‘What are they?!’

I’d returned to London from New York having run the 2014 marathon and was watching highlights of Kipsang and Desisa. I’d heard they’d had a bit of a duel racing into the finish line, an exciting culmination to what had been a difficult race in blustery conditions. Being the nerd I am, I was ignoring Tim Hutchings babbel about low arm carry and ‘taking it to each other’. I was watching Desisa. And all I was thinking was ‘what are on his feet?’. I knew Kipsang was wearing adidas adios boost 2 – in the build up adidas had made a fairly big deal of it as they had Dennis Kimetto break the world record in the same shoe 5 weeks earlier – but what the hell was Lelisa wearing?! Even in a close up on the podium I was still clutching at straws. As a convert from adidas to Nike, following (in my opinion) the disastrous switch from soling the Adios with ‘Boost’ instead of ‘Adiprene’, I’d been wearing the Nike Flyknit Racer on the assumption that was Nike’s go to marathon shoe. But this footage was evidence to the contrary… time for some investigative shoe journalism.

Soon after I stumbled on the following article from Sneaker Report. It documents the first 100 shoes that crossed the line that day. I came to find that the shoe Desisa had worn to 2nd place was the Nike Zoom Streak 3. 3? A few months earlier I had purchased the Zoom Streak 5 as a possible alternative to the Flyknit Racer. So why was he running in the 3? It turned out he wasn’t the only one. Stephen Kiprotich, 5th, also wore the shoe. 13th and 14th place Biranhu Kemal and Micah Kogo… that’s 4 of the top 20 in the men’s race! The same for the women, 7th place Firehiwot Dado and 10th place Buzunesh Deba wearing the ZS3. There were a few Zoom Streak 4’s and 5’s on display but mostly it was the older Zoom Streak 3 shoe that Nike athletes were wearing that day…

Maybe this was a trend thing I thought. Or maybe, if it was the Zoom Streak that Nike were having their athletes wear, they’d had a production problem with the 5’s. And the 4’s. And had to dish out some of the last pairs of 3’s they’d managed to find in time for the race? Unlikely. I dug a little deeper. Turns out the year before Sneaker Report conducted the same study. Low and behold for both the men’s and women’s race 3 of the top 10 finishers, 6 of 20 athletes, were in the Zoom Streak 3! So no fluke.

It seems for a number of years whilst other manufacturers have had athletes wear the latest incarnation of a racing shoe, the go to amongst Nike sponsored long distance runners has remained the Zoom Streak 3. Not taking my word for it? More evidence needed? Here’s a list, an impressive one, of top marathoners who have remained loyal to the shoe: Tsegaye Kebede, Dickson Chumba, Ayele Abshero, Stanley Biwott, Wesley Korir, Rita Jeptoo, Priscah Jeptoo, Florence Kiplagat… So what is the shoe all about, where has it come from, how does it differ from the latest version and why are Nike and it’s athletes sticking with it?

Thank you John from Nike Running! This vid is likely an indication of when elite runners received a pair, April 2009, nearly 6 years ago! It still uses Nike Zoom Air technology in the sole (conceived by Nike in 1995), it weighs 6.7oz (about 180g), stack height is 30mm-18mm heel to forefoot, a 12mm differential. OK, great, but nothing has changed in the newer versions 4 and 5. Same sole, same stack height, roughly the same weight… So what’s the difference? Why are these top athletes still wearing the 2010 shoe rather than the 2015 update?

Well I thought, as I own the Zoom Streak 5 (see review) why not procure a pair of the Zoom Streak 3 and find out. Easier said than done… online retailers in UK? Nope. US? Nope. eBay? Nope. Nike directly? Nope. 3 months went past and I nearly gave up all hope. Then I was lucky enough to stumble upon a pair of the shoes at a store in London. Apparently when moving premises they had found some old stock. Not only that but they had my size. And only for £56! So finally I can now make the comparison.

