I made a quick trip up to the Nike Factory Store in the Wisconsin Dells last week to browse. Well…. I ended up in the running shoe aisles and stumbled on the Zoom Fly FK. I tried on a pair of my usual 9’s and they fit pretty well, they are a color I can live with and were on sale so I snatched up a pair to race in.
The old saying is “never try something new on race day!” So true to form on Friday I brought home some new shoes to race with on Sunday.
These shoes have almost no break-in period needed. The upper is an ultra-minimal lightweight knit that either fits you when it’s laced properly or it doesn’t. There is really no padding or much structure in the upper so the shoes mostly rely on the athlete for support.
The midsole is some seriously squishy material they call REACT foam that I know cost a lot to develop and it seems to work for a lot of people. The foam is very thick with nearly a 4cm heel height and a 10mm heel-to-toe drop.
Embedded in the midsole is a stiff, thin carbon fiber plate that is molded in such a way that your foot gently rocks forward in an efficient manner. Their crazy-expensive racing shoes have a slightly more efficient ride and are over an ounce lighter, but those are for the elites chasing very, very small gains.
These are long-distance road racing shoes and the high ride is not super nimble for turns or slippery road surfaces. I’ve never felt unbalanced in them but the high ride doesn’t offer much road feel for cornering. At 8.4 oz. this is a light shoe but I’ll keep my flats which are lighter for 5k’s and such.
I took an easy three mile run the day before the race in the shoes and they felt really good. At aerobic pace they seemed to test fast on me, really fast. The left shoe felt a little loose on me and the right shoe felt good so I made a mental note of that.
The React foam midsole
The next morning I laced them up and raced the UW Running Club Fall 15k. It’s a great little race on the north side of town with a challenging hilly course that keeps everyone honest. I had absolutely no issues with the shoes and felt like the shoes helped me maintain a good gait and nice cadence of 178 over the course. My unscientific conclusion is I believe the carbon plates that some manufacturers are using are a real advantage to running economy.