Nike Vaporfly Next% review
Published 20 May 2020. Written by Chris Worfolk.
The Nike Vaporfly Next% is the running shoe that is breaking all of the records, including price tag records. In this article, I'll tell you why it is possibly the worst running shoe ever. And also possibly the best.
Here is the video, or you can read below:
The Next% is the second generation of Nike shoes designed to produce a sub-two-hour marathon. We had the 4%, then the Next% and then the Alphafly, which is the shoe Kipchoge ran his 1:59:40 in (although the commercial version is likely to be slightly different to his prototype).
I have done 200 kilometres in them (around 125 miles), so this is a medium-term to long-term review. I cannot yet say whether they apart after 200 kilometres, but everything else has been well-tested.
Let's start with what I don't like about the shoes. They are the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever owned.
They have a mid-foot rocker designed to propel you forward. Other brands like Hoka and Karhu have the same thing, and I find them all annoying. They dig into your plantar fascia it is uncomfortable.
In fact, some days it hurts my feet so badly that I have to stop and sit down to take the pressure off my feet before I can carry on. If I don't get that in the first ten minutes, I know I am safe.
Even without that, they tend to hurt the outside of my feet. And the top. The only way I could get them to feel sure was to do up the laces really tight, but then they pinch the top of my feet and leave red marks.
And the tongue. I have to get this exactly in the right position to prevent it from causing discomfort. This may be fine in a standalone race where I have all of the time in the world but would be a disaster in triathlon where you want to be in and out of transition within a minute or two.
And finally, the laces come undone. I have had multiple 5 km and 10 km time trials ruined because the laces came undone. The latest of which happened 9.8 km into a 10 km when I was about to open up my sprint.
I maintain that I am an adult who knows how to tie shoelaces. You may doubt this. But why doesn't this happen on any of my other running shoes?
By this point, you may be wondering "how did you ever tolerate 200 km in them if you hate them so much?" The answer is that they have one redeeming feature: they are blazing fast.
The 4% speed increase is not hype: the shoe genuinely delivers. Not just for elite marathon runners but for everyone.
My previous 5 km PB was 22:06. I set that a while ago but I haven't gotten any faster since then. In these shoes, I managed a 21:06 - a full minute faster. I have only run a sub-23 5 km five times: on my previous two PBs and then the 21:06 that was clear of any other result I have run. Some of it could be me. But a lot of it seems to be the shoes.
I can feel the difference at slower paces as well. Even if I am just delivering a 55-60 minute 10 km, it feels easier and my heart rate is lower.
Am I recommending the Nike Vaporfly Nike% running shoes? No, because I do not want you to go out and buy them, with a price tag of over £200, and then come back to me and say "I hate these, they're the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever had and you told me they were great!"
That said, you may, having been fairly warned, that you want to tolerate the discomfort for some free speed (and I use free in a loose sense given their price tag). Or, as other reviewers don't seem to be slamming the shoes, that I have a weird running form that won't affect normal people. The choice is yours.