Health & Fitness

Running-shoe designers put function before foam

Runners run through a lot of shoes -- the reason is the foam midsole, which steadily loses its cushioning. Brands are experimenting with models that replace foam with shock-absorbing structures they claim don't degrade as much.

-- Roy M. Wallack

More bounce to the ounce

Adidas Megabounce+: Almost-foamless shoe using clear urethane doughnuts as shock absorbers. Some forefoot foam.

Likes: So fun it makes you feel young again. Pronounced bounce upon a heel or midfoot landing seems to aid forward momentum.

Mesh upper and roomy toe box provide a very balanced, comfortable fit.

Dislikes: On long runs, the bounce fades from memory as the 14-ounce heft takes a toll.

Price: $120. (800) 448-1796; www.shopadidas.com.

Ride the Infinity Wave

Mizuno Wave Creation 8: Cushioned trainer with foam in the forefoot and undulating, plastic Infinity Wave suspension structure in the heel and midfoot.

Likes: Wide, comfy toe box. Firm suspension action gives it a fast feel. Cool mesh upper. 13 ounces.

Dislikes: Not enough cushioning. Even after a week of running, the Infinity Wave is still a bit stiff for a cushioned shoe. Stiff price, too.

Price: $129. (800) 966-1211; www.mizunousa.com.

Foam and function

New Balance 8507: Trainer that mates conventional forefoot foam with a foamless, rearfoot "NB ZIP" cushioning structure made of a dozen flexible struts.

Likes: Comfortable, wide toe box and smooth ride. A firm, fast feel like the Mizuno. Tactile grip of a trail shoe; cool, breathable mesh upper. Priced far lower than the rest.

Dislikes: Light feel, but just as burly as Adidas (14 ounces).

Price: $85. (617) 783-4000; www.newbalance.com.

Endurance runner and cyclist Roy M. Wallack can be reached at roywallack@aol.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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