After the "barefoot" running boom, footwear is soaring to new heights. Enter: chunky, heavily cushioned kicks.
Running is soaring to new heights thanks to those chunky, heavily cushioned kicks youâve been eyeing on the feet of everyone from casual weekend runners to Olympic silver medalist and middle-distance runner Leo Manzano. And while the popularity of the book Born to Run extolled the benefits of less paddingâwhich unarguably was the start of the whole minimal/barefoot running boomâweâve decided we want (a lot) more. Enter the maximalist sneaker trend.
âEven at the height of the minimalist trend, there were many runners who said, âhey, this isnât for me,ââ notes Johanna Bjorken, Merchandise Director for JackRabbit Sports, a specialty running store in New York City. âSo what weâre seeing now is the pendulum swinging the other way, and manufacturers making shoes for that consumer who doesnât want to feel the ground.â
And since you donât really have to âtransitionâ into these kicks the way you did with their minimal counterpart, making the switch should be relatively easy. For Bjorken, personally, she likes to think of these as âhangoverâ shoes. âI like them best on days when my body just feels like it wants a little bit more protection, regardless of the distance of the run.â
Here are five plush pairs to consider for your next run.
At first sight, the supersized midsole on the Hoka One One Clifton ($130; zappos.com) may make you chuckle, but, trust us, your body will thank you for its robust padding. And that nifty rocker bottom? It helps promote a nice fluid ride, from heel to toe.
Photo: Hoka One One
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Not only are the Asics 33-M ($140; amazon.com) runners pillowy soft, but they're super flexible, too, which is good news for all 33 of those joints in your foot. Plus a wide toe box allows those tootsies to splay properly upon impact.
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The New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay 980 ($120; amazon.com), which happens to be named after an island in the Philippines, comfortably cushions all of your steps, from mile one to marathon. Also handy: The neoprene stretch tongue allows you to adjust the fit without creating wrinkles in the toe area.
Photo: New Balance
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Designed with a womanâs foot in mindâa narrower heel, longer arch, and higher instepâthe Altra Paradigm ($83-$130; amazon.com), which still sports a zero-drop platform, offers neutral runners plenty of plush running miles.
Not only does the Brooks Transcend 2 ($170; zappos.com) offer pressure zones that help disperse impact across the foot, but its midsole âguide railsâ keep moderate pronators in check. Did we mention that itâs super cute, too?