Imagine a shoe that could transform you into the fastest runner in the world. You are hardly out of breath as you stride through your first marathon with ease. Fans cheer as you cross the finish line, all the while sporting your magic kicks.
Unfortunately, the magic shoe hasn’t quite been invented yet. But we may be getting close. Nike Vaporfly continues to make headlines with its record-breaking shoe magic. While a pair of Nike Vaporly shoes won’t magically transform you into Joan Benoit, the Vaporfly has been touted as the “4% running shoe” due to its ability to increase long distance running speed by 4%. For professional runners, 4% is a record shattering difference.
Nike Vaporfly shoes are able to increase runner’s efficiency by incorporating a curved, carbon-fiber plate which is embedded into a unique foam base which acts as the base of the shoes. That carbon-fiber plate acts as a springboard inside the shoe, creating extra propulsion for the runner wearing the Vaporfly shoes. But it’s not just the carbon-fiber plate which provides added bounce. It is also the unique foam that Nike incorporates into the Vaporfly shoes which reduces ankle strain. The result of the combination of carbon-fiber plating and a foam midsole is apparent not just in results, but also in looks. The midsole is thicker than other shoes on the market. Other shoes simply cannot compete with the Vaporfly when tested head to head.
The first pair of Vaporfly shoes was released in 2017. Since then, the Vaporfly shoes have been loved and used by runners of all backgrounds. However, these shoes gained heightened attention after runners like Brigid Kosgei broke world records wearing the shoes. Those world records are now in jeopardy, thanks to new potential regulations regarding shoes. Rumors have it that the World Athletics working group is planning to come out with restrictive rules regarding this new technology. The World Athletics working group will reach a determination by the end of January. A potential result of their deliberation would be to restrict the size of foam midsoles in running shoes. Vaporfly undoubtedly uses a large bouncy midsole to help elevate runner’s efficiency. Without a large midsole, Nike will no longer be able to produce the shocking 4% increase in speed.
Headlines are focused on the scandal of potentially “unfair” technology, but the truth is that advancements in shoe technology are inevitable. Some runners argue that it is important to embrace new technology. After all, if were forced to wear the shoes that our ancestors used to wear, we would be slow and uncomfortable. What we learn from sneakers past informs us about the design of sneakers future. As we advance, so does shoe technology. Vaporfly resistance may be futile.