Asics' Metaspeed LD bring a futuristic approach to the track. How do they compare to their rivals?
Innovative and exciting yet a traditional feel
Somewhere between a racing flat and a track spike. Those are the words I find myself using when asked about how to describe the Metaspeed LD. Asics’ most recent attempt at a middle to long-distance track spike (with a twist). An extremely innovative and exciting shoe when first released. How do they really perform in the real world and when stacked up against other super spikes?
Metaspeed LD specs:
Weight in the Asics sample size: 118g (4.2oz)
Stack height: 19mm heel – 14mm forefoot (5mm drop)
Upper: Ultralight and secure but…
The combination of a super lightweight and breathable upper with an extremely thin and flexible tongue makes the Metaspeed LD one of the lightest track shoes out there. When first taking the shoes out of the box, I was surprised to see that there was faux leather on the inside of the heel cup. Little did I know the issues that this would cause when running in the shoes.
The knit-like upper offers incredible lockdown and security through turns. While running in the shoes, I didn’t experience any foot slippage at all. For such a robust looking upper, the materials are surprisingly lightweight and flexible.
This shoe is exactly the shoe I can see myself running track workout after track workout in. That would be the case if it weren’t for the heel cup. After my first time running in these shoes, I found them to create a pressure point on my achilles, causing friction and blistering. I decided to give them a few more chances. Whilst I have found the issue improving, I still get some rubbing on the rear of my achilles. Maybe with more use and breaking in the issue will resolve. However, the first few workouts were quite unpleasant.
The overall fit of the shoes is long and thin, which I think is standard in most track spikes in order to offer maximum lockdown and as little weight as possible. Furthermore, I have found them to fit true to size.
Midsole and outsole: FF Turbo and a pinless carbon plate
Asics’ FF TURBO BLAST cushioning offers a dampened, and responsive ride. Overall, this gives these spikes a very racing-flat-like feel. During high-speed threshold and interval sessions, I have found them to be very comfortable and forgiving. For those who heel-strike, the FF BLAST foam gives great cushioning and protection. This is surprising due to the extremely low weight of the shoe.
The full-length carbon plate is sandwiched between two layers of FF BLAST foam in the rear and runs all the way to the tip of the shoe.Doing this makes the most of that mechanical lever effect, propelling you forward with each stride. Roughly halfway along the shoe, the carbon plate becomes exposed and has tooth-like extrusions. These are designed to replace the traditional pins in a racing spike and make the shoes “more efficient”.
While I’m not sure I find these spikes to offer the same level of grip as a traditional pinned spike (it may just be because I’m being hyper-critical), the tooth-like carbon outsole offers far better grip than you would be able to find with any standard racing-flat shoes. This carbon plate is by far the stiffest plate in a running shoe I have tried. On foot, they feel super snappy and fast while running at high paces and the exaggerated rocker in the forefoot makes for a quick transition between the mid and forefoot. While there is a large amount of foam underfoot compared to other super spikes, I have found the FF BLAST TURBO to not feel extremely soft and cushioned. When doing a longer track session, I found an uncomfortable pressure point to develop just under the ball of my big toe which I would put down to the firmer ride of the shoes.
Where do the Metaspeed LD shine?
These shoes would make great racing shoes for anyone looking for a super shoe from the 800m to 10,000m depending on your ability and your running style. Due to the extremely stiff nature of these spikes, along with the exaggerated forefoot rocker, I think they would be a great option for the 800m. However, if using them for the 5,000-10,000 metres I believe the shoes would be extremely taxing on the calf and achilles due to that rigid plate. Because of this, you would need to be sure that you have the calf strength to use such a stiff shoe for such a long time. For someone looking for a rigid, propulsive shoe this is a great option for all middle to long distances on the track.
For me, these shoes would be training shoes which I would use for almost all track workouts. I have really come to enjoy the way that they feel underfoot and the sense of propulsion the rigid plate offers. Additionally, the added cushioning in the shoes in comparison to other super spikes makes them far more comfortable and less extreme when doing longer sessions. The only issue with longer sessions and races is the rubbing on the achilles. However, I have found this to go away once the shoes have been broken in after around 30km of use.
Is the space age technology worth the astronomical price?
Are the Metaspeed LD worth the £220 price point? No. I think if they were to be priced more like other super spikes in the £160-180 range it would be a much more appealing shoe. I have however done 50km in them so far and there are minimal signs of wear in the shoe. Therefore, I do believe that these spikes will have a few hundred kilometres of use in them which is something that not all super spikes are able to do. Especially ones as stiff as these.
For me, these shoes will remain as a track threshold and interval training shoe because you get the spike-like feel and performance while not necessarily paying for the hard impact and low stack height of traditional spikes. I think this is a very exciting shoe and I hope Asics can have a second shot at it, hopefully fixing the heel cup issues.
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