I have officially jumped on the Nike Free+ minimalist shoe band wagon. I have been researching this shoe for months. I've stuffed my head with reviews, blogged opinions and video, trying them on at local running shops, and even asking random strangers what they thought of the shoe. So, after extensive research I was ready to try the shoe! However, I was not ready to pay the $85 price tag. So, I started searching the internet for some deals. I came across a seller on ebay who was selling her pair because she wasn't a fan after trying them on a treadmill three times. After winning a bidding war, I was able to have these lovely pair of Nike Free's in my possession for half the price!! Pretty huh?
Okay, here are the specs!
The Nike Free Run+ Women’s Running Shoe was created for those who love the feel of barefoot running, yet need the cushioning, traction and protection of a shoe. This update to the Nike Free series offers improved fit, cushioning and support. from nikerunning.com
Inner-sleeve for a snug, barefoot-like fit
One-piece, patterned overlay for support and flexibility
Flex grooves for flexibility and stability
Nike + Ready
Weight: 6.4 ounces (women’s size 8)
Okay, so the first time I ran with this shoe I was a bit worried that I might turn into a hater of the Nike Free +. I was only able to run three miles in the shoe and during my run I started to feel pain in my plantar fascia (refer to diagram below). Needless to say, I was a bit frustrated. However, I will admit I started off with a high! This shoe was so light and I felt like I could run super fast in this shoe. This excitement I think is what lead me to cut my run short.During all of my excitement of trying out the shoe I forgot about one piece of important information that I had read about during all of my extensive research. That piece of important information was to allow myself to ease into this new style of shoe and running. There is a sort of an adjustment period when It comes to the Nike Free+ and it shouldn't be taken lightly. I think that if I tried to force more miles out of my three mile run that day I could have really injured myself.
So, if you're not use to this type of shoe or running. I would recommend to start off easy and allow yourself to adjust to your new high tech minimalist shoe! Don't try and fly like I did, okay?
Even though I was frustrated with my first round in these shoes. I didn't want to give up on them yet. So, I went to a park close to my house to try them out again. This time it was amazing! I could almost feel my form improve and was noticing the benefits of the mid-foot strike almost instantly. I could feel the flexibility of the shoe and what a unique feeling it was. It was almost like my feet had a whole new range of motion! It was almost like they were telling me, hey! thanks for not strangling us today.
This time I was able to clock five miles and it really felt great. I enjoyed the light weight benefits of the shoe and I enjoyed how my running almost felt almost effortless. I felt fast, light and I finally understood the reviews of the many people saying that felt like they could run forever!! However, in my case, I got hungry and had to run home for dinner. Nevertheless, I was a fan of the Nike Free+.
This shoe’s inner-sleeve, or bootie, conforms to your foot for a snug and comfortable, barefoot-like fit—with or without socks. Extensive, breathable mesh on the upper enhances the barefoot-like fit and feel. nikerunning.com
The fit truly is interesting, it sort of fits like a sock. Some people in the reviews did express frustration with the bootie like form (no tounge) of the shoe and difficulty with putting it on. My experience with this lead me to think. Well, if these people stopped bitching about the small things and just put the damn shoe on they would enjoy it's seamless benefits! Just like I did! I find the design to be smart and effective and it does feel like the shoe is hugging your foot.
As for the size of the shoe it felt pretty true to size for me. I am a pretty solid size 7 in Nike's so I just decided to stick to my size and not order up. However, most reviews stated that the shoe did run a bit small. So if you find that you tend to fluctuate between whole and half sizes it may be safe to order a size up.
Deep Nike Free flex grooves along the length and width of the midsole (which doubles as an outsole) allow your foot to move naturally while adding stability. The Nike Free Run+ is even more flexible and “Free-like” than the Nike Free 5.0. nikerunning.com
The Nike Free+ definitely has a lot of flexibility and I feel this is why these shoes are so damn comfortable. It allows you to have your natural range of motion with some stability. Which in turn allows you to run with better form leading to less injuries.
So, what is the Bandida Blog final verdict?
I really felt the Nike Free + was a nice alternative to the folks interested in going into the barefoot movement but were not quite ready to commit to throwing away their running shoes and going au natural.
I do feel that this shoe is great for city or park running but I don't feel that it offers enough support to run on uneven terrain. I did have some issues with small rocks and twigs getting stuck in my shoe while running in the park. But this has only happened twice and wasn't too much of a set back for me. However, it did lead me to think that these shoes would perform terribly on the trails. In the photo below you can sort of see the rocks and small twigs I picked up with my shoe after running at the park.
As for running long distances in these shoes i.e. half marathon and marathon distances. I don't know if I would recommend them just yet. The furthest distance I have run in this shoe is six miles. The shoe expert at a local running store here did mention that she felt it was not a good shoe for the longer distances. She mentioned that she had really messed up her plantar fascia during a half marathon race and didn't feel it was the right kind of shoe for the longer distances. However, she did mention that some people are able to run long distances in these shoes and love it.
So to round up this final verdict I will say the Nike Free+ is a great training shoe. It is a great tool to use during my short training runs or on my recovery days. The Nike Free + also comes Nike+ sensor ready which allows you to track your distance at nikerunning.com
I hope this review was helpful!
Please feel free to leave comments with your experiences with the Nike Free+.
Happy Free Running.