Running-shoe designers put function before foam
Brands experiment with shock absorbers that don't compress and harden over time.
Nike Air Max 360 II: Foamless shoe with Air Sole (encapsulated pressurized air) in midsole.
-- 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 email@example.com.