In February I received a message via the RunUrban website from Airia Running enquiring if I would be willing to try out their new Airia One Running Shoe. Not having previously come across Airia I was intrigued to find out more and I looked up the Airia Running Company website. I agreed to give their running shoes a go and try out a pair of Airia One running shoes. It is worth mentioning, I received a free pair from Airia, though while I am open minded about trying out new running shoes, I am not paid for writing an independent shoe review, all opinions/views are my own. Airia Runnig is simply interested in any kind of feedback and criticism from runners, coaches and running enthusiasts.

The Airia Running Company is a Swedish running shoe brand based in Örebro. Airia claimes that Airia One is the fastest running shoe available on the market. Many running shoe brands would want to claim that they have the best and fastest running shoe. However, Airia Running has conducted research, which shows that 8 out of 10 runners achieve performance gains between 1% – 7% by running in the Airia One running shoes. This is a very big marketing message and a result of rather small field tests. Since the recent lawsuit against Vibram promoting false benefits of their running shoes I thought shoe manufacturers are more careful when it comes to communicating the benefits of their products.

I have now had a chance to test the Airia Running shoes. I admit, I am a heavy runner these days (90kg), I wear orthotics, have a bunion on the left toe and I wear running shoes with strong support. (Asics Gel Kayanos). The Airia Running shoe are positioned at the opposite end. They are lightweight trainers, more a performance running shoe, suitable for running on the track and shorter road races. In my view, they are less suitable for distances from 10km to the marathon.



The Airia running shoes remind me of my previous experience with minimalist trainers. Many of my shorter distance PBs were run in minimalist shoes like the NB 150s. One can appreciate the good grip of the NB 150s, though the model does not available anymore. However, I often ended up with blisters on the outside of the foot and with very tight calves. My initial reaction by looking at the Airia One shoes is, Airia One Running Performance shoe are an evolution of previous minimalist trainers with more support on the ball of the foot.

The Airia One running shoe looks a bit unusual, compared to other lightweight trainers on the market. The toe part points slightly upwards and there is an angle between the ball of the foot (35 degree) and the toe. It’s not obvious initially what the benefit of this shoe design feature is. However, my initial reaction is that the angle may facilitate a more efficient toe off phase.

My test run was on the treadmill for 3k, I warmed up in my usual trainers for 3k prior to running in the Airia One shoes. The first reaction is the different “feel”. It feels like running with “paws”. The foot sits quite compact in the shoes. The shoe has a Vibram compound which is more supported on the ball of the foot, which means foot strike is more forefoot and I assume this is what the shoe tries to promote. The support on the heel is less with a rounded off heel and the heel if fairly level.
The upper material of the shoe is very light mesh. For me the shoe was not too narrow or too wide, the fit was good. However, I ran without orthotics. I have not yet tried to fit the orthotics into the shoe. The insoles are from Ortholite, though they are very thin and quite floppy (in comparison to my orthotics).

After 2km I could slightly feel the left soleus and lower calf muscle, which likely have to work a bit harder, due to the level heel. However, I managed to run comfortably for 3k and it was good. It seems there is a good conversion of loading and releasing energy through the shoe. The slight tilted feel or slant is caused by a dip of 6 mm from the outside to the inside of the shoe. Initially this feels a bit unstable and may facilitate the collapse of the arch and impact the knee position, even pronation. However, I managed to get into a good rhythm with fairly minimal ground contact and no breaking. The shoe sole of the foot is firm and not too flexible, which works for me.



One criticism I have is that the side of the big toe can rub against the seam of the shoe tongue causing blisters. If this could be reworked, ensuring there is no seal than this would avoid frication. This would be likely one of the reasons preventing me to run more miles in the shoes. The rest of the shoe fitted fine, the fit on the heel was quite compact. The laces are very light and require a double knot, otherwise they get easily undone.

Airia One

The recommended retail price for the Airia One running shoe is $119 (£80). At this stage, the Airia One’s can only be ordered online via the Airia Running website. As a ‘concept’ running shoe it’s an expensive running shoe, positioned at the performance / high end, though at a reasonable price point comparable with similar lightweight performance running shoes. The shoes have been designed in Sweden and manufactured in China. In order to make Airia shoes more accessible in the Europe and the UK, Airia needs to expand its supply chain, develop distribution channels and invest in their product marketing.

I will continue to test the Airia One Running shoe. There is no doubt the shoe has a nice ‘running feel’ to it, which I do not experience with my usual heavy support running shoes. It promotes a ‘natural’ forefoot strike. Once I am able to run comfortably for 5k on the treadmill, I will consider testing the shoe in a parkrun over mixed terrain (trails, grass and roads).

The Airia One Running shoes came with a warning leaflet from the supplier. The warning states the shoes impact the running biomechanics and work different muscle groups unlikely used before. It is advised to test the shoes during shorter runs first. As recommended by the supplier, breaking the shoes in and running 10km in total the shoes is required for an informed evaluation.

Next time I am at Battersea Park I will test them on the track by doing a series of strides! So far, it is an interesting, innovative running shoe and there is a room in the market for performance running shoes.

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