Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barefoot Training: Nike Free Run+ 2

Went for a media preview of another new entrant into the realm of barefoot running, or barefoot training, this time from Nike. Touted as a lightweight performance shoe incorporating the concepts of barefoot running with ample protection, the Nike Free Run+ 2 looks an interesting contender.

With the testimonies and sharing of experiences from Singapore's top distance runners and athletes, including an expert opinion from the podiatrist, the audience at the HortPark was all ready to put on the Free Run+ 2 for some simple 'landing' & 'form' tests. The design and colours of the shoes was notably attractive and would have no problems attracting runners, gym-goers, walkers and anyone who wants that sporty, healthy and youthful look.

We were taken through 3 stations of 'feet-on' practicals which was quite an interesting way of try-testing the shoes. Nike product staff and athletes were on hand to take the testers through the design, technology and features of the shoe. I managed to jump and bound a little along the pavement as well as on grass, and was quite happy with the cushion and support the shoe provided, in spite of it being 'angled' as a barefoot or minimalist-type training shoe.

Many of those who have had a chance to run in the predecessor, Nike Free Run+, expressed that the shoe will be good for up to 10km, but new runners will best use it progressively, first by walking, then short distances of 2-3km, before progressing on to the longer distances - very similar to the way we transition from normal cushioned trainers to minimalist running shoes.

The softer upper did give it a snug feel yet not overly constrained by the extra layer of protection included with this new version. At 8.9ounces (Mens US10), it is certainly no lightweight compared with the other brands of minimalist or barefoot shoes. That could be due to the extra heel cushion and protection offered in the Run+ 2. Then again, although these shoes can be used for races of up to 10km, they are probably best suited for training, warm-up/cool-down sessions and gymwork.

Overall, a tantalizing proposition for barefoot training with sufficient protection and traction for the new runner and experienced athlete alike to develop and maintain good running form. Still, it will be good to take it for a ride of at least 5km to get a better feel of the promise to RUN FREE!

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