Do laceless sneakers actually make a difference for runners?

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As a certified sneakerhead (my collection currently stands at about 45 pairs and counting), I can attest that all of the details matter: the color, design, the feel of the foot strike, and yes, even the laces. Or so I thought.

But, when I started to notice major footwear makers were dropping new, slip-on iterations of their best-selling kicks—among them Adidas with its uber-popular UltraBoosts and Nike with several of its top sellers, including the new Air VaporMax—I started to question whether my attachment to tying was necessary. So, I decided to find out if the lack of laces was purely an aesthetics choice, or if doing away with them all together could actually improve your performance somehow.

As it turns out, the mechanical differences between lace-free sneakers and ones you have to tie up are minimal, according to Ben Herath, vice president of design for Adidas Running. “With both shoes, we aimed to create the same level of performance, same level of fit, and the same feel,” he explains. “You can confidently run a marathon in the UltraBoosts, with or without laces. It’s the idea that we can help make running one step closer.”

“It’s the idea that we can help make running one step closer.”

Perfecting performance details continues to be a priority for major sportswear brands who aren’t satisfied with the “if-it-ain’t-broke” ethos. Here, Herath says the goal was “to be more simple [in terms of construction] and more beautiful, aesthetically speaking.”

It also helps runners cut down on the human error of getting tripped by their own trainers. Herath says a marathoner once told him that “if her laces come undone, her race comes undone.” Aside from eliminating such stressors, there’s another added bonus to this new sneaker trend: Knowing that you’ll never again have to deal with the frustration of trying to un-do a double knot.

Hey runners, listen up: Make sure you learn these six essential stretches for before and after every run. Then, browse the sneakers that trainers love.

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