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The Anatomy of a Running Shoe

The Anatomy of a Running Shoe

The Anatomy of a Running Shoe:

The anatomy of a running shoe is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while.

The anatomy of a running shoe

Since I write a shoe review most weeks, it occurred to me that many people didn’t realize what the actual parts that made up a running shoe are. No shame in that; your only job is to make sure the shoe feels good when you wear it.  It is easier to describe what you like or don’t like in a shoe if you know a few basic terms.

Pictured is the New Balance 1500 (a racing flat ideal for 5ks to marathons)

Anatomy of a running shoe

The “Upper”: 

The upper part of a shoe is exactly what it sounds like: the top of the shoe.  These days, most brands use an upper made of lightweight, breathable, engineered mesh. Although some uppers are made from leather or suede too. Some shoes are even waterproof and the upper can keep water out while still keeping it breathable.

Now, most uppers are seamless, so it doesn’t rub against a wider forefront or bunion. The upper and the shoelaces help secure the foot.  The upper protects your feet and is also what helps keep dirt, rocks or debris out of a shoe.

The anatomy of a running shoe

Toe Box:

The toe box of a running shoe is generally the widest part of the shoe and where your feet and toes are located. You always want movement in the toebox and don’t want your feet to feel squished.

You should be able to wiggle your toes before and after a run comfortably. There should also be about the width of your thumbs length from your longest toe (even if your longest toe is your second or third toe). Having the extra space helps reduce the loss of toenails and keeps your feet from going numb.

Also Included in the Upper Anatomy of a Running Shoe:

Shoe Laces: Shoelaces or Velcro are what hold the top of your foot securely into place. This portion of the shoe is one of the most important for fit in the anatomy of a running shoe.

Tongue: Many people don’t realize the tongue has a purpose! It protects the top of your foot from the pressure of shoelaces but also prevents debris from getting inside.

Heel counter: The heel counter is the firm cup in the back of your shoe to secure your heel. The heel counter makes sure your foot doesn’t slide around. It’s essential always to untie your shoes so you don’t damage the heel counter. Damaging it will bend the plastic and can cause Achilles tendon issues.

Midsole:

The midsole of a running shoe is located between the outsole and the upper. The upper is attached to the midsole of the shoe. Currently, the majority of midsoles are made of a foam called EVA (called ethyl vinyl acetate). Each brand uses different cushioning or EVA that they deem “the best.”

Outsole:

The outsole is a critical component of running shoes, especially when running in inclement weather. The outside is what provides traction on the roads. In trail shoes, the outsole is often thicker to offer more traction. Each brand has different traction in grooves to protect the feet.

Most road shoes are made from blown rubber, which is softer and more flexible. A trail shoe is usually more rigid and is often made of carbon rubber to keep it stiff.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Medial Post:

Not every shoe has a medial post or stability piece to it. Many do, but not all. Most running shoes fall into one of the following combinations: motion control, neutral shoes, or stability shoes. Motion control shoes are designed with the most support, where neutral have zero support. (They can have cushion, but keep in mind support does equal cushion).Stability helps keep a collapsed arch propped in or someone who pronates back into neutral.

The medial post is one of the most important components to determining if a shoe will work for you. If you need a lot of stability and the shoe is neutral, chances are it won’t work. Not everyone needs medial support and using a shoe that has support when you don’t need it can lead to other issues. Most stability components of a shoe are made out of a dual-density combination of TPU (thermoplastic urethane) and EVA.

Not all stability pieces are the same. Some shoes provide minor stability where some is much more corrective. Each brand and each shoe within a brand are different.

The Shank:

Many people don’t even realize a running shoe “shank” exists. The shank is what controls the flexion and torsion of a shoe. It helps the bend naturally and helps with a smooth transition from heel to toe.  The stiffer the shank, the less the shoe will flex.

Heel Drop:

One of the most common questions in the running world, is what a shoe heel to toe drop? I wrote a newsletter on it a few months ago. In short, the heel to toe drop is the height of the heel minus the height of the forefront (in millimeters). For example, a zero drop shoe (like the brand Altra) has the same height and cushion in the heel as the forefront. Most traditional shoes have between 10-12 mm.

