Clinical Analysis of Running, Running Footwear, and Injury Prevention/Performance. The Doctors of Running, using knowledge of human movement, clinical biomechanics and performance, bring you cutting edge articles, reviews, and research reports.

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ASICS METASPEED Sky Multiple Tester Review

ASICS has been hitting the change button really hard. After years of very similar products, 2020 and 2021 have been a huge time of change for this staple running company. We at Doctors of Running have been very impressed with recent products, including the Kayano Lite (REVIEW), Nimbus Lite 2 (REVIEW), Noosa Tri 13 (REVIEW), and the Evo Ride 2 (REVIEW). ASICS has been using some new age research and thinking into efficiency, biomechanics and more. These designs have seen interesting rocker designs, more anatomic uppers, new age thoughts on stability and more. Racing shoe wise however things have been a bit consistent. The Metaracer (REVIEW) added a carbon plate, a unique rocker and a wonderfully airy upper. While a great shoe, it fell a bit short of the other major racing shoes coming out in the industry. ASICS returned to the lab and has now debuted the first of two shoes backed by some interesting new concepts that really puts some pressure on the rest of the industry. With several research studies on the way to being published, the METASPEED Sky is the first of the two, designed specifically for "stride" runners. The METASPEED Edge is on the way, designed for "cadence" runners. For now, let's get our stride going and talk about the METASPEED Sky.



Specifications (per ASICS USA)
Weight: 7 oz / 199 g  (men's size 9) 5.8 oz / 165 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 33 mm / 28 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Marathon Shoe




RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The ASICS METASPEED Sky is a max cushion, slightly higher volume, unique long distance racing shoe. A new and full length Flytefoam Turbo midsole provides a ton of cushioning that responds the more you push it. Stabilized very well with a carbon fiber plate, the shoe is designed for those with longer strides (ie a more hip based movement strategy) who land farther forward on their foot and want a ton of cushioning with a bit more room in the upper. A ride that feels very naturally at consistent uptempo paces from the 10k to the marathon, this is an interesting shoe with a few personalities.

David:
The ASICS Metaspeed Sky is a new addition to the "super shoe" category featuring a new midsole and a specific design for "stride" mechanics runners. The shoe definitely provides a superior amount of cushion that is accompanied by maximum responsiveness. You can definitely feel the shoe bouncing and lengthening your stride when you run. Unlike Matt, the ride is definitely a little too much for me and does not feel natural at faster paces, but may work for those that have longer eloping strides. 




FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The ASICS METASPEED Sky fits very true to size in my normal US Men's size 10. The upper is very thin and breathable. There is some slight reinforcement through an inner toe guard and a very minimal heel counter. The counter is extremely flexible while providing slight structure, so those with sensitive heels will love this shoe. The tongue is free floating and must be laid down flat before lacing up. The upper is fairly flexible in the midfoot, although lacing down the midfoot does help. There is a bit more volume in this shoe in the heel and midfoot, so I did have to lace lock both sides to keep my foot from sliding forward. The less structured upper also caused my heel to slip during quick turns, so the METASPEED Sky is best for runing straight and slight turns. There is plenty of room in the forefoot, although the upper does taper down a little quick at the toes. This is also due to the minimal toeguard, which is the only reason I would caution against going sockless in this shoe. The heel collar is extremely comfortable and lightly padded. Overall those this is a very comfortable and breathable upper, with some additional volume in the heel and midfoot and a slightly tapered toebox.

David:
The ASICS Metaspeed Sky does fit true to size in my normal 9.5. The upper is very dialed in throughout providing good lockdown while also having room for swelling accommodation. The material is a recycled mesh and is quite breathable while still being reinforced well. The toe box is wide for a racing shoe and there is a little bit of volume through the midfoot and heel as well. The fit should agree with a good chunk of runners. It is not overly narrow or wide in any specific region. There is a heel counter present, but it is lightly present and not bothersome at all. The tongue is very thin but does not slide around at all. Overall the upper is very pleasing and provides a good lockdown throughout without being overly snug. The shoe is dialed in, but plenty of room for the swelling late in a marathon. 




PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The ASICS METASPEED Sky has a softer ride at slower paces and a controlled bouncy ride at faster paces. The full length Flytefoam Turbo provides a softer ride throughout the length of the shoe. The plate is only noticeable at higher speeds, making for a softer ride in the heel and a slightly firmer, but still bouncy ride in the forefoot. The Turbo midsole becomes more responsive the more force you put into the sole. Running at easy paces it feels soft but not bouncy, which was a little concerning while warming up in them. However, when the workout or race starts, the midsole comes alive and becomes more responsive that faster you push it.

