Lifestyle

Nike React Infinity Run review: Anti-injury kicks

Exactly as advertised

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The brand new Nike React Infinity Run just went on sale globally earlier this month, and Nike sent us a pair to check out! Nike is pitching this as their solution to help prevent running injuries and you know what? I think it’s actually true.

If you’re a seasoned runner you’ve probably had an injury or two pop up every so often because of a bad landing while you run or numerous other reasons. Nike’s aim with the Infinity Run was to reduce these overuse injuries, and they worked with the British Columbia Sports Medicine Research Foundation to do so.

They had over 226 runners test this shoe against the Nike Structure 22, which is a more traditional motion control shoe, and they found that the runners using the Nike React Infinity Run reduced running injuries by a huge 52% compared to the Structure. Which if you believe the marketing, is a pretty huge deal.

Nike has already made a name for themselves in the running scene with the vaporfly running sneakers. You know those sneakers that were so good that athletes wearing them started breaking records, so the competition tried to get them banned? Thankfully they didn’t get banned and Nike can go on pushing boundaries with their sneakers.

As such the React Infinity Run really stands out in Nike’s lineup of training shoes. First, because of the generous amount of React cushioning, but also because of the entire shape of the shoe, along with a lot of improvements.

There’s a wide midsole, and a shape that helps with its grounded feel. All that comes together to create a performance-minded running sneaker that allows the miles to just fly by.

Look and feel fly

Buying an everyday running shoe can be really stressful. You need something that’s comfortable, yet durable, and able to last intense training cycles and long runs. It turns out, the Nike React Infinity Run is great at all of that.

I was a huge fan of the Epic React Flyknit from 2019., I even bought a pair to check out, so I had high hopes for the React Infinity Run.

You can see I got the really hot Bright Crimson colorway to check out — it’s really hard to photograph and color correct, so here is what Nike’s press photo of the sneaker looks like to give you a better idea.

But the Infinity Run also comes in a bunch of other colorways as you’d expect, including an all black version. Though, the standard white and pink version is my favorite.

Coming to the shoe itself, the big deal about this running shoe, is the midsole. There’s 24 percent more Nike React foam here vs last year’s Nike Epic React Flyknit 2, and it’s also much wider.

This makes a huge difference in midsole cushioning, with the stack height measuring 30.5 mm in the heel and 21.5 mm in the forefoot. The extra wide base also helps avoid any side-to-side wobbling when you’re running in this shoe.

But the main highlight is the React foam which cushions your every step, and springs back into shape, just like we’ve seen in other React midsole sneakers.

It’s quite different from Adidas Boost, somehow being more cushiony but still having a good amount of energy return — different but similar. I’ll talk more about this in the performance section later on.

Light with great fit

Moving on to the upper, there’s a single-layer Flyknit upper which gives the shoe a really sleek, streamlined look and fit. The Flyknit material used here is slightly stretchy in the forefoot area and has tiny little micro perforation dots for more breathability.

But the best part about the upper for me is the integrated tongue that allows the shoe to have a sock-like feel. Instead of a usual shoe tongue, Nike chose to seamlessly knit stretchy, soft fabric and the elasticity maintains the one-piece construction of the shoe, giving it a really clean silhouette.

At the same time, the material is stretchy enough to accommodate even wide feet so you can go true-to-size. Sometimes running shoes can be too narrow for your forefoot, but here, there’s plenty of room and enough stretch so that it is an appropriate level of snug.

There’s also the secure, minimal lacing system up top to help ensure a nice fit via four eyelets up the center of the shoe.

Coming to the back, Nike wrapped an extra overlay around the back which gives some extra structure in the mid foot area, with a thin heel counter that helps secure your foot.

That being said, there is no extra padding in the ankle collar, which you’ll either love or hate. Instead Nike finished the collar with contrasting stitching. If you wear regular socks this will feel really comfortable, but if you wear no-show socks the sensation of the fabric against your skin might annoy you slightly — so just wear higher socks.

Lastly at the back, there’s a pull tab that helps slip your foot into the shoe, which is much appreciated.

Built for an infinite ride

As we mentioned earlier, the main attraction with the Infinity Run is the React foam midsole which really helps ensure an energetic ride. However, the shape of the shoe itself also plays a major role in how it performs.

Nike created a midsole that is in a rocker shape, similar to the curved shape of the midsole and carbon-fiber plate of the first Nike Vaporfly 4% marathon shoe. This rocker shape means the wearer has an ever so slight forward lean.

Nike says this is to move your natural footstrike to the midfoot or forefoot area, which in theory will create a natural feeling of propulsion as you walk in them. As such it helps move your foot through a really fluid foot strike, and you won’t notice any weirdness as you transition from heel to toe during your runs.

