Finally, a lightweight racing shoe suitable for runners who pronate
Nike have been very busy. Between Eliud Kipchoge's failed 1:59 marathon attempt back in 2017 and his history-making successful attempt in 2019, Nike have released a wide range of high-end, scientific, tech-heavy running shoes which are all designed to help us run faster.
The Nike Zoom Fly running shoes feature some of the same technology as Kipchoge's record-breaking ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% at a fraction of the cost, making them accessible to the everyday runner like you or I.
Not only am I your everyday, amateur runner, like many other runners I suffer from over-pronation, which means I have to be extra careful with my choice of running shoes. Thankfully, the Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit shoes did not disappoint.
First, the upper. I chose the Flyknit design because I've had success with it in the past (on Free Runs) and I love the way it shapes, expands, and moulds to your foot. I've suffered from numb toes with other running shoes in the past due to a cramped toe box as well as rubbing and blisters from shoes whose upper was too rigid. I was hoping the Flyknit technology would prevent all of that (spoiler: it did).
On first wear, I found that my ankle was slipping out of the back of the shoe so I tied the laces extra tight. Unfortunately, this meant my toes went numb after 2 miles of running. I spent the rest of the run stopping and starting to readjust the laces. In the end, I decided it was actually my socks that were super slippery so on my next run I wore different socks and found my ankle stopped slipping and I could loosen the laces, which fixed the numb toes.
On my third run, my toes didn't go numb at all and I was able to really enjoy the comfort of these shoes. The Flyknit does exactly as you'd hope and moulds to your foot, giving plenty of wiggle-room for your toes.
Now onto the sole. When I first put these shoes on, I was amazed at how soft, squidgy, and bouncy they felt. The sole is extremely thick and I felt like I was wearing platforms. Despite being very squidgy, they are simultaneously rigid and firm thanks to the high tech carbon fibre plate and give great support.
Overall, these are extremely comfortable running shoes and you shouldn't get blisters or experience any pain from rubbing or chafing.
I find that Nike is one of the only running shoe brands that comes up True To Size. My ASICS shoes have to be larger than my normal shoe size (1.5 sizes) and I've had to discard/send back Hoka, On running, and other brands due to them coming up way too small (like, 3 sizes).
The Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit running shoes are definitely true to size and I'd only recommend sizing up maybe half a size, if at all. It does depend how thick and padded your running socks are. Thankfully, Nike are generous enough to offer free delivery and returns so if they are the wrong size you can swap them for a different one.
This is the important part, because Nike have spent a lot of time, resources, and money on designing a huge range of running shoes which are the best performers in the world, if not in history. As mentioned above, I over-pronate so I usually have to buy stability shoes and as such don't have a lot of options. I've always stuck with ASICS as they have the largest stability shoe range, however I decided to take the plunge with these Nike shoes and I wasn't disappointed.
The super thick sole, although not designed to provide stability to pronators, does exactly that. The shoes are banana-shaped which encourages your feet to curve slightly inwards and create an artificial arch, which helps ward off the effects of pronation.
The incredibly bouncy, responsive soles really encourage you to spring off your toes instead of plodding along with a heavy heel-strike and I found my running form was instantly improved when wearing these shoes. They definitely helped me to run faster and more efficiently and I even got a new 10k PB on the third wear without really trying! They are super lightweight and feel great on your feet.
The Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit shoes feature the same carbon fibre plate as the iconic Nike Vaporfly shoes which is designed to help propel you off the ground and I'd say this certainly works for these shoes. They're very bouncy, springy, and help you to run faster.
The Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit shoes look very similar to the now legendary Vaporfly 4% shoes as well as other Zoom and Fly shoes in the Nike range. I personally think they look awesome and I feel great when I wear them.
They look very 'professional' in my opinion and when racing in them I think you'd definitely feel the part. They're sleek, clean-cut, and come in a range of great colours.
This is the fun part. Nike's shoes have been getting increasingly expensive over the past couple of years, first exceeding the £200 mark and now the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% shoes will set you back an eye-watering £239.95 at full RRP. The Zoom Fly 3 shoes are £139.95 and the new Joyride shoes are £159.95.
However, these incredible Zoom Fly Flyknit shoes are currently on sale, down from an RRP of £139.95 to £97.47 - which actually is a very reasonable price for their performance qualities, great appearance, and unrivalled comfort.
What can I say? I'm in love with these shoes. I've been cursed for many years to wear clunky, oversized, heavy stability shoes because of my over-pronation issues and being greatly restricted in which shoes I can buy.