The midsole works very well with the plate to create a very efficient and directed ride. This isn't a bouncy unstable ride like other shoes in this class, but a very natural feeling faster ride. There is enough midsole that I do not notice the harsh road at all and can focus on maintaining form and running fast. There is both a heel bevel and toe spring as ASICS creates a new midsole geometry to provide both a smooth landing and toe off. This geometry is unique from the GUIDESOLE technology, which is only carried through in the Magic Speed. The heel bevel is incredibly smooth (ASICS... please put this in all your shoes!!!) and the toe spring is perfectly placed. Although this is a max cushion racing shoe, the bevel and toe spring are integrated well enough that I don't feel that artificial rocker feeling I have experienced with other shoes in this category. The best way I can describe the METASPEED Sky is that the ride isn't a "WOW" or in your face ride. It is an efficient, fast ride that lets you focus on the run. There is a 5 mm drop present, which on the run is not noticeable due to the rocker design and soft heel. Standing the shoes it almost feels like an even lower drop, but once you get going there is a very naturally efficient ride.

The traction on the outsole is fantastic. Although I had a little movement in the upper on turns, the outsole grabs the ground very well even on wet pavement. I feel incredible secure in this shoe, although I would not use this on trail secondary to the smooth outsole and exposed Turbo. I have 43 miles on my pair and although I am chewing into the exposed Turbo, the ASICSGRIP outsole has minimal wear on it. Despite hammering miles into this shoe, the midsole isn't creasing at all and continues to actually become more bouncy the more I break them in.

In terms of use, the ASICS METASPEED Sky is best for workouts and races. This is not a great shoe for easy runs and feels awkward at any pace below uptempo efforts. Tempo runs and efforts from 10k to marathon feel great, with a bit more bias toward half to full marathon efforts are where this shoe feels best. I know the 5k women's road record was set in this shoe recently. I personally would not use this for all out efforts as I prefer less shoe for efforts below 10k. I have however used this for short and long intervals, tempo runs and long runs. The METASPEED Sky works best for efforts where you need to maintain a consistent faster pace. So those who want a bouncy ride that is fairly smooth at faster paces, particularly in the forefoot for uptempo, tempo and longer race efforts will enjoy this shoe.

David:
The ASICS Metaspeed Sky has a very unique ride to it. The transition from heel to midfoot is fast but the toe off feels lengthened. It almost feels like a fast landing into a paw like pulling sensation on the ground with a big powerful bounce at toe off. The shoe definitely feels like it lengthens your stride and really forces you to open up. The FlyteFoam Turbo is very plush but responsive at the same time. The shoe feels like a longer lever extended to your foot that really provides a responsive toe off. For me it wasn't the best for my personal mechanics since I do tend to shorten my stride and pick up the cadence when I am running fast. The shoe was a little awkward for me when getting half marathon pace and down. Especially 5k pace or faster the shoe was a bit awkward. The outsole traction is solid and there was no issue with slipping. 




STABILITY

Matt: The ASICS METASPEED Sky has two personalities when it comes to stability. The heel and midfoot are a bit more narrow, which combined with the FF Turbo makes for average to below average stability in this area. The forefoot however is extremely stable. The shape is fairly wide with a fair amount of sole flare in both the medial and lateral direction. The sole flare is slightly beveled, so those who forefoot strike on the lateral side will have a nice transition inward. Combined with the plate, there is a good amount of comfortable rigidity and stability in the forefoot, which makes for a great toe off for someone like me who slams their feet into the ground and wants a nice stable place to push off from when running fast. However, at slower speeds I have a harder time running in this shoe due to the less stable heel. The midfoot actually has a slightly elevated medial arch in the midfoot as well as a subtle lateral sidewall in the midfoot. This adds gentle stability to the midfoot, despite the narrowed last. The Flytefoam Turbo also changes personality depending on speed as mentioend. It is softer and a bit less stable at slower speeds, but is more responsive and slightly firmer at high speeds. I have found running fast in this shoe much more stable than running slow. The stability overall is better than many other max stack height racing shoes as the Flytefoam Turbo is more stable than materials like ZoomX. Overall, the METASPEED Sky is more stable in the forefoot than the heel. It isn't extreme, so those with mild stability at most should be fine, but those with higher stability needs who land more rearfoot may need to cautiously test this shoe out first or gently progress into using this shoe.

