Gear The Shoes Everyone is Talking About: Asics MetaRide, reviewed

The Shoes Everyone is Talking About: Asics MetaRide, reviewed

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There may be no better moment for a runner than the instant they know they can’t complete a run. It begins as a thought, becomes an emotion, grows into a physical paralysis and ends, after shameful apologies to one’s run partners, in the backseat of a cab. If ever there was a better moment to switch sneakers, the very next long run has to be considered a damn good chance.

The Asics MetaRide have to be considered the biggest launch since the 4% by Nike, they’re of a select group of shoes in that price range. Fast, light, bouncy, daring—the MetaRide are almost a political statement: you don’t wear these sneakers to go for a jog.

On the morning in question, I charged my Garmin. Applied Vaseline. Packed energy chews, woke up early and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; then broke out my new shoes. Around the Bay is March 31. The Ottawa Marathon is May 26. Time is running out with my training. Time to produce is near. Back to back aborted training runs are not an option.

New shoes? Hell, yeah.

The MetaRide sit off the ground between the toe and the sole—which is called a “rocker design,” and looks just like that—the outsole is almost its own disconnected layer from the sneaker: the surface adds cushion and bounce and makes you feel like you’re wearing motorized rollerblades. Standing still, I feel like I want to run. For my first 10K, I need to remind myself to slow down. The MetaRide is designed to help runners feel less fatigued on a long run, but I feel powerful. It could be that you feel that way with any new pair of shoes, especially in a pair of shoes as hyped as the MetaRide, which look like a Star Wars accessory. But the bounce, coupled with the heel-to-toe angle, and the energy I brought to Sunday’s run, made me feel like a Ferrari in the right hand lane as I went about my business as methodically as I could—the only goal of this test drive was to complete the long run with grace. It’s not about speed, it’s about endurance: running at a pace between five and 10K that will let me run at all between 26 and 31 kilometres.

Control is a marathon runner’s best friend.

Like many Toronto runners, I went down to the MGT and then headed east, making my way all the way south to the Leslie Spit. Conditions could not have been better and, not that this is recommended in new $300 sneakers, but, as Canadian all-season runners, it matters: when I race over ice or charge through slush the MetaRide didn’t overtly slip and are water resistant perhaps more than you’d expect. Many high-priced trainers are, if not flimsy, certainly built first and foremost to be light and fast. (I’m thinking of the Reebok Floatride, which I love, but destroyed). These new Asics are built for the long haul.

So are you, so am I.

Still, promises are promises and long runs are long runs, so while the shoe says that it’s designed to make leg muscles feel less fatigued over the long run, I was still hurting on everything after 24K, and more so after 29. Don’t expect the MetaRide to be a self-driving car. If you’re not trained up, no sneaker on earth (yet), will take the sting out of the sport, and perhaps that’s good. I made my way back into the city and after two-and-a-half hours in my sneakers, my feet still felt good. I went straight from the box into the fire and had no problem whatsoever with the fit or neutral ride. The shoelaces didn’t come undone, and at 10.8 ounces, I didn’t feel like I was running attached to kettle bells.

There’s always that moment in a difficult run which is what all runners are chasing: that second where you go from wondering if you can finish to the second you realize: I rule, I got this done. And I can do more. (Maybe not now, but soon, like, again). That’s the way I felt as I made my way to Trinity-Bellwoods and turned west on Dundas Street and knew that I cleared the cobwebs off my season. At speed work, I’ve joined a slower pace group. And my time for 34.8 kilometres is nothing like it was last year.

But that’s all well and good. You have to get a couple of victories under your belt to feel good about racing. I got one on Sunday. And the MetaRide helped. I’ll be wearing them at Around the Bay and be wearing them in Ottawa. For confidence, $300 is a steal.