Until now, brands like Nike have only really offered very barefoot style shoes like their Free Run range, however these new offerings with much thicker soles, carbon plates in the soles, and other incredible technology means the Average Joe runner can lace up and hit the road in attractive, performance-enhancing shoes and feel like a real pro.
I haven't experienced any pain running in these shoes and I have now worn them for well over 100 miles of running. Go forth and buy yourself a pair, you won't regret it!
If you're an endurance athlete who needs a comfortable hydration solution as well as storage, the new Kalenji Bag Trail 5L Hydration Pack is the perfect choice. We give our verdict on this lightweight running hydration bag.
Comfort - 10/10
When running, especially over long distances, you want to be as comfortable as possible and to make sure nothing on you is going to start chafing after a few hours. This hydration vest is very comfortable and secure and does not chafe or rub in any places. It features two adjustable straps to the front to keep it in place and overall it fits very well. The bag doesn't bounce around at all as you run and the straps feature a felt lining which is very comfortable, meaning it doesn't rub your arms if you're wearing a running vest.
Small details really make this hydration bag great, such as grippers to the holders where you place the water bladder mouthpiece so it doesn't move around and stays put during your run. The mouthpiece itself is very easy to use – just twist and drink. This means that even with slippery, sweaty hands you can still access your water! A problem I've struggled with in the past with other hydration vests.
This hydration vest comes with a 1L water bladder which fits easily inside.
Storage - 9/10
For such a low-priced 'basic' product, this hydration pack has a fantastic range of storage options. There are two pockets to the front which you can access easily while you're running. One is designed for a 150ml soft flask but you could put anything small in there – keys, snacks etc. The other front pocket is large enough for a smart phone which means easy access and practicality while running. To the rear of the bag there is a 'kangaroo pouch' which is designed for packing away a running jacket in case you might need it which is brilliant. I use it for a sweat towel because my hands get so sweaty when running in the summer! This is really useful to be able to carry as I hate having wet hands while I'm running and means I can dry off if it starts to rain too.
The pack itself comes with a 1L water bladder which fits perfectly into the space and it's easy to get it in and out to fill it and empty it. The straw/mouthpiece weaves out of the back and in front of you across your chest. There is also a safety whistle attached to one of the pockets which is a nice touch, especially if you do lots of trail running in remote locations.
The safety whistle is tucked into the side pocket. I never would've realised it was a whistle if I hadn't noticed the description on the website.
There is also an inner zip pocket which Kalenji say is designed for your smart phone or keys but I would always be weary that due to possible unexpected leaking from the water bladder, anything going into this pocket has the potential to get wet.You also can't access this pocket while running so you wouldn't want to put anything in there that you need before you stop.
The only reason I marked down the storage is because the 150ml soft flask pocket is a little awkwardly designed and could do with being bigger so that I could get a larger flask in there as 150ml is little more than a gulp! However, other than this very small quibble, the storage on this bag is exceptional and more than ample.
If you're in need of slightly more storage, the 10L version of this bag allows for two 500ml soft flasks in front pockets as well as space for more snacks and even walking sticks.
Price - 10/10
With an RRP of £17.99, this brilliant hydration bag is less than half the price of similar products and is even 60-70% cheaper than some higher end hydration bags from the big players in trail running and endurance gear. When shopping around for a new hydration bag, I was really rather shocked at the sky-high prices of some on the market. A similar product from big brand Camelbak will set you back over £60, some Salomon hydration vests are over £100 and the singular offering from Nike, which is a very basic product, is priced at £75.
Kalenji offer a really accessible, reasonable price which is perfect for first-time endurance runners or trail runners who have never bought a hydration vest before so don't want to shell out on something expensive, but also for experienced runners who just don't feel like spending £60+ on a hydration bag! Considering this product provides everything you need, the price is almost too good to be true.
The mouthpiece is leakproof thanks to a silicone bite guard and twists on or off for easy use.
Verdict - 10/10
I'm hugely impressed by this running hydration pack and wouldn't consider any other on the market. For someone who regularly runs half marathon to marathon distance both on the road and on the trails, it provides the perfect amount of storage and water. I'd use this for anything up to 50km/31 miles in distance in all weathers for both training and racing.
For any endurance events that are further in distance or more remote in location, perhaps a larger bag would be better as you could take more supplies. However, for organised races and training runs up to marathon distance, this hydration bag is perfect in every way for beginners right through to experienced runners.
On Running is a really exciting brand that is breaking through to secure its spot among the biggest players in the sports world. I was lucky enough to be able to test out the On Cloudflyer stability running shoes and give my verdict.
