Nike’s recent Breaking2 project was a remarkable effort that has had a few important consequences. Of course, there is the idea of an attempt at running a sub-2hr marathon, which is something truly unbelievable, and significant achievement in itself.
But the attempt (not surprisingly) was also a massive marketing coup for Nike. Although Eliud Kipchoge and two other runners didn’t quite break the two hour mark in the end, the project was a triumph in terms of promoting some pretty spectacular-sounding shoe technology.
From super springy carbon fibre plates to tech that’s alleged to make you run 4 per cent faster, there are some big claims out there. So what do we think?
The tech does seem to make a difference…
Nike aren’t the only company to make big claims about their shoe technology, of course, but they have one of the best marketing machines out there. And the fact that they have the greatest marathon runner of all time – Eliud Kipchoge – on their books certainly gives them a lot of kudos. So does the tech make a difference? In our opinion, we’d say it does.
The Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit shoes Kipchoge wore for Breaking2 are hard to come by. But having tried out the more affordable Zoom Fly Flyknit shoes (which incorporate a lot of the same technology), we’re certainly impressed. They’re super light, and that carbon fibre plate in the sole gives a noticeable energy return as your foot flexes away from the ground. On our first run out with them we shaved off a couple of minutes from our usual 5k time.
… but you’re only as good as the training you put in.
Which is great – and compared to the kind of trainers that were available five, ten, fifteen years ago, a shoe like the Zoom Fly is an impressive piece of kit. But ultimately, that is all it is. If you have poor running form, or you’re just not fit enough, these shoes (or indeed any shoe) is unlikely to make a significant difference.
In our experience, the best way to improve your running speed by 4 per cent is not to spend £200 on a new pair of running shoes. The best way to become a better runner is simply to run more. Sure, new shoes can help you to run more efficiently, and maybe even for a little longer, but ultimately you need to put the hard miles in, out on the road.
That’s not so say you shouldn’t treat yourself from time to time, of course…