When the people at Airia contacted us to ask my opinion of their running shoe I admit I scrambled to Google. I’d heard about this Swedish company that was making a new running shoe but hadn’t seen the shoe. So I happily accepted their offer to try a pair.
Airia is based in Örebro, Sweden and was founded by runner and inventor Svante Berggren. He dreamed of a running shoe that would make you run faster, so in 1992 started to work on a prototype. The national shoe company Arbesko came on board in 2000. The shoe debuted on the running scene twelve years later.
I won’t go into the technical side of the shoe, you can find that information on their website or this beautiful chart:
Basically it’s a zero drop shoe that forces you to run on your forefoot. Airia claims that eight out of ten runners are faster with their shoe and even go as far as saying that some runners were able to improve by 7%. In other words, if you happen to run a sixty minute 10km, put these shoes on and take four minutes off your time.
Really? It sounds too good to be true… but I was willing to give them a try.
I loved the packaging. Yes, I’m a sucker for clean graphics and bold claims.
As I took the shoes out of the box I was impressed with the quality. At USD $190.00 a pop they needed to be really well made! They have a solid Vibram® sole and an Ortholite® insole for healthy feet. The upper vamp is made of a mesh-like material, keeping it super light. I weighed one on my kitchen scale and it came in at 215 grams. For a running shoe that is air!
The first thing you notice about the Airia shoe is the uplifted forefoot. You can see what they’re trying to achieve.
The instructions said to be careful about new muscles that might come into play, but I’m a firm believer in feet activation so this wasn’t going to be a problem for me. They also specify that they are ONLY running shoes. Not walking shoes, not standing around shoes. They advise to get at least six miles on them before evaluating.
I wore them for a few runs and have to say that these are shoes that only an experienced runner could wear. You have to understand what the manufacturer is trying to do and work with them. They are definitely not a shoe that you walk into a store, buy, put on and start running PRs. Absolutely not for beginners.
At first they felt really weird. Uncomfortable. Since I could really hear my feet slamming down. I tried to lean forward and push off more with my forefoot as I ran. This seemed to work better though it felt like a lot of work.
The most negative thing was the upper vamp kept scrunching up even though the shoe length was correct. I pulled it back into place a few times but it kept slipping back.
I’m pretty sure I won’t be wearing my Airia’s for everyday running, but I would definitely wear them at the end of a training session to do my strides so that I my body memorises that forefoot position and the feeling of a faster run.