When it comes to finding a great running shoe, there’s arguably nothing more important than fit. Whether you’re clocking 21km half marathons or are a casual runner who never runs more than 5 kilometres at a time, wearing a running shoe that fits just right can be a game changer.
For too long, running shoes have been made for men, then redesigned to fit a woman’s foot shape. Most running shoes for women were in effect just smaller versions of men’s shoes. Shoes are designed using a shoe last (the form on which a shoe is constructed) based on the shape of men’s feet, with the last determining the toe shape and heel height as well as the curvature of the shoe.
Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that women’s feet are not the same as men’s. As understanding of the physiological structural differences between men and women has grown, so, running shoes have thankfully become far more female-specific. Recent research has shown that women have different gait patterns and lower-limb biomechanics than men. So, it follows that the way women run is significantly different from men.
Stepping it up with the Puma Run XX Nitro
With that in mind, Puma is working on rewriting the narrative when it comes to women’s running shoes, and it’s kicking things off with the all-new Puma Run XX Nitro, a running shoe designed specifically for female runners. Named for the woman-specific double X chromosome DNA sequence, Puma says the Run XX stands behind the brand’s ‘Run for Her’ positioning to prioritise female runners’ needs in the way they build and engineer their products.
To truly understand the needs of female runners, Puma launched a research study in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Biomechanics Lab. The study recruited 224 runners who logged more than 36,000 miles over eight weeks. 81 percent of women included in the study, said they preferred the Run XX over the control shoe, and said they liked the cushioning and responsiveness of the Run XX over the control.
What sets the Run XX apart?
Puma’s Run XX running shoe was designed from the ground up to ensure the ideal fit for women. According to Puma, the shoe features a progressive, female-specific design. The updated fit of the shoe ensures it hugs a woman’s heel, instep, and arch, while the shoe’s new firmer Nitro Foam midsole offers the perfect balance of durability and a lightweight feel. What’s more, Puma says the shoe’s Run Guide further helps to promote proper alignment and increased stability for longer distances.
This exciting addition to the Puma running lineup was designed with the aim of improving women’s performance, comfort and safety when running. The design of the shoe takes into account not only women’s unique biomechanics, but also helps to address the cause of distinct injury patterns female runners often have.
When you consider the design of the Puma Run XX, it makes complete sense why most of the women included in the Puma study preferred the fit of the new Run XX running shoes. The most obvious reason is that women’s feet are shaped differently. Sure, women tend to have smaller feet than men, but we also have a different heel-to-forefoot ratio. This is super important when considering the fit of your running shoes.
Women often have a narrower heel in relation to their forefoot, so, wearing running shoes designed for men can often cause the heel to slip inside the shoe, leading to instability and chafing. Puma’s Run XX shoes are shaped differently, using a narrower last. This gender-specific last helps to dramatically improve fit for female runners and prevents problems like heel slippage.
The fit of the Run XX is indeed impressive. I love the snug fit of these running shoes, and there is little to no slippage at all when you’re pounding the pavement. They fit like a glove from the very first wear, and I didn’t experience any fatigue from wearing them on a long run; just smooth sailing all the way.
Another game changer in the design of the shoe is the gender-specific support. The shoe was designed to offer the right levels of support and flexibility for a woman’s foot as it moves through the gait cycle. The Run XX offers incredible support in all the right places, which makes the world of difference when you’re embarking on a long run. We’ve all experienced those little nagging discomforts from our running shoes on the last few kilometres of a long run, but wearing the Run XX I didn’t struggle with distractions caused by rubbing or chaffing after prolonged wear.
The shoe was also designed to offer greater stability, which is where Puma’s built-in footstrike guidance technology, RunGuide, comes in. This piece of TPU runs from the heel to the midfoot, and when paired with the new Nitro foam, creates a firm ride, while still providing a great amount of cushioning.
Speaking of Nitro Foam, Puma is well-known for its Nitro Foam innovation in its running shoes, but now, the brand has even gone the extra mile to address how this foam technology can be used to better accommodate women. Women tend to be lighter than men, but oddly enough, cushioning in running shoes has always been designed with men’s weight in mind. It may seem like a small thing to consider, but when you consider the technicalities of it, the cushioning material in running shoes is often too dense for women.
But, now, Puma says its famous Nitro Foam has been reconsidered for the Run XX, featuring in a less dense form than its male counterpart. Puma’s Nitro Foam material offers female runners greater impact absorption and more rebound for improved performance when running. Weighing just 243g (for a US W 7.5), the shoe feels incredibly lightweight and has a great spring to it. If you’re all about speed work at the moment or are focused on shaving off a few minutes from previous race times, then these runners are ideal.
I really enjoyed the lightweight feel and ‘bounce’ of the Run XX running shoes and when coupled with the Puma Grip outsole, you get a very impressive running shoe that is perfectly suited for slippery winter conditions when grip and comfort are key. You get a great, stable ride from this running shoe, making it a solid daily trainer and long run shoe.
It’s ideal for runners who like a firmer ride and want more stability and support in a running shoe. Overall, the Puma Run XX Nitro is comfortable, durable, and comes at a pretty decent price point for runners who are serious about improving their performance.
The Puma Run XX Nitro is now available on PUMA.com, PUMA Stores, Totalsports, Superbalist and selected retailers with a retail price of R3,199.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.