Nike Free Run Range Event
Date: Wednesday 6th April
Venue: Frame Victoria
Address: 4 Bridge Place, Victoria, SW1V 1JZ
Time: 7:00pm-8.30pm
 

‘Left! Guys it’s a left here!’ ranged the calls from the Nike Pacer as the group flew off down the street, four front runners in a pack weaving and dodging obstacles in the quiet, almost suburban, streets found a stone’s throw away from Victoria Station. The 7k run was meant to being run at a gentle 7:30min/mi pace but the tempo had risen up to 6:11 average with spurts of 5:45, followed by long breaks overtime the group was forced to stop for a green man at a crossing. Then off again, more speed, more directions shouted out from behind, more roads I’d never been down before, runners all over the street: it felt like some sort of military operation. It was brilliant, fun, and what a way to get introduced to a new running shoe.

The invitation to test out the new Nike Free range came whilst I was nursing a series of lower leg injuries, developed over a very tough 13.1 miles at the Liverpool Half Marathon a few weeks previously, so initially I was a bit apprehensive about the running, not knowing how my still-tender body would hold up. Rushing to Victoria from work, I dived into Frame, past an interesting Bouncy castle-like room set up at the intro to find a room of around 50 people all wearing blue (men) or purple (women) sets of trainers. After a look round and a quick chat with a Junior Team GB decathlete hopeful, the Nike Pacers shouted for everyone to head into the briefing room.

This was for a rundown of the new shoe: “Each model features a progressive geometric auxetic midsole designed to enable an athlete’s natural motion and develop strength, whether they are running or training. Drawing upon new studies that reveal how the foot expands and contracts upon impact with and liftoff from the ground, the splaying, auxetic midsole mimics how the body and foot react to force through four new models.’

Nike_Family_of_Free_original

With my own pair now firmly ensconced on my feet, I took this to mean that the shoe absorbs the shock of each footfall, allowing the the footwear’s flyknit meshing to expand under the pressure of each strike and then contract snuggly again once you start lifting your foot off the floor. In essence, the shoe doesn’t restrict the natural expansion of the foot, but nonetheless still offers protect from the impact force generated by striking the ground. This, in honesty, sounded perfect for me—as I absolutely hate rigid shoes, to the extent that I’d rather run barefoot instead, so I was pretty eager to get going and give them go. 

Briefing over, the runners split up into different groups and then live test around the city began. I have to admit, I know absolutely none of the layout of London west of Bank, so the whole run was spent surging ahead playing catch up with the Mr Decathlete, followed by stopping and waiting for someone who knew where we were going to then tell me when to take the next left, or right, or cross the road, basically anything but a straight line—even then we got it wrong, overshooting and going too far. 

The group about to start the run.
The group about to start the run.
Waiting for the Green Man.
Waiting for the Green Man.
Getting the run on around Victoria.
Getting the run on around Victoria.

But it was all good fun, and the fastest speed I’ve got out of my legs for quite a while! As for the shoes themselves, I haven’t done many miles in them right now, so I’ll save the review for a bit further down the line, but initial impressions were very positive. As mentioned, I am adverse to restrictive shoes, normally doing every run in racing flats instead, so it’s quite exciting to find a good training shoe that offers more protection whilst also keeping the minimalist look and feel that I know I like best. Going to blitz a hundred more miles in them, then I’ll let you know how I get on proper!