Made for Her, the PUMA RUN XX

PUMA releases its first women’s specific running shoe!

For too long, running shoes have been made for men and then redesigned to fit a woman’s foot shape. This season, PUMA is rewriting that narrative with the Run XX NITRO, a running shoe made for her.

Named for the woman-specific double X chromosome DNA sequence, the Run XX stands behind PUMA’s ‘Run for Her’ positioning to prioritize female runners’ needs in the way we build and engineer our products. In collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Biomechanics Lab, PUMA launched a research study recruiting 224 runners who logged more than 36,000 miles over eight weeks. In conclusion, 81 percent of women in the study preferred the Run XX over the control shoe and said they liked the cushioning and responsiveness of the Run XX over the control.

“This was the first time we conducted a large-scale study on female runners and the results will help us shape our approach to women’s running shoes going forward,” said Erin Longin, General Manager of the Run/Train business unit at PUMA, adding, “I believe this study will help us to continue to support female runners and keep them running longer.”

The Run XX features a progressive, female-specific design. Featuring an updated fit that hugs a woman’s heel, instep, and arch, the running shoe’s new firmer NITRO Foam midsole is the perfect balance of durable and lightweight. The shoe’s RUN GUIDE promotes proper alignment and increased stability for longer distances.

“As a runner myself, I want to know my running shoes will support by own biomechanics because women are made differently, and the Run XX does exactly that,” said Erin.

Run XX NITRO will be available from 24 June 2022 on PUMA.com, PUMA Stores, Totalsports, Superbalist, and selected retailers with a retail price of R3199.

 

Even Better Than Before

The lightweight, neutral PUMA Velocity Nitro 2 is a slight upgrade on what was already a really good shoe, offering a cushioned, responsive and comfortably smooth ride. – By Sean Falconer

In 2021, PUMA made the running world sit up when it introduced its Nitro range, featuring new nitrogen-infused NITRO foam midsoles. These immediately proved popular because of their cushy, soft feeling, but still with a snappy, responsive ride. The Deviate Nitro Elite garnered widespread attention that year when US marathoner Molly Seidel wore them as she won the bronze medal in the Olympic Marathon, and another popular model in the range was the Velocity Nitro, a budget-friendly neutral trainer designed more for recreational runners. Now with the Velocity Nitro 2, PUMA has managed to enhance the performance of the original shoe.

Targeted Cushioning

As much as NITRO foam has proven popular, some runners have found that the softness of the NITRO can start feeling a bit sluggish as your legs tire and you tend to heel-strike more and ‘sit’ lower on your heels. In other words, they wanted a bit more structure in their shoes, not just out-and-out soft cushioning, and that’s where PUMA has tweaked the design to improve the shoe’s performance.

The Velocity Nitro 1 featured a midsole made predominantly of NITRO, but with a heel plug of firmer EVA foam and a stabilizing plastic shank in the heel. In the Velocity Nitro 2, PUMA has extended the layer of EVA foam, which now runs the entire length and width of the shoe and sits underneath the NITRO layer. This provides more stability for the NITRO, allowing it to do its cushioning job without compressing too much and becoming sluggish. At the same time, PUMA has reduced the EVA foam’s thickness in the heel, and increased the NITRO foam’s thickness there, while eliminating the heel clip. The heel stack height remains the same at 33.5mm, with a 10mm drop to the forefoot.

These changes are responsible for a softer feel in the heel and a smoother, snappier toe-off, but that plusher heel is obviously of more importance to heel-strikers, especially with that 10mm heel-drop. That said, because I am a midfoot striker and like running lighter and faster, more up on my toes, I still found the midfoot and forefoot provided great cushioning and a most enjoyable ride, with a noticeable feeling of forward propulsion as you transition to the forefoot. I therefore found these shoes ideal for faster tempo runs and speedwork, but I could definitely still do long runs in them.

I also found that the PUMAGRIP rubber outsole coped well with several different surfaces I ran on, including tar, gravel and grass, as well as wetter surfaces, and the treadmill. The Velocity Nitro 2 features more outsole rubber than the original, but more importantly, the new triangular lugs on the outsole provide exceptional grip. I felt really sure of my footing these shoes. Oh, and at just under 250 grams per shoe, these shoes are light, but they also ‘feel’ really light, too.

Comfort Ensured

I don’t mind admitting that I have really soft feet, and thus I like a bit of cushioning around the heel area. Otherwise, shoes can rub my Achilles up the wrong way… That’s pretty much the only reason I was not the world’s biggest fan of the Deviate Nitro plated shoe last year, and also why the original Velocity Nitro was criticised. Happily for my heels, this new Velocity Nitro 2 ticks all the boxes in this area, with a well-cushioned and comfy heel collar, and I had no problems with slippage, because it’s not too bulky to prevent the heel being locked down securely. 

The shoe’s new seamless mesh upper proved comfy, too – not quite the stretchy sock-like fit of other shoes I have run in, but still very comfy. I particularly liked the toe box area, which is unstructured and allows my toes room to wiggle. The tongue is now also slightly thicker and more cushioned, for extra comfort.

