As one of Australian netball's breakout stars, 23-year-old Kim Ravaillion knows the fastest way around a court. Representing the Australian Diamonds and Queensland Firebirds, this Netball World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medallist naturally has a workout schedule a lot more hectic than your average yoga-and-barre-body routine (just sayin'). So when it came to finding a test subject to trial the Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit running shoe, Kim was the perfect candidate.
Here, thanks to the added technical expertise of Nike+ Run Club trainer Sam Strutt, Kim details her experience with the Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit.
What does your fitness regime entail?
Kim: A lot of conditioning! I do a lot of short sprints and interval-based running and then I'm also in the gym a minimum of three times a week, lifting as heavy as I can to ensure I stay powerful and strong.
Sam says: The LunarEpic Flyknit's ability to combine lightweight cushioning with staggeringly good feedback from the ground makes it special. Traditionally, in order to have cushion, the runner had to sacrifice ground feedback due to all of the extra foam underneath the foot. The Lunarlon midsole and the pressure mapped outsole pods allows Kim to gain fast feedback from the ground. Quick feedback from the ground is crucial to allow a runner to run fast. The faster your brain registers that your foot has made contact with the ground the quicker that your brain can prepare your body to propel itself off the ground once again.
How much running would you do for training and/or playing netball?
Kim: I run more during pre-season where we do a lot of Tabata-style running workouts, however in season we are largely on court, so my running training comes from our agility styled workouts or court sessions. In a netball match, I would usually run between 6-10km, however that is at high intensity and in short, sharp bursts.
Sam says: As athletes, we're always searching for the right shoe to complement our training and in Kim's case, where speed is essential, a shoe that is lightweight, has a dynamic fit and is responsive is key. Nike's Flyknit has a one-piece upper that is woven precisely to offer support and breathability where needed. And the Dynamic Flywire that Nike weaves into the Flyknit upper helps to create a close and dynamic fit that locks her foot down so it doesn't slide around. The Lunarlon midsole is a soft, yet resilient foam that provides a springy response from the time your foot makes contact with the ground to the moment you spring off your toes into the next stride. When you combine these three key components together you have a versatile running shoe that makes you feel like she can run forever but also will keep up with Kim when it's time to pick up the intensity.
What was your first impression of the LunarEpics when you first put them on? How did they fit and feel?
Kim: I felt like I was walking on the moon! It's not like any other running shoe I've worn, it's super light and comfy... it felt like I was wearing a cushioned sock. It was the comfiest shoe I've worn.
Sam says: Nike leads all innovation from the voice of the athlete, so in the case of Nike Flyknit, the athlete wanted a running shoe that had the qualities of a sock: a snug fit that goes virtually unnoticed by the wearer. The addition of the mid-collar on the LunarEpic Flyknit has heightened this fit. It was designed to act like a natural extension of the leg, leaving only the fantastic sensation of cushioning underfoot.
And what about the shoe's performance?
Kim: It's lightweight, well cushioned and super comfortable. I'm all about lightweight shoes, I play on court in a Pegasus so I really enjoyed how light the LunarEpic are, too.
Sam says: Nike co-founder and innovator, Bill Bowerman, said "a shoe must be three things: light, comfortable and it's got to go the distance." Nike also conducted a study in the early '80s which discovered that as the weight of a running shoe increased, the physical demand on the runner also increased.
The Nike LunarEpic Flyknit is that perfect combination of the featherlight Flyknit upper and the ultra plush, yet still springy Lunarlon, which is also 30 per cent lighter than traditional midsoles. And the beauty of the design is how it marries the upper to the midsole. The introduction of the Flyknit mid-collar to the running shoe heightens the fit and feel and allows the foot and lower leg muscles to relax when running, which leads to improved performance.