David:
The stability depends on your speed. At slow and really controlled easy paces the shoe was quite unstable because of how soft the foam is and the lack of intrinsic leg force pushing into the plate. At faster paces the shoe is a lot more stable. The shoe almost feels like a mini cannon that loads up from the heel and midfoot and springs you forward. The platform is a littler wider and the beveled heel eases the transition into the midfoot. The plate is very rigid in this shoe (though you barely feel the plate itself). This definitely helps in the forefoot since the transition here feels longer on ground contact. There is definitely a little instability with the soft platform but overall it is pretty decent throughout. The upper is great with reinforcement and should not be of any issue with strong turns. 

LONG TERM REVIEW



Chief Editor Matt Klein talks about his experience in the Asics Metaspeed Sky after 100 miles. He goes into durability of the upper, midsole, and outsole and whether or not the Sky is worth the price of admission.



THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: When ASICS talks about a "stride" runner, we in the clinical world generally call this a more hip based running movement strategy. These individuals will have a longer stride secondary to utilizing the wider range of motion available at the hip joint. In the sagittal plane (front to back), the hip flexes to an average of 130-140 degrees while it extends to about 20 degrees. That provides a huge arc of motion at 150-160 degrees on average, which can be further increased by additional rotation and movement from the pelvis and lumbar spine (Neumann, 2010). 

     There are some very powerful and large muscles here, including the hip flexors (iliacus and psoas muscles), gluteal muscles (glute max, glute medius, glute minimus), adductors (adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor minimus, gracilis and pectineus) and deep hip rotator muscles. Additional muscles shared by the knee include one of the quad muscles (rectus femoris) and all the hamstring muscles (semitendionous, semimembranosous and biceps femoris). All of the muscles mentioned are at least partial contributors to hip flexion and extension muscles, providing an incredible potential for power and force generation at this joint. 

      The amount of torque created here means each stride from this type of runner will cover a ton of ground, requiring less steps over distances compared to those with shorter strides. The drawback with this type of movement strategy is with this amount of force generation and range of motion, there will be much higher/large impact forces with each step compared to a shorter stride. With this type of motion and impact load, the METASPEED Sky has a higher stack height compared to the METASPEED Edge. The higher stack height allows the stride runners to take advantage of a longer limb length, effectively decreasing the "cost-of-transport" of movement and potentially increasing efficiency (Pontzer, 2007). Additionally, the higher stack height allows for more compression and rebound of the Flytefoam Turbo. Given the rebound characteristic of the foam, this decreases the need for an aggressive rockered sole. While a heel bevel and toe spring are needed for the max stack height, the ride feels very natural and not unnatural like many max stack racing and training shoes that very artificially rockered. This again may be due to the fact that this shoe is more of a bouncy ride than a rolling ride, which will likely be present in the METASPEED Edge.

     The ASICS METASPEED Sky does feel heavier at slower speeds likely due to how softer shoes effect leg stiffness. There is a large amount of research regarding how softer shoes increase lower limb stiffness and in many cases actually increase impact loading (Baltich et al., 2015; Kulmala et al., 2018). The softer a shoe, the more the lower limb stiffens to find stability. This may explain some of the increase in impact loading, as landing with too much stiffness may increase vertical impact peaks regardless of shoe type (Nigg & Liu, 1999). This stiffness also comes from the body potentially thinking that the shoe will be doing more of the elastic rebound work or compensating for less stability. However, when speed increases, the ride slightly firms up, the plate engages more and the increase in stability may decrease the need for more lower extremity stiffness. This is why I suspect this shoe feels much better and lighter as the pace picks up and not quite as fast during slower paces. This is after all a speed and racing shoe, so I wouldn't expect it to feel fast at easy paces. This does further contribute to the natural ride at high speeds. There are some interesting biomechanics and research to unpack here and we will dive into this further in our METASPEED Edge review.

References

Baltich, J., Maurer, C., & Nigg, B. M. (2015). Increased vertical impact forces and altered running mechanics with softer midsole shoes. PloS One, 10(4), e0125196.

Kulmala, J. P., Kosonen, J., Nurminen, J., & Avela, J. (2018). Running in highly cushioned shoes increases leg stiffness and amplifies impact loading. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 1-7.

Neumann, D. A. (2010). Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System; Foundation for Rehabilitation. Mosby & Elsevier.

Nigg, B. M., & Liu, W. (1999). The effect of muscle stiffness and damping on simulated impact force peaks during running. Journal of Biomechanics, 32(8), 849-856.

