I was very excited to get my hands on a pair of the new Salomon Index.01 recyclable road running shoes. As someone who rattles through a reasonable number of running shoes each year, I am acutely aware of how this contributes to the current climate problem.
Recycling the Index.01
Salomon not only designed a shoe that can be easily recycled, they came up with a straightforward process for the shoes to be sent to a regional collection centre to be recycled. To start the process, you simply register the shoes with Salomon when you first get them. At the end of their life, you send them back to Salomon to be recycled – dramatically reducing what goes into landfill. The TPU bottom and polyester upper are separated; the sole gets recycled into ski boots for Salomon's 2022 range, and the polyester upper is recycled into yarn.
I don’t know that I had any major expectations about how the Salomon Index .01 would perform. The bigger focus around this shoe’s launch has been around the sustainability message for obvious reasons. Aesthetically, they’re beautiful. I’m really a loud colours guy when it comes to running shoes, I like yellow and orange. I honestly feel like I’ve gone to weddings in shoes less presentable than the Index. Pre-conceptions aside, three runs and 18 and a bit miles (29km) into using them, I’ve been really impressed with how they perform on the tarmac. I cannot stress this enough: don’t sleep on the Salomon Index .01’s capability as a performance running shoe.
I found the Infiniride midsole pretty firm when first stepping into the shoe. There’s a solid chunk of the nitrogen-infused TPU between you and the ground, so there’s plenty of underfoot protection, but the feel definitely isn’t plush. I currently have a few HOKAs and a Saucony Endorphin Shift in my shoe rotation. I have a lot of history running in shoes using curvy undersides – whether they’re calling it a rocker, roller or camber – and in this case found the reverse camber geometry on the Salomon Index .01 feels completely different to what I’ve experienced with other brands (but more on that later).
To just stand in, coupled with the firmer than expected feel of the midsole, the shoe felt a little awkward. I’ll be totally honest and say I went into my first outing in them with some scepticism about how much I was going to enjoy running for the next few months in these. After all, if the main focus in making the shoe centres around sustainability, surely the performance of the shoe would be a secondary concern. Especially first time out of the gate?
Putting the shoe to the test
I had initially planned to just run five miles at base pace. However, I couldn’t quite believe how easy it was to tick over at a decent clip at such an easy effort. So I switched up my route and made it an eight miler instead. I just wanted to keep going in them. That awkward feeling I had just standing in the Index was history once I got into stride. I found I was getting decent pop out of the midsole and that the reverse camber geometry encouraged me to just keep floating along.
I want to be clear and say that as well as feeling effortless, I have the data to back this up. For context, on my base miles I really live and die by the numbers. I wear a heart rate strap that I clean and maintain religiously, and dogmatically keep those easy runs at least three beats per minute below where my Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) calculation says it should be. So there’s really zero guess-work for me about effort to pace. My HR averages and peaks are showing as lower in equivalent runs in other shoes, but my average pace has picked up slightly.
I’ve so far just used the shoe for a few easy runs (they’re still white). But I will be running in this shoe throughout its life and updating this review. I’ll be trying it out over longer runs and putting it through its paces on tempo and interval sessions. I hope to ultimately put together a broader picture of the Index.01’s versatility and durability over time.
This shoe runs small. I normally take Salomon shoes in a UK 9 but had to go up to a UK 9.5 in the Index.01.
This will be really boring for most people but if you do want to know what I think the difference is, it’s this: In most HOKAs for example, the meta-rocker shape underfoot always feels quite smooth and uniform to me – like a constant roll from heel to toe. In the ASICS GlideRide and MetaRide, I felt like there was a distinct tipping point around the forefoot that snapped you forward a bit more. In Saucony’s SpeedRoll on their Endorphin Shift, I also feel like there’s a tipping point in the forefoot but it’s rounded out a little smoother, so I tend to run with a slightly lower cadence in that shoe but a slightly longer stride length. I feel like the tipping point in the Salomon Index.01 is slightly further back, which I find a little less prescriptive and encourages a slightly higher cadence.