The topic buzzing around before the upcoming Olympics is the controversy of the new Nike race shoe(s) supposedly guaranteed to make you 'faster'. I was going to dodge this debate, because when one comments on the latest gimmick, you tend to be labeled a cynic. Watching most ITU athletes rush to change their shoes was not enough to make me comment. However, in the land of triathlon, where 'I'll buy anything that is advertised to give me free speed', I was convinced to pass on some relevant information (that is not including in the marketing), when I saw many walking athletes at recent races wearing them, and then our athletes started to ask should I buy a pair? So let me be clear. Yes I road tested them as it were. Do I think they are faster? The answer is not a straight yes or no. As in most things, circumstances dictate the correct answer.
If you are a track runner, who is very good, and land on the ball of your foot, and push off with your toes, then the answer is an unequivocal yes.
If you land on your mid foot, in races from 1500m to 5km, I'd say marginal. But I won't say no.
However, if you are running a half or full Ironman, I'd say without hesitation no. If you heel strike and do half or full Ironman I would consider them not only to be slower, but a possible injury disaster shoe, waiting to vaporize your season. Putting the shoe on, without taking a step, you can feel it change the body position to be more forward. To take 10 steps you can feel exactly who Nike has made these for. They guide you to be on the ball of your foot, and have a pronounced feel of throwing you forward on to your toes. One could feel the tension move to the calf and Achilles tendon, in a very short period of time. Would this be advantageous to the Ironman athlete or heel striker? Not only do I think no, in my opinion it would cause a lot of unwanted strain, when tired, in this part of the leg and foot. That would even be true for the type of runner the shoe is designed for (fast forefoot runner). One argument that has been thrown at me is this debate is like the swim skin debate that swimming went through some years ago. This is simply not correct, as the swim skin improves everybody. The wetsuit argument also is not applicable here either, as while wetsuits do improve everyone, they improve some a lot more than others. Usually the better technique swimmers, with more buoyant positions, and more kick dominant strokes don't receive the same proportionate improvements. This shoe will make certain runners slower, depending on the sport and the distance of the event. It will raise the spectre of injury for those who have a technique that may be great for long distance running but do not land forefoot. It may even raise the opportunity for injury on those who the shoe is made for. So at least for all the Trisutto trained athletes I would pass on this one. Within 6 months of the shoes being allowed, all your favourite brands will have a similar type 'guru shoe'. As while Nike marketing tells you it's rocket science, it definitely is not. If you are a challenged runner that struggles, I can assure you the only thing that will put the zoom into your running is to get out and as Nike rightly advised many years ago 'Just do it'. There is no need to smell or pay for the vapor. Shoes that suit your body and your run technique, with hard work is what will make you fly! Just the way I see it!