This rocker shape is becoming more and more common in running shoes so it definitely has a bit of performance benefits, especially so on the Infinity Run.

As you take a stride, the shoe rolls smoothly through the transition, with a relatively quick turnover. In addition to all of this, the shoe is also quite lightweight even with all that foam, so it’s surprisingly quite nimble to use.

Plenty of React

The other unique aspect about the midsole here is the width. It’s an interesting shape for sure, especially when you look at the shoe from up top. The midsole flares out from the heel and forefoot area. This creates a foundation that is wider at the bottom and that wide base gives the shoe a lot of stability.

With narrow shoes you sometimes feel like you might accidentally roll your ankle in, but you never have to worry about that in the Infinity Run because the wider base keeps your foot closer to the ground to help with stability.

It’s something that you feel right away when you start walking in these shoes.

The entire midsole is made from the React foam, and it performs just as you’d expect. According to Nike, their React foam is a combination of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), which are common polymers you’d find in most running shoe cushioning midsoles. And this all makes for a midsole that is springy, yet durable, with a nice soft foam cushioning.

Because of everything that midsole has to offer, coupled with the rocker shape, the Nike React Infinity Run is actually perfect for runs — be it your daily jog in the mornings, an evening run after a long work day, or even if you’re only just starting out. This is one of the best running shoes I’ve tried in a while.

I should point out though that these aren’t really meant for long marathon runs. Nike says the Infinity Run works best with variable training where you vary your training instead of running the same amount of distance at the same pace at the same path every day.

Another thing I should point out is that if you tend to overpronate while running, the Infinity Run really helps keep you neutral and allow that toe-off to be right down the middle. If you’re a neutral runner, it’ll still help control the foot while on a run.

At the end of the day, Nike’s claim about this shoe helping with preventing running injuries seems to be true. If you’re tired of overuse injuries or you’re worried about starting out with running — these are the shoes for you.

Is the Nike React Infinity Run your SneakerMatch?

The Nike React Infinity Run is a shoe that I love for its clean styling and premium level of performance. But honestly, my favorite thing about it is the overall stability.

Nike was spot on with their marketing here. It really is a secure running shoe that’s meant to help prevent injuries and for those of you who are new to running — this might actually help overcome your fear or reluctance towards it.

Nike designed the React Infinity Run for everyday runs, and it definitely excels at that. The rocker shape allows for smooth transitions into and out of each stride, and the stretchy Flyknit upper feels great and can accommodate all types of foot shapes.

The heel-to-toe transition here was just amazing and it makes you feel faster in your runs, and generally makes running feel easier.

And then of course there’s that amazing bouncy React foam on top of a wide base. There’s more React Foam here than on any Nike shoe ever before. It all makes for a shoe that you’ll want to wear not just on every casual run, but maybe even throughout a normal workday as well, because they’re so comfortable.

Of course, if you’re a long-time runner and want something serious, there’s nothing better than the Nike Vaporfly Next%. If you’re looking for a long distance marathon shoe, well there’s the more secure and durable ASICS GEL Nimbus 22 which I still think is a great shoe. And if you’re leaning more towards the Adidas camp, there’s the Ultraboost 20 which is a decent alternative.

But for everything else, I have to admit, the Nike React Infinity Run is definitely recommended. I think Nike has yet another winner on their hands here, and this is easily going to be my most recommended pair of running sneakers this year!

Reviews

adidas SL20 review: Feel like running as fast as The Flash

adidas’ best running shoe so far!

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About a month ago Adidas released a new running shoe called the Adidas SL20 — this shoe was part of the recent Adidas “Faster Than” campaign where they talked about how being “fast” is not something that’s only reserved for elite runners, and that speed isn’t always just about distance and time.

Instead, Adidas emphasises that “fast” is more of a personal feeling, which everyone can experience, even if you don’t think of yourself as a “fast” runner. They backed this up with a series of videos from all types of people, who run just because they enjoy it.

I have been really intrigued about this shoe because I saw a bunch of people post about it in the Adidas Runners Kuala Lumpur group. As you might already know Adidas has their own Runners group in major cities around the world and they can be super useful to keep you motivated — like right now in Malaysia we’re under a lockdown because of the current pandemic.

All runs are on pause but the Adidas Runners KL group has been posting live workout at home sessions which is pretty good and definitely motivates you to stay in shape and workout even from home.

Starting with a bit of a history lesson, the SL20 is a spiritual successor to the ol’ Adidas SL72 that dropped way back in 1972. This was a shoe that was designed to be used in the German Olympics at the time, and was worn by a bunch of athletes back then.

