Nike Air Zoom Vaporfly Next% 2 Review

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Tthis summer, I took on a challenge, more precisely a Nike challenge. The goal? To run your fastest 5K in a new fast sneaker, the last version coming from the brand’s Next% family. When the brand’s invitation email appeared in my inbox, I was immediately transported back to my high school years where I was a star lacrosse player. I was fast, but I was also riddled with anxiety, so the timed kilometers and 5km races crippled me because I could barely take the pressure. So 16 years later when Nike asked me to take part in their running challenge, I took a break, but I was also excited to beat my own record. Thoughts started to fly through my mind. Can I do it? Can I run my fastest 5K? With the help of Nike running trainer Jes Woods and my new Nike Air Zoom Vaporfly Next% 2 sneakers ($ 250), the challenge was launched.

The difference between running when I was an athlete in high school and now is twofold. As a teenager I didn’t have the maturity and focus that I have now, which I needed to really commit to training properly for this 5k race. In addition, the technology and knowledge required to manufacture running shoes have evolved since the early 2000s. The Vaporfly Next% series certainly did not exist at the time! With all the tools in my toolbox, so to speak, I had a month to prepare myself both physically and mentally. With an organized training plan, my new shoes and a positive attitude, it was off to the races (pun intended).

The shoe

Do you know that expression “the wheels are off the bus”? Well, that’s exactly what happens when you run in the wrong shoe: the race crumbles. Fortunately, I had the right shoe. This Vaporfly Next% 2 was born from Nike’s “Breaking2” attempt, in which runner Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier in a prototype of the Next%. The sneaker’s success kicked off the Nike Next% design project, which created several iterations of the original shoe. The updated Next% 2 features a softer, more breathable design than the original version. Pockets and tongue padding have been added for a more comfortable fit, and a forefoot reinforcement has been added to help in high wear hit areas. With incredible overall improvements, this iteration of the sneaker is ideal for both short and long road running distances.

Training in the shoe

Training for the Next% 2 was a dream. No break-in period was necessary. I just slipped into the shoe, laced it up, and went for a run. My immediate impression was that they were comfortable, light and very bouncy. I had an extra spring in my step and stride. The characteristic I liked the most initially was the breathability of the shoe: I was training at high temperatures and the Next% made it easy for my foot to breathe. In addition, its lightness allowed me to quickly cover my timed kilometers.

After a month of training, including pace runs, speed training, and longer 6-10 mile runs, it was time to run the fast 5K. My first attempt was unsuccessful as my running app tracked the entire distance by 0.01. So I reset and tried a few days later. Strong, relaxed and confident, I took off. My first mile was solid, but the next two were even stronger. At a pace of less than 8 minutes, I did 3.1 miles with a smile on my face. The best part? My feet were perfectly supported. Was this my fastest 5K since high school? Sure. For anyone looking to try out a new sneaker over short and long distances, this is a must try. Your fastest pace is waiting for you.

Run away ? Be sure to follow this series of stretches after recording your miles.

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