Note: This is the third of three posts about my recent visit to Reebok Headquarters in Canton, Mass. Catch up with the first post, Reebok Focuses on Three Core Fitness Methods, and the second post, Doing My First WOD at Reebok CrossFit One.
My last stop on my Reebok Headquarters tour in Canton, Mass. was to meet with Antoine Nizan, the Reebok Running Product Manager. Despite Reebok’s running heritage, in recent years, specialty running shops have taken the view that Reebok shoes aren’t a must-have brand. Realizing that Reebok isn’t going to compete with the Big Three of distance running (Asics, Brooks, and Saucony), the company started leading off with a different point of view.
“Your run is not just another run,” Antoine said. Reebok views running as part of a larger fitness routine; a Reebok runner also participates in CrossFit, studio classes, gym sessions, and/or yoga. “The varied routine makes you run better and farther and conquer different terrains,” he added.
For Reebok, that means three pillars of running: speed, distance, and terrain. Here’s how it breaks down.
Speed: The Pump
Remember The Pump of the 1980s, that sporty basketball shoe? Reebok has reimagined The Pump as a running shoe, the ZPump Fusion. The idea is that every human – and every foot – is unique, not just a standard last to build a shoe around. The ZPump is designed for a custom fit, and instead of using the industry-standard 40 pieces to build a shoe, uses only three: the fusion sleeve (outer top layer), the pump technology that wraps around the instep and heel, and the Z-rated outsole.
The Pump technology means air molds to the person’s foot, and the fit is customizable. The fusion sleeve, made of four-way stretch fabric, compresses the Pump technology to the foot so that the fit is contoured. The Z-rated outsole was created based on Z-rated Formula One tires and built with deeper edges for better control at high speeds. The laces are purely cosmetic, because the shoe provides a sock-like feel. The shoe is a good one for speedwork, for the Reebok runner who’s heading down to the local track to run Yasso 800s.
Distance: The One Series
|Reebok One Series|
The Reebok One Series is the shoe built for distance. (Side note: a few years ago, no one thought Skechers would make a serious running shoe, but then Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon in a pair of Skechers, so I’m pretty sure we’ll see an elite athlete crossing a finish line in them soon enough.)
According to Antoine, the One Series , according to Antoine, is built in three zones for the gait cycle, landing on the heel and transitioning to the toe. The heel zone is softer, with a foam density of C43 to create impact cushioning. In the midsole, the density is firmer (T48) for the transition, and the toe is even firmer (R52) to help rebound. The technology is named Foam Fusion because all the foam densities are fused together so the ride is smoother. The upper reflects the three sole densities with three different types of mesh working together.
Terrain: The All Terrain Series
|All Terrain Sprint, draining|
The partnership with Spartan Races meant that Reebok would engineer a shoe specifically for Spartan and obstacle racing in general. As with all its gear, Reebok partnered with athletes in the sport, Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena and Spartan Race World Champion Amelia Boone, to help design the shoe. Antoine himself participates in Spartan Races, so he already had an idea of what was needed. The result is a shoe with five key features:
- Most importantly, the All Terrain shoe has water drainage ports in the toe area, and the midsole is also perforated to train. “In an obstacle race, you go into water no matter what. There’s no point in trying to prevent water…from getting in,” Antoine said. He poured his water into the shoe (holding it over a trash can, because a conference room is not an obstacle course) to demonstrate, and the drainage was really fast.
- Square lugs on the sole provide traction, whether you’re running through mud or climbing a rope or wall.
- A DuraGrip upper means that the shoe will last longer.
- An obstacle grip in the center of the sole grabs ropes – or a muddy wall that you’re trying to swing your leg over.
- A rock guard on the outer edge of the sole protects feet from sharp objects on the course.
Reebok offers two All Terrain shoes, the Sprint and the Thunder. The Sprint has less cushioning, but the Thunder is a hybrid of the One and the Thunder and provides support for training for obstacle races or cushioning for hiking.
As I left, Antoine gave me a present: my very own pair of ZPump Fusions! Look for a review very soon.
Thanks for joining me on my trip to Reebok! And a very special thanks to CrossFit C for being an awesome photographer so that I could ask questions and take copious notes.