This is the Japanese expression that was the inspiration behind the sole design of ASICS's new long performance shoe the MetaRide. A shoe in development for 2 years by the ASICS 'Institute of Sports Science' team in Kobe, Japan. Constant and fluid motion of effortless coasting is what the team wanted to bring to this design.
I was a little bit nervous when presented with the MetaRide's to test drive. Why the nerves? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, first impressions, from the packaging, the sleek design and colour the shoes looked very 'high-end'. I felt it should have been left untouched and kept in a box to be displayed in the trophy cabinet rather than running in the wet and muddy terrains of North London. Something this good looking always poses the question, where there is style, can it match it with substance?
Over the last week, I laced up and took the shoes along for test drive one of my typical training weeks. Currently I'm training for a the following races:
- Brighton Marathon - Road (Pacing 3:45) (The walk in the park)
- Dragon 100KM Coastal Race - Trail (The one to kill me off)
- Dragon's Back Race - Mountain Trail Ultra (The one to Hell and back)
A varied set of races meaning the shoes will be given a true rigorous test. The three training sessions that will be used in the test includes; Stairs, 5Km Road and a 20 Mile mixed terrain long run.
32 Floors, 120 Meters. Five repeats was the usual drill, alternating between one step (cadence) and 2 steps (range).
Where there was cadence work, there wasn't much different or any advantage of the technology. It felt exactly the same as my current pair of road shoes ASICS Dynaflyte 3. No real gains here.
Two steps, most notable was the rearfoot Gel. Landing on the heels of the shoe to push off felt easy. Shoe isn't the lightest on the market, but the rearfoot GEL and cushioning makes up for that.
No real benefits from using the shoe on vertical descents and ascents. Next test the 5K road test.
You probably know this already, but I love to run. Anytime, anywhere, any distance. Well, maybe not so much 5Ks. THEY HURT!
Saturday morning, I met up with my fellow ASICS Frontrunner Danny. We met up for the 'Hackney Marsh' Parkrun in East London.
It was a good route, an out and back flat paved course. The morning conditions was good, surface was a little 'slick', but it was good enough for a speed test in the conditions given.
The plan was for the 'Ace of Pace' or 'Metronome Man' to rein me in at a 4:15min/km pace for the start of the 2km of the route. What he noticed was there was a good rhythm and bounce with each stride. The results of the rear foot GEL and propulsion from the FlyteFoam Propel kicking in. After the 2km, I felt good and carried on my own pace attempting to return to the 'Promise Land' of sub 20min. Things was still going well, very controlled and still had good posture, I would have been running at 3:40s min/km by now. Once we turned off the main route for the second set of the out and back, things didn't go as smooth.
The route branches off to a second out and back, this was where I had my first fight with the shoe. The surface was muddy and quite broken. The grip couldn't deal with the wet muddy conditions and the shoe was suddenly no longer in control, the sensation can only be described as when a car slips out of gear. I had to steer it back on the flats to get the shoes momentum going again, a bit like an manual override.
Eventually I did get back on course but avoided all mud and finishing a sub 20.
The flat surface was where the shoe really shined. Each stride felt effortless and had minimal impact, this sets it up nicely the for the scheduled long run the following day.
20miles (Canal Path, Off road, Asphalt):
3 hours 45 minutes, the magic number for Marathon day will be 5:20min/km or 8:35min/miles. It will be my first pacing gig, but not worried as ran the event twice already, therefore familiar with the layout of the route. This part of the training was also good to build a good base for May's adventures.
The route for the 20 mile is a traffic free, flat river path with the aim to meet the finishers at the London Half Marathon in Greenwich, London. It'll be a mixture of soft gravel, stretches with patches of mud, and asphalt. Having had a taster of what the shoe was like on uneven solid surfaces, I had to be prepared to take control of the ride, be more attentive and in tune with the shoe.
Mile 10, legs still felt good, kept at the pacing pace of 5:20min/km. First 10 miles are always deceiving so I carried on with the easy pacing, usually I feel the tiredness in the calves by mile 15, so was going to be wary and mindful of tension whilst running.
Mile 15, Olympic Park, legs still felt strong and didn't even need to question myself whether I can sustain this pace for another 10 miles. Everything just felt right.
Mile 20, Greenwich, stopped as this was where the Finish Line was setup. No signs of fatigue at all, walked ok and felt like I could knock out another 10 miles. This is truly a game changer, thoughts of running 30 miles on the day did come to my mind, but team burgers got the better of my weak willed mind.
- Noticeable reduction of fatigue in legs
- Flytefoam Propel, Propulsion gives the runs a sense of auto-pilot
- Great performance on flats
- It's a premium shoe, pricing is at the high-end range
- Counters all benefits when running on stretches of uneven surface (trail, mud, cobbles etc)
- Takes time to adapt to finding that 'sweet spot'
The MetaRide is a road shoe, and that's all it is. Being a mixed terrain runner, it's hard to get my head around, but it is a fantastic piece of kit. The energy reduction works really well, meeting it's design criteria of keeping movement flowing continuously with little energy consumption.
The MetaRide was designed for athletes to run farther with less effort so it should not be compared against other brands light weight speed shoes. Weighing in at weighty 305g (Mens UK 7), it manages to cram in the best of ASICS's technology into the shoe.
It does takes time and/or distance to find that 'sweet spot' to reap it's benefits, but once you work out it's mechanics and get over the initial sensation of not being able to touch the floor with the toes, it will grow on you.
Let it do the work, the Flytefoam Propel, almost drives the shoe like it's on auto pilot and this combining with the GuidedSole enables the movement from the heel to the toe to transfer the foot motion into one smooth fluid movement. The stiff sole stabilises the shoe so energy is not lost or wasted during the transition. Hence why any uneven surfaces or foot deviations is counter productive.
The lack of flexibility with the sole is something I'm not used to but understanding the process and mechanics of it, it definitely is a very satisfying shoe to run in. Current usage on the MetaRide trodden so far, 90 miles/ 144 KM already, so for it's energy reduction, comfort and support It will be my shoe of choice for training and running the Brighton Marathon in mid-April.
I’m a size UK 7 / EU 40, have narrow feet and pronate. Items in this Kit Review was gifted by ASICS Europe.
Photo Location, MetaRide Launch, ASICS Store, Oxford Street, London.
Photos by Max Wilcox
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Product Details The ASICS MetaRide is a men's performance sh...SHOP NOW
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