Behind the scenes, I get to test out a lot of running shoes and I’m always looking for the right ones to recommend for soccer players to use during off-field fitness. This summer, I’ve got to try out a number of shoes from the likes of Adidas, Nike, Asics and Under Armour. Some have been comfortable, while others have left me wanting to burn them before even finishing my run.
But there was a pair that really stood out and they have turned into my long standing running shoe, receiving my award for best running shoes this summer, specifically for soccer players. The reason I don’t feature a lot of running shoes is because I don’t determine myself to be a pro “runner”, so it is difficult to make a runners determination on which shoes are best. This summer, however, I have got to run a lot more than usual and have wracked up at least 100 miles in these shoes over the past month.
Introducing the SoccerCleats101 selection and this Summers top running shoe for soccer players – the Under Armour Charge RC 2.
What Under Armour Are Saying
You’re looking at the next generation of running shoes. They don’t just work with your anatomy, they evolve it. The unique upper is articulated to match and enhance foot movement. And this shoe is ridiculously light…with a purpose. We used geometry to make the shoe work with your gait rather than against it. You also get low, light,Micro G® cushioning for a smooth, stable ride. This is our most technical running shoe, and it’s all about the speed.
Choosing the Right Size
You will definitely need to order down a half size to get a secure fit. These tend to run a half size long, as I experienced by having to choose an 8.5 instead of a 9. In general you will need your running shoes to fit longer than your soccer cleats and that is what most players choose to do. A half size down will still leave you with additional room toward the forefoot but provide a nice tight fit around the rest of your foot.
Light on the Inner Wall Padding
One concern I immediately had when the shoes arrived was how much padding they actually had. The walls, especially around the heel region, is very thin and has a pretty sturdy feel, leading me to assume blistering would occur. But the opposite was true and they have a wonderful fit and feel. What works really well is the 4D-Foam that UA has taken from its trusted insoles and lined the heel with. It is a very unexpected move but a strategy that plays out effectively. The benefit is that it is light and very thin but also provides some stretch. It wraps right around your ankle but doesn’t rub, moving with the natural shape of your stride.
[Also: Adidas adiZero Feather 2 Review]
The Forefoot is Even Thinner
UA use a HeatGear fabric that is like a single layer of material. It is literally as thin as a light t-shirt and it helps wick sweat away from your foot. As you run, you will notice the color change where it is wet.
Padded MPZ Tongue and Lacing System
The one aspect of this running shoe that is really odd is the tongue. It almost seems like it is molded metal, but it is a well perforated, grafted padding. When you tie the laces, there is a layer of foam between your foot and the lacing system, so it provides an odd feel. It is almost like placing a piece of Styrofoam over the top of your foot. Thankfully it is light, and it actually balances how the shoe feels through stride. Aiding that is the use of side panels and a lacing system that is attached through the top two laces. This pulls the boot closer to your foot and creates a secure feel (as seen in the above image).
One final note here related to comfort. There is actually a formula to tying the laces and it might actually take a few wears before you get them in sync with your foot shape. Because the laces attach to the side walls, it creates a very snug fit. As you loosen the laces, it drops the heel, but tighten them and it pulls the entire boot right around your foot. During my first wear, this caused my foot to cramp around the outside. Through the next run, I modified how the shoes were tied and it really changed the overall feel. Some would see this as a negative, but to be honest I prefer this as it allows different players the opportunity to adjust the boot to their specific foot shape. You basically get an added reassurance that the shoe can fit a wider selection of players.
Traction and the Sole
When it comes to running on cement, as long as they keep me stable and provide a little bounce I am happy. I’m only concerned when I can feel the full impact of each step or I feel myself bouncing off the surface through each stride. Under Armour use a TPU spring plate that is built into the midsole, transferring heel-strike energy forward. Added to this, they include their Light Speed Grip, which is strategically placed on the outsole for the ultimate in lightweight traction. It all comes together nicely and is complemented by the trusted 4D-Sole insert. I love the light bounce that is all provides, with little to no vibration through stride.
Weighing in at a super lightweight 8.0oz, this is a pretty ideal running shoe option for soccer players. With our boots options getting lighter, it seems appropriate to follow the trend by selecting appropriate running shoes that provide comfort and a light feel. These are a very different releases to what we regularly see from Nike and Adidas. When it comes to actual design, Under Armour don’t exactly provide you with an eye pleasing release, they are slightly odd aesthetically. But when you get past the indifferent appearance, they fit really well, offer a great ride with a smooth bounce through stride, and they are a pretty pitch perfect weight. In a sense you could call them an effective unconventional running shoe. If you are looking to think outside the box, give the Under Armour Charge RC 2 some serious consideration!
For those interested in a pair, you have 2 options:
- For testing, I wore the Gravel/High Lime colorway that is available from Under Armour.
- Goal Club members, a Snorkel/Bitter colorway is available from Soccer.com.
If you have some disposable income I would like to recommend the Nike Flyknit series.
They don't make soccer shoes, but I would definitely suggest Brooks running shoes. I'm a huge fan of their new PureProject line. Lower profile, but still a bit of support and cushioning.
I've never got to test out Brooks shoes – been tempted but never had the opportunity. I probably should soon.
The Puma Faas 300 is an excellent running shoe for soccer players as well. They weigh in at 7.2 oz for a size nine, and after twelve months of heavy use, I am moving on to my next pair. Plus they can be had for ~$50, a *steal* compared to other shoes.
I've been wearing Newton for the past five years and haven't looked back. They're light, responsive, and work to get the runner into proper running mechanics (landing on your forefoot/midfoot, rather than landing on your heel), similar to when you're running in cleats.