The Metaspeed Sky is one of the best racing shoes in the world, and it can help you log PBs at any distance from 5K up to marathon.
- Fast, efficient ride
- Lightweight design
- Great for short and long races
- Significantly lower stack than 40mm limit
While Asics did release a carbon plate running shoe in 2020 – the Metaracer – the Metaspeed Sky is its first real attempt to compete with shoes like the Nike Vaporfly and Alphafly, and the Adidas Adios Pro.
That’s because the Metaracer only had a carbon plate in the front half of the shoe, rather than a full-length plate. The stack of cushioning was also both lower and firmer than you’ll find on a typical super-shoe.
The Metaspeed Sky is still not as large as some shoes, with a listed stack of 33mm at the heel – lower than the 40mm limit set by World Athletics. It has a 5mm drop from heel to toe, which is again lower than most super-shoes (which come in around 8-10mm), but does have the standard full-length carbon plate.
Asics has also introduced a new foam, the nylon-based FF Blast Turbo – a souped-up version of the bouncy FF Blast foam used on the Asics Novablast. Its sprightliness is similar to the PEBA-based ZoomX foams used in Nike’s Vaporfly and Alphafly, though it’s not quite as soft as ZoomX, or the FuelCell foam New Balance uses in its carbon shoes.
Intriguingly, the Metaspeed Sky is but one of two new carbon racers from Asics – the other is the Metaspeed Edge (opens in new tab), and each is designed to suit different running styles. The Sky is for bounding runners who increase their stride length when running faster and the Edge is for runners who shuffle more and increase both their cadence and stride length when increasing their pace.
Both shoes aim to increase your stride length when racing, but Asics suggests that where other super-shoes have been aimed at the bounding runner, its shoes are the first to support different styles.
I had doubts at first about the claim that other shoes suit bounders, because I am very much a shuffler and have enjoyed the benefits of carbon shoes as much as anyone. I haven’t run in the Edge yet, but it has a lower stack than the Sky and a higher drop, and reportedly has a firmer feel that’s more like traditional shoes.
It could be that the Edge blows my socks off, but the Sky is the one that sounds like a super-shoe to me, and after running 110km in it I can confidently say it feels like one too. Despite supposedly not suiting my running style, the Sky has been a joy to run in, offering an extremely lively ride that’s also a tad more stable than that of some other high-stack options.
After a short shakeout run, my first outing in the Metaspeed Sky proper was a 10K race on a flat course in Battersea Park in London, and I beat my PB by 30 seconds, finishing in 32min 32sec.
Obviously that left a very good early impression, though I won’t put it all down to the shoe. I was in good shape and hadn’t raced a 10K for more than a year, so a PB was on the cards, but the Metaspeed Sky felt superb when up at race pace. From a soft, slightly more bouncy ride during a slow warm-up run, the shoe became firmer and more responsive when I started racing. It feels similar to the Vaporfly in that respect. Although the Metaspeed Sky is a little harder on landing, it has a similar pop off the forefoot as the plate and foam combine to propel you forwards.
I’ve also used the Metaspeed Sky for short and long workouts in training, and enjoyed using it for both. I think it’s stable and fast enough for even the shortest of reps, and while it’s billed more as a long-distance racer, I think it’s excellent for 5K and 10Ks as well.
In one longer workout in the shoe I ran four 5Ks at a little slower than my marathon pace, broken up by 1km recoveries at an easy pace. This was my longest workout in a while and the Metaspeed Sky provided enough protection from the impact of the session, so the pace felt comfortable to hold throughout the run even as I did start to tire.
The following week I had another long session on the cards – 5 x 3km at 3min 25sec/km. A daunting workout for sure, and this time I chose the Metaspeed Sky not to test it out, but because I trusted it to help me through.
Each of those workouts totalled over 23km of hard road running on the flat, and they cast aside any doubts I had over whether the Metaspeed Sky would have a sufficiently cushioned ride for a full marathon.
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The extra cushioning and softer ride of the Nike Alphafly make it my top marathon pick, but the more stable ride of the Metaspeed Sky might well be preferable for some. I rate the Metaspeed Sky as similar to the Vaporfly, and both shoes perhaps have an edge over the Alphafly in shorter races with plenty of corners, because they are fairly stable for super-shoes.
Importantly, the Metaspeed Sky is a substantial step up for Asics in the world of super-shoes. This is a top-tier carbon racing shoe that has matched the performance of the dominant Nikes. Which you choose may well come down to your preferred ride feel and how important stability is for you. Budget may also play a role: the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is a little cheaper than the Asics at £210 vs £225 – that £15 saving might just swing it.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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