Disclaimer: I received a pair of Ampla Fly to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
It is pretty obvious that the Ampla Fly are not like other shoes. They are the result of a LOT of research into ways to better utilize the striking force of the foot. In a “normal” shoe the energy is lost into the ground. These shoes feature a one-of-a-kind carbon fiber plate, called a FORCEPOWER Plate, running the length of the shoe and forming the angled piece. The FORCEPOWER plate gathers the energy of the footstrike and uses it maximize toe-off energy. The shape of the shoe also encourages a mid-foot strike and stronger toe-off. All that said, the interior of the shoe is still nice and soft on your foot so you don’t feel like you are running on a really solid piece of carbon fiber. The story of the Ampla Fly is actually fascinating and worth a read here.
One of the most fascinating things I learned in the process of researching the Ampla Fly is that, when running, the force on the ground can equal up to 8 times the body weight of the runner. Crazy right? A shoe that helps capture that energy and uses it rather than losing it is well worth trying!
These shoes fit very true to size. I ordered an 8.5 and they fit great. My feet are a little on the wide side and I found that the toe box was just roomy enough. I went up to 5 miles in these shoes with no discomfort. I did relace them to let them widen a bit, but realistically could have run in them with no discomfort either way.
The Ampla Fly are certainly heavier than any of the other shoes I run in. The carbon fiber plate on the bottom is obviously going to add weight. That said, I never noticed the difference once they are on my feet.
One thing that does take some getting used to is the slipping in the heel. Because the sole of the shoe does not flex (due to the plate) the heel will slip on your foot. Relacing your shoe to lock it onto your heel more can make it less, but because of the shoe build it will have a little motion. A standard shoe can bend and flex with your foot, but the FORCEPOWER Plate prevents the shoe from flexing. I have never gotten blisters from this and haven’t noticed it causing any problems. my feet are not particularly sensitive but I also did not go out of my way to prevent any discomfort. If you get heel blisters very easily this may not be the perfect shoe for you, but otherwise the benefits of this shoe more than make up for the odd feeling.
I am naturally a mid-foot striker when I run, so it wasn’t a huge transition for me to run in the Ampla Fly. That said, when I try to run faster I have apparently been using awful and inefficient form. I had no idea. What I did know is that my toe-off portion of my stride was no good and probably non-existent. Mostly I just pulled my legs along. Great picture right? I had honestly tried to change my stride in the past to be more efficient, but got nowhere.
I started out running my two mile loop by my house in the Ampla Fly and had no trouble adapting to running in them. As with any new shoe it is probably smart to keep your mileage lower at first and build up. The longest run I did was five miles but I would have no problem going further and intend to wear these shoes for my next half marathon.
The lower flap caused me some concern at first because I wasn’t sure what would happen if you did heel strike in this shoe. So of course I tried it! At slow speeds to avoid bodily harm 😉 First off: heel striking in these shoes is hard to do! The Ampla Fly makes your foot want to land the right way. That said, if you do heel strike in them there are no catastrophic consequences…it’s just not comfortable. You won’t hit the lower flap and wipe out face first, but the shoe will ease you out of the heel strike habit. Which can only be a good thing right?
One thing this shoe is not good for is off-roading. It is very much not a trail shoe! Can you imagine getting a stick or rock stuck in there?! Again this wasn’t an issue for me because I still do plenty of road running while training. The sidewalk I run on is closed in one section for construction and I did manage to repeatedly run through a tiny patch of grass and a little loose gravel without any issues.
After Ampla Fly
As a shoe intended for training, the benefits when you run in other shoes afterwards is important. I just ran a trail half marathon this past weekend and, of course, ran in my trail shoes. The difference was actually very surprising! Other than changing to the Ampla Fly I have made no effort to change my stride or form yet I found myself running much more easily and actually pushing off my toe. When I hit level spots on the trail where I could kick it up a bit, I think my jaw actually dropped at one point because my legs and feet were doing something totally new and great. For the first time I felt like I was actually pushing off in my stride like you see all the really good runners do. Now this isn’t a magic fix and I am probably not going to qualify for Boston or anything, but it felt GOOD. Like really good.
You won’t find Ampla Fly in stores. To avoid middle-man markups and to make sure that each customer receives personal attention from an Ampla employee, the Ampla Fly is only available online and possibly at expos where there is an Ampla booth. Obviously this is a big purchase to make online without trying the shoe on, so it is also good to know that Ampla has a 30-day, no questions asked return policy…plus free shipping and returns!
I would give the Ampla Fly a 10/10. They are the training tool I never knew I needed. Now I can’t imagine running without them. They make changing your stride easy and the payoff is huge.
Do you have questions about my experience with the Ampla Fly? Let me know!