On Running is a really exciting brand that is breaking through to secure its spot among the biggest players in the sports world. I was lucky enough to be able to test out the On Cloudflyer stability running shoes and give my verdict.
Size & Fit
Even just looking at these running shoes on the floor before putting them on, they look small and compact. My normal shoe size is a Women's UK 7/US 9/EUR 40.5 and I am used to sizing up for running shoes which is standard practice.
My current favourite running shoes are a pair of ASICS Gel Phoenix 7 which have served me incredibly well and I comfortably ran a full marathon in them with no discomfort, no blisters, and I could walk perfectly fine the next day (the sign of a great pair of shoes). My ASICS are a UK 8.5/US 10.5/EUR 42.5 and On suggest on their size guide that you should go half a size smaller than ASICS, so I dutifully went for a UK 8/US 10/EUR 42 for the Cloudflyers.
In reality, the physical size and dimensions of these shoes are very close to my Nike Free Runs which are a UK size 7.5/US 9.5/EUR 41 so I maybe wish I had gone bigger and didn't size down. When wearing them, my feet did feel a bit squashed and I could only wear my thinnest socks with them. If you like a roomy shoe or have big/wide feet, I'd recommend that you should definitely size up.
When I first put the shoes on, they felt very snug so I had to loosen the laces a fair bit. On first wear, they rubbed my heels and little toes quite substantially. However, I gave them a chance to wear in and this did subside after a while. To be completely honest, they are not the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn and as you are about to find out, I had to give them a lot of chances to get it right.
First test run
I find that I have to run at least 2 miles but ideally more before I can really tell if a pair of running shoes is going to be comfortable or not. My first run in these shoes was 4 miles and I was really impressed with how they felt. I didn't experience any discomfort and I really enjoyed wearing them. Overall it was a very good run for me performance-wise and so I was left feeling very positive about the shoes.
Second test run
Unfortunately, on my second run wearing them I found that the arches of my feet started aching after a couple of miles and my toes felt squashed. It didn't cause blisters or any real pain, but my feet swell when I run (a common occurrence for many people) and so I don't like them to feel squashed. The aching on the bottom of my feet was perhaps them getting used to the more minimalist design of these running shoes.
The aching arches and squashed toes put me off quite a bit and I was left feeling disappointed at the end of my run, but I decided to give the shoes more of a chance and wait until I've done a few more runs to see if this pain disappeared once I was properly used to the shoes. Plus, I'm all too aware that we all have good runs and bad runs and that it might not be completely down to the shoes. For me, the perfect pair of running shoes are ones that I can forget I'm wearing so that I can focus solely on running and not pains in my feet.
Third test run
My next run in the shoes was a bit longer at 6 miles as I wanted to see how they'd feel over a longer distance and duration. Thankfully, the aching arches didn't seem to be a problem on this run so hopefully my feet had already got used to them. My little toes felt squashed and slightly painful at the start of the run again, however this did subside after a while.
After about 2 miles, I was running pretty comfortably in the shoes and was feeling happy with them. My last mile was on grass and this highlighted how hard the soles of the shoes are. My feet felt a bit battered and running on the grass was pretty uncomfortable, especially compared to my Nike Free Runs which I often use to do sprints in my local park.
When I got home, the bottom of my feet felt very sore, that same soreness you get when you've been on your feet for a very long time. This made me wonder how my feet would feel running in these shoes for longer runs of over 10 miles. So, I decided to test it.
Fourth test run
I really wanted to like these shoes so I gave them a lot of chances. My fourth test run was 12 miles as I wanted to test the shoes over a much longer duration, especially as I am a distance runner and may well be running a marathon in these shoes. Actually, I am hoping to run an ultra-marathon next year but it is a trail run and after the pain I experienced wearing these shoes on grass, I don't know if they'd be suitable.
On this run, my feet felt comfortable at first but then started to deteriorate. The arches of my feet ached as I don't think these shoes give quite enough ankle support for a pair of stability shoes, however this subsided after about 3 miles.
Unfortunately, after about 7 miles the bottom of my feet were hurting again like they did when I ran on the grass and this persisted until the end of the run. The lack of cushioning on these shoes while positive in the sense it keeps them light, unfortunately means they're not as good on longer runs.
