This Brand Wants You to Pick a Shoe Based on Running Pace

👟Want the perfect shoe to help you dial in your running pace?

😲If that sounds a little wild, you're not alone.

But think about it...maybe the one-size-fits-all running shoe isn't the best recipe for performance.

🏃‍♂️When runners John Zilly and Scott Tucker started thinking about this, they decided to create shoes to help you run YOUR pace.

🚀After a lot of miles putting their idea through the paces, they launched the running shoe brand...Vimazi.

Runners Scott Tucker and John Zilly are the founders of the running shoe brand Vimazi, which offers a line-up of shoes based on your running pace.

🗣️An interview with Vimazi co-founder John Zilly

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Vimazi’s co-founder and author of 12 guidebooks, John Zilly, to discuss the company and how the idea of pace-tuned running shoes came to fruition. 

  • It is clear that their company is a labor of love and that both Zilly and Tucker have a vested interest in the running community as a whole. 
  • If Zilly’s contagious enthusiasm for the science and the brand’s mission throughout the interview is any indication of how cool these shoes are, be sure to read on!

👉Here’s The Rundown on Vimazi’s cutting edge, pace-tuned shoes.

Vimazi wants you to pick a shoe based on your running pace to help maximize performance. Photo credit: Troy Nebeker (@troynebeker)

⏱️Shoes based on running pace: Will this change the way you run?

Lifelong runners, Scott Tucker and John Zilly, the creators of Vimazi Running shoes both believe it is time for a pace-tuned revolution!

They decided  it was time to stop approaching running footwear with a one-size-fits all mentality.

The Vimazi timeline...

Five years ago, Tucker and Zilly started developing the first pace-tuned running shoes by blending their passions for: 

  • Shoe tech
  • Running, and...
  • The pursuit of truth through science
  • After overcoming the challenges of supply chain shortages and the immense logistics of launching multiple shoe models at one time...

👟Vimazi shoes came onto the market in early March of 2023. 

Vimazi means “pace zone,” as the brand name originates from Greek roots. “Vima,” means “step” or “pace” and “Zoni,” translates to “zone.”

👟Putting in the paces to launch a shoe brand

📖Even in the company’s name and logo, Tucker and Zilly’s commitment to the empirical shines through. 

  • Vimazi means “pace zone,” as the brand name originates from Greek roots. 
  • Vima means “step” or “pace.”
  • Zoni translates to “zone.” 
  • Vimazi's V-shaped logo is inspired by the physics symbol for velocity–an italic V with a line over it

🏃‍♂️Run together + build a business together

  • High school & college. Given that Tucker and Zilly met in high school and continued to run track and cross country at division 3 colleges, one might say that they have gone through the trial of miles together. 
  • Career. After college, Scott Tucker went on to run marathons (he continues to do so) and oversaw footwear development for Montrail, Scott Sports, and Pearl Izumi. John Zilly pursued a path in guidebook writing and ultra trail running. 

👟Although the duo took separate paths after college, they recognized a need in the shoe tech realm:

  • Shoes that serve every runner at every pace–not just the top tier elites. 

And thus Vimazi was born! 

"Everyone makes shoes for the 4-5 minute milers…We want to champion the spirit of running for all runners. We want Vimazi to be full of encouragement regardless of how fast or far you run.”

—Vimazi co-founder John Zilly
Vimazi offers shoes based on mile pace to support every type of runner.

👟An optimal shoe based on your running pace

Take one glance at the Vimazi shoe selection and you’ll notice each shoe model is assigned a pace window. 

For example:

  • The Z70 corresponds to paces from 10 minute miles to 12:30 minute miles
  • The Z20 is designed for 4:30-5:30 minute miles. 

“It doesn't matter how fast you run," says Zilly. "We have a shoe that is made for you."

Vimazi's differentiator: paced-tuned running shoes.

👟What is a pace-tuned running shoe?

The first of their kind, Vimazi pace-tuned shoes are designed to give runners the best energy return and optimal cushioning for the forces generated at a given pace.

🏃‍♀️The Forces in Running study🏃‍♂️

Vimazi constructed the Forces in Running Study to test the idea that forces are a product of running pace. 

  • Zilly explained that the initial equation allowed them to understand the forces at different paces, but the theoretical work was only half of the picture. 
  • It still had to be tested in the real world with real runners. 

“The runners ran at different paces and set cadences and different foot strikes," says Zilly. "We had them run on a force mat that gives you fine resolution force information.” 

  • 🦶The forces runners generate in the heel and midfoot by hitting the ground as they run change quickly as the running pace increases.
  • 🦶The impact forces in the heel are so brief that they cannot help with toe-off,.
  • 🦶The forces in the forefoot are much larger and propel the runner forward (check out the chart below). 

Vimazi published three academic papers on adjacent subjects based on their study data, but the primary paper is still out for review. 

The science suggests a pace-based running shoe could be more effective than a supershoe.

👟Science + tech to create the perfect running shoe

If you’re wondering why Vimazi would go to this kind of trouble to develop a mathematical model and design/execute a study to test it, you’re not alone. 

