APL’s New Running Shoes Promise to Help You Run Faster

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Athletic propulsion laboratories is known for creating performance sneakers that work almost too well. Its first product, a basketball shoe launched in 2010, gave such a boost that the NBA banned it, claiming it gave players an unfair advantage. APL now wants to put its technical prowess at the service of operations.

APL recently launched the Streamline, a $ 300 shoe designed to push the boundaries of what a running shoe can be. The brand spent two years developing it and developed two new technologies in the process: a foam designed to provide high energy return and a woven exterior that encourages airflow to reduce foot drag. These features are designed to allow the wearer to run as quickly and as comfortably as possible. It’s still unclear if this will give professional runners an unfair advantage, but for amateur sportswoman like me, the layers of cushioning certainly make a workout more enjoyable.

Twin brothers Adam and Ryan Goldston founded APL in 2009 at the age of 22, with the goal of bringing new technologies and innovations to footwear. Following the success of that first basketball shoe – the Concept 1 – they developed other sneaker technologies that entered running and training shoes, including TechLoom, a 3D woven stretch material designed for move with your foot, and Propelium, a sole designed to optimize shock absorption. But they thought they could make an even better running shoe.

[Photo: courtesy Athletic Propulsion Labs]

The idea for the Streamline came to the Goldston brothers when they spent the day walking around Tokyo and sat down for a pile of Japanese soufflés, which are extra thick and chewy. Inspired by the structure of pancakes, they decided to develop an incredibly light midsole, but also elastic and bouncy. When they returned to the lab, they developed a foam blend called Future Foam, which is twice as thick as any other shoe made by APL. By testing the midsole in the lab, and then with runners, they found that the new midsoles offered good energy return and compression. They also built a woven material called Aerolux which is APL’s lightest upper to date. It is made of a sturdy material that supports the foot and maintains its shape, but allows air to circulate, which reduces fatigue and drag.

I tested a pair of Streamline shoes before launch. I enjoyed the way they cradled my foot, absorbing the impact of every step. I overpronate, which means I tend to have flat feet; but the foam of this shoe supported the arch of the foot, allowing me to keep a good shape, without it being too firm. In other words, I sort of felt like my foot was bouncing off soft, springy pancakes. Unlike many APL shoes, which have a soft, fabric-like exterior, this shoe has a harder structured upper. I liked the way the upper held my foot firmly in place, reducing friction when my foot moved. I have found the shoes to work well in several high impact sports, including HIIT workouts. And after taking them out on a muddy day, I was able to put them in the washing machine, and they were like new.

If you’re in the market for a new pair of running shoes, you can’t go wrong with the Streamline. They’ll keep your feet comfortable and ventilated, whether you’re jogging around the block or running your next marathon.

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