I'd go so far as to say that the On Cloudflyer shoes are the best looking pair of running shoes I've ever had. They look very 'professional' and despite being stability shoes, they are very sleek, elegant, and compact. Other stability shoes I have owned have been overly clunky and look awful, both in design and the colourways available.
I like that On don't assume all women want bright fuchsia and purple running shoes and instead offer these shoes in a range of subtle, stylish colours. My friends and family also commented on how good these shoes look and I wouldn't feel out of place wearing them on a day-to-day basis as part of a casual outfit.
Stability shoes, which are designed to give support for people like me who have flat feet and overpronate, can be very chunky and I find that this can slow me down. My current ASICS running shoes are guilty of this so it was a breath of fresh air to run in the Cloudflyer shoes which were so much more lightweight. Their selling point is that you're supposed to feel like you're 'running on clouds' and this was certainly true for me!
Despite the discomfort mentioned above, these shoes helped me to run with very good form and encouraged me to be much lighter on my toes and lift my legs more when running. They actually felt like they were making me run faster! Perhaps this was just a placebo effect. Although, any good runner, physio, or coach will tell you that your running form starts with your feet and so having these shoes support me so well, perhaps they really did make me run faster.
I wasn't sure how the grip would handle wet roads but these shoes were perfectly grippy and I felt confident running in the rain while wearing them. My second run in them saw me running over some gravel and I was very impressed with the grip, my feet didn't slip at all and I felt very confident running over different terrains.
I had to give these shoes quite a lot of time to get used to them and to wear them in fully. My first run with them was awesome but then my second, not so much. As a distance runner, I need running shoes that are going to be very comfortable over countless miles and that I can forget I'm even wearing.
I found these shoes to be a bit too snug so I'd recommend sizing up if you want to be super sure. The rigid upper rubbed my feet and the very solid soles felt a bit harsh so I would mark them down for comfort.
However, I'm hugely impressed by their appearance and performance-enhancing qualities. When I received them, I was hoping they could replace my current running shoes and become my new go-to for my next few hundred miles of running. While they're ideal for shorter tempo runs and interval runs, they're not so good for long runs. So, I'll wear them for shorter runs and wear my ASICS for longer runs.
I'd rate these shoes a solid 7/10 as I think they have the potential to be an amazing pair of running shoes, but the comfort (or lack thereof) let them down.
You can buy the On Cloudflyer women's shoes from the On Running website for £140. The pair we tested were in the colourway Storm/White.
Gymshark is a UK sportswear brand gaining popularity every day. Their cute gym clothes and stylish activewear are taking the industry by storm and everywhere you look on Instagram, someone is wearing Gymshark Flex Leggings. But are they the real deal? We take a look.
The most important thing to look for when buying new womens gym leggings is the fit. You'll be wearing these to stretch and move, so they need to be comfortable. Not only that, if you are following the latest womens fitness clothing trend and wearing your ladies gym leggings outside of the gym as everyday casual wear, you'll want them to fit well.
The most defining feature of the Gymshark Flex Leggings is the tight waistband. These are not high waisted leggings so the restrictive elastic waistband will sit just above your hip bones. If you have a tiny waist and very low body fat, it'll sit nicely on your figure. However, if you have any fat on your hips whatsoever it'll be accentuated and highlighted by this tight waistband and will spill over the top. While this is not necessarily a bad thing aesthetically, it can be a little uncomfortable in a practical sense as the waistband will cut into you and is not forgiving.
The one positive aspect of the tight waistband is that the leggings are guaranteed not to fall down as you exercise. The main fabric is actually very stretchy and not tight at all. This means it'll skim over your body without cinching you in and won't flatter your curves like other leggings might. Especially in the lighter coloured leggings, any lumps and bumps you have will show right through the fabric. What it does mean, though, is if you have bigger legs, they will fit you well.
These leggings are definitely designed with the wearer in mind. They want to flatter your form and have stylish panelling to the back to accent your curves and natural shape. The Gymshark Flex Leggings now come in several different colourways with different leg/waistband colour combinations. All of the colours are pastel and fairly muted which means they will go with lots of different exercise outfits.
