Road Racing Success: ASICS Hyper Speed 4 Review

The ASICS Hyper Speed 4 might be your next favorite racing shoe. They’ve been my top choice for years, worn for 5k races, hill workouts, track intervals, and 10 mile road races. While I love their versatility, what I like even more is their durability.Hyper Speed 4

Even after a lot of races and workouts, the Hyper Speeds are still kicking. Once in awhile I’ll even wear them casually (hey, I’m a running nerd). I credit the sole, which isn’t too stiff or too hard. If you’ve ever owned a pair of Saucony Kinvaras, you know that the soft sole deteriorates quickly. I only got about 250 miles on them before they were retired.

For those looking for the most minimalist racing shoe on the market, look elsewhere. The Hyper Speed 4 has a substantially raised sole for a racing shoe and weighing in at 6.6 ounces it’s definitely not the lightest.

That’s fine with me. When I shop for a road racer, my ideal shoe has a relatively low weight, some stability (but no medial post) in the form of a decent midsole, and a low heel. The Hyper Speed fits and provides a great balance of these factors for a great all-around road racing shoe.

They key word here is road racing shoe. I would not wear these shoes for a trail race unless I knew the surface was smooth and not very technical. I also wouldn’t wear these shoes for a track race. They’re too heavy and I’d prefer a track spike. The one exception might be a track 10k; given the distance, I would consider wearing the Hyper Speeds.

ASICS describes these racers as having a “vented midsole and outsole that minimizes weight and maximizes breathability. Also note the wide platform…” While I agree that the midsole is vented, the outsole (upper) isn’t quite vented.

The upper is a combination of synthetic leather, mesh, and some plastic. The mesh seems a little thick sometimes and my one real complaint about the Hyper Speeds is that my feet can get hot in them while I’m racing. This typically happens during a summer race and rarely during workouts unless the temperature is very high.

The vented midsole can also get small pieces of rock or gravel stuck in it if you’re running on trails. I’ve never found this to be a limiting factor on performance, but it can be annoying if you transition to roads and there’s a clicking sound with every foot strike.

ASICS Hyper Speed 4 – Appearance

Overall I like how the Hyper Speeds look – mostly white with flashes of red. I prefer bright shoes so in a perfect world these would be much flashier but it’s not something to complain about. In a road racing shoe, the most important thing to consider is performance.

Hyper Speed 4

Like I mentioned before, the sole is a medium height – much lower than most trainers but perhaps average for most racers. For the experienced road racer, I might recommend less shoe for 5k-10k races if you don’t need the support and you’re chasing competitive times. Those who need a little extra support, like me because I over-pronate, extra upper material and more of a sole gives me a smoother ride.

Hyper Speed Performance

My experience with the Hyper Speeds has been outstanding. On a track or road, the shoes have great grip. One caveat is that the sole can get slick on a wet track so be careful if you’re doing a workout in the rain.

For races of 8k – half-marathon, I couldn’t imagine wearing anything else. To protect your legs from the beating of the roads, the Hyper Speeds are a great option. Anything with less support would leave my legs fried after a longer race and may prevent me from continued training.

As for the marathon, I’m undecided if I would race 26.2 in these shoes. Call for comments: Have you raced a marathon in the Hyper Speeds? How did they hold up? How did your legs feel afterward? Please let us know in the comments!

These racers can be used successfully as a transitional shoe to more minimalist options like Vibram Five-Fingers, New Balance MT101’s (I own a pair of these and they are awesome), or the Saucony Hattori. The firmer, more substantial midsole and the supportive upper will help you get used to the minimalist aspects of the shoe before moving to something with much less stability.

The Hyper Speeds fit true to size in my opinion. I am a size 10 in almost every shoe and the same is true for these. The toe box is wide so keep that in mind when ordering. If you like a snug fit, you may have trouble adjusting to these shoes. Even though I like a wide toebox, sometimes I need to tie the Hyper Speeds tightly because the toe box feels just a tad too roomy.

When I first started wearing these shoes, I went for a tempo run and had trouble getting comfortable in them. I felt like the shoes were slipping off my feet, even though they were snug around the upper and ankle. The silver lining here is that you’ll probably never get a black toenail.

After about 10 miles, you’ll wear them in and it will be easier to tie them tighter and you won’t notice the wide toe box too much. All in all, it’s not a reason to skip over this versatile racing shoe.

One last thing I want to mention is that there is essentially zero arch support in the Hyper Speeds – something that I love about these shoes. I have a low arch and any running shoe that has a somewhat pronounced arch support gives me blisters. Especially in a racer, I want a shoe that has a neutral (flat) insole and doesn’t rub against my arch.

I recommend the Hyper Speeds for runners looking for an introductory road racing shoe or one that has a good amount of support. Unlike a true minimalist shoe, it has a fair amount of cushioning but a low heel to toe drop – perfect for racing.