Thicker heels will usually cause your heel to drop and hit the ground first, whereas a thinner heel will be easier to run more on your forefront. There is no right or wrong heel drop in the anatomy of a running shoe but it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Last:

When it comes to last, not every brand is the same. The last of the shoe is essentially the shape of the shoe. Most running shoe lasts curved, but shoe lasts can be curved, semi-curved, or straight. If you flip over and look at your Brooks shoe, you can see it curves in the front, pinches in the middle, and curves out in the back. Most traditional running shoes are semi-curved. Finding a last that matches the shape of your foot is just as important as finding a shoe that matches your needs structurally. In the anatomy of a running shoe, the last is what will help find the correct fit.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Why is the Anatomy of a Running Shoe Important for Runners?

Knowing the anatomy of a running shoe because you can find the shoe that works for you both structural and by shape. At the end of the day, you want to find the shoe you are most comfortable in.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite shoe? Why? 

Were you familiar with the anatomy of a running shoe?

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New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

The New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review:

The New Balance 1400 is a consistent and established racing flat for many runners. There is enough cushion to race a marathon, but it’s also light enough to race a hard mile. In my quest to find a marathon racing shoe for the New York City Marathon, I tried the New Balance 1400v6. Ultimately, I think the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel will be my marathon choice, but I like the ride of the NB 1400 too.

New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

New Balance 1400v6 Quick Facts:

Heel to Toe Drop: 10 mm

Weight: 7.2 oz

New Balance 1400v6 Fit:

For the most part, the updates of the New Balance 1400 updates are in the upper and the fit. Like many brands and shoes, the New Balance 1400v6 now has an engineered mesh upper with no seams. The breathable mesh package helps to fit more feet (especially if your forefront is wider), but also, the New Balance 1400v6 is about an ounce lighter and a more airy feel.

New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

A brand new update to the upper of the New Balance 1400v6 is also the internal “FantomFit support cage.”  What is that? The FantomFit support cage is designed to hold the foot securely in place. I did run in the previous version of the New Balance 1400, and I find the NB 1400v6 to hug my feet more and slip less.

Lastly, New Balance did update the tongue of the NB 1400.  A common complaint to the New Balance 1400 series is the paper-thin tongue. Many people struggled with it causing irritation or cutting the top of the foot. It’s been updated to lay flat on the foot.

New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

New Balance 1400v6 Ride:

The NB 1400v6 has minimal changes with the ride in the 6th version. The New Balance 1400v6 continues to the New Balance foam “revlite.” What is a Revlite midsole? The Revlite midsole is a durable, lightweight foam and smooth. Since New Balance is such a large company, they have many different foams, including “fresh foam,” “Revlite,” and “Fuelcell.” I appreciate how firm the New Balance 1400v6 is and that it responds well when racing hard.

Like the previous versions of the New Balance 1400, there is a plastic shank from the midfoot to the forefoot. The shank acts as a spring, which helps for a smooth transition from midfoot to the forefront.

New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

One thing that is unique about the NB 1400 series is the stack height. The stack height of the New Balance 1400v6 is 25 mm in the heel and 15 mm in the forefront. The 10mm drop is almost unheard of in a racing flat. (Most racing lats are anywhere between 0-4 mm). It seems to work well, especially if you are using more traditional running shoes for the bulk of your training.

One thing I can appreciate with the New Balance 1400 v6, is the amount of blown rubber and traction in the NB 1400. It consistently performs well in the rain. If New York is rainy, the New Balance 1400 will most likely be my shoe of choice. There is plenty of traction and I won’t worry about sliding down the course on race day.

New Balance 1400v6 Shoe Review

New Balance 1400v6 Conclusion:

The New Balance 1400 is a classic shoe and it’s an excellent option for 5ks to marathons. The NB 1400 is a staple racing flat that I believe will be around in the running industry for a long time. There aren’t many speed workouts this shoe can’t handle. For me, it’s the best choice in a rainy race or marathon.

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProHoka RinconNike Pegasus Turbo 2

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races: New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Reebok Run fast Pro, 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.

Questions for you:

Have you run in the New Balance 1400v6?

What is your go-to race day shoe? 

