Is more always better? Probably in regards to getting more photos of the shoes for this blog but for running performance, it depends on the runner.
Asics Metaspeed vs Metaspeed Sky +
I stopped reviewing shoes for a while because I was devastated to realise that my highly flawed protocol implemented over literally 100 of hours was even more flawed than I thought. No 1 rule of testing is you should never make assumptions in your conclusions which I was.
I assumed that what was most efficient at 3:40, 3:50 and 4 min/km pace (dreaming, idealistic, and realistic goal Ironman race paces) would be most efficient at 3:20/km pace and quicker. That simply wasn’t the case for myself and several other triathletes I had do tests, except, when we were super fresh.. I.e- within the first 10kms and certainly NOT off a long hard bike.
Elite long course triathletes, as a very broad generalisation, run differently to some elite ITU triathletes and many elite runners. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of the changes to musculature required to grind out a strong 90-180km cycling time trial or the more acute effect of the fatigue in the legs from the that time trial but it’s obvious to observe and measure.
I’m as guilty as anyone of getting in a shoe like the Nike Alphafly and thinking ‘stand back world, this angry gnome is going to trampoline his way ahead of Frodeno in Kona’ only to get 10kms into the race absolutely hating that I can’t keep my cadence up and feel like I’m running very differently to how I’ve trained to be efficient on tired legs over 15+ years.
Right. Cut to the chase Reed. I love the Asics Metaspeed Sky AND the Metaspeed Sky+ and can completely understand why there is a shift amongst elite triathletes away from the Nike ‘Zoom X’ foam to the slightly more responsive Asics ‘Flyte Foam Turbo’. To note, there is zero incentive for me to write this as Asics cut me off from free shoes to test after I told the few shoe nerds (no offence valued reader) who read my long winded blogs how badly their original supposed super shoe, the ‘Meta racer’ in comparison to other super shoes efficiency.
Changes to the Sky+
- 4% more foam all round. Definitely a more cushioned ride.
- While the Sky was very tight for its size these are quite a bit bigger for the same sizing, I would try before you buy as a carbon plated shoes that are too big really slip up and down the heel. In addition, the toe box feels wider for the club footed among us.
- The carbon plate has been moved closer to the foot. I don’t notice much difference with this.
- Heel cup is bulked up slightly which should result in more comfort. Again, I didn’t notice too much difference between the two and the original Sky heel cup felt good for me. Asics have always done heel cups well.
Over quite a few test runs, swapping back and forth over different intervals durations and speeds. Much like the Nike Alpha Flys, I ‘felt’ faster across all speeds in the Sky + however, later when checking out the numbers in the comfort of my more objective chair, there was simply hardly any measurable difference. The only noticeable differences was I struggled a bit more to get to 3 min/km pace in the Sky+, I think because at that speed, I need my ground contact time to be quicker. I also did find that at 4 min/km pace the Sky + did consistently give a few beats lower reading.. meaning, at least for myself, that at a pace approximately 30 bpm below anaerobic threshold it was marginally quicker.
Muscle breakdown is what brings many to a shuffle in a marathon or Ironman so I would assume for many the extra cushioning of the Sky + might be preferable while for those really looking to rip through a 10km or half marathon who don’t have elite Kenyan (again probably a generalisation) ‘heel hits your buttocks’ run style and need a quick turnover but still solid ‘pop’ from the foam and carbon plate I would recommend the slightly less foam on offer with the the original Sky. Ultimately, I think it depends on your run style but for GC half marathon this weekend where I’m pacing the big Sammy Betten, I’ll run in the original Sky.
I don’t have a comparison between the two yet but you’re going to get at least a couple of hundred more kms more out of both of these shoes without them turning to slop like the Zoom X foam in the fastest Nike offerings. That’s not necessarily saying that much, I find the Zoom X is different after as little as 40km of running. I haven’t reached 250 + in either Asics shoes to comment beyond that point but so far they both still feel great.
If cost vs durability is a non issue and you run with a deliciously long stride length and heel kick out the back or even if you don’t and it’s only a fresh 5-10km… it’s still going to be hard to move away from Nike Zoom X foam, carbon plate combo for maximising your fresh run pace based off @labratrundown %VO2 testing..
For my little hobbit legs though, I’m an Asics Sky or Sky + man, at least for the next few races.