Nike Free Running Shoe Review

Barefoot running is by far one of the biggest trends in running, if not the entire fitness world. So what’s the appeal? Are there actual health benefits? This is all up for debate, and there are several authorities that are passionate about this trend, maintaining that it is here to stay. The notion of running barefoot intrigues me, but it also scares me a bit. My friend Noel told me about Nike free’s and when she said she liked them, I knew that it might be worth trying.

I read Born to Run, and I know the merits of barefoot running, but I was having a hard time wrapping my head around Vibram Five Fingers. Besides, they do look a tiny bit silly! Noel has been battling a foot injury, which she discovered just a few weeks before the 2010 Boston Marathon. After running a hard fought race, she took some time off to try to heal her injury, as well as doing a little bit of research on other methods of preventing injury. When she stayed with me during the 2010 Boston Marathon weekend, we swapped books.  She gave me Running with the Buffaloes and I gave her Born to Run. After sitting on the book for a few months, she finally told me that she got into it and wanted to explore the whole barefoot “less is more” running theory.

In an email she said: “I got the Nike Free Runs. Runner’s World recommended them as a transition into the more lightweight/ barefoot running craze. I only wear them on my shortest runs where I can really focus on my form. I still go w/ my New Balance (which are still lighter than my other shoes) for hill, tempo, interval, and long runs”

Hmmm, if it’s good for Noel, then I guess it could work for me?! So after reading up a little bit on them, I decided, why not take the plunge? I told myself “If I really hate them, at the very least they will be cute kickaround/commuting shoes”

So, on a shopping trip to Newbury st I decided to pop into Niketown Boston and try them for myself. I saw they had a super cute Pink and Purple pair, which unfortunately they didn’t have in stock in my size. After trying them out and walking around the store I decided to do it, and ordered them from another Nike store (Side note: If you order anything from the Nike store shipping is free!). After about a week, I finally got my shoes, and boy were they cute!

Nike Frees on a Treadmill

I decided to test them on the treadmill on a short 3 mile run and see how I felt. The sensation was strange, I certainly felt free, but did I like that feeling? Hmm, not really sure. I did feel like I could really focus on my form, which is a huge plus. However, I was worried that when I got tired and my form was less than optimal, that I might injure myself. So similar to what Noel said, I’m going to reserve these for shorter runs, max of 4 miles.

Nike Frees in a 5k

After a bit of an internal debate, I decided to wear my Nike Frees during the Somerville Jingle Bell 5k. I told myself that it was a fun run, and I was feeling under the weather anyways, so why not try them?! Right from the start I didn’t love them, I felt every pot hole and dip in the road. Since I was feeling sick I was feeling sluggish to begin with, it might not have been the best opportunity to test these bad boys on the streets of the ‘ville. I felt like I could never get into a groove, and I felt it was difficult to even push off and propel forward. Yet, again, this was probably in large part from feeling sick.

The verdict?

My super cute Frees are going to be reserved for commuting and the occasional treadmill run. I’m sure I didn’t give them enough of a try, but my slight knee pain and stress fracture scare was enough to seal the deal for me. I will definitely be using them in a very limited capacity, as I think with my recent run of bad luck with injuries, it might be best to use shoes with more support.

Have you tried the Nike Free Running shoes? Have you worn them on long runs?


  1. Sue Heymans says

    I ran with Nike Pegasus for 18 years and switched to Nike Frees about 2 years ago. I run half marathons with them and training runs 60 km per week no injuries no issues. I will turn it up a notch after a major race in April with Vibram. What you do with your Frees is about who you are as a runner.

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