Size & Fit
Even just looking at these running shoes on the floor before putting them on, they look small and compact. My normal shoe size is a Women's UK 7/US 9/EUR 40.5 and I am used to sizing up for running shoes which is standard practice.
My current favourite running shoes are a pair of ASICS Gel Phoenix 7 which have served me incredibly well and I comfortably ran a full marathon in them with no discomfort, no blisters, and I could walk perfectly fine the next day (the sign of a great pair of shoes). My ASICS are a UK 8.5/US 10.5/EUR 42.5 and On suggest on their size guide that you should go half a size smaller than ASICS, so I dutifully went for a UK 8/US 10/EUR 42 for the Cloudflyers.
In reality, the physical size and dimensions of these shoes are very close to my Nike Free Runs which are a UK size 7.5/US 9.5/EUR 41 so I maybe wish I had gone bigger and didn't size down. When wearing them, my feet did feel a bit squashed and I could only wear my thinnest socks with them. If you like a roomy shoe or have big/wide feet, I'd recommend that you should definitely size up.
When I first put the shoes on, they felt very snug so I had to loosen the laces a fair bit. On first wear, they rubbed my heels and little toes quite substantially. However, I gave them a chance to wear in and this did subside after a while. To be completely honest, they are not the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn and as you are about to find out, I had to give them a lot of chances to get it right.
First test run
I find that I have to run at least 2 miles but ideally more before I can really tell if a pair of running shoes is going to be comfortable or not. My first run in these shoes was 4 miles and I was really impressed with how they felt. I didn't experience any discomfort and I really enjoyed wearing them. Overall it was a very good run for me performance-wise and so I was left feeling very positive about the shoes.
Second test run
Unfortunately, on my second run wearing them I found that the arches of my feet started aching after a couple of miles and my toes felt squashed. It didn't cause blisters or any real pain, but my feet swell when I run (a common occurrence for many people) and so I don't like them to feel squashed. The aching on the bottom of my feet was perhaps them getting used to the more minimalist design of these running shoes.
The aching arches and squashed toes put me off quite a bit and I was left feeling disappointed at the end of my run, but I decided to give the shoes more of a chance and wait until I've done a few more runs to see if this pain disappeared once I was properly used to the shoes. Plus, I'm all too aware that we all have good runs and bad runs and that it might not be completely down to the shoes. For me, the perfect pair of running shoes are ones that I can forget I'm wearing so that I can focus solely on running and not pains in my feet.
Third test run
My next run in the shoes was a bit longer at 6 miles as I wanted to see how they'd feel over a longer distance and duration. Thankfully, the aching arches didn't seem to be a problem on this run so hopefully my feet had already got used to them. My little toes felt squashed and slightly painful at the start of the run again, however this did subside after a while.
After about 2 miles, I was running pretty comfortably in the shoes and was feeling happy with them. My last mile was on grass and this highlighted how hard the soles of the shoes are. My feet felt a bit battered and running on the grass was pretty uncomfortable, especially compared to my Nike Free Runs which I often use to do sprints in my local park.
When I got home, the bottom of my feet felt very sore, that same soreness you get when you've been on your feet for a very long time. This made me wonder how my feet would feel running in these shoes for longer runs of over 10 miles. So, I decided to test it.
Fourth test run
I really wanted to like these shoes so I gave them a lot of chances. My fourth test run was 12 miles as I wanted to test the shoes over a much longer duration, especially as I am a distance runner and may well be running a marathon in these shoes. Actually, I am hoping to run an ultra-marathon next year but it is a trail run and after the pain I experienced wearing these shoes on grass, I don't know if they'd be suitable.
On this run, my feet felt comfortable at first but then started to deteriorate. The arches of my feet ached as I don't think these shoes give quite enough ankle support for a pair of stability shoes, however this subsided after about 3 miles.
Unfortunately, after about 7 miles the bottom of my feet were hurting again like they did when I ran on the grass and this persisted until the end of the run. The lack of cushioning on these shoes while positive in the sense it keeps them light, unfortunately means they're not as good on longer runs.
I'd go so far as to say that the On Cloudflyer shoes are the best looking pair of running shoes I've ever had. They look very 'professional' and despite being stability shoes, they are very sleek, elegant, and compact. Other stability shoes I have owned have been overly clunky and look awful, both in design and the colourways available.
I like that On don't assume all women want bright fuchsia and purple running shoes and instead offer these shoes in a range of subtle, stylish colours. My friends and family also commented on how good these shoes look and I wouldn't feel out of place wearing them on a day-to-day basis as part of a casual outfit.