Weirdly perhaps, given the similarities noted above, the shoe does run differently. The first noticeable change is the upper, a firmer see-through mesh in the ZS3 as opposed to the softer engineered mesh on the ZS5. This brings two benefits to the ZS3 in my opinion. Firstly the shoe offers a little more rigidity – one of the criticisms I had with the ZS5 was that the foot would slip because the upper material is so soft, the new ‘Flywire’ technology offering no saving grace here… Secondly, the ZS3 has sort of a midfoot torsion system which is missing on the ZS5. This makes the shoe a little less flexible but at the same time makes the ride firmer, perhaps providing a little more ‘pop’. And erm that’s about it. But it does feel different! For whatever reason the Zoom Streak 3 feels more responsive. True it doesn’t ‘disappear’ on your foot, you have to lace it up properly and there is no heel counter so it can also feel like it’s slipping at the back. But maybe because of that it feels more… I don’t know, authentic? Most of all, it feels hard and fast. Winner for me.

What’s clear is that the Zoom Streak 3 is the go to shoe for Nike marathoners and Nike are happy keeping it that way. Whether this is based on athlete feedback, as above, I don’t know. Maybe they generate enough revenue from other shoes they retail so as not to be reliant on their elite athletes getting them ‘shoe specific sales’, who knows. I offer this supposition as a comparison to the adidas business model. The original adidas Adios in which Gebrselassie (v1) and Makau (v2) broke the world record was actually a super successful shoe and in fact quite similar to the Zoom Streak 3 in construction – racing flat, hard EVA platform, super breathable and lightweight mesh upper, similar midsole offset. But adidas retired the shoe in favour of the Boost. No doubt the Boost is having it’s own successes, Kipsang and Kimetto following adidas tradition of breaking world records in Boost v1 and v2 respectively. But adidas do seem super reliant on their elite athletes promoting the shoe and ‘new technologies’ to drive sales. I personally am an advocate of the natural feeling your body receives when foot striking. You get that with the original Adios. You don’t get it with the Boost. Which is why, in my opinion, adidas shouldn’t have turned their back on what was for me a winning formula. You know what other shoe you get that natural feeling, that feedback from… the Nike Zoom Streak 3…

Some deliberation and mileage is going to have to go toward deciding whether I run my next marathon in my new (old) Zoom Streak 3’s. The Nike Flyknit Racer, which I’ve marathoned in twice, has a similar profile. Namely it’s a firm racing flat, capable of marathon distance, with a super lightweight breathable upper. Maybe I should stick to what I know. But having said that I think the ZS3’s, whilst offering a little more underfoot, do have that ‘pop’ that maybe the FKR doesn’t… And to be fair if Tsegaye and Wesley have stuck with the same shoe for 5 years there must be something to say for them. That’s maybe the real ‘boost’ of confidence I need to take them on.  

 

Got up early. Like super early. As in not enough time for a coffee early. But there was still a real buzz around midtown as runners made their way in the dark to the 6am buses from outside New York Library. It felt slightly surreal, the only people awake and out, trainer clad runners amassing, quietly, stoney faced and hard eyed. I sat on the bus in the dark, the day breaking, focussing on the task at hand; a moment of calm to think about how I was gonna run this thing. It’d been 5 weeks after pb’ing in Berlin and the recovery had gone well, I’d retrained and was thinking a similar performance might be on the cards. But the infamous humps and bumps of the course and the wind meant I’d need a strategy. The bus rid offered the chance to run this over and get ready mentally. Prepare for battle.

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Getting off bus and hanging out for 2.5 hours before the start of the race was horrid but also humbling. Met a guy called Ian from Glasgow. He’d never run a marathon before. He came to NYC to hang out with friends but then decided to run it for fun and to raise money for the charity Whizz-Kidz. He was calm, collected, had made scrambled eggs that morning and bought them with. I sat on the ground for like an hour with a guy called Alex who had run the marathon ten years ago and was back for more. He gave me an idea of what to expect. He wasn’t sure he’d finish this year within five hours. Didn’t matter as he’d raised $2k for Ronald McDonald House Charity. He then pointed out that he might run with his new buddy with a prosthetic who he’d met that morning . Because he wanted to help her. As if he hadn’t already helped enough. It made my frustration at the start sitting in the cold wondering whether I was gonna be able to run under three hours insignificant. At this point I vowed to enjoy it rather than try and beast it. And if I saw anybody else in trouble (like I did going over Queensboro) then I’d offer words of encouragement. New primary goal? Take in the day and feel grateful that I had the opportunity to be there.