The ASICS Hyper Speed 4’s can be purchased at Amazon for cheap.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Hyper Speed 4. What distances do you like racing in with them? If you don’t wear them, what racing shoe do you prefer?

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Comments

  1. christa says:

    I wear these and love them . . . alternating with VFF. They got a poor review in my tri magazine a year or so ago, due I think to the minimal support, which of course is why they’re great. Lots of leaner and lighter shoes out there now but I need something I can beat up on the road . . . thanks for the ratification!

    • Nothing wrong with shoes of all types! As long as it’s not too beefy (think: Brooks Beast) I think it has a place in a runner’s lineup.

  2. I do quite like the hyperspeeds but have found the red rubber under the forefoot starts to breakdown and wear off quite quickly, I am a forefoot runner but have not had this problem with my other shoes.
    My favourite shoe for 1/2 and full marathons is the Nexton neutral racer.
    for 5-10k I like the hyperspeeds or Spira competitions.
    For trail running and racing the New Balance 101 is a brilliant shoe, very light and flexable with just enough cushioning to give a great ride!

    • I love the NB 101 too, I own a pair! I haven’t noticed the rubber wear-down of the Hyper Speeds, but that may because we have slightly different foot strikes. I’ll have to check out the Nexton shoe, haven’t heard of that.

  3. Opps sorry Fitz typo error I meant to say Newton!
    Yes I agree we all have slightly different running form which can have different effects on shoe wear, I have a feeling the Hyperspeed is designed for heel or mid-foot strike and maybe not my forefoot striking action.
    Yes the 101 is a fantastic shoe, I’d rate as the best trail shoe I’ve ever worn in my 18 years of running and they are even great on the road too:]
    P’s. I’m having trouble recovering from a torn calf muscle any chance of doing an article on treatment and recovery from this injury?
    cheers Rick

    • Samsonite! Makes more sense now 🙂 I don’t really know much about torn muscles – never had one myself so I’ve never looked into it. It’s a serious injury, so I’d talk to your doctor/PT about it.

  4. Terrific review! I just purchased a couple of pairs on sale and they have quickly become my staple running shoe for runs up to 10 miles. Very simply designed but enough shoe to keep my feet from getting trashed.

  5. Hi Jason,

    I’ve just bought these as my first “less than heavy” shoes and plan on following your advice and introduce them *very* slowly but I have a question for you: I’m currently following the FIRST approach and I run 3 times a week (recovering from little injuries I decided to try something different). This means I’m unsure what workout to use to start introducing less shoe:

    – the intervals one is shorter BUT subjects the feet to more impact
    – the tempo run is shorter than the long one but is also faster so more impact
    – the long run is slower hence less impact but longer hence less impact for way longer

    which would you use as the workout to try and introduce less shoe? I’m kinda leaning towards the middle hence the tempo run

    Thanks!

    • I’d wear them for just the tempo portion of your second run. So if it’s 2 mile warm-up, 3 mile tempo, 2 mile warm-down you wear the shoes for the middle 3 miles at tempo.

      • thanks! I had thought about using them only for the warm-up or cool down but not only the tempo portion.

        Will do, cheers

      • FYI over the last month I’ve used them once a week for my tempo run as suggested with great results (never more sore than usual, I’d argue less) so yesterday I wore them for my medium-long of 14 miles as well and what can I say, felt great and today I feel good too.

        Thinking about making them my default shoes but then I need something else for variety, maybe Kinvara 3: heavier and “taller” but with smaller drop. Will definitely run the half marathon in mid-Feb in the hyper speed, not sure about my target marathon in September (Berlin) but there’s plenty of time for that!

        In any case just wanted to say thank you for the original suggestion 🙂

        Marco

  6. For a lightweight, biomechanically efficient and experienced runner like yourself I think the hyperspeed is shoe enough for a marathon. I don’t own a pair myself but I do run marathons and half marathons in Asics Tarther, which is also neutral but just slightly heavier and that works just fine for me. For half marathons I might also use even lighter shoes such as the Adizero Hagio or the NB 1600 RC.

  7. I did apparently 🙂 based upon pictures I’ve seen on you running on this blog and based upon your level of running, Haile Gebresselaisse pronates significantly as well but apparently that’s not a problem and did not prevent him from breaking the marathon WR in a pair of neutral Adizero Adios.

Trackbacks

  1. […] You can read a full review of the Hyper Speeds here. […]

  2. […] Your racing shoes. New shoes can be a gamble – what if they give you blisters? Or surprisingly slippery when it’s wet? Or too narrow at the heel/toebox/midfoot? Your racing shoes should have at least 10-20 miles in them so you’re comfortable in them, know how they respond to your stride, and are aware of exactly how they feel. I stick with my Hyper Speeds. […]