Thank you to everyone who reached out and let me know what you were interested in learning about these shoes from me!
The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% was the shoe Nike created as part of their Breaking2 project. This was where they had three elite athletes train to break the 2 hour marathon. Spoiler alert, it did not happen, but Eliud Kipchoge came extremely close in 2:00:25. They are also the shoes that Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg wore in their epic Olympic trials performances.
However, I was super interested in the shoe from following all the Runner’s World coverage. The 4% in the name comes from a supposed 4% improvement in running economy when wearing the shoe.
The thing that I was most interested in was the carbon-fiber plate in the midsole that is supposed to extend the push-off in your toes and lead to less energy loss. My right foot gets cranky every now and then due to my sesamoid bone swelling up, and my hope was that this would help that. So far it absolutely has.
I have never owned a racing shoe before. I got to wear a pair of racing flats once for a Reebok photo shoot. But outside of that, I have always run a shoe that is between 11-12 ounces. Shoe stats:
- A men’s size 10 weighs 6.9 ounces
- The mesh upper has a lot of holes and ventilation
- 11 mm drop
- Tapered pointed heel
- They keep my form correct for longer than I normally would when doing long runs or hard workouts. When I get tired, I can start landing more on my heels, or pronating. With these shoes, I notice they really help put my body in the position I feel best in.
- As I start to run faster and faster, I have the sensation of almost falling forward, it took me a bit to get used to it, but now I enjoy it
- They are CRAZY light. I cannot get over it.
- I personally love the way they look. They make me feel fast, and I like having a designated racing shoe.
- I also use them for quality workouts, though not every time.
- I am a bit worried about how well they will hold up in the long run. Most of my shoes I trade out every few hundred miles, but with these I worry they will not last through every hard workout and long run and still have that snap in them for race day. I don’t know why I think this except that when you hold the shoes in your hand, they feel like nothing.
- The toe box is very roomy – I don’t have particularly narrow or wide feet that I know of, and I have plenty of room.
- The sizing runs as normal running shoes do for me. Meaning, in running shoes I wear 1/2 larger than I normally would. So I wear an 8 in running shoes, and I wear an 8 in these. They are unisex sizing, so I believe that is a 6.5 in mens.
- I don’t know how they compare to the less expensive Zoom Fly shoe from a personal experience. That said, my understanding is that the Zoom Fly is more of the training shoe, whereas the 4% would be geared more toward racing. The Zoom Fly has more structure, is slightly heavier and has a different plate in the midsole. (Update: here is my review of the Zoom Fly.)
Overall I am in love. Yes, the price tag absolutely sucks. But, I have never worn a shoe like this before. I love that it is a specialized marathon racing shoe. Do I think it makes me 4% faster? I can’t honestly say one way or another. I do feel faster in them and my legs have that “pop” to them that fresh, rested legs do. However, having raced in them, I know that they cannot block true fatigue (or blowing up, for that matter). I don’t believe that any gear can make up for training you did not do. And is there something to be said for a bit of a placebo effect for putting on these “special” superfast racing shoes? Maybe. I think the mind is a very powerful thing. If you believe the shoes are special and make you faster, then they probably will. At the end of the day I still love the new technology and the way the shoes feel.
Besides, when a girl doesn’t have horse shoes to buy, running shoes become a higher priority!
Update from December 2017: These shoes are still an absolute favorite. I save them for racing only as they definitely take a beating from less miles than other shoes. I’ve read they really only last for 100-200 miles and I can see how that is true. They are still worth it in my opinion. I just bought another pair to save for my marathons this year!