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The run was tough though! On Verrazano Bridge I thought I was gonna end up in the ocean as the headwind / crosswind was so strong. People were literally being buffeted across the road! This wasn’t the only bridge that hurt. There were two others that really got me. Queensboro Bridge was a killer and I really slowed up. But I knew that was gonna be hard and concentrated on effort not time. Actually Queensboro was a benchmark in the race for me as I knew that once it was done I’d be in Manhattan, nearer home – also the crowd noise coming off the bridge was insane, you could literally hear it a quarter of a mile away echoing through the rafters. Exciting! What I wasn’t expecting was Pulaski at mile 13. It wasn’t long, it was steep and the wind was head on. But at the same time the view from here was amazing.  The only other tough moment was probably the mile up (literally) 5th Ave. Again to be fair the support here was fabulous and when you round the corner into Central Park you get another kiss on the face.

Let’s talk about the crowds. They were amazing. This is what really set New York apart for me. There was crowd noise and support all the way around. And even the teams at water stations doubled up as cheerers! The diversity of the crowds was amazing. From the Italian / Hispanic and broad New York accents in The Bronx, then the music and cheer in my adopted second home, Brooklyn (GO NETS!). Williamsburg was fun, some of the billboards were hilarious, kids on stoops, several megaphones. Big up to my buddies waiting for me at 1st Avenue and at Mile 24. Harlem was of course awesome as this was where several running crews from NYC – Bridge Runners / Black Roses (thanks for meeting us and the NBRO guys on Saturday for the shake-out and Central Park preview) – and of course friends from Run Dem were stationed at Mile 21. I got a massive boost (and hug) from seeing these guys and, as always, Cheer Dem always brightens up a race and gives you an extra kick of adrenaline (much needed pre Fifth Avenue climb!).

The day was amazing. In spite of the cold. In spite of the wind. In spite of the climbs. I knew it was gonna be one to tough out so had prepared for that mentally. What I didn’t know was that the crowd support was going to be overwhelming and although the race was hard physically, it didn’t matter as psychologically the sights, sounds and cheers meant there was always a lift around every corner. It made it easy. I loved it. I’d do it again in an instant. You ain’t gonna set any records in NYC but trust me when I say you’ll remember it for a lifetime.


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Note – big up Chevy for crewing at Cheer Dem and for lending video – follow, follow, follow him on instagram!

Psyche! Been meaning to do this review for a while, but been too busy running in these shoes to find the time to write about em. But here it is, a review on my new favourite shoe, ladies and gentleman I bring you the Nike Fyknit Racer.

I had been running in adidas shoes for a while. I do still bust em out now and again. But I confess, I have recently moved brand to Nike (well for road running anyway – I also wear New Balance spikes). It was this shoe that pretty much sealed the deal. To explain why, let me offer some background. It took me a while rotating through shoe types (structured -> neutral -> racing flat) and brands (Asics -> Saucony -> New Balance -> adidas -> Nike) before I found out what I liked in a shoe; there is a footnote here actually which reads that any write up I do is a personal view as opposed to generalised profiling but if your preference is the same as mine hopefully these thoughts should serve well.

I run in ‘racing flats’ on the road. Pretty much all the time. A racing flat broadly can be categorised as a shoe designed for, well, racing. They are minimally cushioned (oxymoron?). Lightweight. Designed for a higher cadence runner, a midfoot striker, neutral gait. adidas shoes I have liked – and still like and wear from time to time – adidas Adios 2 (had three pairs and ran them in two marathons) and adidas Takumi-Sen (had two pairs and ran a half marathon in them, still my go to shoe for the occasional 5k if I can’t find my LT2’s). Things I like about these shoes are that they are flat, light and firm… they fit the profile. Then adidas introduced the Boost sole. I tried hard. I really did. It cost me, literally. 2 pairs later realised that I just didn’t get along with them. They are just too soft. I don’t get the springy thing, it’s like an additional return of energy up through your knees when you foot strike. It doesn’t feel like cushion, more like running on a trampoline. Ever tried that? Exactly. And then, shock horror, it seems that adidas started to phase out the original Adios. What’s up with that?! (See comparison of these two incarnations here). So with my old Adios 2’s on their last legs, I had to shop around for an equivalent… and I stumbled upon the Nike Flyknit Racer. I haven’t looked back.

