and the exhibit hall
• Invaluable networking opportunities with other presenters
• Photo and biography featured on The Running Event website and mobile app
• Session featured in marketing promotions and The Running Event Planner
• Exposure in Running Insight
The #TRE23 Call for Education closes Friday, May 19.
Click below to learn more and propose a session: