2011 Spring Shoe Guide

BEST UPDATE

NIKE LUNARELITE+ 2

Price: $100

Widths: Standard

Weight: 9.8 oz (M) 8.4 oz (W)

Contact: 800-595-6453; nikerunning.com

We Say: This update is to the first LunarElite what The Empire Strikes Back is to Star Wars—a sequel that improves on the original in every way. Besides being lighter and softer than its predecessor, the Elite is more stable and flexible, according to lab tests. Nike deepened the flex grooves to create a smoother ride and broke up the arch wrap in the middle of the foot to allow each individual band to work independently in securing the arch. Ideal for efficient runners looking for a speedwork shoe.

Wear-Testers Say: "They're lightweight yet they had a surprising amount of cushioning and stability."

—Celeste Wells, 42, Allentown

"This shoe is a nice alternative to traditional trainers for speedwork or racing."

—Lisa Paglia, 34, San Diego

SAUCONY PROGRID MIRAGE

Price: $100

Widths: Standard

Weight: 9.6 oz (M) 8.3 oz (W)

Contact: 800-365-4933; saucony.com

We Say: The Mirage has a remarkably smooth feel for such a lightweight model. It uses the same level platform as the Kinvara, which encourages midfoot-striking, and adds a plastic post under the arch to provide stability. The shoe's substantive upper holds the foot in place better than the Kinvara's airy mesh but isn't as comfortable, as noted by our wear-testers. Recommended for runners looking to ease barefoot-like training into their routine.

Wear-Testers Say: "The shoe's light stability allowed me to get just the right amount of structure."

—Sue Sciarini, 50, East Lansing

"The shoe fit well, leaving my foot with a snug feel all around."

—Aaron Bachman, 23, East Lansing

UNDER ARMOUR ASSERT

Price: $70

Widths: Standard

Weight: 9.8 oz (M) 8.5 oz (W)

Contact: 800-427-6687; underarmour.com

We Say: The new direction for Under Armour is embodied in this low-profile model. The Assert positions the foot closer to the ground, which results in a firmer and more stable ride. The heel is well cushioned—a cavity in the outsole gives the foot something to sink into—but the forefoot is too thin to properly absorb impact. Our wear-testers noted that the cushioning felt overly hard. Some also found that the heel tended to slip a bit midrun. Recommended as a speedwork shoe for lightweight runners.

Wear-Testers Say: "Though the shoe was light and flexible, it had an unnatural feel from heel to forefoot."

—Peter Ford, 30, East Lansing

"I liked the lightweight feel, but I always felt my heel wasn't held down properly."

—Andy Marsh, 28, East Lansing

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