Flyknit Racer 4

The Adios 2 reads like this in profile – 210g, 24mm in the heel, 15mm in the forefoot, a drop of 9mm and runs really firm. They encourage you to turn your stride over quickly just so you don’t have to impact for any longer than need be. Ideal. And here’s the thing. The Nike Flyknit Racer reads like this – 175g (ooo a bit lighter) and 24mm in the heel, 14mm in the forefoot so a 10mm drop. And they also run hard. Nike use the ‘Phylon’ midsole throughout the sole of the shoe which is super resilient and firm. So basically like the Adios 2!

Another reason why I prefer the FKR and why it’s my go to shoe? The Flynit. It’s amazing. It’s light, it adapts to your footshape and is, obviously, amazingly breathable. This is really important for me. When you run a marathon your feet swell. If you are wearing the Flyknit, you can start the race by lacing up tight and then the material will adapt. Not massively, you aren’t gonna ruin the shoe or gain a size just by running distance! But the upper is more elasticated than materials you find with other brands and this is a massive plus. Also the colourways are outrageous.

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Nike say that the FKR is the shoe of choice for top marathoners. This isn’t quite accurate as a number of Nike pro’s are running in the Zoom Streak. See my review of the ZS5 here. Nike really pushed the original Zoom Streak and top marathoners for a long time were winning races in the ZS2 and then the ZS3. Now we are on the 5 and you see the odd pair here and there, but actually a number of top marathoners are still running in the ZS3! I would run the Zoom Streak to marathon, but actually, I find the ‘Phylon’ material in the sole of the FKR more responsive than the ‘Cushlon’ material which is a bit softer.

To summarise, the Flyknit racer is light, it has a firm sole, the drop is designed to run 5k and all the way up to marathon, the upper is inspired and they look, well, fly. I wear them when I’m not running also. Even at work to my boss’ chagrin. Go on Nike’s site and check for updates for colourways, the latest is the ‘Hyper Punch‘. I ran (and pb’d) the Berlin marathon in this shoe and pretty much run all my long runs (and a fair amount of short runs) in them. I will be wearing the ‘Pink Flash / Hyper Crimson’ incarnation at the New York Marathon in 2 weeks… If you are looking for a fast racing flat, look no further. Sorry adidas.

TBR



The big day. Berlin Marathon 2014. The one I’d been training for. The big PB. Nerves all round. This is the Berlin write up. To be honest, it’s kind of brief and what I’ll do is elaborate on some of the training methods and build up in a subsequent post around how to train for a ‘in the region of 3 hours’ marathon. More on that later. Here goes.

Training had gone well (ish). In the run up to marathon week I ran 372 miles over 12 weeks (457 over 16 weeks) averaging somewhere around 35 miles per week – peaking at 47. My efforts were nearly scuppered halfway through when I got flu and infection in my wisdom teeth and ended up doing 4 runs in 14 days… but otherwise things went well and I had an encouraging run at the Copenhagen Half Marathon 2 weeks before the race, clocking a ‘casual’ 1:26. Looking back, I was pleased with the track sessions, interval runs and long runs but considering the mileage (I was working from a guide) I should have clocked closer to 50 miles per week… hmm makes me wonder what could have been / could be!

Let’s skip through some of the boring stuff… flew from terminal 5 (actually this is not so boring a comment, I bumped into Scott Overall in departures – obviously didn’t speak to him – Scott on the day finished 14th in a time of 2:13… fairly rapid), stayed in an Airbnb with my buddy Phil, was quite nervous, ate pasta etc. Now I really should have got more involved with the Bridge The Gap crew on the first couple of days as the hospitality, as always, looked incredible and I heard amazing things from our guys as to Run Pack Berlin being superb hosts. Next time I’ll try and make sure I hit these guys up but on this occasion I kept it really low key, probs cos I was nervous; I hit up the expo early on the Saturday and went for a quiet jog with my roomie, followed by a quiet dinner eating dinner with my other buddy (and DJ for the weekend! Christian)!! Shake-Out run pic:

