Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Formed around 2010 and launched in 2012, the Swiss company centers their running around a technology known as CloudTec which aims to deliver "soft landings" and "firm and stable push off." In this guide, we talk about the brand and discuss the running shoes offered by On. We also provide a few recommendations for those interested in trying their unique offerings.

Guide to On Running Shoes
Written and Edited by Content Manager Bach Pham

About On Running


History. On Running was founded by Swiss athlete Oliver Bernhard, a three-time World Champion in Duathalon, and his partners Casper Coppetti and David Allemann (formerly CMO of Vitro, a Swedish furniture brand) in 2010. The goal of Bernhard and team was to create a shoe that had a cushioned landing, but firm takeoff. We have to remember that 2010 was the midst of two shoe paradigms: traditional running shoes with stability like the DS Trainer, Kayanos, and more, and the minimalist movement. The goal of On, while it sounds relatively common today with super shoes creating that soft platform and rigid takeoff, was not as commonly seen then.

Global Popularity. On particularly took off in 2014 when two things happened with a brand new model that’s come to define the brand: the On Cloud. The original intention of the shoe was based on running (pun intended), and led to Swiss triathlete Nicola Spring’s silver medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The On Cloud also started to garner a cult status outside of running, with celebrities and sneaker fans taking appreciation of the sleek, modern design of the shoe. On has really embraced this, bringing a wide range of colorways to the Cloud model and continuing to evolve the shoe with both performance and aesthetic in mind. Since its running beginnings, the brand has involved in other areas, including hiking, lifestyle - embracing the On Cloud culture with new lifestyle specific entries - and most recently tennis in partnership with Roger Federer.

This leads to where On sits today as a brand when it comes to running. Between the lifestyle and steady advances in performance, On shoes have found a place for casual runners who want footwear that doubles for everyday use. The design happens to be stable and comfortable enough for walking, which adds to the value of the shoes for many fans of the company. From a performance standpoint though, the earlier struggles mentioned - a history of firmer than average footwear and a design that is susceptible to rocks - have been hard for On to escape. We have seen bigger gains in their trail running department with the solid On Cloudultra which has been a big winner for them in the ultra and Ironman world for several of their athletes.

Forward Movement
2022 served as On's biggest move forward with some changes to their foam structure that brings it forward into today's market. The On Cloudmonster offered their first real max stacked option that provided a really fun, cushioned ride we enjoyed. The Cloudgo and Cloudrunner offered a new look at their redesign of the On lineup, providing new directions for some of their signature features and a continued push towards a softer underfoot.

2023 unveiled the new On Cloudsurfer, which brings a new design to the table for the brand with their CloudTec Phase which brought a large change to the brand, modifying their midsole setup and removing their long-running Speedboard technology.

In general, we at Doctors of Running have probably been bigger fans than most due to their unique stable design and versatility in a lot of their models. The On Cloudmonster was genuinely a huge step in the right direction as far as unraveling some of the brand's unpopular opinions that were developed over the past several years. As they continue pivoting and bringing a lot of the design choices in their most recent models throughout the line, On is trending in the right direction. Some areas we'd love to see On develop further is improving durability of their outsoles and continuing to build upon their performance/racing shoe line to help contend with their peers.

Unique Athlete Landscape. On has had tremendous success in the ultra and triathlete world. In many ways this makes perfect sense with founder Oliver Bernhard being a former World Champion in the duathalon. On has gone on to sponsor tremendous Ironman and Triathlon champions like Javier Gomez, Nicola Spirig, and recently Tokyo Triathlon Gold Medalist  Kristian Blummenfelt. Today On's expanded into successful ultrarunning with athletes like Leadville 2021 winner Adrian McDonald.

Sources
"On's Future is Lifestyle, But it's Not Moving on From Performance" https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/on-running-shoes-interview/
"Roger Federer, Sneakerhead?" https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/23/style/roger-federer-on-running-sneaker-deal.html


Technology to Know

On Cloudmonster
CloudTec. On's patented midsole design which utilizes repeated square pods underfoot. There is typically also a big guidance line that goes through the center of the design, opening the shoe up and cutting weight.

Speedboard. A long time feature in On shoes, the Speedboard is a stiffening plate that sits inside the Cloudtec midsole. Somewhat aimed to be used like a carbon plate seen in super shoes to help aggressively push off. For us, it particularly helps make a lot of the On footwear very stable underfoot.

Helion. On's midsole foam that's been a signature of the brand for several years.

MissionGrip. Their trail outsole which features a very aggressive deepened pod design that acts like lugs to tackle various terrain.

CloudTec Phase. A new midsole configuration for the brand in 2023. Using what they call Finite Element Analysis, they redesigned their clouds in a new sequence for comfort. Instead of individual pods of the past, this design fuses the pods together.


