So, I must confess that I have owned various Nike models on earlier occasions (Free 3.0, Lunarknit, Pegasus 28) and barring the Pegasus, I have never enjoyed the running experience in them. For one, their full sizes never fit me well and on most runs over 15k, I ended up with blackened toenails. So when the PR team sent over this pair and told me this was pretty much the last word in distance running, I knew I had to try these on, even if just to reassert that Nike is not all that it is made out to be.
The shoe, out of the box, was the lightest thing I had ever held, definitely the lightest I had ever come across. The top is a stiff fabric mesh that runs along the contours of the foot making for a sleek silhouette. The top on this pair was a mix of white, black and fluorescent green and it looked really good. Looked rather professional too. It was the kind of look that you wouldn’t want to be in this shoe and then run a 2-hour plus half marathon; it would show you up for someone who doesn’t deserve it. And that’s just going by looks!
The sole is a light layers of foam-like substance and although semi-hard to touch, is pretty flexible. What surprised me was that the shoe in spite of being one of the pricier options as far as running gear goes, did not accommodate for the Nike+ chip. This may have been because the chip would make the mid-sole a tad stiff but I know that the Free range is compatible with this technology. I don’t know if I liked it or not for the Nike iPhone app had been a primary influencer in my previous purchases. Inasmuch as I was impressed by the look and feel, I was still a tad disappointed, for, apart from the weight, the shoe seemed to be rather ‘simple’.
Finally, the run. Being light, it feels like next to nothing. You almost forget they are there. A caveat though, don’t lace them too tight for what feels snug in the beginning can turn constricting and painful later. They don’t come off and hold the foot well in place even when not tightened excessively.
The run quality was great; the shoe gave me both control and speed – I went faster and felt nimble on my feet even after a good few 2km-laps. I was trying the shoe on my usual track+trail mix and the shoe handled bother fairly well. While on the road the stiffness helped give a lovely bounce back, quite literally putting a spring in my stride, on the tracks the shoe remained stable enough to avoid any ankle stress. It did get dirty very easily in the dirt though. A few runs on, the shoe looks old and nothing like the shiny new beauty I had extracted from the pack.
The size remains a concern and I wish I could have had a half size bigger but with a lighter pair of socks I can just about get it right. But I would think twice before attempting an endurance run in these. But, mind you, the shoe does say the words “Road” and “Racing” in rather bold lettering on the inside so, in case I missed that…
All in all, a great shoe, in fact a landmark shoe for me, considering how it took Nike from being an avoidable brand to a seriously enjoyable one.