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The day of the race. One of the things about Berlin that people report favourably on is the organisation and I can absolutely vouch for that. The race starts at the Tiergarten in the centre of town and the whole park is given up to welcoming 30,000 runners, ensuring they have the time and the space they need to prepare to do what they gotta do. Starting in a wooded area is genius also because it means no matter how long the queue for the facilities, nature is at hand in case of emergency! Anyway, the morning was fresh and clear, very little wind. No real humidity. You could tell that it was going to be a beautiful day and warm later on, but the organisers catering for this, start the race at 8:45am. Nervous tension at the start but also a quiet confidence. I say quiet, for some reason, Phil and I got gee’d up for the race of our lives by reciting Bon Jovi’s ‘Bad Medicine’… no idea why or where that came from…

The game plan was the following – ‘run 6:45 miles consistently through the entirety of the race. Watch the splits early on and ensure you don’t take off too fast. Cruise comfortably (if possible!) for 20 miles (and how many times did I repeat that to myself! we are cruising for 20 miles – this basically implying that a sustained effort should be kept for 20 miles) ensuring mentally that I was preparing for the real battle which came in the last 10k. Take a gel at 6 miles. Take a gel at 12 miles. Go through halfway in around 1h28. Take a gel at 18 miles. Get to 20 miles then the it’s business time, put on your business socks. Maintain effort for 2 miles. Dig deep for 2 miles. Hang on and summon all of your remaining energy and use the crowd and adrenalin to run in the last 2.2.’

So the above was the game plan and I have to say the above worked! I got a massive boost at mile 12 when friends Babs, Lara, Christian and Nonny J. gave me a shout. I also got another boost at mile 21 (ish) when Cheer Dem were out in full force:

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I don’t really remember that much of the course other than the noise at the side of the road being pretty amazing, so there must have been hordes of people come out to support. I do remember the Danish however. Now I know from running with NBRO in Copenhagen that running is big news and they love it. I didn’t know that even in Berlin there would be Danish flags everywhere. Next time I am wearing my Danish vest! Pretty concentrated on executing the plan above, I really only took in the runners around me; as in kept pace with those who looked strong and were roughly at the same cadence as I. Where I perhaps felt I was off the pace, I’d tag onto someone and just watch them navigate the course whilst I’d concentrate on my breathing and whether I needed to get fluid at the next water station. I only saw one RDC runner for the whole race – Miss Sorrell Walsh at 5k – with whom I exchanged a brief ‘good luck’ (she bossed a 3h07 by the way, securing a Boston spot for 2016 – awesomeness). It sounds like a boring strategy, ie ignoring the sights and sounds in favour of concentrating and focussing on what needed to be done. In retrospect I wish I remembered more of the initial 20 miles but really when you are that into doing what needs to be done, you don’t.

The only possible wobble I had during the race was maybe mile 24/25. I had in my mind that when I hit 23 miles I was practically home, a 5k push, just 20 minutes… it didn’t quite work like that. I had to really focus for 5 minutes or so on maintaining and digging deep as fatigue started to set in. I hadn’t been further than 22 miles in training, let alone run it at the pace I was going, so I had to concentrate on how I was feeling for a sustained period, enough so that I knew the finish line was around the corner. This is where the experience of 3 marathons previous really came in – I knew how to tough it out psychologically, knew that the end was near and that I needed to shorten my stride length, keep the cadence up, breathe and think of home. I got there.

Although much of the race was a blur, the last mile wasn’t. Turning the corner to run under the Brandenburg Gate was special. At that point I took in the crowds and even had the energy to whip them up a bit with a ‘COME ON’ in an arms raised gesture. Through the Brandenburg Gate, almost stopping as I had in my mind that this was the finish line (it’s not) then the last 500 yards. I looked at my watch at this point rather than at the clock as I knew I’d set off 1/2 minutes late, I was well inside 3hrs… this was when I realised I’d done it. I crossed the line and did an embarrassing pistol fingered salute, shooting down the pb (photos to follow), and stopped the watch at 2:57:17.

Done. Sub 3hrs. PB by 11mins. Boston qualifier. Happy boy.

What followed was as awesome… a pint of non-alcoholic beer which tasted amazing for some reason, meeting up with the above mentioned friends in front of the Reichstag for congratulatory photos, learning my buddy had smashed his pb by 40 minutes running 3h06, then eating ALL the food and partying that evening with Bridge The Gap:

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To be honest the weekend probably hasn’t sunk in yet. I am delighted that I got to where I wanted to be and mostly that I had a plan, pretty much a goal I’d set for the year, and executed it. I said 2:57. I ran 2:57. Knowing that it was there and that I went out and got it was perhaps the biggest achievement. But I didn’t do it alone. Thanks to everyone that helped me train for it, generally encouraged and supported, friends, family, everyone at Run Dem. That got me over the line as much as my legs did! On to the next. New York City. Not sure how I’ll fare, I think the 3rd marathon in 1 year could spell toughness. But what I do know now is that if you prepare mentally and physically you can get it. You just gotta go for it. Gonna do ta ting in NYC. Then big plans for 2015.

