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Sole Man: New Shoes Unveiled

Here's a sneak peek at two of the most innovative shoes to hit shelves this spring!

Need new running shoes? This month is when the majority of new running shoes hit the shelves at specialty retail shops. Shoes are continuing to evolve this spring with lighter, more flexible and more agile everyday trainers. Whereas most shoes in this category tipped the scales between 11 and 13 ounces just a few years ago, all of these svelte modern marvels weigh less than 10 oz. But, just as important, each of these models offers a blend of cushioning, protection and flexibility while still allowing your feet to move freely.

RELATED: adidas Unveils Energy Boost Running Shoe

While there are dozens of great new training shoes available this month, here’s a quick look at two of the more technological advanced models — the Adidas Energy Boost (officially announced Wednesday, but available on Feb. 27 at select retailers) and the Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+ (which launches at stores on Feb. 14).

adidas Energy Boost, $150

9.7 oz. (men’s); 8.1 oz. (women’s)
10mm heel-toe height differential
(22mm stack height in the heel, 12 mm in the forefoot)

FIT: The fit of this shoe is snug and athletic from heel to toe. A few testers thought it was a bit too tight in the forefoot, a sensation accentuated by the tight mesh that covers the forefoot.

FEEL: Instead of using layers of traditional ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, adidas developed a new midsole material made from tiny balls of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) fused together with steam. There is no getting around the marshmallowy sensation it creates in this shoe. It doesn’t feel super-light, but it is very resilient and flexible.

RIDE: Once you get used to the springy sensation under foot, you realize there’s quite a bit of energy return coming from these shoes. While not all of our testers were as confident running fast in these shoes, there was unanimous appreciation for their peppy behavior.

Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+, $160

7.6 oz. (men’s); 6.3 oz. (women’s)
11 mm heel-toe height differential
(32 mm stack height in the heel, 21 mm in the forefoot)

FIT: This shoe features an innovative upper, constructed entirely of tightly woven polyester yarn that varies in density—more open in targeted areas that need greater flexibility or ventilation and tighter in areas that demand support. The knitted seamless upper design serves up a comfortable, locked-down, foot-contouring fit in the midfoot and forefoot, but some of our testers felt the heel fit a bit looser than other shoes.

FEEL: Despite the highly advanced manufacturing that goes into this shoe, it has a sublimely simple feeling to it, and that’s a good thing. It has a moderately soft, easy-flexing and low-to-the-ground undercarriage, but it also offers a bit of support without inhibiting the foots natural movement.

RIDE: This shoe rides as smooth as any we tested this spring. The supple midsole and low-volume fit offer an agile feeling while rolling through the gait cycle and a good sensory connection with the ground. It’s lean enough to run moderately fast workouts, but cushioned enough to taken out for longer training runs, too.