They sent me a list of products to choose from and one product immediately caught my eye--the Under Armour Spine RPM.
The Under Armour Spine RPM is their new line of running shoes. I knew Under Armour had developed some training shoes (the type you'd wear in the gym), I even have a pair, but, I was not aware that they had ventured into the world of running.
I read a description about the shoes and they sounded interesting. Here's the info I read:
We asked Tom Brady and Lindsey Vonn what the most elite athletes in the world need from their running shoes. They wanted a shoe that could handle their toughest training days—a perfect combination of lightweight performance and support. Our response is a revolution in footwear inspired by some of the most dynamic motion systems in nature. UA Spine is the only running shoe that gives you lightweight, responsive cushioning without sacrificing stability. It delivers the speed you want and the cushioning you need, no matter how far your run takes you.
This was both intriguing and a bit concerning. The spine technology sounded really cool, but the fact they consulted a professional football player and an alpine ski racer about running shoes seemed a bit odd. Why not a marathoner?
The technology of the shoe that makes it different from the competition is the sole's spine design which is supposed to mimic the flexibility of the human spine. They're also constructed of very lightweight material producing a shoe that's only 9.7oz.
Sounds great! I'm all about a light weight shoe that's flexible but also provides some support.
I've completed several runs in the shoes now and I'm disappointed to say that I'd have to give the Under Armour Spin RPM an A+ in concept, but a C in execution.
Although lightweight, the shoes felt very hard and inflexible. They had very little bend. With the spine technology, I envisioned them having a little more lateral twist to them like some of the other competitors' lightweight flexible shoes.
I immediately noticed that the shoes had a hard clomping sound to them when walking and this only got louder when running. Kind of surprising, since I rarely ever hear my foot landing. Actually I was running with one of my training groups while wearing the shoes and one of my clients asked me, "Does that hurt?" I was caught off guard and asked her what she was talking about. She replied, "Those shoes. They sound so loud and hard that is seems like it would hurt your feet."
She was right, they were loud, they were hard, and my feet really didn't feel so good after my test runs.
The UA Spine RPM also has a higher heel-to-toe drop than I thought it would have. Most of the more flexible "natural-ride" shoes are lowering the drop to 8mm, 5mm or lower. The Spine is still at the traditional 12mm heel-to-toe drop. The higher heel drop tends to foster heel-striking. An appealing feature of a lower profile is that it helps a runner achieve more easily a mid-foot strike which helps the runner work with the oncoming road instead of against it.
With a change to a more cushioned insert, I've found that the shoes are pretty good for wearing in the gym, but not for running.
I really like the Under Armour company and since they contacted me about the review, I thought I'd let them know my findings prior to posting this review and actually offered to decline the review. I was so impressed with their response. Under Armour said for me to post my review. They wanted to keep it as authentic and genuine as possible and appreciated my feedback. To me this really speaks highly of this global company. To welcome constructive feedback even when it's not so flattering, is the mark of a great company.
I do recommend that they revisit the shoe's design and tweak the sole so that it provides a more cushioned and flexible ride. Consulting some endurance runners who are more in tune with the the needs of a runner during sustained running will greatly benefit the outcome.
Given all of this feedback, running shoe preference really is subjective. What works for one runner may not for another. So, if you're curious about the new spine technology, check out the UA Spine RPM. But.....check them out in a running store where you can try them on and test them out before buying.
I look forward to being able to test drive the next generation of the Spine and hopefully all the kinks will be worked out.