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Running shoes classification

In this article, we'll delve into the diverse landscape of running shoes available on the market today. You may already be acquainted with terms like "Daily Trainer," "Easy Run," "Long Run," and "Racing." However, it's vital to understand that these classifications don't represent distinct types of shoes but rather indicate their intended usage. What might serve as a daily trainer for one individual could fulfill a different purpose for someone else. By the end of this video, you'll gain insights into the true classification of running shoes, empowering you to make informed decisions about your next purchase.

We start with a segment, which is the hardest to distinguish. It looks like it has no identity, no extra elements, no special features. Yet, this is precisely its beauty. This segment is called Balance. The midsole foam utilized here should possess average stiffness, avoiding excessive bounce. This allows this segment to have good stability, while also heaving good responsiveness and also good cushioning. And also good comfort. Everything is good, but nothing stands out exceptionally. No additional elements should be incorporated into the shoes, preventing them from leaning towards any particular specificity. It is precisely average, which is precisely what is required by the majority of runners.

Next segment is really close to balance. It uses the same approach, same shoe geometry without additional elements. However, the midsole foam is replaced with a bouncier variant. This means it is much easier to run faster in these shoes, because you have more responsiveness. But at the same time, it means that you have less stability due to foam could be compressed more. And if you have unbalanced pressure, for example overpronation, it will be increased in these shoes. And this is exactly why these shoes should be separated from balance segment.

Next segment does use extra elements to enhance stability. And here we have plenty of options how brads execute it. Sometimes it is polyamide bumpers on the sides, sometimes on a heel. Sometimes it is inside midsole, sometimes it is made of more stiff foam. These elements serve the common purpose of improving predictability, correcting slight variations in foot movement with each step. However, these additions make the shoes heavier and bulkier, less ideal for experienced runners.

The following segment could be considered an evolution of the stability segment, featuring an additional element targeting a specific instability—overpronation. To address this, shoes are made stiffer on the inner side of the midsole, using polyamide elements or stiffer foam. While effective in addressing overpronation, these choices result in rigid and heavy shoes, less suitable for experienced runners.

Next segment leverages lightness to achieve speed. It uses a thin midsole with cushioning suitable only for highly experienced runners and a less comfortable, light upper. As a result, shoes are really fast, but not for beginners. This segment could utilize both classic and bouncy foam material, since it is really thin layer, you would hardly see the difference.

Next segment is the most modern one. It is called swing. It utilizes high stack height of the shoes and a plate, which is located inside of it. Plate is curved and if you push the front of it, you get a push to the heel. This mechanics increase responsiveness and running efficiency. However, the high stack height makes the runner more vulnerable to instability. Each your mistake in terms of foot placement is increased by shoes. The plate may be made of carbon or polyamide. It does not change much in terms of performance.

The next segment combines the advantages of both swing and bounce segments, using bouncy foam and a curved plate within a high stack height midsole. This combination results in exceptional responsiveness but at the same time instability is also combined. Notably, this segment represents the fastest running shoes, all current world and local records are achieved in shoes from this segment.

Next segment is very similar to speed swing segment. Only difference is stack height and amount of plates used. World Athletics regulations set a maximum midsole stack height of 40mm and allow only one layer of plates in running shoes. Otherwise, they are considered a mechanical doping. However, this segment surpasses these limits, introducing more than 40mm and as many plates as the producer desires. Does this make shoes faster? To be honest no one knows, since PRO do not use them and we cannot compare on elite level. But in general, let's think that yes.

The final segment worth mentioning is barefoot. These shoes do not have any midsole, only outsole. We think it is absolutely legit running segment and do encourage runners to use it from time to time. Although, we do believe there is a but and we will be happy to discuss it in separate video.

These are segments. But still within each segment there are a lot of different shoes. You can see big, small, wide, thin. It is clear that there are more, than just nine segments. We like to determine shoes with different level of cushioning within each segment. Greater stack height correlates with increased cushioning but also greater weight, whereas smaller stack height results in lighter shoes with less cushioning.
And this is final segmentation for running shoes, which we use. Is it perfect? No, because you still have a lot of hybrids on the markets, which could combine advantages from not connected segments. However, for most of the shoes it will work.

Moving ahead, we plan to produce an article guiding you through the essential questions to consider when identifying the most suitable segment for your training and races.