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After the test of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% of a few weeks ago, today it is the turn to analyze a new model of the American brand. It is the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit. That as we are among friends will remain in Nike Invincible Run from now on, and this is how practically everyone will know them.
These Invincible Run are a new model that adds to what Nike calls Project: Run Fearless. Let's say it's a section within Nike's shoes that are studied to minimize injuries and that until now only had the Infinity Run under its umbrella (well, the Nike React Miller also appears, although in my opinion it's something different from all the others).
In Run Fearless what we are going to find are maximalist shoes, with lots of foam, soft and pleasant to run for miles without discomfort. Its design is rocker type (curved sole with higher heel and toe to facilitate the transition of the footprint), and something common to all of them is their width to provide greater stability.
Is it all a marketing strategy or is there really scientific evidence? Nike has done studies that reaffirm what they promote, I will not be the one to deny it. What is certain is that they are sneakers that, above all, are extremely comfortable. And at the moment that's what I'm sticking with and what I can confirm, both these Invincible Run and the Infinity Run that I've been using since last year.
For 2021 two new models are added: the Nike Infinity Run Flyknit 2 (of which there will also be a test) and these Nike Invincible Run. The difference between the two? The foam used in the midsole. Infinity Run uses React foam while Invincible Run uses ZoomX, that magic foam that is present in the brand's most coveted sneakers like Vaporfly or Alphafly.
Surely when you hear "ZoomX" your ears prick up and you already pay attention, because you know you're in front of something special. But this time you're not going to find what ZoomX might suggest at first, Nike has used its most special foam in a very different way than it has ever done before.
Nike has provided me with a pair of shoes for poder to submit them for analysis, and I have already added kilometers in various workouts. And not only the type of training for which they are designed (long runs or recovery days), but also for more demanding uses. And now that I know them, I'll proceed to tell you my impressions about them.
- ZoomX in spades
- Everything is designed to maximize comfort
- It can be a perfect all-around shoe if your use is recreational.
- 180 for a daily training shoe can be a steep uphill climb
- Aesthetically they are not going to fit everyone. Big as an aircraft carrier
- It's not the most stable shoe in the world... Not that it's unstable, but it's something to be considered.
Recommended use for the Nike Invincible Run
The Nike Invincible Run is a daily training shoe. Daily jogging, long runs at a gentle pace, recovery days... It is not a shoe that asks for war, or that you need to go fast with them to work well (something that does happen with the Nike Tempo NEXT%). They are a sedan, not a sports car.
Obviously if what you want is to go fast, you can go fast with them, not that they are heavy shoes or do not support a high pace. But that's not what they are designed for.
Because as for the weight we are talking about, in my size 46 (12 US), the scale announces a weight of 345 grams.
For comparison the Nike Vomero 14 (very similar in rolling concept) weigh 339 grams. A pure all-rounder like the Nike Pegasus 36 is 306 grams, while to find something noticeably lighter you would have to go to the Nike Epict React Flyknit 2 which weighs 271 grams in the same size.
But remember that's a size 46, the vast majority of you probably wear a size smaller and therefore lighter. I emphasize that these are not a lightweight shoe (nor do they claim to be). To compare with maximalist shoes from other brands, the Hoka One One Elevon weighs in at 339 grams.
Now that you know what kind of use the Invincible Run is intended for, let's see what's new about it.
The Nike Invincible Run upper
For the Invincible Run Nike releases a new type of upper. It's different from what Nike has been used to lately, and this time it's more traditional. It's still Flyknit, but it's not as tight as the previous ones. It doesn't give the second-skin or sock feeling of the tighter Flyknit, or maybe it's because the last in general is wider. Some people don't like that feeling of wearing the shoe so tight, but personally it doesn't bother me.
For its design Nike has prioritized comfort and not design. The tongue stands out, which on this occasion is independent and is quite padded, with a feel similar to neoprene but thicker. This tongue is practically hidden under flat and wide laces that hold the foot quite well.
The laces go all the way to the collar, which stands out for being very padded. And when I say very padded I mean it. Even if we tighten the laces, the whole ankle area will be very padded.
At the rear of the shoe, at the junction between the upper and the ZoomX midsole, we find a hard rubber insert (not plastic).
That piece (which Nike calls the heel panel) is there to, together with the exaggerated width of the heel, give stability to the shoe. That panel is made up of a single piece that runs along the entire back of the heel and is inserted inside the Flyknit to form the entire back of the upper.