SL stands for “Super Light” and it lives up to its name. With the SL20, Adidas designed a lightweight running shoe that is meant to cater to all types of runners, and all speeds, made just for anyone who wants to feel fast. It weighs just about 238 grams, making it one of the lightest running shoes around. Though it is slightly heavier than the Adios 5.

You realize this from the second you slip these on. The SL20 is a shoe that just makes you feel fast, and you really feel like running when you’re wearing them which is a really good thing for a running shoe.

This is my first pair of really lightweight running shoes. If you’ve never worn a pair of lightweight running shoes before, this will feel like a whole new dimension. That being said, I should mention that these are meant more for short, fast runs rather than long-distance ones.

Design and Construction

When you first pick up the SL20 it’s very clear that the choice of materials was meant to make sure the shoe is as light as possible. There’s a new Light Strike midsole which is much lighter than Boost. But it also has the torsion system, a heel counter, and Continental just like what you’d find on the much more expensive Adidas Ultraboost, which is sweet.

You can see we got the awesome Black-White-and-Orange colorway which is the main marketing colorway for the SL20.

The shoe also comes in a cool black-white-and-gold colorway, along with a more formal all-black colorway as well in case you want something a little more low-key.

Starting with the upper, the SL20 is made of an engineered mesh material which feels extremely thin and a major contributor to the whole lightweight nature of this shoe.

The material seems tough enough but as with any shoe with a thin, breathable upper you’ll want to make sure you wear thicker socks or keep a close watch on your toenails, so you don’t end up accidentally poking through it.

Similarly, the tongue also has no padding, being just a thin piece of lightweight fabric. The laces are also pretty soft and there are two extra eyelets up top in case you want an even more snug fit.

One small detail that I really liked was the SL20 branding on the lace tips that is color matched to the three stripes on the shoe.

I also noticed that the lacing is also slightly asymmetrical with a bias towards the medial side which helps with that lockdown feeling, and medial support.

Moving on to the heel area, the SL20 has an integrated heel counter which means that unlike the external heel counter which you’d see on the Ultraboost 20, this one is all internal. The heel counter is made of a hard material which allows you to easily slip your foot into the shoe, but also does a great job at locking your heel into place.

Coming to the midsole, as mentioned earlier, it’s made out of a new material called “Lightstrike ” which is significantly lighter than Boost, which most of y’all have probably heard about. But I’ll talk about the midsole later on.

Underneath that, you have the Continental stretchweb outsole with the red torsion propulsion system integrated into the sole. This gives the shoe more structure and control.

Then there’s the heel, which is more stiff and supportive but I’ll talk about the entire midsole and outsole later on. And for those of you who aren’t as familiar with Adidas sneakers, yes it’s that Continental, the tire maker.

All in all it’s a great looking shoe, with a lot of visual attention to detail in its design.

Quite snug, go up at least half a size

In terms of fit,  the SL20 is supposed to fit true-to-size but it’s a bit of a narrow shoe with a rigid toe-box. Since I have wide feet, Adidas sent me a size up which fits pretty well. I’d definitely advise trying these on in a store if you could, because the engineered mesh upper here is not a very stretchable fabric.

So if you have wide feet like I do, you might want to go up half a size or even up a full size. In case you were wondering, the heel-to-toe drop here is the usual 10mm with a stack height of 29/19.

The light in Lightstrike is truly light

Coming to performance, as I have mentioned — the SL20 feels incredibly light, and you feel it immediately as you start running with them. The engineered mesh upper is weirdly lightweight as if it’s not even there, and the new Lightstrike foam has a good amount of energy return as well.

The Lightstrike foam itself is pretty interesting. It was originally designed for use in basketball shoes, with the thought being that the foam would have enough cushioning, lightweight, but still be very responsive with some court-feel especially with the kind of lateral movement you see in basketball.

It was first introduced in 2018 in the signature sneakers of former NBA MVP James Harden, before also moving on to the Adizero series of running shoes.

With this purpose in mind, Lightstrike is slightly harder than Boost cushioning, sacrificing some of that soft comfort for better energy return instead. This cushioning, along with the lightweight upper, is the reason why you want to go faster in these shoes.

I found myself running slightly faster with these on, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it was just a psychological feeling of wearing such lightweight shoes, or maybe it’s the overall package of the SL20.

The Torsion system allows for a nice, springy toe-off, and also helps with the energy transition from heel to toe, allowing your foot to go back into its normal state during each strike, and the heel counter keeps your feet firmly locked in.