TBR.

So we haven’t had a review for some time. In fact we haven’t had anything on beardedrunner.com for a long time. My bad. Basically I have been training super hard so I sort of have an excuse. But basically don’t!. I have been saving up loads and loads of stuff to write about from reviews on <breathes in> Nike Flyknit Racer, New Balance LD500 spike, Adidas Adios Boost 2, Garmin 620 watch (could be a long write up) to training with Run Dem Crew, track routines, etc. So in the interim, let me apologise and furnish you guys with a little review on the Zoom Streak 5. Here we go.

The Nike Zoom Streak 5 is basically like the Nike Zoom Streak LT2 see my review but designed to be able to take you that little bit further. It’s a racing flat still, but whereas the LT2 is designed for track, road, cross country (apparently) and I’d say probably up to 10k for the ambitious, the ZS5 is a little bit more shoe the idea being it can take you to marathon distance if need be.

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The ZS5 is effectively a racer for half/marathon. As you can see it is pretty much designed for the road. In the past several Nike sponsored athletes have gone with the Zoom Streak as there go to marathon shoe (although increasingly it seems adidas are scooping up the leading lights). Priscah Jeptoo won the NYC marathon 2013 in the Streak – in fact the top 5 lady finishers all wore the shoe. On the guys side Tsegaye Kebede wears the shoe along with Stephen Kiprotich. However Nike seem to be moving away from kitting their marathon guys out in the Steak now in preference of the Flyknit Racer (slightly firmer, lighter shoe – more on this in another post). As you can see from the above, the shoe is made with a flat no nonsense carbon-rubber sole with wishbone type bridge in behind the midfoot. The upper is made of engineered mesh and is super breathable. The most innovative technology used for the shoe (unlike the LT2) is the ‘Flywire’ lacing system which are stiched to and support the eyelets for the laces; these provide real wrap around tight feel. Nice. The shoe is light, definitely designed with the midfoot (not really forefoot as there is too much heel which you do end up transitioning off when tired) striker in mind. The action of the shoe is such as it tilts you forward somewhat and encourages quick cadence which is cool if you want that racer type vibe. It certainly isn’t as minimal as the LT2, it provides more cush (higher stack in forefoot, midfoot and heel) whilst however using the same ‘Zoom Air’ cushioning. This material is nowhere near as firm as the Flyknit Racer and whilst responsive, I’d say is middling firmness. I think if you ran a number of miles, this cushioning would gradually become even softer and become less responsive, thus rendering the shoe a trainer rather than a racing flat. But still it’s nimble, lightweight and does offer spring initially so I’d be tempted to race this at longer distances until such point as they deaden off a bit if you know what I mean.

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What you’ve all been waiting for, some stats!

Weight: 189g
Stack Height: 30mm (Heel) – 18mm (Forefoot)
Heel to Toe drop: Er 12mm (maths)
Similar shoe: Mizuno Wave Hitogami, New Balance MR1400, adidas adiZero Boston 5
Score: er I just made this up, this is of course completely subjective and depends on a number of criteria etc but 7/10?!

Basically I got this shoe as I wanted something light, still quite zippy, to train in at say 7:30 / 8 mile pace. Something for recovery but able to run fast in if need be. I’m going to use as a trainer as the feel is just a little too soft for me to race in, I’m gonna save the for the Takumi-Sen at 5k/10k and the Flyknit Racer or Adidas Adios 2 at half marathon/marathon. I do really like the shoe though and as an intermediary shoe between the LT2 and the FNRacer they really fill a gap. I might even end up running a marathon in them. Oh and they look awesome. Obviously.

Keep it locked, more on the way. Train hard. Party harder!

TBR

I’ll be honest I have a love-hate relationship with Nike. I have for a time reserved opinion as to their credentials as a brand based on style over substance. There is no doubting Nike as a leader in aesthetic design (not including the Monarch! #monarchlife) but how do they measure up as a proper running shoe for training and racing?

I’ve owned two pairs of Nike previously. The first pair were quite early on in my running career when I was a bit heavier, a bit slower and not as ‘biomechanicaly’ efficient perhaps as now – a pair of LunaRacers with some pronation control and cushioned stack. They looked awesome, kind of neon green and grey and I was pretty happy with them. Until 8 weeks later when my knees starting aching midway through runs and I found myself ‘leaning’ a bit into my stride trying to find my midfoot. Basically they were too cushioned, felt dense and ‘heely’. I donated them to my bro. The second pair were a pair of Nike 3.0’s, a foray into the minimalist. They didn’t really work as a running shoe for me, with a soft meshed upper and the splay in the sole upon foot strike, I don’t know they never really felt fast. More gimmicky and comfortable. Sure they make you work when it comes to barefoot vibes but I suppose I couldn’t identify with this function when trying to run 10 miles in em.

So onto my 3rd pair of Nike road shoes. Having found what I feel is my shoe style of choice – the racing flat – I was keen to give the LT2 a shot. Also they are marketed as kind of a Road/XC/Track hybrid so they could fill some holes in my rotation if need be. Good purchase I felt for the pretty reasonable cost of £70. So I’ve tried them on the track for a some mile repeats, a fast 7 miles of intervals with Run Dem Crew and a 5 mile recovery run.

Features
Stack height – heel 22mm, toe 18mm, 4mm drop
Weight – 5.5oz / 155g
Structure – Zoom Air in the heel, Cushlon LT in the midsole and forefoot
Upper – Mesh with swoosh (which is big enough to double as an overlay of sorts but doesn’t)
Inner – woven inner wrap thing to stop slippage

The verdict? How does it run? Let’s start with this inner mesh thing. Here’s a picture below.

Zoom Streak 1

You can see the ‘internal arch bandage’ here, this does wrap around the foot and make for a good fit. However the comment I’d make is that it doesn’t offer the non-slip. If anything I found at speed – when cornering on track and when moving laterally in between pedestrians on a quicker run – that I did slip inside the shoe. And this wasn’t down to size. I think the lightweight nature of the upper just doesn’t offer the stability for the foot and I did find myself moving around. It’s for this reason that I’ve been avoiding the Fly-Knit’s in Nike and Adidas. I actually got blisters on inside and underside of 2nd toe I think as a result. When it comes to the upper, you’ll notice the way the shoe has bent inward. I don’t heavily pronate as much as this ‘lean; would suggest! I think the lightweight nature of the mesh just doesn’t offer the same rigidity and responsiveness of say the upper used on Adidas shoes like the Adios and the Boost. Time for another pic.

Zoom Streak 2

Heres’s the under side of the shoe. Now the Zoom Air and Cushlon LT cushioning in the sole are pretty good. Quite responsive, not much of it on this shoe – which is a good thing! If I were to have to compare, I’d say the ‘Rev-Lite’ foam you find on New Balance shoes RC1600 and 1400 is pretty similar. However I already kind of know that with those shoes – as with Nike’s – because it’s slightly softer than the dense foam in the Adios (and even actually the Boost) it won’t last. It can be a little bit ‘absorby’ rather than offering spring. This gives a feeling of it slowing a stride in a ‘deadness’ feel as opposed to feeling springy when pushing off. I think the Boost wins here for what you really should feel in a racing shoe – which the LT2 claims it is. Also the drop is just too little for me on the road. I think if it were 6mm say 20mm-14mm or maybe even 4mm but a little more sturdy, like the Takumi-Sen which sits a couple of millimetres higher, then it would work.

To surmise what we have here is a great looking, multi-functional shoe. Unfortuantely for me the extra £20 Nike could have charged by offering a slightly denser foam and a more structured upper at the cost of a few more grams would have made this ‘racing shoe’ more durable. It just feels a little bit cheap whilst looking great. I can’t see me running anything over 5 miles in them in the future… and only with a pair of Injinji on. Good shoe, just not all there. Again a little style over substance, so back to where we started Nike! Verdict – 7/10.

Plan now is to maybe try one of the marathon shoes which are supposed to offer a little more – might try the Zoom Streak 5. Catch ya later for that.

TBR