Friday, September 4, 2009

Nike Free 5.0 v2: Review

This is my second week running with Nike Free 5.0 trainers. I've run intervals, base runs, recovery runs, and a 15-miler in them.

As I mentioned before, I discovered the Nike Frees while researching barefoot running (and minimalist running shoes). Lately, I've been reading a lot about barefoot running and whether or not it's better for injury prevention than running with shoes. While technically the jury is still out, there are some interesting studies that say there is no significant relationship between wearing running shoes and injury prevention. In fact, it seems to me that more "evidence" points towards running shoes contributing to injuries by forcing a heel strike, which can cause problems from your hips on down. While I'm not qualified to judge whether these kinds of studies are valid or not, barefoot running passes my "gut" test.

I'll let you go research the shoe itself -- its features and such. For purposes of this post, I'll just tell you about my experiences with them so far. I will say that running in them takes a little getting used to, but not as much as Nike says. They say you should ease into running on them, starting with a day or two out of a typical training week and building up. I didn't do that. I jumped right in with both feet. I ran 2-3 miles, followed by 3-4 miles in them right off, then an 8-miler mid week, and a long run of 15 that same weekend (in which I did get some blisters from my toes "grabbing").

Running in them, I feel everything that's going on with my feet, and that's an unusual sensation for me. Usually, when I shop for shoes, I'm specifically not wanting to feel the road. I basically look for soft pillows in which to wrap my feet. The Nike Free strips away all that sissy cushion crap and gives me a much less mediated experience of the road. It takes some getting used to. After each run, in addition to my normal sensation of fatigue in my legs, my feet also feel like they've gotten a workout, which they have. They don't feel beaten and abused. It's like they're getting used for the first time. They have to pronate and absorb shock as they were designed to do. They flex, stretch, and push off naturally, without artificial restrictions or enhancements. In short, I feel my feet getting stronger.

The bottom line is that I love this shoe. I would buy it again, and would even consider going to the 3.0, which is lighter and even closer to running barefoot.

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