Nike Free Run Shoe Review

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Reviews, Running Gear
Tags: , , , ,

MSRP: $85

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pros: Lightweight, fashionable, comes with Nike+ Sportband sensor space in bottom of shoe

Cons: Light on support for long distance running or heavy use, no motion control for runners with pronation issues

Runner: Marnie Kunz

Mens light blue and black Nike Free Run+ shoes.

The Nike Free Run+ is a sleek-looking running shoe with a wide variety of color combinations for men and women. The lightweight shoe offers an ode to “natural” training methods, which rely on little restriction and minimal guidance for foot movement, with the intention of allowing the body to move more closely to its natural form. In contrast with high-stability shoes or motion control models, the Free Run+ is more flexible and less rigid.

I was pleased with the aesthetics of my Nike Free Run+ shoes, as they appear more stylish and modern than a lot of the heavier, chunky-looking running shoes I normally trudge around in. In addition, there are so many color options to choose from, so you can go as bright or muted as you want with your kicks.

The shoe’s flexible, breathable nature made breaking them in quick and painless, and I felt comfortable running in them right away. As a longtime Nike Air Max wearer, I wasn’t sure how quickly my feet would adapt to the new model of shoes, but they seemed to fit like a second skin.

I was happily logging in miles – on the road, tracks and trails – for a few months before hitting a snag in my Free Run+ relationship. I started training for longer distances and, after completing my first 12-mile run in the shoes, my ankles and knees felt like they’d been beat with a hammer. After several days to recover and refrain from running – which seemed like eons in runner’s time, I was able to ease back into a training program, clad in new shoes, this time with much more support, and yes, some added bulk.

I still use my Nike Free Run+ shoes for short treadmill or outdoor runs, but since I began training for half-marathons and beyond, I have not regularly used the shoes. I’ve talked to other runners and done some research, and come to conclude that the Nike Free Run+ shoes can be useful for training, but are not ideal for long distances or uneven, rough terrain. Individual foot type also comes into play, as some runners need more support than others. I have neutral arches and no significant history of injuries. If you are injury-prone, training for long-distance races or have pronation problems, I would recommend shoes with more support.

The Nike Free Run+ is a stylish shoe for beginning runners with no special requirements, or for fitness runners who log in a few miles a day on the treadmill, but I would not recommend the shoe for long distance runners or those with flat feet, high arches or a history of injuries.

  1. Sarah says:

    I watched the Boston Marathon last week, and this was, by far, the shoe of choice for the majority of the marathoners, which I found interesting.

    I’ve started to venture into the world of minimalist running (as in I got Vibrams and am reading “Born To Run,” which is a very very interesting and awesome book), and I’m kind of fascinated by it. I guess I just don’t completely understand how this shoe it minimalist–it just seems that nike (and other companies, too) have found a way to make a really basic sneaker appealing to a larger range of runners by calling it “minimalist,” making it lighter, have a very basic (almost non-existent?) support structure, and throw wild colors on it. I guess I just don’t get the has-a-raised-heel-and-limits-foot-motion-and-still-allows for heel-striking nike free shoe offers anything that isn’t better found in another shoe. But i haven’t tried these shoes on before… ha and after your review, I’m not sure that I will!

  2. Marnie says:

    Thanks for the input Sarah! That is interesting that a lot of the Boston Marathoners wore the Free Run, I didn’t know that. In the shoe’s defense, I do feel like I run a little bit faster with them than with regular running shoes because they are so lightweight. But this would be likely to happen with any minimalist running shoe, I would think. I agree with you that the Nike Free Runs do seem to be high on fashion, lower on functionality. I need to read “Born To Run,” and I’m interested to see how your Vibrams work out, I’ll see if you have anything on your blog about them. Happy running!

    • Sarah says:

      “Born to Run” is totally fascinating. Definitely put it on your list!

      And I’m slowly working on a vibram post–video(s?) will be involved, so it is quite slow in the making. Mostly because I am so horrible at making videos… but. it’s coming!

  3. Marnie says:

    Ok I will! And I am excited to see your video post! I know what you mean about videos, I have a bunch I need to do for this blog but it is hard to get the right setting, lighting and sound going.

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