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

So far, New Balance has created a few shoes in their “Fuelcell line.” The New Balance Fuelcell Rebel (I most likely will run New York City Marathon in), the New Balance 5280 (the carbon plated 1m-5k shoe), The Balance Fuelcell Propel (which I have yet to try) and the New Balance Fuelcell Echo.

I initially thought the New Balance Fuelcell Echo would be my marathon shoe, but I think (for me), the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel will be a bit better.In general, the New Balance Fuelcell collection and technology is designed to be fast.

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Quick Facts:

Weight: 8.3 oz

Heel to Toe Drop: 6 mm

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Fit:

The New Balance Fuelcell Echo fits almost exactly like a sock. I haven’t had a shoe fit so well and be comfortable from putting it on in a while.

The New Balance Fuelcell Echo uses an engineered knit upper, which provides structure but breathes well. I’ve run a couple of times in hot and humid conditions and the New Balance Fuelcell Echo breathed throughout the run.

The heel of the New Balance Fuelcell Echo has a TPU heel counter, which makes or a secure fit. Many brands, including the Brooks Levitate 2, have tried (and failed) to use a higher heel counter. The New Balance Fuelcell Echo doesn’t irritate the heel of the shoe and fits well.

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

I typically wear between a women’s size 10-11 wide and the 10.5 fits well. 

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Ride:

All of the New Balance Fuelcell shoes are designed with speed and performance in mind. They are all designed to be faster shoes. Where does the New Balance Fuelcell Echo fit? The New Balance Fuelcell Echo is a good road and an everyday trainer. While you can race or run faster, it’s more designed for the bulk of your mileage.

New Balance’s vision with the New Balance Fuelcell Echo is the shoe you can run in as well as casually wear around. I tend to agree that it’s one of the few trainers I like for both running and casually living life.

Like the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel, the Fuelcell Echo has a full-length fuel cell midsole. That means it has a high energy return.

Finally, one thing I appreciate in the New Balance Fuelcell Echo is the traction and grip. The entire outside is crafted with “Ndurance,” which is a rubber that is both light but also durable. The New Balance Fuelcell Echo isn’t a shoe I would take on trails, but it is great for inclement weather.

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Conclusion:

The New Balance Fuelcell Echo surprised me. I appreciate the cushion of the Fuelcell Echo but also that it can be worn more as a lifestyle shoe.

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProHoka RinconNike Pegasus Turbo 2

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races: New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Reebok Run fast Pro, 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

What is a shoe you wear casually? 

What is your favorite racing shoe? 

 

New Balance 1500v5 Shoe Review

New Balance 1500v5 Shoe Review

New Balance 1500v5 Quick Facts:
Heel to Toe Drop: 6 mm

New Balance 1500v5 shoe review


While I have not run in previous versions of the New Balance 1500, I can tell you the upper has been redesigned while the sole remains the same. Unlike many neutral flats, the New Balance 1500v5 is a rare shoe with support but also lightweight. It could be used for a 5k as well as the marathon. In fact, I originally decided to try the New Balance 1500v5 in hopes I might like it for the New York City Marathon. I do like it, but I haven’t determined if it will be my marathon shoe.  I think I need more shoe.

New Balance 1500v5 Fit:

The New Balance 1500v5 fit is simple and sleek. Unlike the New Balance Fuelcell 5280, the New Balance 1500v5 uses a thin synthetic mesh upper called “Fantom Fit.”Since the New Balance 1500v5  is meant to be a “fast” racing shoe, it does fit more snug. I would find somewhere to try them on before blinding getting a pair. With the minimal seams, I haven’t had any issues with blisters or rubbing.

It fits well to my foot. In running shoes, I wear anywhere between a women’s size 10-11 wide. I find a women’s size 10.5 to fit well in the New Balance 1500v5.

New Balance 1500v5 shoe review

New Balance 1500v5 Ride:

The New Balance 1500v5  uses a midsole with REVlite foam.

Anyway, what is “REVlite foam”?

REVlite foam is a different foam than New Balance fresh foam and Fuelcell. Since New Balance is such a large brand, they can get away with having multiple different foams.  The Revlite midsole makes the New Balance 1500v5 light but firm. It’s a fast ride and reliable support throughout the entire run.

