A couple of weeks back a huge packet arrived from Puma. I was a bit surprised since I didn’t remember ordering anything. Removing the wrapping revealed a large purple & blue box (interest was piqued). On opening the box I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of purple shoes – the Puma Ignite! It was then that I recalled the casual emails a few weeks back from the Puma PR folks wanting to update their database with some of my stats and coordinates – cheeky folk!
I had been hearing of the Ignite for the past several weeks especially since Puma had been organizing events all over the world to launch the shoe (I couldn’t attend the #igniteDelhi event). Was really excited to get to try out these shoes, unfortunately I have been nursing a right knee issues for some time and I was in the middle of what would turn out to be an 8 week hiatus from running. So eager though I was to run in these I had to hold myself back.
First the Official Line
For those who are keen, here is the official description of the shoes –
IGNITE features a superior cushioning material that disperses impact forces while providing optimal responsiveness and energy return to make you faster. Our unique PU foam formula offers high rebound and ultimate comfort where you need it the most. ForEverFoam is integrated in the heel to provide durability for long-lasting performance. The shoe’s minimal upper design offers lightweight flexibility and an incredibly comfortable fit.
- Flexible AirMesh upper with seamless overlays
- Soft, ultra-thin suede tongue for more comfort
- Molded EVA sockliner hugs the arch
- IGNITE Foam midsole for high-rebound cushioning
- Chevron flex grooves for increased energy return
- ForEverFoam at heel for optimal durability
- Flexibility through forefoot flex grooves
- Transition Line mimics the natural gait pattern
- Smoother toe-off for a fluid ride
- EverTrack for durability in high-wear areas
Lot of words – most of which I tend to ignore 🙂 !
Essentially this is a neutral running shoe which is touted to make you run faster. With the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt officially promoting it – you can’t miss that message!
Visual and Tactile Impressions
A few things hit me immediately, the shoe looks really small for a UK9/US10; and the colour combination of purple with a fluorescent orange sole seems really over the top (and I’ve worn some crazy colours, including parrot green!).
My dress shoe size is a UK8/US9. For most of my running I have been either using a UK9.5/US10.5 or UK10/US11. This sizing has worked well for me with Nike, Reebok and Saucony. The Skechers GoRun2 ran really large and a UK9/US10 worked really well with room to spare. Considering that the Ignite was a UK9 I am concerned it wouldn’t fit me.
Anyway I decided to leave them in the box for a few more days while I complete my 8 weeks of resting the knee, so more on colour and size later. But before all that some basics for the shoe –
Price: Rs.8,999 (this is getting into expensive territory but comparable to shoes from the competition except Skechers which is more aggressively priced). For me price per se is very important but one has to factor in the durability of the shoe. This is where Skechers had a problem, priced very aggressively but the usable-running-life seems less than half of the competition especially if you are running a lot on tar/concrete.
Weight: The shoe felt really light in the hand so I was surprised that it weighed in at around 272gm for a size 9. Still the weight is in, what I consider a good zone for most runners.
Heel-to-Toe drop: Visually this looked pretty aggressive to me, but again was surprised that it was 12mm. After using several types of footwear (including barefoot & Vibrams) I’ve come to the conclusion that a 12mm drop is actually good for most runners.
Flexibility/Flexion: The shoe is definitely stiffer than some of the other shoes in my arsenal like the Nike Free, Reebok Realflex and Skechers GoRun2. It even feels marginally stiffer than the Saucony Kinvara (which itself is fairly stiff). But I have seen with experience that this too is not a bad thing as a stiffer shoe tends to be more responsive.
Upper: The shoe upper seems fairly structured like the Reebok Realflex but not over the top like the Reebok One. The Nike Free, Skechers GoRun2 and Saucony are more minimalist.
Shoe Shape: The shape is more straight than curved (look at the sole of the shoe and the curve from heel to toe). Puma seems to have decided that their running shoes would have a straighter shape – case in point the whole FAAS series and even the Mobium Elite. Once again, not a bad thing for a neutral shoe.