The slightly harder midsole does mean these are best suited for short distance runs. You could still wear them for long distance or marathon running, but the Lightstrike foam midsole is not as soft a cushion as one would like for a long distance running shoe.

For sprints and everyday jogs, the SL20 is freaking fantastic. But for long distance runs, you might want to check out the Ultraboost 20 or even the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 22 instead.

These shoes really are a lot of fun to run in because they’re just so darn lightweight, with great energy return, that push-off sensation really is amazing so maybe some of y’all might actually like them for long distance runs as well.

Coming to the SL20 outsole, it’s worth noting that you can also feel any stones or pebbles under your foot with these so they really aren’t meant for off-road or cross country runs either — just a road or street runner.

The Continental stretchweb outsole is a great addition, just like what we’ve experienced on Ultraboost for a while now. These are some of the grippiest rubber outsoles around and this means running on even wet roads is not an issue.

I wouldn’t recommend testing these out on icy streets. I’m always paranoid about falling where ice is involved because I’ve only lived in tropical weather countries, but apart from that, the outsole has no issues gripping and keeping traction even on the rainiest of days.

Overall the Adidas SL20 falls more in the stable end of the spectrum, compared to many other lightweight running shoes. While I still think of it as a neutral running shoe, it has a pretty reasonable amount of stability.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

The Adidas SL20 is just a fantastic running shoe designed for runners who want to run fast. It doesn’t matter what your definition of fast is, because this pair will honestly just make you feel fast when you’re running with them.

If you’re looking for a pair of lightweight running shoes, this is pretty much one of the best options out there right now.

The only real alternative comes from Adidas itself — the Adidas Adizero Boston 8 and the Adidas Adizero Adios 5 — both of which look very similar now to the SL20.

All three belong to the lightweight running shoe category, and they weigh almost the same but the primary difference is their uppers and midsoles, and how they feel when running. Both the Boston and Adios have slightly more premium upper construction, and both have Boost in the midsole, which also means they cost a lot more than the SL20.

The Adios feels more like a racing shoe and offers the least in terms of comfort, whereas the Boston is more of an all-round running shoe. It’s firmer and harder than the SL20 but also softer and more comfortable than the Adios.

Out of all three, I think the SL20 is the most comfortable, though of course not as comfortable as the heavier SolarBoost or Ultraboost sneakers.

Bif you’re looking for a lightweight running shoe to get you started with running or just to be your first lightweight running shoe, I think the SL20 is for you. Even if you are a trained runner who wants a secondary pair of “fast” shoes — these are definitely for you.

The Adidas SL20 is just for anyone who wants to feel fast, without shifting too far away from a comfortable daily running shoe, but still wanting a pair of lightweight running shoes.

Definitely recommended.

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Features

Her story: Shyama Golden

On childhood memories and creating work that make people more involved

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Shyama Golden is a visual artist from Brooklyn, New York. She was born in Texas, but also lived in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, where her family is originally from. These influences didn’t start coming out in her work until she became more distanced from them. “Sometimes you have to be taken out of an environment to realize what was special about it,” she notes.

The huge painting in her living room called Road Trip was inspired by both her Sri Lankan background and growing up in Texas. Central to the painting is a yakka, a demon character in Sri Lankan folklore that performs exorcism rituals to cure people of their ailments. Shyama says the rituals are something that people have been doing for thousands of years, although they are much less common now — almost like a dying art. In a way, she hopes to resurrect that through the piece.

Shyama draws inspiration everywhere — from distant sources, to forgotten artists, to old books, to obscure references — but so much of her work also reflects her own childhood memories.

“Sometimes you have to be taken out of an environment to realize what was special about it.”

Catsquatch is a collaboration between her and her husband. She did a large painting for it, but it’s also a children’s storybook that they wrote together — a story of house cats running away from home, yearning independence.

Her memory of seeing stray cats wandering everywhere while living in Sri Lanka is also evident in a portrait of the younger versions of her mom and her aunt.

The most notable facet of her body of work, however, isn’t their size or the presence of felines, but the number of digital portraits of women of color she’s drawn over the years.

From flat, minimalist digital work as a graphic designer, having the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil has allowed her to create work that still looks like an oil painting but at a much faster pace.

“What the iPad did is allow me to keep my style. It was really helpful to me because over two years I was able to output what used to take me 5-6 years,” says Shyama.

Among the portraits that she’s done, her favorite is the one of Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy for The Atlantic. She says she liked working on it because it tells a story within the portrait, “beyond just the face, it actually has a whole narrative to it.”

