My Cart

It’s Race Season: The Supershoe Update

The supershoe craze has taken over the competitive running world, with good reason. They’re light shoes that provide a major assist on your run, and they’re a must-have to be seriously competitive at the top levels.
It’s Race Season: The Supershoe Update Featured Image

Since the last time we wrote about supershoes, there’s been an increased recognition and interest in them. No longer just for professional runners, I spot all kinds of supershoes on all kinds of athletes at the track these days.

And with that, there’s an increasing number of customers asking me about the supershoes on our wall. The bright, eye-catching colours intrigue some, while others have heard distance racers raving about carbon plate technology.

As road racing season approaches, how do you know if supershoe technology is right for you? And if it is, how do you go about choosing the right one for you?


What is a Supershoe?

Supershoes are defined by their extremely light, responsive cushioning and carbon plate technology. Since the first generation of supershoes, foam technology has come a long way. Companies have been steadily increasing the cushion while finding ways to keep the shoe light in weight.

Carbon plates, on the other hand, have been the talk of the running world for a while. The carbon plate stores energy, and rather than allowing it to dissipate into the ground, gives a “spring” effect and rockets your foot back at you. Their effect is so powerful that in January 2020 World Athletics, the governing body of world running competitions, announced a new rule banning the use of more than one carbon plate in a competition shoe. The first time I wore my carbon-plated spikes, I nearly kneed myself in the face coming out of the blocks!

All combined the effect of a supershoe on feel cannot be understated. It’s difficult to describe, but it makes me think of the spring shoes I would see in cartoons as a kid. For me, a supershoe feels bouncy, almost jelly-like, and maintaining form over a long distance is much easier. I can often be seen grinning as I jog in the store, trying out a new supershoe- it’s a feeling that represents the joy of running to me.

Super Shoe technology  

The Supershoe Advantage… and Disadvantage

As one might expect, the biggest pro to a supershoe is that it does some of the work for you, decreasing fatigue and allowing you to go faster for longer. If you’re a competitive runner like me, it’s become a necessity to wear them just to be on a level playing field with my competitors. Therefore, I certainly recommend them to anyone looking to be at the top of their competitive game.

But as mentioned previously, supershoes are no longer just for top competitive athletes.

Because they increase running economy and expedite your recovery from session to session, a supershoe would be an excellent choice for anyone who runs frequently, perhaps even allowing you to further bump up your mileage or increase the number of days you run.

While they sound magical, supershoes do have some cons. One big drawback is these shoes are certainly not stability shoes. Some people are surprised by how “wobbly” they feel compared to other shoes. I certainly wouldn’t dare throw around weights in them. If you need a lot of support or stability, your choices in supershoes are going to be limited or it might even be the case that supershoes are not right for you.

Another thing to consider is their lack of durability.

Some shoes are much more durable than others, falling within the typical 600 km recommendation. Some supershoes are engineered more for race day, which doesn’t mean they’ll be trashed after one marathon, but they’re not exactly built to last either. If you’re primarily going to be training and putting in lots of miles, a more durable supershoe would be your best pick, and if you’re a racer, you might consider grabbing a racing pair and a training pair.

While this is not an issue with shoe technology per se, supershoes are very limited in the width selection, which you may have to consider. As a narrow (2A) footed folk, I basically have no choice but to change the lacing and hope for the best. It helps that supershoes typically fit somewhat on the narrow side! If you’re on the opposite side of the width scale from me, some supershoes fit more generously than others, but width may still be somewhat of a struggle.


Choosing Your Supershoe

If you think a supershoe might be right for you, let’s highlight some of the shoes gracing the R&R walls.

If you’re looking for a more durable, more reliable supershoe, look no further than the Hoka Bondi X and the Saucony Endorphin Speed. Fans of the Bondi will love the Bondi X. Hoka made the X version lighter and more breathable in the upper and carbon-plated it, all while maintaining the Bondi cushion and ride we know and love. The Saucony Endorphin Speed has a nylon rather than a carbon plate, but this shoe is still snappy, largely thanks to the PWRRUN cushion tech of the midsole.

If you want to go all in and smash your PR in your next race, the Nike Vaporfly and the New Balance FuelCell Elite were made just for that. The Vaporfly is the OG, nearly banned by World Athletics for giving its athletes an almost ‘unfair’ advantage. The ZoomX foam tech alongside a specifically shaped carbon plate led to serious propulsion that is still an industry leader. The FuelCell Elite is New Balance’s response, and don’t sleep on it- it too gives the rocket-like advantage of the Vaporfly. The sock-fit upper of this shoe locks down the foot for liftoff, and it has a more balanced, less explosive feel but good energy nonetheless.

Looking to pack the miles in your training? The New Balance Supercomp Trainer and the Nike Alphafly Next% 2 are ready to give you a responsive and cushioned ride for as many miles as you can handle.

The Supercomp is so good, it’s illegal to race in (it exceeds the World Athletics maximum of 40mm of foam, packing a whopping 47mm). Anyone looking to go the distance will certainly appreciate all of that cushion.

The Nike Alphafly just squeaks in a legal 39mm of cushion, and a responsive ride that makes me feel like I’m on the moon, or like my legs suddenly lost 10 pounds each. When Eliud Kipchoge ran his (unofficial) world record 1:59 marathon, he was in a prototype of the Alphafly.


There’s no denying that supershoes are something special and that they’re here to stay in the running world for the long term.

If you’re looking to take your running to the next level, a supershoe could help take you there.

However, not every runner needs a supershoe, especially given that supershoes are generally $100-$200 more than other running shoes that could provide exactly what you need.

If you want to try before you buy or if you need further direction, any one of us on the R&R Team would be more than happy to help. Book a fitting, buy online or simply swing by to check out our collection.


Related Articles