New Running Shoe Models: What's The Difference?

     By: Adam Glymph

Here at Optimal Run we suggest a lot of previous models of shoes. We do this because you pay a lot less money for a high-quality product.  But, what does a previous model mean? Today, the most common parallel is smart phones. Each year companies like Apple and Samsung make a new phone with a higher number; the looks change slightly, the numbers on the spec sheet are larger, and some features may have been added or taken away. The same idea goes for running shoes.

Well sort of of. The number of the shoe does go up by one; this year the Brook's Ghost went from 10 to 11. Shoes don’t have hardware upgrades to gawk over, so what does change? First and most noticeable is the outside. Companies update shoes to keep in line with current trends. Take a look at the change from the Brook's Levitate to Levitate 2.

Brook's Levitate


 Brook's Levitate 2

The Levitate seems like a fairly standard running shoe, but the Levitate 2 has the knit outside. So, besides looks what else changed?  Going to Brook's website we can see the brief spec sheet for the shoes; the Levitate 2 is 0.2 oz heavier and the heel collar was changed to be more comfortable and slimmer. The running style, out sole pattern, DNA AMP soles, and heel to toe drop is all the same. It is pretty much the same shoe, but that is a good thing. A good follow up shoe should be like a good movie sequel; it should change some stuff up but keep the core the same.

 A shoe that drastically changes every year would lose loyal customers and the shoe would get slammed with negative reviews. Running shoe companies will however make drastic changes if they feel the shoe is under performing or not well received. Running shoe companies will also take user feedback on feel and decide if major changes are needed. These changes are more like complete revamps than anything. In the end, it is up to the shoe brand to decide what is best. Here is an example of Nike doing big changes with the Flex Experience 6 to 7.

Nike Flex Experience Run 6 Bottom


Nike Flex Experience Run 7 Bottom


There are more changes to the 7, but the bottoms show it off the most. These shoes end up feeling like two completely different models, and has turned off some users. 

 Saucony has done something interesting with their shoe generations. A few years ago they introduced ISO tech and Ever run for their soles. Instead of adding the tech and upping the number, they kept the base name the same, added ISO, and started the numbers over (Guide 10 went to Guide Iso). Here the name change denotes to the customer that something major has changed with the same. Both are still the Guide, but the ISO has the new soles and new feel.

The biggest question with any new tech is: is it worth it? That answer is entirely up to you. The difference between two generations of shoes will most likely be small. If you are unsure if the changes matter, check internet review articles, a lot of reviewers talk about the differences. Look at product reviews on the listings and see if differences are mentioned; be wary, even if the new shoe is good, people don’t like change and will give bad scores because of it. Finally, you could go to a running shoe store and try both. Compare the difference in feel, looks, and price and choose the one you want to run in. Take peace in mind knowing that you're not missing out no matter what shoe you buy.