Last October, I set a 38:46 PR in a 10K road race. It was a PR by default since it was my only 10K, but as a guy just hoping to get under 40, I was very happy with the time. I finished 5th overall in my trusty Saucony A8 racing flats. Finishers 1-4 were in some sort of Nike Vaporfly, either the 4% or the NEXT%.
I was aware of the shoes before, but never really considered them. I was happy with traditional flats. But since then, I began to wonder…
- Are they worthy of the hype? Are runners fast because they wear Vaporflys, or are Vaporflys fast because fast runners wear them?
- Will they fit my feet? Will they be comfortable over 26.2 miles?
- Will a competing shoe come out that I might like better?
- Is it worth $250 when I already know I can run fast in a pair of Adidas Adios?
- Do I have to give money to Colin Kaepernick and Alberto Salazar?
After a 9 mile run with 6x800 intervals mixed in, I feel confident that I can answer these.
Yes, believe the hype. Warming up before my intervals, I went out at what felt like an easy pace. It felt good, nice and bouncy like the Adios I love so much. My warm up pace can vary depending on how I’m feeling, what shoe I’m wearing, and plenty of other factors. It might be 7:30/mile or it might be 10:00. I looked at my watch about a half mile in, and I had been running at a 7:10 pace. Cool! I decided I’d open it up a bit, sped up to a 6:30 pace and ran up a hill. It felt shockingly easy to keep the pace under 7:00 going up the incline. My workout was to be done at a 5K race pace, and I managed to hit my goal for each 800, between 2:50 and 3:00, without any trouble. This kind of workout is probably a little outside the shoe’s wheelhouse, but served me well particularly on the hilly loop through my neighborhood that I had used.
Fit is excellent. True to size, felt snug and secure, but not restrictive. Felt like nothing at all both uphill and down.
At the time of purchase, the only other carbon plate marathon shoe worth considering was the Hoka Carbon X, which had a sequel on the way (the Rocket X aka Trials Dagger has since been released, and is unobtanium). The Brooks Hyperion Elite had just been released, but it was $250, and according to the early reviews, it was very firm and you have to be running at Des Linden speed to make it work. Well, I could run that fast for a mile or two in high school. Anyway. The IAAF or whatever the fuck they’re called (thank you for that, Kimi Raikkonen) says that any shoe has to be available for 4 months to be eligible for use in their competitions. That means the other shoes would be out right around my race day, or soon after. The one that interests me most, the Saucony Endorphin Pro, is set to be released 4 days after the Milwaukee Marathon. Not helpful. So I bit the bullet and ordered the NEXT%.
The first block or so running in these shoes reminded me of the first few steps of the Adios. But in the Adios, that sensation died down a bit after a half mile. These kept going. They remained bouncy throughout my run, and kept on propelling me forward.
As for the last question, whatever. Chinese kids in the Nike factory need to eat too. And I think Salazar got fired.
- Look ridiculous
- Running is easy
- Really fast
- Look ridiculous
- Low durability
- I can’t afford to run in them every day
How I Will Use It
- Road races 10K and up
- Occasional speed wokrouts