Breaking Down the ON Running Line

On Cloudrunner
The On Running line can be a little confusing for newcomers as many visually look similar. With the introduction of the Cloudgo, we thought this would be a good time to break down their current line-up. To learn more about each shoe, click the shoe title to find our review of the latest model.

Neutral On Running Shoes
On Cloudflow (lightweight daily trainer) - Their original entry-point shoe, a lightweight shoe that's one of the most versatile in the lineup for those who like a lot of ground feel and minimal upper.
On Cloudgo (daily trainer) - The Cloudgo sits in as the brand's best option for simple daily miles and as an introductory shoe to the brand.
On Cloudswift 3 (daily trainer) - The Cloudswift sits in the same playing field as the Adidas Ultraboost as a stylish, comfortable trainer for daily miles. A sharp heel rocker provides a fast transition.
On Cloudsurfer (moderate cushioned daily trainer) - The softest On yet ushers in a new redesign for the future of On. Featuring a flexible rocker.
On Cloudstratus (midlevel cushioned daily trainer) - A higher level cushioned trainer from the Cloudgo and Cloudflow, but less cushioned than the Cloudmonster.
On Cloudmonster (maximum cushioned daily trainer) - The brand's most cushioned daily training option. Great for daily miles and long runs.
On Cloudeclipse (super trainer) - The brand's highest stacked shoe at over 40mm+ in the heel
On Cloudflash (short distance racing shoe) - A super light, aggressive design for 5k, 10k max.
On Cloudboom Echo 3 (racing shoe) - The brand's premier racing shoe, now powered by Pebax and sustainable materials for a fast ride.

Stability Shoes from On Running
On Cloudrunner (stable daily trainer) - The counterpart to the Cloudgo, the Cloudrunner has some slightly more resistant pods on the medial side which help provide a stable base.
On Cloudflyer 4 (midlevel cushioned stability trainer) - The Flyer uses a lot of geometry in tandem with On's typical elements to create a wide, stable base that could work for many individuals.
On Cloudace (maximum cushioned stability trainer) - A unique max cushioned stability trainer. A super rigid heel counter, secure upper, wide base, and large pods help facilitate all the stability elements.

Trail Shoes from On Running
On Cloudvista (lightweight road-to-trail shoe) - A new trail offering in the lineup providing a moderate stacked option that can go out the door and onto easy trails.
On Cloudventure Peak (lightweight trail) - A nimble, surprisingly flexible trail shoe for tackling all-terrain.
On Cloudultra (max cushion trail racing) - Their premier ultra distance racing shoe for the trails.

Other
On Running Apparel - Take a look at their summer and winter line


Our Recommendations to Try


On Cloudeclipse
Best On Running Shoe to Try First: On Cloudmonster
(A really fun, high stacked option that provides both the cloud experience On promises with a fun versatility thanks to their design)

Best On Running Shoe for a Soft, Versatile Ride: On Cloudsurfer

(The brand new Cloudsurfer offers a soft, highly enjoyable training ride thanks to a new midsole configuration for the brand)

Best On Racing Shoe:
On Cloudboom Echo 3
(A high level super shoe that the team has loved for 5k through half marathon)

Best Trail Shoe for On Running: On Cloudvista
(We really enjoyed how this new trail model felt moving from road to trail, and its ability to tackle a decent amount of terrain well. Most avid trail runners will be able to do what they need with this.)


Have questions? Send us an email at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!




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Running Shoe Resources
Looking for something more specific than the archive? Check out these pages first:

Beginner's Guide to Running Shoes: Are you a brand new runner and unsure where to start? Visit this guide first to get started.
Stability Shoe Resource Page: Our comprehensive guide to stability shoes and alternatives for neutral runners as well
Carbon Fiber Plated Shoes Resource Page: Want to go as fast as possible for race day? Visit this page for all of our super shoe reviews
Guide to Walking Shoes: Featuring some science behind walking and the best running shoes for walking based on our everyday testing and clinical experience working with patients.
Getting the Right Fit: Unsure if your shoe fits? Visit this page to help you determine how to find the right shoe for your feet. Comfort is one of the most important things we emphasize at Doctors of Running before you get out the door and on the road. Sometimes the right shoe for you is not what works for many others. That is why it is important to try different shoes when you can to get a better understanding of works best for your needs.
Beginner's Guide to Nutrition/Hydration: Guest writer Jennifer Giles (Registered Dietitan/Nutritionist) helps bring a new guide for fueling to Doctors of Running as part of our summer hydration series.
Ultimate Guide to Hydration Products for Runners: We review 10+ hydration products that may help you on your running adventure.
Best Affordable Running Shoes: We compiled a list of the most affordable options you can find in the market today. Updated monthly.

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