What My Feet Said

The key to this shoe is its NITRO midsole, providing exceptional shock absorption with energetic rebound, but that grippy outsole and comfy upper are also big plus-points. Meanwhile, the women’s version has been created with specifically for the female foot, with a narrower heel, lower in-step and sculpted arch.

In terms of fit, I have wider feet and found the half-size did the job in giving my feet enough room, while my usual 8.5 UK sizing seemed just right – the thumb-width of space in front of my toes is definitely a thumb-width. However, some reviews I read said that testers found the shoes a bit on the longer side, and thus recommended trying a half-size down. This is one of those situations where you will only know if you go into a PUMA stockist and try the shoes on for yourself. As they say, if the shoe fits…

GET THEM HERE

The PUMA Velocity Nitro 2 retails for a suggested selling price of R2799 at PUMA stores, Totalsports, Sportsmans Warehouse, Superbalist and selected retailers, or you can order the shoes online at puma.com.

Some Nitro Served on a Plate

The world’s elite athletes are all running in plated shoes these days, because very simply put, they make you faster, and if you have that same need for speed, you should give the PUMA Deviate Nitro a try. Ed Sean Falconer gives his views on the latest PUMA shoe.

Over the years, I have found it interesting to watch the development of the tech in PUMA’s shoes. One of their projects that stood out for me was Mobium technology – introduced around 2013, if my memory serves – which featured a thin figure-of-eight bungee cord built into the midsole, which contracted and stretched with your foot to give the shoe better rebound properties. It was an interesting concept that unfortunately didn’t really hit the spot with the running market, but I give PUMA points for trying something new.

Now PUMA have come out with the Deviate NITRO, which the company describes as a “max cushion shoe with improved efficiency for long runs.” But that’s just marketing speak, and could just as easily describe every other running shoe on the market. No, the real story here is the new tech, and it starts with the carbon-composite plate embedded in a nitrogen-infused midsole!

Riding the Plate Wave

The midsole is made from PUMA’s new NITRO foam, which is a supercritical material that provides a lighter and bouncier ride than previous midsole materials from PUMA, even their IGNITE foam. In layman’s terms, they pump nitrogen into the compound as it is formed and baked, which then creates subtle bubbling that ensures better cushioning and springiness in the midsole.

PUMA then added the carbon-infused INNOPLATE, sandwiched between two layers of NITRO and running till midway in the forefoot. This plate is designed to really make your toe-off ‘pop’ as the shoe helps to propel you forwards… much like PUMA’s Mobium band was designed to do, but this is so much more effective and efficient!

When I ran in the shoe, I found it a little on the rigid side at slow speeds, but that’s understandable – this shoe is designed to help you go faster, after all. Once you get up even a little speed, and pivot ever so slightly more forward than you may be used to doing, those plates really kick in. Overall, I felt the shoe gave me the right balance between soft cushioning on landing and a snappy take-off.

The tooling of the shoe is rounded off by a PUMAGRIP outsole, which is particularly effective in the forefoot to ensure firm grip on the road as that plate does its ‘slingshot’ act. After all, the last thing you’d want with that extra power is loss of traction, like an over-revved car spinning its wheels. The stack height drop is 8mm (32mm in the heel, 24mm at the toe), which is pretty standard stuff for a well cushioned running shoe.

My Only Criticism…

The mesh upper of this shoe is breathable and looks both modern and cool – and personally, I love the bright orange colour, because I like my running shoes to look fast! The upper has minimal overlays, which is good – while they provide structure and form to an upper, they can make it less flexible and giving, and I think this shoe has just the right amount.

Furthermore, I like that the tongue has minimal padding and is gusseted (attached to the footbed), meaning it stays in place throughout your run, but at the same time my wider foot found the forefoot area roomy and comfy enough. That’s an important consideration for me, given that PUMA did build some of its shoes on a narrow last in years gone by, which I found too tight.

However, there was one part of the upper that rubbed me up the wrong way at first. The first time I put on the shoes, I noticed slippage in the collar around my ankle, and I put this down to the interesting design of an unpadded collar with two prominent pads a little lower down that wrap each side of the heel. I also found that the slightly harder upper edge of the heel cup area was digging into my Achilles. I therefore put the laces through the extra eyelets closest to the ankle and synched them really tight, and that took care of the slippage, and to a large extent the Achilles irritation as well, but I did find that thicker socks were better.

…But the Ride Solves That!

That said, once I got up to speed in the shoes, I quickly forgot about the collar, because the performance of the rest of the shoe was so good! This shoe seems to promote forefoot striking and a quicker toe-off, and thus the collar of the shoe doesn’t play nearly as prominent a role as it would if you were heel-striking and squishing down on your heels. So, my take on this is that each individual runner will need to experiment with lacing and socks to find the most comfortable fit, and when you get that right, you will feel the real benefit of these shoes and their snappy forefoot.

 

Get Them Here: The PUMA Deviate Nitro retails for a recommended R3999 and is available from PUMA stores and at PUMA.com