Running-shoe companies want you to lace up their newest innovations. Find out which of these styles is the right fit for you. Don’t know where to wear it? We’ve got the ideal D.C.-area debut for each shoe.
Adidas Energy Boost ($150, Adidas.com)
What’s New: No, Adidas didn’t crush Styrofoam cups and slap them on the bottoms of these shoes. The white stuff is “boost,” a material designed to provide maximum energy return, which means “people are able to run faster, longer or both,” boasts Chris Brewer, the brand’s running specialty manager. Company testing has shown that the cushioning won’t wimp out in extreme heat or cold and doesn’t break down (so the shoes feel the same on mile one and mile 327).
Wear Test: Adidas recommends ordering a half size larger than normal, and even if you do, prepare for a snug fit. That’s partly because the compression fabric on the upper takes some getting used to, but wide feet will probably never be happy, even with such a spring in their step. Not a neutral runner? Wait until adiStar Boost debuts in August.
Run For It: In shoes that will live forever, you’re ready for the Vampire 5K ($60, April 26, Vampire5k.com), which pits bloodsuckers against citizens. Pick a side and flee or chase through fog, red powder and strobe lights set up near RFK Stadium. The untimed event ends with a party under the full moon.
Teva.com; Trail is for women only; $140 waterproof Trail eVent is also for men)
What’s New: They’re light and low to the ground, so why is this minimalist shoe different from all other minimalist shoes? It’s made for people who can’t help but heel strike. Instead of squaring off the back of the shoe, Teva opted for a rounded design that rolls the foot forward no matter which way you land. That could be dangerous if it weren’t for the support pods placed on each side of the arch to prevent ankle rolling.
Wear Test: Those steady pods make it seem like your feet have kickstands. It’s an odd sensation, but one that you’ll probably be grateful for when heading off-road through unknown terrain or at a muddy adventure race (which is what the whole TevaSphere line, pictured, is made for). They’re best at downhill running.
Run For It: You’ll need something to keep you steady during a 120-mile overnight relay. At Ragnar Trail Appalachians (June 7 and 8, Ragnartrail.com), about 200 miles from D.C., teams will camp out while members take turns on three loops. Registration prices ($1,160 for teams of eight, $700 for teams of four) rise after April 13.
What’s New: This isn’t your grandma’s knitting. The shoe’s upper is made of a polyester yarn that’s woven tighter in spots that need more support and looser in ones that don’t (like above your toes). You can customize the fit by placing the shoes near a teakettle or a hot shower. Put them on when they’re warm and steamy, and they’ll cool into the shape of your foot. The process “will make it like it’s been your shoe for a while without breaking down,” says Philip Deeter, assistant head coach of product at Nike’s Georgetown store.
Wear Test: The shoe’s light weight and the thin fabric on top make it feel like a sock. But the cables that wrap around the sides and the cushioning system remind you that you’ve laced up. (That support doesn’t correct overpronation, however.) After you “steam to fit,” there’s an immediate — but very subtle — shift in shape.
Run For It: If you were too slow to nab a slot in D.C.’s inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon (April 28, Nike.com/nwmhalfdc), you can’t get a finisher’s necklace designed by Tiffany & Co., but you’re invited to celebrate female athletes at the “Expotique” over race weekend.