  • Pace-based running shoe or supershoe? It seems like a lot of effort given that running shoes have been scrupulously examined and iterated, especially in the age of supershoe technology. 
  • The causation fallacy. On their website, Vimazi’s creators pose the idea that previous running shoe studies on super shoes actually suffer from a “causation fallacy”--a fancy way of saying that cause and effect are assumed rather than a simple correlation. 
  • Athletes are running faster with supershoes, BUT maybe those paces aren’t solely attributable to the shoe technology. 

Zilly understands that this might go against the grain, but he holds firm:

"Some of what we are doing goes against conventional biomechanics wisdom, but the field of biomechanics are all observational studies of runners on treadmills with metabolic measurements."

"They are using the athlete instead of testing the shoe, showing correlations, but not causations.”

Vimazi is a mission to change the way you think about running shoes. Photo credit: Troy Nebeker (@troynebeker)

😎Let's geek out about Vimazi shoe tech & materials

👟Foam densities

Vimazi shoes have different foam densities in the: 

  • Forefoot
  • Midfoot
  • Heel

The purpose: To accommodate the forces generated at given paces.

👟The forefoot contains: 

  • A FastPod, which is a dense foam disc that maximizes toe-off propulsion,

👟The midfoot & heel

Have different densities of foam optimized for transition from initial contact to toe off and shock absorption.

👧The Goldilocks of running shoe cushioning

While most shoes have the same foam densities throughout the shoe, Vimazi went above and beyond to create goldilocks cushioning without the: 

  • Inefficient push off, or...
  • Excess weight

Two things other highly cushioned running shoes on the market have in common.

👟Midsole material you won't find in any other running shoe

In fact, it was such a bold move in the shoe industry that Vimazi had trouble finding a midsole manufacturer that was able to produce different foam densities in one shoe! 

“We are using an EVA proprietary blend because it is more durable and because of manufacturing limitations," says Tilly.

"This is the primary reason we didn’t do TPU or PEBAX foam. We needed to find a midsole supplier that would give us the exact densities we asked for."

"Nobody is used to doing that! It took some time to find the right midsole supplier that would produce them to spec."

Vimazi: Choosing a shoe based on your running pace will help improve performance. Photo credit: Troy Nebeker (@troynebeker)

⏱️Does pace really account for runner individuality?

What about different builds and running mechanics?

💡Vimazi creators thought of this too.

While the primary driver of forces is pace, “cadence, weight, and height play a role, so we made assumptions for the different shoes…” says Zilly.

For example:

  • Runners in the Z20 model who are running faster paces will have different needs than the runners in the Z70 model. 

“We made design decisions based on what folks who are running at that pace would want," says Zilly. 

"Going down the line, we add more stability, more comfortable uppers, and the drop and stack differs."

🏃‍♀️While most runners fall within Vimazi’s assumptions...

  • 10-15% of people might need to approach the pace zones differently. 
  • If you’re a runner with a larger build, Vimazi recommends selecting a faster pace zone model. 
  • Why? Runners with larger builds are generating greater forces, and the slightly denser midsole of the faster model will respond more appropriately to those forces. 

Zilly provided the following example: 

“If you're larger and run in a Z50 pace zone (7:15-8:45 m/m), you may want to move to a Z40.”

All Vimazi shoes use a neutral-foot design. Once you find the right fit in one pace zone, you’ve found your fit for the whole line.

👟Vimazi: How to choose a pace-tuned running shoe

Sizing

With so many shoes on the market, nobody wants to waste their time or money on shoes that won’t work for them.

Vimazi wanted to minimize the chance of runners encountering fit issues across pace zones, so they designed their shoe line in a manner that makes it simple to get the right fit in every model. 

  • Since each of the shoes are neutral, and there are no major changes across pace zones, the sizing remains consistent. Once you find the right fit in one pace zone, you’ve found your fit for the whole line. 

Model

John Zilly suggests that runners start out with purchasing an everyday trainer from Vimazi to make sure the brand works for them. 

“Comfort is key," says Zilly. "We think we have a great fit, but we realize some runners are going to need a different shoe.” 

If the everyday training pace zone shoe is a winner, then come back and get the adjacent pace zone for your quicker runs!

Vimazi plans to release pace-based trail running shoes in August 2023.

👟What's next? Pace-tuned trail running shoes

If your interest is piqued by the idea of pace-tuned running shoes, but road running isn’t your jam, don’t count Vimazi out just yet. 

The company plans to launch:

  • An additional pace zone
  • A walking shoe, and...
  • Two trail models, the Trail Z2 and the Trail Z3

Since trails typically require a change of pace compared to road running, the pace zones are much wider on the two models. 

  • The Z3’s ideal zone being 10-15 minute mile pace.
  • The Z2 suits 8-12 minute trail paces.

Mark your calendar for Vimazi trail shoes in August of 2023!

Are you curious about Vimazi & pace-tuned running shoes?

 Check Vimazi out on Instagram, Facebook, or their website

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Abigail Lock
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Comments

Michael Young It's an interesting idea, I wonder about foot strike and how that affects which shoe to choose, mid foot striker has to be different in these compared to a heel striker. Also those heel cups remind me of the ones off of the NB1080 from a couple years ago that got ditched after one year because of achilles issues with some people. Excited to see and hold one of these in real life.

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