Last month, we wrote about Nike's "revolutionary" new shoe, the LunarGlide+, which promised to be all things to all people: a stability shoe when you needed the extra support, and a cushion shoe when you don't. The difference is a sandwich of new kinds of high- and low-density lightweight LunarLite foam in place of the typical hard "post" that keeps your foot from rolling excessively inward.
I've been testing out my mostly neutral stride in the Nikes the past few weeks, and my conclusion is: They're fine. I don't feel any more or less pain, or any faster or slower, than I do in my other shoes. Which is not to say there aren't differences: They are remarkably light, yet I found myself clomping along like a Clydesdale, because, I suspect, the shoes are pretty stiff (and because I tend to clomp). Also, they have a very bright orange sole that made me feel like I was cheerfully running on a layer of Orangina (but just made my girlfriend laugh out loud). But I didn't feel a lick of difference in the pronation support as compared to my Saucony ProGrid Guide2s or Mizuno Wave Creation 11s.And frankly, I sort of doubt most people could, despite the glowing reviews I found of this shoe online. I take shoe reviews, like insole tech, with a grain of salt. I'm sure there are elite runners who can feel the differences among various foams or outsole patterns, and I know a lot of smart people work hard on these innovations. But every foot, every stride, every style is so unique, that even if reviewer #22 found the shoe a little stiff, what does that tell me? The good folks at Runner's World put shoes on machines that measure certain characteristics empirically -- data that'd be useful if you know you like a more flexible or softer shoe. But the central dilemma for runners remains: The right shoe (even if it's no shoe at all) is crucial for injury-free running. But there's no way to tell if a shoe is really the right one for you without running miles in it. Anyone who claims running is a cheap sport doesn't have a closet of shoes abandoned after 100 miles.
One new company says it's solved that problem with a shoe that's customized to your foot at the store. More on those next time.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.