Stability shoes, which are designed to give support for people like me who have flat feet and overpronate, can be very chunky and I find that this can slow me down. My current ASICS running shoes are guilty of this so it was a breath of fresh air to run in the Cloudflyer shoes which were so much more lightweight. Their selling point is that you're supposed to feel like you're 'running on clouds' and this was certainly true for me!
Despite the discomfort mentioned above, these shoes helped me to run with very good form and encouraged me to be much lighter on my toes and lift my legs more when running. They actually felt like they were making me run faster! Perhaps this was just a placebo effect. Although, any good runner, physio, or coach will tell you that your running form starts with your feet and so having these shoes support me so well, perhaps they really did make me run faster.
I wasn't sure how the grip would handle wet roads but these shoes were perfectly grippy and I felt confident running in the rain while wearing them. My second run in them saw me running over some gravel and I was very impressed with the grip, my feet didn't slip at all and I felt very confident running over different terrains.
I had to give these shoes quite a lot of time to get used to them and to wear them in fully. My first run with them was awesome but then my second, not so much. As a distance runner, I need running shoes that are going to be very comfortable over countless miles and that I can forget I'm even wearing.
I found these shoes to be a bit too snug so I'd recommend sizing up if you want to be super sure. The rigid upper rubbed my feet and the very solid soles felt a bit harsh so I would mark them down for comfort.
However, I'm hugely impressed by their appearance and performance-enhancing qualities. When I received them, I was hoping they could replace my current running shoes and become my new go-to for my next few hundred miles of running. While they're ideal for shorter tempo runs and interval runs, they're not so good for long runs. So, I'll wear them for shorter runs and wear my ASICS for longer runs.
I'd rate these shoes a solid 7/10 as I think they have the potential to be an amazing pair of running shoes, but the comfort (or lack thereof) let them down.
The Nike Epic React running shoe was first released 2 years ago, at the beginning of 2018. Nike was on a mission to find the perfect balance between soft cushioning and responsive energy return without the shoe being too heavy.
According to Nike, their in-house chemists and mechanical engineers put Nike React technology through more than 2,000 hours of testing on the feet of basketball players to find this perfect combination. They understood that something soft usually absorbs energy, whereas a runner wants something responsive that will spring back.
Since introducing their React technology, Nike have tweaked and improved it and have since released newer versions of the Nike Epic React Flyknit running shoe. I tested out the second version – the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 – in the hopes it could become my new everyday running shoe for those easy bread-and-butter training days.
Note, these shoes were not gifted and this review is not affiliated with Nike.
First, the upper. Thanks to their Flyknit technology, Nike have earned an impressive reputation for the comfort of their running shoes. The one-piece Flyknit upper moulds to your foot and expands and contracts as needed, meaning there's plenty of space for your toes and no rubbing, chafing, or blisters. It's supportive, flexible and breathable which is perfect for longer runs.
I was already a fan of Flyknit technology before I bought these shoes as I have had success with it in the past. I have found that with other brands, the upper of the shoe can rub blisters and also crush my toes due to a narrow toe box, however the Nike Epic React shoes have a noticeably roomy toe box and as soon as I put the shoes on, my feet felt comfortable and my toes were able to spread naturally and comfortably.
Onto the outsole, and the much talked about React foam is indeed soft and cushioned and I was seriously impressed at the comfort of these running shoes. Even when just walking or standing, I found these shoes very comfortable and I would certainly use them for casual wear as well as run training. If you're someone who does a lot of walking or you're on your feet a lot for work, these shoes could certainly be a good option.
My first impression when I put the Nike Epic React running shoes on was how roomy they felt – in the best possible way. I have tried out far too many running shoes in the past from various brands that are so small and squashed, even in larger sizes. It was such a breath of fresh air to be able to put on these shoes and for my toes not to feel squashed or cramped and to be able to enjoy natural toe spread.
I find that Nike is one of the only running shoe brands where I don't need to size up from my regular shoe size. This is a big bonus because it means no unnecessary extra weight and not feeling or looking like I'm running in clown shoes. With Asics, I have to size up more than one size and I also have to buy the men's version of the shoes because the women's are so narrow and tight. Hoka.... I bought one pair and I couldn't even wear them because they were so small and tight.
Nike seem to really understand that the last thing a runner wants is squashed, numb toes and to be worrying about finding a compromise between sizing up too many times and ending up with huge, clunky shoes. Go for your normal shoe size and you'll be comfortable.
This is, of course, the important part. As explained above, Nike have spent a lot of time developing their React technology and a lot of thought went into making the performance of these shoes as good as possible.