Sole: The sole looks solid and even the rubbery bits look and feel pretty durable.
Tongue: This is pretty rubbery & soft and should provide good protection from pressure from tight laces at the top. The laces themselves are pretty long and if you don’t use the heel-lock-eyelets at the top you may need to do a double bow tie to keep from stepping on them.
Impressions on the Foot
About 7 days into receiving the Ignite I couldn’t hold myself back any longer and decided to take them for a short spin (mostly because I was coming back from a long running break).
As I take them out of the box I am pretty sure there are going to be small for my feet. Surprise surprise, they are actually very roomy in the toe area with a very good fit in the heel and mid-foot. In fact I am now concerned they may actually be too big for me! Now here is the contradiction – they still look pretty lean on my foot compared to the other shoes I have, including the Nike Free!
After using these shoes for a few runs – my recommendation is to not oversize them and maybe even go with your true size (dress shoe size). If you engage the heel lock lacing (Google that) with your true size you will also likely have some space left in the front for foot expansion which invariably happens over a longish run.
Two other comments with the shoe on the foot – the colour combination of purple and orange actually looks pretty good and in fact might be part of the reason for the shoe looking smaller and slimmer.
The second is the weight; it actually feels quite light on the foot. A walk to my warm-up area feels routinely normal and I am not thinking about the shoe at all. Normal is a great thing when it comes to new shoes!
I said earlier that Usain Bolt was promoting these shoes, as a long distance runner that’s a mixed message for me – is the Puma Ignite a long distance running shoe or are they good only for shorter runs? I am not going to get the answer to this on my short comeback run but this is the questions on my mind as I start my first run in them.
Watch-out for the second part of the review when I’ll talk about my experience running in the Ignite. And do leave your comments below and also let me know if you want to know something more about these shoes.
I have read all sorts of testosterone loaded comments about runners carrying guns and mace; and of shooting and threatening people by runners on various forums. If you fear animal attacks then by all means get something to defend yourself. I have personally run with a thin flexible stick to defend against dogs (a good idea is an extensible baton). However if you run the same route frequently and are going to be aggressive or get into a fight with someone then you carry the extreme risk of that someone waiting for you the next day with buddies or some sort of weapon to get even !!
A policeman (who is also a runner) was advocating on a popular forum that one should run with a gun (as he personally does). When he gets into a “situation” he shows his gun to warn potential aggressors off. Personally I think this is not only dangerous but outright stupid!! This might work for a trained cop (with a “cop” support system) but not for a regular person. If you do carry a weapon and pull it out when there is no other resort, then “USE IT”!! Also make sure that once used you call in your local law enforcement to take care of the perpetrator. You don’t want an injured, pissed and dangerous person to be waiting for you (this time concealed and with heavier armor) in the future.
Why not just change your route and look for a safer place to run? Keep an eye out for drunks and other “criminal” types. Awareness is the key to urban road running. Here is an incident I once had about 2 years back which sounds funny now but was pretty scary then!
I was running an 18km route and had just crossed the 11km mark near Indraprastha Metro Station on the Ring Road, when a drunk (and probably homeless guy) tried to aggressively accost me (I am not even sure if he was attacking me or just being overly friendly!!). I was running on the sidewalk and he was coming towards me. I was in speed and I reactively just moved my right shoulder ahead, and down (and finally up at impact) – hitting him with considerable momentum around his sternum. He literally flew several feet in the air and landed off the sidewalk on his backside, ran like hell after that (could hear his shouting & abuses for quite some time) and didn’t stop for a several kms till I was absolutely sure he wasn’t following me (then I stopped and actually laughed like crazy!!). Avoided that route for several months thereafter.
Good story now to tell over a beer, but was pretty scary when it happened. Consider myself lucky to have actually caught him off-guard.