Since I was oh so responsible and left my running shoes at home after winter break, I had to go find a relatively cheap pair to use and abuse until I can get a hold of my usual ones. I’m a collegiate athlete for goodness sake – usually my shoes are never out of my sight. The pair I left at home were Brooks T7 Racers, and I was just starting to get used to them. I wasn’t too concerned about needing to spend a bit of money because sooner than later I’ll run both pairs to the ground.
Usually, I’m a minimalist when it comes to running shoes – the last couple years of high school I used Saucony Shays and Kilkennys. I even kept using them in college, but with the higher mileage and blatant lack of trails I’m sane enough to know when I need a little more padding. (Since then I’ve tried Saucony Progrid Type A5, and the T7 Racers)
Anyway, I tried the Nike Frees on in the store, and immediately felt like I had heels on. besides the racers, most of my shoes have had 4mm heel-toe drop or less. Even my street shoes are as flat as I can find them. Walking around, I immediately had to change my gait because my heels kept catching on the ground. Online, different sources reported a drop of anywhere from 7-10mm. (The T7 Racers have a drop of 12 mm, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like nearly that much.) I think the the Nikes felt like such a drop because the height falls quite quickly in the forefoot.
What I did like about them though was that they were very flexible for a sturdier shoe. The colors appealed to me too because they are gender neutral. (I’d rather wear a shoe that fits, even if it’s ostentatiously pink, but finding shoes in other colors is always nice.) I really liked the wide toe box. It’s something I sort of suffer through with the Shays.
I tried to keep an open mind because the store (Ross) didn’t really have many other options (I get my shoes on clearance, ended up paying $40 for them.)
For the first run, I had a workout. Halfway through the first half, my toes started to go a bit numb. I shook them out during the recovery, but they went a bit numb during the second half too. Honestly, I wasn’t too upset. They were a new pair of shoes and I didn’t have time to break them in before running hard in them. I’ve also had shoes do way worse – the Brooks Pure Grit were so stiff I was getting numb toes a couple weeks into wearing them and I ended up ditching them.
The heel of the shoe was not fitted very well. It puckers, making you feel like your sock slid into your shoe. I had the ankle loops secured to tie the shoe, but it didn’t help. I think they could’ve shaped the fabric to be a bit more form fitting.
Bottom line: The Nike Free 5.0s are a decent shoe and surprisingly tolerable for this minimalist runner.
Have you had a pair of Nike Frees? What are your thoughts on this shoe?