Long Distance Free is here! Now, personally I am not going disguise my scepticism over this shoe. It look great but how does it function? How does it feel underfoot? And can it really go the 20miles people are suggesting? I found out by doing a quick 5k test run in it them the other day!
- Drop height: 4mm (24mm in heel, 20mm in forefoot)
Firstly, as a Nike fan we can see that the outsole we have come to know and love with the hexagonal flex grooves, still figures in the free. This provides flex through multiple planes and gives that barefoot flexibility. In relation to the 5.0 flex it is less potential giving us the idea it has a tad more stiffness for the longer distance. The heritage of the waffle outsole is also incorporated in this flex.
On the lateral heel and at toe off BRS-1000 (a durable rubber) is applied to give extra abrasive protection at initial contact and toe off. One criticism is at toe off I was very very aware of the extra material which really started to hurt and irritate my big toe after 3/4km.
Midsole on this shoe is made of lunarlon foam. I have spoken about this foam in other blogs but ultimately it is ultra soft, light weight and responsive. The name ironically came from materials being used by astrophysicists in the US and the Nike adapted it and put it in shoes interesting right?! The midsole is also ribbed at the sides, aiding with the responsive compression and overall bouncy feel of this shoe. The midsole is also not completely affected with the flex groove cuts either- being only a third of the way cut into the midsole. This again has given this free a slightly less flexible feel-more shoe like certainly.
For me this is what gives this shoe the edge over any Nike shoe. It combines a mixture of engineered mesh with flyknit to give the most incredible locked down feeling over the foot. The best description I can give is like a slipper sock feel with a seatbelt round your foot. (Yes I’m super technical there 😂) The fly wire around the midfoot adds to the lock down feel, while the heel counter is so unobtrusive you’re hardly aware it’s holding your foot! The photo on the right below also shows the partial inner sleeve which gives this incredible feel. Breathability is great especially in the toe box region. This upper looks and feels seamless. Bravo Nike Bravo 👏🏽
For me this shoe felt great to run in. I have to say the contact under big toe is a big downside for me. Maybe it’s something I need to adapt to-we shall see over time. Personally a midsole THAT soft however will still not be able to do lots and lots of mileage and survive. It vastly depends person to person weight of the person included (seriously midsoles break down quicker with heavier people). I would urge caution when taking this shoe on long runs straight away if you are not used to the feeling of Frees or racing shoes with low drops. It can cause calf and foot problems if you’re not strong enough lower leg wise! The Upper however is phenomenal, can’t sing its praises enough.
Will it cause me to change my racing shoe from the Zoom elite to this? No simply. Will it be a great tool to use in my up coming training for short speedy runs and intervals? Hell yes. Let’s hope my big toe agrees!
Any questions whack em below 😊