The New Balance 1500 series is known for the support too. Unlike the New Balance 1400, the New Balance 1500v5 has denser foam towards the medial side to give support. If you pronate but are still looking for a lighter and more supportive marathon shoe, it’s going to be a good choice.

The traction on the New Balance 1500v5 is one of the better flats I’ve seen. If it’s rainy or inclement weather, your feet are going to grab the ground and not feel like you’re sliding around, which is essential because the Boston Marathon isn’t always wonderful weather.

When running, the New Balance 1500v5 feels firm. Since the New Balance 1500, has a 6 mm drop, you’ll feel the ground. Personally, I like the ability to feel the ground, but know I still have cushion. I’ve run several workouts as well as a few races and like the ability to feel the ground when running.

New Balance 1500v5 shoe review

New Balance 1500 v5 Conclusion:

The New Balance 1500v5 is a great racing flat and shoe. New Balance does claim the 1500 can be used up to the marathon. If I were in my running prime, I might try them out, but right now, I’m undecided. I have done track work, long runs, and races but I’m not 100% sure if my body would “love” running a marathon in them. For me, I think they are best suited as a workout and up to a half marathon distance.

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProHoka RinconNike Pegasus Turbo 2

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races: New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Reebok Run fast Pro, 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Have you tried the New Balance 1500v5?

What is your favorite racing shoe? 

On Cloudstratus Shoe Review

On Cloudstratus Shoe Review

On Cloudstratus Shoe Review

The On Cloudstratus is a brand new, highly cushioned shoe from On. On is a Swiss company which has recently become popular in the US. The Swiss-engineered brand has been the fastest-growing brand since 2016.

I’ve run in a few shoes, including: 

on cloudstratus shoe review

on cloudstratus shoe review

So what makes the On Cloudstratus different?

The On Cloudstratus has more cushion as well as an additional layer of the unique clouds. It has a much wider base than many other On models (I argue the On Cloudswift is just as wide. Plus a unique “star lacing system.” Just don’t ask me to replace that for you.

on cloudstratus shoe review

On Cloudstratus Quick Facts:

Weight: 9.5 oz

Drop: 8 mm

On Cloudstratus Fit :

Right off the bat, you can see the On Cloudstratus unique “star shaped lacing system.” On claims this allows runners to get the best fit and new ways to customize the fit even more. With the star shaped lacing system, you can remove pressure points off the widest part of the foot.  This is especially important if you have a wide forefoot or bunions.

on cloudstratus shoe review

Sliding the On Cloudstratus on, my foot fits comfortably. A few models of On running shoes are typically too narrow, but the On Cloudstratus fits well.

another unique component of the On Cloudstratus is the second set of eyelets that can make the fit even wider.

on cloudstratus shoe review

Anyway, enough about the Cloudstratus shoelaces and star lacing system.

The On Cloudstratus’s upper has a lot of structure. It keeps your foot in place and maintains Cloudstratus’s shape. The stiff heel keeps you from sliding.

In running shoes, I wear anywhere between a women’s size 10-11 full. I find the size 10.5 in the Cloudstratus fits well.

On Cloudstratus Ride:

The Cloudstratus has a ride, different than any other On model. It has a wider base which gives the shoe unique stability. Even though there is no traditional posting, the wide base gives the On Cloudstratus a stable ride.

Like the On Cloudswift, the Cloudstratus clouds are created from Helion foam. Helion Foam is newer cushioning from On that makes it firm but also stable. Unique to the Cloudstratus is the dual layer of Cloudtec cushion pods. The dual cloudtec system allow more cushioning.

Similar to the other On running shoes, the Cloudstratus uses a Speedboard. The designers from On, insert the plastic Springboard between the midsole and upper. This makes the shoe much stiffer than other models of On but also gives the On Cloudstratus extra snap.

When running in the On Cloudstratus, I like the additional cushion and my feet feel protected. For me, it fits best as a daily run shoe.

on cloudstratus shoe review

On Cloudstratus Conclusion:

The On Cloudstratus is a high cushioned great shoe from On. I think they were missing this model in their lineup. It’s light, while still giving cushion. Plus if you have a wider foot but want to give On running shoes a try, the On Cloudstratus might give you that option.

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProHoka RinconNike Pegasus Turbo 2

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races: New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Reebok Run fast Pro, 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Have you tried On running shoes?

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