Runners and Running Industry Pick Up Pace!

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the gradual closure of activities for people to do and keep fit. Running is one of such activities which picked up globally by the population. As someone who has been running for more than a decade, I have seen the change in number of people who are out jogging or running clearly. For people looking to get into running in various stages, be it starting out or taking it into the next level, there are a few mainstream brands. They are namely Nike, Adidas, ASICS, New Balance, and Skechers just to name a few in no particular order.

Each of the brand has their own road running shoes line up which allows runners to be spoiled for choice. These shoes line up vary in their level of cushioning which comes from the midsole, the stack height, weight, and your foot or running styles — wide foot, neutral or stability, heel strike or otherwise. Typically, the line-up can then be classified based on use cases. It includes but not limited to:

  1. The Daily Trainer: Aim to do it all and cater to whatever you want, a Jack-of-all-trades.
  2. The Tempo Shoes: Aim for those fast-paced training days which provide you the support and responsive you need.
  3. The Mile Eater: Aim for long distance running with sufficient cushioning to keep the legs fresh and reduce the impact. Sometimes, this could also be a daily trainer.
  4. The Race Day: Aim to support the runner with just enough cushion and structure for speed on that most important day — the race day.

While these are typically categories, runners and running shoes do not always fit into them neatly. Race Day shoes could be your daily trainer or tempo shoes. Your daily trainer could also fit your tempo usage if you so want it to be. How the shoes react and perform depends also on the fitness and preferences of the runner. Yet, no single company in the industry had used one important metrics in running to categorize and recommend their running shoes — pace.

Vimazi & Its Quest to Democratize Customized Running Shoes

Most recently, another company is preparing for its launch, Vimazi who said that they have something to offer for the running community. A Portland, Oregon based startup set out to sell runners shoes which are tuned to their preferred pace and optimize their energy utilization during runs.

“Using the math and physics that describe running forces, we determined the size, shape, and durometer for our FastPod midsole tech. We went through the same process for every pace and shoe size, for women and men, and between heel and forefoot. Then we figured out how to engineer the foam to meet those precise requirements.”.

– Vimazi

The company claims that pace is fundamental for every runner and how a pair of running shoes is built should cater to a certain pace range. Vimazi is co-founded by Scott Tucker who is also the CEO and John Zilly who is the chief marketing officer. What they hope to achieve with Vimazi is to democratize running shoes that are customized to the speed range of a runner.

Image 1: Vimazi Z series (Source: Vimazi)

Vimazi termed their midsole “FastPods” which is made of Vimazi’s Z-Foam. The FastPods for each series are designed to work harmoniously with the pace of the runners. There is the Heel FastPod and the Forefoot FastPod each for a different purpose. The Heel FastPod is optimized for cushioning while the Forefoot FastPod is tuned for propulsion force and enhance stride efficiency. The shoes are expected to be out this year during fall and retails for US$160.

Image 2: Vimazi Z40 (Source: Vimazi)

Why Pace Makes Sense, Will it Deliver?

Why pace matters for runners? Pace is a metric which tells you how fast you are going over a set of distance (i.e., 1 km or 1 mile). Thereby, pace can certainly serve as ametric to narrow down the choice of running shoes. I will use long distance running as an example, where you are likely to consider pace so you can track if you are running as fast as you intended. To hit my personal best on race day or during training blocks, I can calculate the pace I need to maintain to cover the distance over a targeted time. This also follows that the amount of force which the runner is exerting increases as compared to a slower pace — your cadence and stride length will differ as well. Therefore, using pace as a metric for choosing a pair of running shoes will help the runner to zone in on their desired pace and the achieve the outcomes of the run.

Personally, as I shared earlier, certain pair of shoe works as a daily trainer for one runner might work as a race day shoes for another. However, I do believe that to get the best out of the pair of shoes, any runner will need some guidance as to which pair is best for which run. Before a run, I typically think about the distance, effort (i.e., pace) before my run. The choice of shoes will therefore be different when I decide to go for a 21km at a 6:00 to 6:30 minutes per km vs a 5km run at a pace of 4:00 to 4:30 minutes per km. Distance tends to be the first variable which I use to categorize my running shoes. There is certainly an activation zone for each pair of shoes, a zone where the shoes perform well, and you feel that it is enhancing your run. This is where the dots joined, Vimazi has a point. 

During each run, the amount of force which you exert towards the surface is dependent on first your weight and how fast you push it towards the ground (i.e., gait cycle) both vertically and horizontally. Following this chain of thoughts, each pair of shoes with a certain stack height, midsole characteristics will react to the runner differently at different amount of force. Then Vimazi’s running shoes which are tuned specifically for a certain pace could be a good way to look at running shoes and derive an optimal choice.

However, my question comes: What about distance, what about stability or comfort over the distance? What if I want to go a distance say of half marathon to full marathon at a faster pace, could Vimazi Z-series shoes cater to these considerations? Will the midsole hold without going “flat” as some of the running shoes have shown? Perhaps for elite athletics it does not matter, they have raced in flats (1500 series from NB, Adios 5 from Adidas) for marathon and it is perhaps only in the recent years where the midsole stack becomes much thicker. There are other things to consider too, for example, if the weight of a runner increase, I assume that the stack height of Vimazi’s running shoes should increase as well, at least marginally.

An honest opinion and conclusion for the company and their running shoes can only formed after trying the shoes. I currently do not have a pair which I can touch and get it outdoors. I cannot help but get excited to see what Vimazi can deliver into the running shoes market based on their narrative and midsole (“FastPods — using Z-Foam”). What Vimazi is bringing into the well-established and entrenched market is indeed welcomed. If I ever get my hands on a pair, I will do a quick review to see if it is worth the dollars and fun.

Till then, just keep running.

2 thoughts on “Vimazi, Opening New Doors in Running Shoes Selection.

  1. Hi Dean, thank you for your thoughts on Vimazi pace-tuned running shoes. Extremely insightful! Due to covid, our shoes were delayed since the time you wrote this article in Sept 2021. Now in late July 2022, however, we are very close to launching the shoes. It looks like they’ll be available for purchase in the US in just a few months time. Over the past year we have finalized the best materials and really dialed in the fit for each size and model. To respond to your question about a runner’s weight: The “Forces in Running” study we conducted showed that pace is the primary driver of forces while running. Weight plays a more minor role. We accommodate variations in weight based on gender, shoe size, and the pace zone for each of our models. All our models are neutral and last between 300-450 miles (485-725 km) of running. We do not classify our shoes by distance. We only classify our shoes by pace. By tuning our shoes by pace, we are able to deliver optimized cushioning and maximized propulsion efficiency for every runner, from casual joggers to elite racing. Check out our updated website for more information. Or feel free to email me. Many thanks and happy running, John

    1. Hi John, glad to hear from you and the clarifications provided. Appreciate the additional insight provided behind the science of running shoes and running.
      I look forward to the launch of Vimazi’s products in fall this year.

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