Color Options: Men’s in Rock/Lemon (pictured right), Women’s in Plum/Fuschia
Drop: 7 mm heel to toe
Other: Utilizes patented CloudTec™ outsole
I have a confession to make: I don’t run all that much in minimalist shoes. I love the natural feel of minimalist shoes for weight lifting, speed work, and walking around, but when it comes time to log the miles, I’m loyal to “traditional” running shoes. So loyal in fact, that over the past 5 years, I’ve always run in Brooks Adrenaline. Every few hundred miles I’d make a trip to my local running store, and after trying on dozens of pairs, I’d always come home with an updated model of the same shoe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really that boring, it’s just that when I start adding on the miles, nothing would leave me pain free and as happy as my old favorites. That is, until now. I’m proud to say that after being in a monogamous relationship with the same shoe for half a decade, I have a new love: The On Cloudrunner.
When I first checked out the On website, I was a little intimated by how fast everyone looked on there. Well, that and the fact that the bottoms of the shoes looked like the little springboards, the same kind that Olympic gymnasts, or Sonic the Hedgehog uses to propel into the air. And although I am neither a petite athletically talented woman, or a blue mammal, I was intrigued. I got the Cloudrunner, whose motto, “I make concrete easy” is a good fit for this runner who typically trains on sidewalks and paved trails. These shoes are designed for “high-impact runs, long training sessions and endurance runs”, with a target speed of 8-9.5 min/mile. After reading this, I was worried the shoes may judge me if my pace fell above 10 min/mile, but much to my relief, they offered no judgment whatsoever. When they arrived, I was taken aback at their fast-looking physical appearance and that wonderful new shoe smell. I eagerly slipped my feet in them, testing them out with a few jumps, and although I didn’t sail through the air with grace, I did feel a nice spring in my step.
The namesake “clouds” are loops of rubber (officially dubbed CloudTec™ elements) that line the bottom of the sole. When you’re running and land on your foot, the elements give way under pressure, compressing like a spring, and serving as a means to store both vertical and horizontal impacts. That stored energy is then transferred as you push off making running easier. Sure enough, as I ran, the ground felt lighter. It was as if those paved sidewalks and roads that my feet typically “thunk” down on, were instead made of the same springy material that tops running tracks. Although I couldn’t directly quantify if running was easier, it was more fun, and that’s a pretty big deal in my book.
My first few runs were delightful. I christened my Cloudrunners with a 4 mile run on paved trails, and was so impressed I took them out the next day for a 7 miler on trails and pavement. The shoes have amazing ground feel, despite their slightly-lower-than-traditional heel-toe drop (7 mm) and relatively thick soles. When running I could noticeably feel the pebbles and twigs that I was stepping on, and it was nice to feel that connection to the ground that you get with minimalist shoes, which is frequently lost with traditional running shoes. I was so enamored, that I snuck them out for an early morning speed session a few days later, wearing low cut socks. Dripping with sweat from my hard work, coupled with a dewy morning and socks that had slipped below where the shoe cradled my Achilles tendon causing a searing band of pain where the sock had slipped. This turned into a pretty sizeable blister the next day, which left my love for these shoes a little bruised. However, a few Band-Aids and a taller pair of socks later, all love was restored. I had a sprint triathlon scheduled a few weeks after I got the shoes, and I decided to put them to their test and see how they made my feet feel after a swim and bike. They were amazing. The upper of the shoe is molded in one piece, which made slipping my feet in and out very easy. I wore socks to alleviate any other hot spots on my heals, and the slight spring the shoes had made me feel fast and efficient (full disclosure, I did finish second in my age group by about 20 seconds, and I think part of that speed was the shoes). I was so impressed that I plan on wearing these shoes in an upcoming Olympic distance race and half marathon later this month. All in all, I’ve put over 40 miles on the shoes, ranging from 3 to 10 mile runs, and my love has endured.
These are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Period. Typically it takes me a few short runs to “break in” a new pair of shoes, but after the first few miles in these shoes, I knew that no “break in” phase was necessary. In fact, after getting them, all of my runs (except for one, because I forgot to bring them to the gym) for the next two weeks were in these shoes. Aside from the one issue with the heel, my feet had absolutely no complaints, which is pretty impressive since I have large wide feet and finding comfortable shoes is a typically a huge challenge. In fact, as I write my review, I’m wearing them right now. In addition to great training shoes, they’ve taken on a duel role as good shoes to wear when I’m on my feet in lab all day.
I mentioned it before, but these shoes look cool. Really cool. The compressible CloudTech™ elements make for an eye-catching profile, and the combination of lemon and charcoal make for shoes that don’t scream “I’m a running shoe”, but instead gently say “Hey….I’ll make you look good whatever you’re doing.” However, as someone with huge (size 12) wide feet who has to wear men’s running shoes, I wish they made the more fun plum/fuchsia color combination in my size, but that isn’t a complaint on the shoes, so much a complaint on being a woman with giant feet.
- Multiple uses: Endurance training – Will hold up to the rigors of many miles, Racing – light weight and comfortability, Triathlon – Uppers allow sweaty feet to glide right in during a mid-transition on a triathlon.
- Quality aesthetics – looks flashy and feels fast!
- The CloudTec™ elements help to maintain good running form while allowing for a much better sense of the way the ground feels than many other traditional running shoes.
- Fit and feel of a traditional shoe but allows your foot some room to move and flex.
- The previously mentioned Achilles tendon blister when wearing low cut socks was a low moment. The heal fabric is a little rough, but taller socks ameliorate this issue.
- The shoelaces are a little long. They do come in two colors, which is nice to give you the option on your shoe’s aesthetics. However, the laces were so long that even when tied a size-able amount of lace floppage took place.
- No wide or narrow sizes available. I have wide feet, and ordered a size up to accommodate which turned out to be a perfect choice.
On’s Cloudrunner lives up to its name and motto. The Cloudrunner offers ultimate comfort with no “break-in” period needed. They hold up to long endurance runs as well as shorter faster runs. They offer a noticeable springiness which helps support good running form and a midfoot strike. They do, in fact, make running on concrete easy (err…easier than my old shoes), and this, combined with their impressive aesthetics, has carved them out a premier spot in my current running shoe rotation.
If you’re looking for a place to try on a new pair of Cloudrunners, check out Berkeley Running Company!
Liz is a grad student who loves science, triathlons, dinosaurs, geomicrobiology and cake. She can frequently be found teaching spin classes or doing science outreach. Over the past five years, she has run almost a dozen half marathons (PR 1:54), and is now breaking into the triathlon scene with her University’s Tri team.