My first impression was that these shoes are certainly very lightweight, which was one of the missions Nike set out to achieve. No runner wants heavy, clunky shoes and we need shoes that can be versatile: yes we need cushioning and protection, but we also want to be able to push the pace when needed and not to be held back by heavy shoes when trying to do this.
The Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 running shoes are marketed as a 'neutral' shoe and I'd certainly say this is accurate. I usually need stability shoes as I suffer from over-pronation, despite working on my running form a lot. I know that a lot of other runners also over-pronate so stability shoes are becoming a lot more popular, common, and demanded. On my first few runs in these shoes, I thought they were okay support-wise, however I will say that for heavier runners or runners who have not worked on their form that much, these shoes will not be suitable and will not give you enough support.
I found that when I got tired and my form started to slip, I started to get a few niggles and pains, ones that I know are caused by my feet not being properly supported. That said, these shoes do allow you to guide your own foot strike which is better than some shoes I've found which force your feet to roll inwards or actively encourage bad form. If you can be sure you'll maintain good running form, these shoes will be fine.
However, onto that React technology which Nike put so much time into perfecting. As explained above, the goal was for these shoes to be soft and lightweight but also responsive. I have to say, I did not find these shoe responsive enough at all. I felt like they were really absorbing all of my energy and my gait was a lot flatter and heavier than it is when I wear other running shoes. Even my relatively heavy Asics stability shoes give better energy return than the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 shoes, I'm afraid to say.
Ultimately, I found that these running shoes were not responsive enough and there was not enough energy return and I ended up returning the shoes because it bothered me that much.
I had really high hopes for these running shoes. I bought them because I was in need of a pair of everyday running shoes for my easy runs which would be lightweight yet supportive and allow me to breeze along mile after mile without thinking about my shoes or my feet. I wanted a pair more lightweight than my Asics stability shoes which I wear for my 'long runs' (18+ miles) and that were more comfortable and easy-going than my 'racing' shoes which help me push the pace during tempo, interval, and threshold runs.
Unfortunately, despite these shoes being super comfortable and attractive, they just didn't give enough energy return and were not responsive enough for me. They made me run very 'flat' and I found it really quite hard to pick my feet up, even more so than when I wear my heavier, chunkier Asics stability shoes. I was really disappointed as they look fantastic and they do feel great when just standing or walking.
Reluctantly, I returned these shoes because I could feel myself getting small, niggly injuries due to them not being supportive enough and I found that running became harder rather than easier when wearing these shoes. It's a real shame because I think they've got great potential, and perhaps for an advanced runner they'd be okay, but for the everyday amateur (and I'm no beginner, running 50+ miles per week) I don't think they're quite there.
Read more: Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit Running Shoes Review
Read more: Guide To Buying Running Shoes
I've been running in the New Balance Vazee Pace since I reviewed them a couple of years ago so I was delighted to update my trainer collection and test the new Fresh Foam Zante v3 reflective.
These trainers look exceptional and really stand out from the crowd. I love the solid reflective detail that just looks like part of the shoe. These trainers are great for running in the winter months as they are impossible to miss and reflective detailing on winter training apparel is really important.
A flash photo captures the reflective detail on the New Balance trainers
These are a really modern, fresh pair of trainers and could be worn just as well as a pair of fashion trainers for every day activity as well as being a high spec pair of running trainers.
Unfortunately, I found the ankle really stiff. After a month of wearing them they really started to cut into my ankle and cause some discomfort. I haven't heard this from any other runners so it's possible it is just my foot anatomy. I've not had this issue from any other New Balance trainers but they do really seem to cut in. I will explore more because everything else about this shoe is great.
One great thing about these trainers is that there is plenty of room for your foot and they do not feel restrictive on the forefoot. After road testing the Adidas Adizero Adios 3 Running Shoes for review and continuing to run in them after testing, I found the Adidas quite narrow and restrictive. I could have definitely done with a size up, but maybe they would still be restrictive. Side by side, you can see how much more space there is in the forefoot of the New Balance trainers. This is a big plus as having a toe box that is too tight can make for some really uncomfortable runs, but the New Balance shoes have it just right.
The sole of the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3 men's running trainers is actually quite stiff, but the grip on the road is amazing. When I run on wet concrete I can usually feel and hear a slip under the foot, but this is definitely reduced in these shoes which is a big bonus.
The RRP of these men's running trainers is £95 although they are currently on sale from the New Balance website for £66. I think this is a really reasonable price for such a responsive and attractive pair of shoes. Nike running trainers can cost you well over £100, so the New Balance price point is really competitive in comparison.