Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ampla Fly Review

I am always interested in new technologies in running.  I read about the Ampla Fly in an article from “The Ampla Fly – The World’s Most Innovative Running Shoe – Is Back on Track.” This is truly a shoe that will stretch your current ideas of what a running shoe should do for you.

Rob Colby is one of two former Quiksilver Inc. executives who acquired the assets of Ampla out of Quiksilver bankruptcy proceedings in October of 2015.  The small start-up company got off the ground a few years back as a Brand X innovation project (under the banner of Quiksilver), but it wasn’t highly publicized.  Dr.  Marcus Elliott, a noted sports scientist, developed prototypes of the Ampla Fly, which has a unique carbon-fiber platform.  It looks really weird, but is made to compress when you land and give you a little boost when you push off. 

Dr. Elliott is a Harvard-trained physician who specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention of pro athletes at the P3 Applied Sports Science in Santa Barbara, California.  The Ampla Fly was designed to guide your foot to a better ground contact position, gather force during your foot’s contact with the ground, and give you a return of energy during the toe-off phase of your running gait. The claim is that the Ampla Fly can help improve running mechanics, cadence, and posture. 

So now that you know the story and the claims, let’s look at my tests.  I have run on both paved roads and at the local track.  The results were the same in both situations.  First I want to discuss the Ampla Fly and how it feels.  Most shoes have somewhat flexible soles.  They bend and flex throughout your gait cycle.  The Ampla Fly does not flex due to the fact that it has a carbon fiber force plate that is supposed to guide your foot into a better ground contact position.  I thought this lack of flex would be an issue because I am used to very flexible shoes.  It wasn’t an issue at all.  In fact, I feel that the force plate does exactly what it was designed to do.  My foot strike was more natural and it made me want to put more emphasis on the toe off part of my gait, which I have never really been good at.  I was able to keep a quicker cadence with less effort and my running form seemed to be easier to hold, even at the hardest parts of my workout.

I also wasn’t sure what to expect from the springboard part of the shoe.  It looks like it would feel weird or that you would notice a huge spring with each step.  While it did feel kind of different walking out to the track, once I started running, it just felt natural.    

So how did this translate into my pace during my testing?  You need to take into account that I have been training hard and have lost weight recently when looking at my times.  I went out to the track to do my 4x1 mile intervals, which my half marathon training plan called for.  My fastest mile to date was 7:32 min/mile.  Here are my splits for my intervals:

4 x 1 Mile Intervals
Mile 1: 7:53
Mile 2: 7:07
Mile 3: 7:36
Mile 4: 6:45 (new PR)

While I may be a little faster due to my training and weight loss.  There is no way that beating my mile PR by 47 seconds (on my last interval) and having 2 of my 4 intervals faster than my PR didn’t at least have a little to do with the Ampla Fly’s though. 

The top of the Ampla Fly’s is breathable and the way your foot sits in the shoe feels great.  Does this shoe make you feel faster? Not for me.  I do feel like it takes less of an effort to go fast though.  I am able to keep my cadence up and stay in better running form longer.  I am looking forward to testing them out on some of my longer runs and very well could use them in my half marathon in 2 weeks. 

Here are some testimonials from a demo run.  I felt the same way as these people did.

Decent cushion
Great for short or long runs
Feels natural, but provides energy at toe off

A little pricey at $180

Ampla’s Social Media Links:

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little skeptical when I first got the Ampla Fly’s in the mail.  I have tried unique shoe designs in the past and most of them were terrible.  I am shocked to discover how natural and comfortable these felt.  You don’t feel like you are getting help, but my tests have shown that I was definitely faster.  I know there are a lot of other variables like training hard, but beating my previous mile PR by 47 seconds cannot just be my training.  The Ampla Fly is the real deal.  They might be a little pricey, but they are worth testing out.  You can buy them from Ampla’s website for $180.  Welcome to the future of running! 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

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