Pontzer, H. (2007). Effective limb length and the scaling of locomotor cost in terrestrial animals. Journal of Experimental Biology, 210(10), 1752-1761.




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: My major suggestions are actually for the upper with a few considerations for the heel and midfoot. I would suggest adding a bit more structure around the midfoot to lock the foot in a bit more. I would also suggest putting the toe guard on the outside of the upper, rather than the inside. It may also be better to taper the toe box slightly less to allow the feet to spread a bit more, especially over long distances. I would like to see a bit more use of sidewalls in the midfoot, with better lock down to create a bit more midfoot stability. Finally, I would suggest looking for a way to make the heel a bit more stable as right now this shoe is best for those who land farther forward.

David:
I don't want to comment too much on changing the ride or the mechanics of the shoe, since there will be the Metaspeed Edge that will be focusing on a different stride pattern. My main recommendation would be somewhat similar to Matt's. The shoe locksdown well but does still maintain a large amount of volume in the midfoot. They probably can lock that region down tighter while still keeping some volume in the toe box and heel to maintain a comfortable fitting upper. 



WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The ASICS METASPEED Sky is for those looking for a max stack height, carbon plated racing shoe for workouts and races from 10k to the marathon. The ride may work better for those who use more of a hip strategy and put more force into the ground as the Flytefoam Turbo and the plate work better the faster you run and the more force you put into the shoes. The ride is more stable in the forefoot, so those who land a little farther forward may want to check this shoe out. The Turbo midsole is soft and a little mushy at slower paces, but becomes far more responsive at faster paces. The upper has a bit higher volume in the heel and midfoot, with a slight taper at the toebox, so those wanting a very breathable but flexible upper will enjoy the fit. A great addition to the max stack height, carbon plated racer category that brings up some interesting questions on what shoes may work best for different runners. We are excited to continue running in the METASPEED Sky and get our hands on the METASPEED Edge for a comparison review (coming soon).

David:
The ASICS Metaspeed Sky is for a runner looking for an elite racing shoe that fits to their mechanics. The shoe is very plush and very responsive. It is a definite player in the new wave of "super shoes" but caters to those with longer eloping strides. If you tend to have a really long stride with a little bit slower of a turnover this shoe will probably feel quite nice. If you have a faster turnover and keep your stride length shorter, you may want to wait for the Metaspeed Edge. 



GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B+ (Slightly higher volume with wonderful breathability and a very flexible and minimal counter. Toebox tapers a bit quick and toeguard rubs a little. Needed to lace lock for stability)                     
Performance: A- (Really great ride for anything above easy paces. Best for 10k efforts and above. Awkward at easy paces. Really nice forefoot and great for those who land farther forward. Very consistent ride that will keep you going during longer uptempo efforts) 
Stability: B+ (Very stable forefoot due to wider last, sole flare and plate. Heel a bit less stable. Midfoot has mild sidewall/arch, which helps a little) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Very well thought out product. Responds as advertised, moving faster with a longer stride. Bounces along very naturally at faster paces and does not feel artificially rockered) 
Personal:  A- (I really like this shoe, but feel it is specialized for longer distance races, long runs and tempo runs. At slower paces this shoe feels heavier than the advertised weight. This may be due to the softer foam.) 
Overall: A- (Really nice consistent but protective racing shoe for faster uptempo efforts, especially at half to full marathon pace. Definitely a longer distance racing shoe, although some may be able to use this at all racing distance efforts)              


David
Fit: A- (Really good throughout, midfoot can be refined a little for better lockdown)                    
Performance:  
B+ (Take this with a grain of salt. It is very responsive and very plush, does lengthen your stride, not great for faster turnovers) 
Stability: 
B+ (There is definitely some instability from the foam throughout but the shoe does a decent job of keeping it stable enough to run in) 
DPT/Footwear Science:  A
 (ASICS is taking a chance here and really innovating based on mechanics and science. For better or worse they have definitely created a unique shoe that will work for those with specific mechanics.) 
Personal:  
B- (I'm sorry. I wanted to love it. I definitely like to turn over when I run fast and the shoe felt like it prevented me from doing that. There is absolutely no doubt though that this shoe is responsive and protective for the long haul.) 
Overall:  B+ (Very specific to mechanics. But highly responsive and protective for long distance racing. For $250 it could be worth it for someone who finds their mechanics work for the shoe, that just isn't me.)      
 

Interested in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky? Visit Running Warehouse here. Purchasing from the link helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

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Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at ASICS USA for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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