The art of pacing, running at angles to reduce drag, and accelerating on the straights, were all so similar.
Not to mention the physical endurance and concentration to go lap after lap. Even the tech in the shoe mimics the engineering principles of tech in F1 cars. What else explains when Puma teamed up with F1engineers to design their latest elite running shoes?
F1 teams fret on optimizing the aerodynamic design with downforce to drag ratio. An optimized heel-to-toe drop ratio might be an equivalent metric that defines the aerodynamics of the performance shoe. It ensures minimum ground contact of the foot and faster lift-off for efficient running.
Weight reduction is another aspect common to both. Every element and every component is minimized or made lighter. Nike first introduced 3D printing to minimize stitching and overlays to reduce the weight of the outer textile portion. They fused different elements to create an integrated unit now called a mesh filament.
The competition quickly latched on and innovation diffusion happened. It ensured mass customization of the mesh filament for recreational runners like me. The outer cover of shoes using the engineered mesh filament is so thin, it feels as if a blade might shred it, yet try doing that and it won’t happen.
The carbon fiber integrated into the foam is yet another innovation. The foam itself is infused with nitrogen. It maximizes energy return through the gait cycle (commonly referred to as ‘bounce back’ as the running foot thuds into the terrain). The energy storage principle is again very similar to Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) integrated into the power units of current generation F1 cars. The escape energy from exhausts is stored and reconverted into electricity improving thermal efficiency and performance.
The innovations are pricey. A carbon fiber-infused shoe might lose its bounce back due to fatigue after 100 km and it might not even last for more than a year. However, this doesn’t deter my quest to find the best possible performance running shoe. I probably won't ever own a race car, but knowing that I am running with some awesome engineering in my shoe, gives me the high to literally do that extra mile!
Toughts & Comments
Formula 1 race tech in running shoes