Under Armour Underfoot

Posted by Filed Under: Gear & Apparel, Shoes

underarmourshoe.jpgJust when you thought you’d figured out which running shoes you liked best, another company has thrown their shoe in the ring. Less than two weeks ago, Under Armour announced that they will be entering the running shoe market in early 2009.

According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, Under Armour will “target a consumer who doesn’t necessarily have an allegiance to a particular brand.” Wait. There are runners who are not loyal to a particular brand? I mean, I’m sure there probably are runners who aren’t brand fanatical about their shoes, but they’re kind of like hit records by 98 Degrees, which is to say that they’re few and far between. Don’t believe me? Go into any online running forums and create a post asking what brand of shoes people prefer. The responses won’t be understated, you’ll see words like “love” and “hate” being tossed around with the occasional “would give my left arm for a pair” thrown in for good measure. After all, what does a runner need with that extra arm?

At Under Armour’s first Investor Day, president and chief executive officer, Kevin Plank told analysts “Our goal is not for people to trade one shoe for another. We believe we have a better shoe.” It’s the same kind of in your face thinking that has made the brand what it is today, but if it’s true then brand loyalty won’t matter. I frequently run in Under Armour compression shirts which keep me cool and prevent my nipples from being rubbed more than an apathetic genie’s magic lamp. I believe that they do offer a quality product and as long as their running shoes don’t go click clack then I’m sure that I’d be willing to set aside the Asics for a while and give them a try, especially if they look as great as the cross trainer pictured above.

Much of the reaction thus far has discussed this news from an investor’s point of view, whether it is a good move for Under Armour and their shareholders, but if I can be honest with you, that bores me. Who cares about Under Armour’s shareholders? I’m more interested in what this news means for us as runners (with apologies to any runners who are Under Armour shareholders).

First of all, a new company in the marketplace means increased competition. My vague recollection of college macroeconomics indicates this should lead to higher quality products and lower prices as companies strive to earn our business. By way of example, when Under Armour announced that they would be introducing their cross trainers, Nike responded with the SPARQ, a cross trainer that was available a month earlier at a price that was $10 – $20 cheaper.

Another benefit of having Under Armour in the running shoe business is the extensive research department that they no doubt have behind them. One more company studying running and running shoes can only help advance the technology of the shoes we sweat in.

Not only will Under Armour be bringing their research department along for the run, but presumably they’ll need to put their marketing department to work too. This means that they’ll be advertising in, and therefore supporting, the magazines we all read, sponsoring the events we all run in and with any luck donating the race shirts that we all get to take home. It also means that we can probably expect to see some new commercials from a company that’s among the best at producing inspirational commercials. Who among us hasn’t been inspired to lace ’em up after watching a Nike or a New Balance commercial?

Finally, I’m excited about Under Armour debuting their running shoes because of the way that Pearl Izumi made their way onto the running shoe scene. They gave away free shoes to various running bloggers so that they would post reviews and generate excitement within the running community. Now if only there was some kind of comprehensive list of running blogs that Under Armour could use to start doling out free shoes…

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About Ian

Hello, my name is Ian and I'm a runner. After several years of promising to train for and run the Bolder Boulder 10K I finally signed up for it in 2005 with zero training under my belt. Shocked that I was slower than I thought I should be, I made it my goal to be faster the following year. I'm still not as fast as I should be, but I have been a runner ever since. I believe in quality miles over quantity of miles. I believe that you have to run faster in order to run faster, and I believe that I can. I believe in the Garmin. I believe in motion control and that I have an unhealthy addiction to running shoes. I believe in carb loading and tapering, even before a 5K. I believe I’ll never need to buy another t-shirt ever again. I live to run and I run for the post race spread, where the free food and drink flows like milk and honey, and sometimes even includes milk and honey.

  1. Laura on June 10th at 12:01 pm

    I should probably put a post up with the words “Under Armour” in there enough that they’ll find me when they Google their own name to find bloggers for shoe trials. However, I’ll take the easy way out and just volunteer here in the comments, because I think you said Under Armour enough for both of us. Thanks, Vanilla!

    Also, I am SO ready for Under Armour to sponsor races. Maybe this will be the end of the useless cotton participants’ t-shirts!

    Laura’s last blog post..Healthy Meal: Grilled Swordfish with Couscous and Salad

  2. Duff on June 10th at 12:24 pm

    I may be that 98 degree hit album. I go with the shoe that fits and feels good. It is part of the “what will the running store hand me next” scenario that I go through every 500 miles. Thus far I have only repeated make and model once. It adds to the spice that is the running experience. I get more jittery about that first run in totally unfamiliar shoes that I do a big race. Well maybe. Then I write about it.

    Duff’s last blog post..The Road to Cleveland: What is an extra hour?

  3. RunColo on June 10th at 3:59 pm

    I already scream “We Must Protect this House” before the gun goes off at my local 5ks, thus UA shoes were the only thing missing.

    I’m also glad you remembered the differance between micro & macro, well done my friend.

  4. P.O.M. on June 10th at 5:46 pm

    I’ll try ’em too. My loyalties can be easily swayed.

    P.O.M.’s last blog post..Looking In

  5. RazZDoodle on June 10th at 6:43 pm

    Great. That’s what you need. Another freebie. Hey, I like Under Armour too, ya know. That’s all my family wears! Even the dog has a compression shirt! Yeah, UA!

    RazZDoodle’s last blog post..Happy Anniversary to Me!

  6. Constantine on June 12th at 4:53 am

    With rising inflation, competition is welcome

    Constantine’s last blog post..?Benefits? of Viagra in Running

  7. Stephen Brown on August 11th at 9:50 pm

    I am thirteen years old, and i recently purchased these shoes. Before i got them i was running in pumas, which are great looking shoes, but are not good on the ankles. I noticed an enormous change in the way i was running on the day i ran with them. I felt faster, and lighter. They really do make all the difference.

  8. Allycat on September 2nd at 3:33 pm

    These shoes dont fit my feet well. I grew up walking around barefoot, developing a very wide forefoot, toe spread and high arch. Putting these shoes on made my forefoot feel squished, my instep feel compressed (uncomfortably) and my arch unsupported. I would not reccomend these shoes to anyone who is training in a ‘barefoot running’ fashon, because it will make your forefoot feel compressed and immoveable. Granted, I am a 6’1 female who has done MMA for over 12 years. I weigh 200 lbs (considered very heavy for a runner, though it works well in taking down a co-competitor at a match). I do have to say that the lightweight runner with very narrow feet would enjoy this shoe.

  9. Julie Smith on February 3rd at 8:03 pm

    I have used Under Armour shoes for running since last year. These feel so open and natural! I can spread my toes out without any difficulty. They are light and flexible. The material over the top of the toes is a mesh like form. My feet never get hot or sweaty and no odor has arrived yet. I run 4-5 days a week in them and have used the same pair for months now. I can’t immagine changing to another shoe right now. My feet are slim with high arches. I feel no foot pain after my runs. They are wonderful so I am very excited to see them entering the running world scene!!!

  10. Body Scrub Recipes : on October 30th at 9:40 am

    i always choose running shoes made of synthetic leather because they last longer than natural leather ‘

  11. Kitchen Towels on November 18th at 1:20 am

    you can always trust those high tech running shoes developed by adidas or nike, they are expensive but they are very good ~*: