Aka the most expensive trainers I’ve ever bought. I justified it as a wedding present to myself…plus I could use my 10% student discount on the Nike website which softened the blow a little.
I bought these shoes because I was intrigued, in the past I haven’t loved Nike shoes for running, although I do own a number of casual pairs and gym trainers. But there was so much hype around them, and runners that I followed on social media seemed to really like them…
So I placed the order and anxiously waited for my parcel to arrive..
The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% look a lot like the traditional Nike Zoom Fly but with a platform that wouldn’t look out of place in the 90’s (Baby Spice, eat your heart out). So, they look a little funky, however they are so instantly recognisable, especially in the baby blue and red colour way, that I received knowing looks from runners around the world.
Plus they are certainly the lightest trainers I’ve ever bought/worn – perfect for travelling – although I was so worried about them getting lost that I carried them in my hand luggage around California and Hawaii!
So, what about the functionality of the shoe?
They were created around the Nike Breaking2 project and designed to be the lightest shoe possible, providing maximum cushioning with forward dynamic propulsion. For those that have been put off by large heels (like the Hoka One One shoes), this one is a bit of a monster with 31mm of sole and an 11mm drop from heel to toe. This supposedly reduces impact on the achilles and forces you to run forward, it took a little getting used to but it definitely helps when you’re a heel striker to force you more onto a mid/forefoot strike.
What makes it special, aside from the height of the sole, is what the sole is made of. Using a lightweight foam called ZoomX, the shoe is designed to give up to 85% energy return (the Runner’s World tested it and found an 80% return, the highest ever recorded in their lab!). There’s a carbon plate embedded in the midsole, this is designed to create a smooth ride and to restrict how much the toes can bend in push off – a common cause in energy loss.
The 4% relates to the claim that they aim to improve running economy by 4%… and it seemed to do just that in the Runner’s World tests, with their athlete experiencing ‘4 percent less muscle activity in the quadriceps, gastrocnemius (calf), and tibialis anterior (shin) muscles’, (obvs I don’t have that sort of data, however I did feel like I was very light on my feet during my honeymoon runs/race).
Interestingly, they’re a unisex shoe – which I’m not at all adverse too, but I did find I had a lot of room in the toebox area, probably to accommodate for wider mens feet. As someone who often gets blisters on my toes, I actually really appreciated the extra space and have run a couple of half marathons in them with zero blister issues.
I wanted to hate these shoes, partly because I though that at £200 they were overpriced and all part of the Nike hype. But I didn’t…
Far from it.
I loved the shoes on the roads, they really do provide a lovely bounce, helped improve my form, and made me feel badass (which in my book, goes a long way to making me run better lol).
However, these are not great on any kind of uneven trail, I found that there wasn’t much stability in the shoe when the ground beneath was not flat road.
Furthermore, although I haven’t worn mine enough for this to start happening, the main feedback I’ve seen is that the sole is just not designed to last – certainly not the 300-500 miles that a traditional running shoe does. Nike get around this by saying it’s a racing shoe, and encouraging you to buy a pair of the Nike Zoom Fly to train in…just another £130 then.
The verdict? If you’re trying to get faster at all costs and have money to spend, then these are the shoes for you. I think they could make a great marathon shoe, I mean, if they’re good enough for Shalane… However, if you can only afford one pair of running shoes at a time, these are unlikely to give you value for money.
Ultimately, these have become a favourite pair of racing shoes, and I’ll probably wear them for at least one of my spring marathons, and certainly road halfs – however, I certainly won’t be bringing them out much during the winter months. There’s far too much mud and debris around and I don’t want to ruin these beauties…