The thick waistband with Gymshark branding is very trendy and stylish and stands out when you wear them. The colours are also very on-trend and there's something for everyone in the current collection which is still growing. There's no doubt this is a very attractive pair of leggings.
It is unclear what the actual sporting purpose of these leggings is. The Gymshark website sheds no light on whether they are designed for running, weightlifting, yoga etc or if they are more just designed to be aesthetically pleasing and form flattering. As such, there are no glaring technical qualities that shine through to make these leggings stand out for certain sports, and they probably wouldn't be my first choice for a run or bike ride. However, the seamless design and superior comfort makes them perfect for a gym session which is what I expect they are mostly used for by Gymshark customers. They have a very simple design with no pockets or reflective trim so they would not be ideal for running and they are very thin so not great for cycling. However, the soft fabrics and seamless design would make them great for yoga with excellent freedom of movement. They'd also be suitable for gym classes and circuit training or HIIT.
The Gymshark Flex Leggings come in at £32 for the full length or £30 for the capri leggings. On the surface, this seems very reasonable, as a pair of other big brand leggings such as Nike could easily set you back over £50. However, upon closer inspection you realise that the more expensive Nike leggings are all highly technical with special features that these Gymshark leggings lack. The more basic Nike leggings are closer to £20 which actually makes the Gymshark ones quite pricey. When comparing prices of womens activewear, it's important to consider what they have to offer in terms of quality and technical capabilities. These Gymshark ladies leggings are very basic and so should be priced as such. Here, you are paying for the desirability and the fashion aspect.
If you would like a super stylish pair of leggings similar to the Gymshark Flex Leggings but which feature superior technical qualities and are more comfortable and flattering, take a look at the Sundried Ruinette 2.0 Leggings. These gym leggings flatter your figure and are super comfortable with their soft fabric and seamless design. They are high waisted with a no-dig waistband so they glide over lumps and bumps and are super comfortable.
Enjoy an exclusive discount on these leggings by using the code FLEX to get a huge 50% off RRP at checkout. That means they are cheaper than the Gymshark leggings too!
Hailed as a cushioned running shoe, the New Balance 1080v5 have a lot to deliver on. The first thing you might notice is how light they feel when you pick them up. They weigh in at only 258g, which makes them feel light on your feet.
They pack in a lot of technology for a trainer. Sliding your foot in, it is hard to ignore the comfort factor. The feeling of New Balance’s foam is noticeable, as is the N2 cushioning. These two ingredients, mixed together make the trainer soft yet firm, cushioned yet flexible. The foam really helps cushion the sole of your foot when running, as well as absorbing any shocks from the pavement.
By design, cushioned running shoes have a softer midsole, and these have a lot of support in the heel. So depending on how you run will determine if these are the shoes for you or not. These suited my running style quite well and I found the level of support held up mile after mile. The uppers have a really breathable mesh that allows sweat out and cool air in, which helps keep your feet feeling fresh and dry. The asymmetrical heel counter helps offer good heel support, with the insole offering decent arch support. These are definitely made for those who run with a heel strike other than a forefoot strike.
The bottom of the trainers looks like a maze of interconnected hexagons. However New Balance came up with this design, it works. The grooves, the dips and the shapes all work harmoniously together to ensure you have a smooth run. I ran over gravel, stones and streets in these and the cushioning is fantastic.
The fit of the shoe is a little narrow; if you have wider feet these are not for you. They lace up well and in no way feel like they are going to slip off, allowing for maximum support. The shoes have a removable insole, but it does help with softening heel strikes.
The uppers are mostly made of fused mesh overlays, which does make them airy and adds to the lightness of the shoes. Not to mention it looks great!
Overall, it is a good trainer with a decent price tag. They are like running on air, in that you will be cushioned from heel strikes and they give decent support. Designed as a heel striking trainer, they do the job well.
Topo Athletic is an up-and-coming sports brand that Sundried has reviewed a few times now. Their intelligently designed trainers are perfect for the more serious runner and their trail shoes have technical features that make them stand out from the crowd. Read our reviews of other Topo shoes here.