It's not the most stable shoe in the world, but it's not something that can be highlighted as a negative. There are no surprises when making turns, contrary to what the design of the shoe might lead you to believe.
ZoomX midsole, the star of the Invincible Run
Undoubtedly the highlight of the Invincible Run is the midsole. For the first time in a training shoe we see a midsole made up of this foam in its entirety. Until now the ZoomX was reserved for the brand's fastest shoes, but recently it has also made an appearance in the heel of the Vomero 15.
But in the Invincible Run we find only and exclusively ZoomX, that material so coveted lately. No mixing it with React or other in-house foams.
The feel of the midsole is soft, smooth and responsive. What 1TP10We have come to expect from ZoomX... and there's a lot of ZoomX here.
Unlike other shoes with ZoomX (Vaporfly, Alphafly, Tempo NEXT%), the Invincible Run does not have any kind of plate inside. In fact if we lift the insole we find directly the foam itself, with nothing separating it.
Contrary to popular belief, the carbon plate is not in the shoe solely to propel the stride. Its main mission is to provide stability due to the softness of the material. In these very reactive shoes, it is not the carbon plate that provides the propulsion, but the ZoomX foam.
The Invincible Run is a soft shoe that sinks underfoot, but it's not as soft as the feeling I get when wearing the Tempo NEXT%. The latter are bouncier, but also more unstable at a standstill.
But the ZoomX's behavior is still as usual. When standing it is very soft and bounces like a ball. You can even say it's a very fun feeling. But it has nothing to do with the feeling you get when running.
With the pressure exerted when running, that foam hardens slightly. It's still a soft, cushioned midsole, but you no longer have the feeling that you're going to fall off the top of a ball. If you just try them on in a store and take four steps you won't get a real sense of how they behave.
The geometry is rocker. That is, with a significantly higher heel and toe box.
It helps in the transmission of the footstep and promotes midfoot entry. Although if you are a heel striker you shouldn't worry either, because with so much foam back there you won't have any kind of problem.
The last is wide in the metatarsal area. There is plenty of room for the foot, even depending on how you have it maybe too much. In the central area it is narrower, marking well the arch of the foot to give support. If you have a low arch it may bother you in that area, I personally have not had any discomfort.
In measurements, it has 36.6mm in the heel and 27.6mm in the forefoot, resulting in a fairly conventional 9mm drop.
Where it is less conventional is in the width of the shoe. Lacking an internal plate and in order to stabilize the shoe, Nike has chosen to increase the width in the heel and metatarsal area, creating a sort of "float" for the foot. This makes it a bulky shoe that, to some extent, takes some getting used to.
The sole of the Invincible Run is also new.
That Nike doesn't have the best soles in the world is well known by everyone, at least when it comes to wet running. For the Invincible Run Nike has used a different sole than usual, being rubber almost all of it. It comprises the entire shoe from front to back and is made up of multiple small lugs. It looks like it will last for many kilometers, as so far it has not shown any kind of wear.
In dry conditions the traction is good. I have run with them on asphalt, dirt, sidewalk, wood... and I haven't had any surprises on any of those surfaces. In the wet I have found the usual lack of traction of Nike shoes, but since it is not a shoe designed to go fast the demand in that sense is not so high. Not only the traction is good, but also the general grip when making turns.
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Nike Invincible Run review
Hearing "ZoomX" can be misleading and we will immediately associate it with the fastest shoes Nike has in its catalog. If you're expecting the Invincible Run to be a Vaporfly without a carbon plate, you're going to be disappointed when you run your first mile in them.
Nike has found another way to use ZoomX in a shoe. It's still a reactive material, but in these shoes it's not used to give you speed, it's used to give you comfort. The Nike Invincible Run is an extremely comfortable everyday training shoe that also offers energy return.
It's not a shoe for series, fartleks, intervals or simply going fast. But it's not bad, it's just not what we've associated "ZoomX" with until now. It's Nike's top of the line daily training shoe for 2021 and probably the rival to beat for the rest of the brands for quality and quantity of cushioning, but also for weight and energy return.
It may not be a shoe for everyone, because if you have a low arch it may dig into that area, but it will support a wide range of usage profiles regardless of the user's weight.
Durability should not be a problem because of the sole material and the huge amount of ZoomX. I think 600-800 kilometers can be done without any problem.
However, they have "a small problem". After several days of use any other shoe will seem hard. Even their project sisters the Infinity Run and Infinity Run Flyknit 2 (of which there will also be a review in the coming weeks). So once you try them there is no turning back.
And with that... thanks for reading!