She also uses the iPad to do studies and mockups of what she intends to be a physical work. Initially drawn on Procreate using its symmetry feature, The Feminine Mirage uses a custom panel and a mirror to convey myths perpetuated by different social constructs. Although extremely challenging and time-consuming, she enjoys working on pieces that have a presence in the physical world but are still interactive as they make people more involved.

Her story: Shyama Golden

Shyama Golden is a visual artist whose memories of growing up in Texas and Sri Lanka are evident influences in a number of paintings that she's done. Most notable of her body of work, however, are theportraits of women of color she's drawn over the years using the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. This is her story.

Posted by Her GadgetMatch on Friday, 27 March 2020


Her story is a series featuring women we admire from a wide array of cultures and industries — women who excel and work hard at honing their craft by using the tools and technology they have at their disposal. They tell stories of their journey through life, their influences and dreams, their unique experiences, and how they navigate the modern world.

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Entertainment

Netflix’s new animé Sol Levante is a visual spectacle

A hand-drawn 4K HDR short

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Netflix has been ultra aggressive in expanding its animé library especially in the last two years. The latest installment — Sol Levante — is a visual spectacle that the company says is a “culmination of art, technology, and curiosity.”

The primary purpose of the project is to explore how Japanese animé projects can be translated into 4K HDR. The tech, after all, isn’t all that new. Plenty of Netflix originals like Marvel’s Daredevil, Bird Box, and even To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You are available in this format.

The challenge is how to get hand-drawn animation up to speed. Ultraman, another Netflix animé project, is available in 4K HDR. However, it uses CG animation versus hand drawings. That’s what Haruka Miyagawa (Creative Technology Engineer) and Akira Saitoh (Director, involved in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, et. al) — the leads of the Sol Levante project, pursued.

Sol Levante – a visual spectacle

Netflix gave us an early look at the final output. Sol Levante is a four-minute showcase of years worth of work by a lean six-person team and it’s a sight to behold.

Its synopsis reads: A young warrior and her familiar search for the sacred place said to fulfill wishes. It’s best not to anger the ancient guardians and spirits.

If you’re an animé fan — especially of the more popular battle-type ones — your mind will race right away thinking how this level of visuals can translate to an iconic sequence or battle scene. And for the most part, that’s what this short is — an iconic sequence. As a hand drawn 4K HDR animé, it’s one of the firsts of its kind.

Without spoiling anything, the narrative of the short mirrors the theme of the project. It’s not an easy journey, but if you push through, you’ll come out of it feeling renewed.

Netflix pushing to innovate

There are two main driving forces in the development of this project:

  1. To support creatives in bringing more of their ideas to life
  2. Offer an outstanding and more immersive user experience for Netflix subscribers

The Sol Levante project was a test of how feasible it is to produce hand-drawn animé in 4K HDR resolution. In the duration of the project, they have identified a process but it might take a while before anyone else gets onboard.

During a media briefing, Miyagawa highlighted how the biggest hurdle is 4K. It requires a major overhaul of the artists workstation and workflow.

One of their first learnings is that the resolution meant hand drawings needed to be completed on a much larger piece of paper than standard A4, or scanned at a very high resolution. This wasn’t a viable solution which meant drawings had to be done digitally on a tablet. The challenge is that most animé artists lack training and equipment to go digital.

The HDR part involves less friction. Animation studios need only to invest in professional monitors with high dynamic range. At present though, the options are still quite pricey — even for professional studios.

Encouraging other creators

The team behind Sol Levante, while ambitious, aren’t delusional. They realize the challenges it will take to get more people interested. They know that “change is hard” and the whole workflow overhaul “can be seen as intimidating to studios and artists.” So they are more than willing to cooperate and collaborate.

Netflix will release the raw materials used in Sol Levante for download and experimentation. By doing so, they hope to connect with more animators about new technology, to partner with manufacturers to better support the animé industry, and to work with anime studios to apply findings to future productions.

Being veterans in the industry, they feel Japanese animation studios might not be immediately open to the idea. So they’re hoping animators from other countries step in.

Building hope and excitement 

Director Akira Saitoh hopes those who will watch Sol Levante will feel heightened levels of excitement and immersiveness. While reactions will vary due to personal preference she hopes it inspires thoughts of “Okay, I would like to see other types of content or genre done in this technology.”

Asked why it’s called Sol Levante, Saitoh explained, “Sol Levante means sunrise in Italy. In ancient Egypt when the sun sets in the west, it dies. When it comes up in the east, it’s a symbol of resurrection. It’s been reborn. Reborn was a big theme in this project.”

That sense of hope and feeling renewed is something the project hopes to evoke in both animé viewers and creators.

Sol Levante will be available on Netflix globally on April 2, 2020.

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