From tech to workout clothing and gadgets, our Gear Up column takes a look at the things that have made their way on to our most wanted list. This week we're looking at one of the newer running shoes on the market, the Under Armour Speedform Geminis, and sent Man Cave resident Adrian Collins out to do a lot of running and see what they were like. He was not reimbursed for his time.
The promises you made to yourself back in January about going running every day might be wearing a bit thin at this stage, or perhaps even the old smelly runners that you have been using to this point are not what they once were either and are making it a bit more unpleasant to get out and pound the pavement. If either of those sounds like you, then it might be time to improve your footwear, so are the Under Armour Speedform Gemini right for you?
First off, Under Armour is a brand that gets the design right a lot of the time, and as superficial as it sounds, a lot of us expect that if we're forking over a lot for our runners, then we should be able to get something that provides both functionality and as much fashion as we can expect when swapping the runway for flat out running.
The upper of the Speedform Geminis is a single, breathable piece of material, somewhat like a second skin, meaning that it's fitted. You may need to go up a half size or so as a result, but keep in mind that your running shoes shouldn't have much space in them for extra movement that will cause rubbing and irritation. That means they're fitted to the ankle, rather than having a stiff support there, and this allows your foot to move naturally as you run. If you feel like you need more stability around your ankle, then these might not be for you, but the freedom here was a definite plus in my book as my foot felt less restricted.
There's a molded silicon cup at the back of the shoe that keeps your foot in place while you run, which is a great piece of design. It's also incredibly light and sleek, in comparison to the previous shoes I was using which were a bit clunkier and lead to me accidentally kicking myself the odd time. They're also incredibly light at just 240 grams, so they won't weight down your gym bag too much.
This version of the Speedforms are the first to use the Charged Foam cushioning technology that's new to Under Armour and the difference is noticeable. It's firm without being hard, and cushioned enough to bounce you back and minimise the impact. They claim that this is the first type of foam that both cushions and, coupled with the Micro G foam, gives your foot more of a bounce back for extra energy instead of a hard, pounding hit. I must admit that while all that sounds a bit like marketing jargon, I did notice that the aches and pains that I sometimes get in my joints after running weren't an issue when using these.
The 4D footbed is also an important feature in that it shapes to your foot, making the shoe more or less unique to you and more comfortable. Even on longer runs, the support and comfort is notable; editor Mike Sheridan did the guts of a marathon in them and found them to be more than adequate for dealing with that level of punishment.
There was no real loss of traction in wet conditions (it's always wise to tread a bit more carefully during those periods anyway) and the sole has good grip, which is a factor when doing fartlek or sprint training where you need to accelerate and decelerate at pace.
Overall, the proof is in the pudding, as I found that my times did get much better with the Speedform Geminis. Two caveats to that, firstly there was the little matter of coming back from an illness that had me off exercise for about a month, so the slower times are a bit of an outlier, and the quickest times came on a shorter run, but there is a big jump. On one of my first runs back, my average time was 7:41 minutes per mile, and by this weekend (the slightly shorter run) I was hitting 6:48 per mile.
Comfort and confidence do play a pretty key role in helping you boost your performance, and I think that was a large part of what was behind the improvement in my numbers. You do get a boost from wearing new gear, as superficial as that sounds, but it was also the fact that there was an added comfort that also minimised the twinges and small pains that can sometimes slow you down or just make running more of a chore.
There's not a whole lot wrong with this as a solid running shoe, but with a heel to toe drop of 10mm, they are really not suitable for use in the gym when lifting weights. There are plenty of other shoes out there from UA and other brands that will tick that box (or go barefoot for squats, deadlifts etc.), but when it comes to comfortable and breathable shoes for running, these are pretty great.
The Under Armour Speedform Gemini has an RRP of €132 and is available from Life Style Sports