Zoom Vaporfly 4% Really Does Make You a Better Runner

Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s best marathon runner, wears Nike shoes — but do they help him run faster? You’ll be truly astonished to learn that Nike says they do, however, until now, the full data and research upon which it makes this claim has remained pretty much private.

Kipchoge wears an ultra version of the Vaporfly 4%. The “4%” name is taken from a Nike-funded study at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s “Locomotion Lab” that found test subjects wearing a Vaporfly prototype ran an average of 4 percent more efficiently than they in other shoes. This weekend, the results of the study were finally published in the peer-reviewed research journal Sports Medicine.

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The published report is pretty amazing. Every runner tested — 18 out of 18, which, although sounds small, is an above average number of participants for a study of this nature — had better run economy in the Vaporflys than when they ran in two other models (Nike’s Zoom Streak 6 and adidas’s Adios Boost 2). “We didn’t want to compare the Vaporfly to Walmart specials,” biomechanist Rodger Kram, director of the CU Boulder Locomotion Lab and the study’s principal investigator told Wired. “We wanted to compare it to the best marathon racing shoes out there.”

Running economy:
The measurement of the amount of work a runner has to do to maintain any given speed.

If run economy improves, then the runner can go longer without building fatigue. The study did not show the participants ran faster when wearing the Vaporflys, but that they would run faster in a real-world setting because they wouldn’t have to expend as much energy to continue running at a given pace. The study also showed that running economy is improved no matter what speed you’re running at, which is good news for all amateurs.

Head over to Wired to learn more.

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