Features of the Terraventure Women's Trail Shoes
The drop of a trainer refers to the height difference between the heel and the forefoot. A conventional drop would be considered to sit at around 10-12 millimetres but more trainer brands are now adopting a more minimal design with a lower drop. Topo is one of these brands and their Terraventure trail shoe features a very low drop at only 3mm. Advocates for the low heel-to-toe drop claim it can reduce the risk of injury as it discourages a harsh heel-strike. A low drop also encourages a more natural running style and a low heel stops you from being pushed forward while running, which is an important aspect when running on uneven ground like a trail.
Minimalist shoes with a low drop can often offer less cushioning, but that is not the case with these Topo trainers. It is also important to have well-cushioned shoes when you're heading out on the rough and uneven surfaces of the trails. The Topo Terraventure shoes feature extra cushioning to provide a smooth ride.
Wide Toe Box
The ergonomic toe box is one of Topo's flagship features. It is more anatomically-friendly than classic trainers and allows your toes to spread out naturally and comfortably. If you have wide feet, it can be tough finding trainers that are comfortable, but these shoes with their wide toe box have got you covered. I often suffer from squashed toes, especially when running downhill outdoors, so this feature is very important to avoid that.
Rock Protection Plate
Having a rock protection plate in your trail shoes is a must if you want a pain-free run. Running over gravel and stones can be hazardous and having shoes with a specialised rock plate will prevent you from injuring your foot on rocks. Stepping on a jagged edge, especially on the ball of the foot, can cause a lot of pain and can lead to metatarsal issues. These Topo shoes feature the classic ESS rock plate which can be found on many trail shoes these days and should be a standard feature that you look for when choosing this type of trainer.
Suffering from sweaty feet can lead to more than just some discomfort. Running in damp shoes for too long can lead to skin problems and will end up distracting you from your run. Finding a pair of trainers made from breathable materials is a must, and these shoes feature just that. The lightweight design offers a '2nd skin fit and feel' according to Topo, although this isn't quite the feeling I got when I wore them. They're quite chunky and bulky, definitely not smooth and light like a speed trainer, but that's not what I'd expect from a trail shoe anyway.
Testing the Topo Terraventure trainers out on the trails
Trail running is very different from running on paved roads and you want a trainer that's going to be able to keep up. The 'aggressive' lug design on these trainers means that you have fantastic traction and the supportive rock plate prevents bruising and damage from stones and other debris which are inevitable on the trails.
I did find that they started to rub my little toes after a while and my feet were slipping around in the shoes because of the roomy design. When running up and down hills, especially on very rough terrain, I like my feet to feel like they're totally secure so that I'm not worried about twisting an ankle. These shoes could perhaps offer a little more ankle support to put my mind at ease.
Support and comfort
The foot support from these trainers is good and it doesn't seem to matter if you run with a forefoot or heel strike, they'll give you everything you need for a comfortable ride. If you have flat feet like me, it can be tough finding trainers which give adequate support, so I was a little dubious when trying them for the first time. I did get some ankle pain after the first few miles due to the limited arch support, and the low drop meant I ended up plodding a little towards the end. The roomy toe box does do the job well with regards to not squashing the toes so this is a big bonus.
The trainers are pretty much true to size. I did get a half size up from my usual size as I anticipated they might be a little snug and I'm glad I did.
The cushioning is great as is the roomy toe box. The rock plate definitely does the job of preventing painful bruises from jagged edges and stones.
The stability is good and the lugs on the bottom of the shoe certainly provide plenty of traction. I felt that my ankles were a little exposed, though, so there could have been more support and stability there.
I personally don't like the colour of this particular pair of shoes but that's certainly subjective. They also come in a choice of light blue or purple. The colour is a little garish so I would've preferred a more subtle colour, or even just plain black. The actual design of the trainers looks good, though, and for a pair of trail shoes, they definitely don't look too bad. I struggled to match them with any of my Sundried kit, though!
The price of these trainers is £115. This is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum and puts the shoes on the same level as trail shoes from big brands like Asics and Hoka One One. Considering Topo is still relatively unknown in the UK and is quite a new brand, this seems a little steep, especially considering you can buy Karrimor trail shoes at a price of around £35 and those boast being water-proof. However, these are good quality trainers and feature everything you would expect as standard from a pair of trail shoes so I definitely don't think it's unreasonable.
