Like most sport-based products, performance footwear is manufactured and marketed to do more than just protect your feet on the field. Brands do their best to sell the concept of an optimum performance through the energetic colorway, an expensive signature athlete, and the carefully chosen name. Whether a sneaker's theme leans towards the aggressive (think Torch, Fire, Launch, or Soldier) or natural (Eagle, Cumulus, Trail, Storm, or Drift), there are only so many iconic names to go around. These are The 10 Most Common Performance Sneaker Names and Why They're Used.
No. 10 - Villains, Predators, and Weapons
Surprisingly, there are more villains than heros in the footwear game. Think bad to the bone with Li-Ning's Villains, Converse's Weapons from back in the day, and the ever-relevant adidas Predator legacy, not to mention Nike's approach to marketing Kobe Bryant via cheetah, snake, poison dart frog, and shark. Under Armour will continue to "Protect This House" with more poisonous themes this Spring, so expect to see more deadly prints and patterns in 2013.
No. 9 - Evo
Puma's EvoSPEED Collection made history last year with a little help from Usain Bolt, breaking the world record in the men's singles 100M race. Further aiding the constant evolution of athletic footwear, barefoot running brand Vivobarefoot rolled out their Evo II for a minimal yet sturdy model. Under Armour currently offers an EVO apparel collection and Asics offers a GEL-Evolution runner, further proving that sport is constantly evolving.
No. 8 - Advance
Advancing is important in life and in the game, so it's an easy go-to name for any performance sneaker. The adidas Advance came at a time where stability was everything in the running world, but who can't love the classic look of this runner now. The Jordan Melo M8 Advance (above) can make any player feel elite, and Reebok took the Advance into a whole new fitness realm when it released alongside the toning footwear 4 years ago.
No. 7 - California
Naming a shoe after such an adventurous state naturally lends itself to being an athletic shoe, one best suited for relaxed forms of skateboarding, tennis, or scenic runs. K-Swiss recently produced a California runner, Vans' drew from their west coast roots to create today's California Collection, and the Puma shown above eventually became tennis star Guillermo Vilas' signature shoe.
No. 6 - Ride
For athletes just in it for "the ride", the list goes on and on. Names include the Mizuno Wave Rider, Puma Easy Rider, adidas UltraRide (above), and the more popular Puma Fast Rider. Many runners refer to their running experience as a "ride" in reference to how a runner transitions from heel to toe, so to describe this as easy, fast, or the ultra-ride is a comfort to running consumers everywhere.
No. 5 - Boston
Named after the world's oldest annual marathon and on of the five World Marathon Majors, the Boston is a lofty title for any runner or shoe of choice. The Nike model (above) was re-named the Boston after John Anderson won the 1973 race in 2:16:03. Since then adidas has taken over the Boston theme as the official supplier for so many of Boston's elite runners.
No. 4 - Wave
The Mizuno Wave technology has owned the tidal theme since 1998, but that's not to say that other brands haven't picked up on the concept. The Nike Air Max Wavy (see above) was a forgettable release in 2010 that drew a very literal inspiration from a wave, much like the Fila Skele-toes Wave collection that had barefoot runners adapting to shock waves from the ground up.
No. 3 - Glide
Comparing gliding to running is wishful thinking, but most brands adapt the dreamy word to describe the gazelle-inspired gait we all strive for. The adidas Supernova Glide 5 is an equipped shoe at over 11 oz with a slick look for distance runs, Nike's well cushioned Lunar Glide 4 fullfils the need for speed, while Merrell's Mix Master Glide is ready to get down and dirty for your next mud run. Glide on, runners, glide on.
No. 2 - Ghost
Did you know that "ghosted" is a word? It means to glide smoothly and effortlessly, which is a perfect description for the experience the best performance shoes aim for. Nike created their Ghost Racer in 1991, Mizuno's Wave Ghost hit the market in 2009, Brooks Running is on their fifth model of their stability runner Ghost, and adidas keeps players like Josh Smith and Dwight Howard dropping points in the adiZero Ghost 2.
No. 1 - Marathon
Product names like "race" and "marathon" make sense as these words are already instilled in the everyday vocabulary for runners. Running a marathon in the Marathon makes complete sense, which is what Bill Bowerman was probably thinking when he churned out the first model in 1972 (shown above). His Nike Marathon brought a raised heel to racing shoes, New Balance unleashed the 1600 Marathon at 5.8 oz last year, and the adidas Marathon 10 is built for runners seeking extra stability on the 26th mile. Since the name seems to be used by every large brand, expect to own a pair or two in your lifespan even if you never run one.