Runners want to run on dirt over bitumen and grass over concrete. It's the inherent knowledge that running on a softer surface is easier on the body than a hard surface that's inspired Nike's latest running innovation – the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit.
With a never-before-seen cushioning system made from thousands of plastic and rubber beads, the Nike Joyride aims to make running easier for every type of runner.
Senior product line manager at Nike Running, Will Moroski says, "Around the world, runners don't always have the luxury of running on soft grass.
"So, we've taken the idea of a super soft path and the personal cushioning of walking on sand and put these two elements inside a shoe."
Making running easier
Moroski says Joyride was a decade in the making.
"Running is hard, and the team at Nike rallied around this for 10 years," he says.
"For a core runner, hard might mean a long week of training; and for an everyday runner, hard might mean staring at their shoes that are sitting by the door and being intimidated at the thought of going for a run.
"This feeling resonates with runners around the world, and we thought – how can we make running easier for everyone?"
Personalised for perfection
Pitched as a recovery running shoe, the Joyride is engineered to help keep legs fresh by delivering a personalised underfoot experience with great impact absorption in a surprisingly light, energy-returning package.
"Runners don't like taking days off. They enjoy running and don't love the elliptical machine or swimming or substitutes of running," says Moroski.
"Joyride allows runners to keep running, but give their legs a break."
Where the magic happens
While the beads themselves are next-level, the shoe is ground-breaking on several fronts. Nike Joyride is the result of intense, iterative trialling. One-hundred-and-fifty materials were tested before landing on a TPE (a copolymer of plastic and rubber) for the beads.
Moroski says the shoe's construction is as innovative as the beads.
"The runner's foot sits directly on top of thousands of beads (11,000 in a men's size 10) because we want them to be interacting with the beads so that they get the sensation, but they also get the maximum compression possible for ultimate cushioning," says Moroski.
Initial concepts featured one giant cavity of beads in the midsole of the shoe, which moved after a few steps and became uncomfortable. Moroski says that's when the Nike team came up with the idea of putting the beads into pockets or pods in the parts of the shoe that experience the most compression when running.
"Using pressure maps, we've been able to create cavities or pods of beads underneath the parts of the foot that matter the most to the runner," says Moroski.
What to expect
Compared to other Nike running shoes, the Joyride feels heavier on pick-up, but once on your feet the extra weight is soon forgotten as you experience the playful sensation and soft popping sound of beads underfoot.
It does feel strange at first, but after the first few minutes of running, you forget they're even part of the shoe.
The upper is snug on the foot, making you feel locked-in and protected. Otherwise, the all-new pull tab is colourful and large, which can cause some rubbing on the back of the ankle when fresh out of the box.
More cushion and protection
Running in a pair of Joyride shoes is a unique sensation – it's almost like running on bubbles. While the colorful beads may seem gimmicky, the shoe delivers a benefit to all runners.
Joyride beads can compress around 20 per cent more than a traditional piece of foam, meaning 20 per cent more cushioning and bounce for the runner. With each foot strike, the air trapped between the joyride beads escapes, providing more compression than traditional foam.
Most of Nike's latest running shoe innovations have focused on helping the runner go faster, and the joy of this new shoe is that it's pitched for all runners. Beads aside, the Nike Joyride is a great tool for the elite runner who's doing a shakeout run, while also being a super protective and fun shoe for the new runner.
The high of crossing the finish line inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. Whether you're a newbie to the running scene or a seasoned athlete, Laura brings the latest running trends and gear to readers across Australia. With a day job in the corporate world and a busy toddler, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to sharpen her mind and challenge her body.
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