I'm pleasantly surprised by these trainers as I often struggle to find ones that are comfortable enough to run in for an extended period of time. Topo is a brand that knows what it's doing and this shines through in these trainers. I'm looking forward to taking these shoes on more adventures and seeing where they take me next!
The Hoka Gaviota Women's Running Shoes are a stability trainer from our favourite long distance running trainer specialists. But are they right for you?
Upon first wearing the trainers, they feel very snug and comfortable. Hoka One One is a brand renowned for its springy, cloud-like trainers which are specifically designed for long distance running such as marathons and ultra marathons. The materials used are super soft and the trainer's upper is fairly flexible. The thick sole is very solid and gives good support.
I bought my pair a half size up from my regular shoe size, which is what I often do for running trainers due to the inevitable swelling expected during a run. However, these trainers are very tight and my forefoot was so squashed that the entire front half of my foot went numb. Having scoured through other reviews of these trainers, it appears I am not alone in this and it is a common problem for wearers of this particular shoe. I tried the usual trick of re-lacing the trainers to allow more room for my toes but unfortunately this didn't help. During my second run, after only 2 miles, my entire foot was so numb and in agony I had to physically remove the trainers and walk home barefoot feeling rather sorry for myself. I'm not sure if sizing up again would help in this instance as I'd worry it'd just give more room in the heel and not fix the problem of the tight toe box.
Stability trainers are notorious for not looking great. It always seems that the rule of 'style over substance' is hammered in when trying to buy trainers and you have to choose one or the other. Hoka One One trainers are quite outlandish and quirky at the best of times, which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the women's Gaviota trainers. There are two colourways available: Dresden blue/Gold fusion or Paradise pink/neon coral. I bought the Paradise pink/neon coral pair and I actually really like their appearance. They are not too fluorescent and don't stand out too much, and instead have a subtle and pretty appearance.
These trainers are beautifully light, weighing in at 245g. Compare this to the weight of the stability trainers offered by Nike - Nike Zoom 317g and that of Adidas- Vengeful shoes 292g. Hoka is a brand famous and well-loved for the performance of its long distance running trainers, and these are no different. For the couple of miles that I could manage before my feet went numb, I felt like I was treading on air and my stride definitely felt light and springy.
When it comes to stability trainers, you need a pair you can trust not to cause injuries or accentuate your poor posture. Stability trainers are designed for people who over-pronate; that is they suffer from fallen arches and/or flat feet and their feet fall inwards. Stability trainers like the Hoka Gaviota women's running trainers are designed to prevent the feet from rolling inwards and to stabilise your ride, reducing the risk of injury and allowing for a pain-free run.
Sadly for me, I was not able to properly test these trainers on a long run because they sent my feet to sleep and crippled my toes!
I bought my pair of Hoka Gaviota trainers from a local retailer for £114.99. They are currently available direct from the Hoka website for 120 Euros (on sale from 150 Euros) which works out at around £106. In theory, I definitely think this pair of trainers would be worth this price for their unparalleled support and comfort during very long runs. However sadly for me, due to not being able to return them, they will continue to gather dust on my shoe rack and burn a large hole in my wallet.
I really wanted to like these trainers, and I can see a huge amount of potential in them if they fit you properly. I don't have wide feet at all, in fact I'd describe my feet as quite narrow, but I do have fairly long toes. The shoes are very comfortable for a few minutes, but sadly sent my feet to sleep and have caused what I'm hoping is not prolonged damage to my toes. Having read a lot of reviews by others, I can see this is not an isolated incident. Therefore, if you think these trainers are for you, definitely size up by perhaps two sizes. They are an attractive pair of carefully crafted technical trainers, I just wish I could wear them!
These trainers are for you if:
- You regularly run long distances
- You are a marathon or ultra marathon runner
- You over-pronate due to fallen arches and/or flat feet
These trainers are not for you if:
- You are a sprinter or short distance runner
- You have wide feet and/or long toes
- You do not have a big budget