An Online Talk About New Running Shoes Reminded Me Why I Run

The virus may have sidelined competitive running, but not running itself.

Not all that long ago, I considered myself serious about running. So serious that running was no longer just a foot in front of the other: one day it was a base run, the next a tempo variant, and after that, a fartlek.

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The international running community echoed that seriousness. At the start of the year, World Athletics imposed new regulations banning shoes with a sole thicker than 40 millimeters and containing more than one plate in the midsole. Now before any Nike Vaporfly 4% owners or Nike Zoom Air Alphafly Next% owners-to-be whip out their rulers and their laptops, rest assured that your shoes are within legal running bounds.

But does that really matter?

The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% evolves the learnings of the Vaporfly franchise, adding Zoom Air Pods in the forefoot, more ZoomX Foam in the heel and a lighter Atomknit upper

Photo by Nike.


I recently attended an online talk hosted by Zaini Mohamed Sani, Southeast Asia and India head of EKIN (“Nike” spelled backward and the department concerned with product expertise), along with a group of runners from across Asia. During the Q&A portion, it became blisteringly clear that our collective attitude towards running had shifted.

While previously—and by that I mean pre-COVID—we would have been eagerly asking how these shoes could nibble at our run times, now we were scraping at how the newly launched running shoes added value to whatever remnants of our training regimens remains. 

For now the culminating moments of training—the organized races, the clear-blue days that tested us against our fellow athletes and ourselves—all that has been replaced with the question of purpose. Now, we’re running on hard concrete and just around our houses, off the tracks we were familiar with and away from the running-mates we had because we want to. And we’re happy because yes, it matters.

Nike Zoom Family

Eventually, talk turned to the Nike Zoom family, which consists of the following: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%, Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, and Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37.

Each is a culmination of tradition and achievement—both in manufacture and in use. Running legend Eliud Kipchoge would know—he achieved what was once thought impossible in the prototype of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% shoes: a marathon in under two hours.

Carrie Dimoff, Nike Senior Footwear Innovator, discusses prototypes with Eliud Kipchoge

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Photo by Nike.

Advertised as the training complement to the race day Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% contains the same hyper-responsive ZoomX foam, which has traditionally been used in aerospace innovation, that gives runners an “ultra-soft feeling.” The midsole of the Tempo Next% shoes houses the same Nike Air Pods in the forefoot, but these are fit under a composite rather than a carbon fiber plate. This is for the same reason the heel is fitted with Nike React Foam: to provide durability and comfort for effective, safe, prolonged training.

Why we run

Running is not just locomotion between two points; it is a movement of body and soul across space and time. This is at the core of why we run; it’s not just the usual rope of competition, but the thick cord that recognizes running as an important stress reliever, energy receiver, grounding exercise, mindfulness activity, or whatever else you want to call it.


The Nike Tempo Next%

Photo by Nike.

As we continue to go through our workdays and social engagements in the midst of this health crisis, we ought to revisit running and recognize it more than ever as important to our very selves—pulling us away from our monitors and onto the streets. And that’s the spirit of the Nike Zoom family, with every new piece of technology centered on helping us perform at our very best as athletes.

In that online talk, stories from other runners across the region and breakthroughs in running science helped us understand how much this pandemic has changed things and reshaped the value we imbue things with. We realized that yes, the competitive side to running may be on the sidelines at the moment, but the pilot light keeping us at it will never go out.


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About The Author
Jaymes Shrimski
Jaymes Shrimski is a twentysomething, Manila-based writer who’s grown up somewhere between Sydney and Cebu. Enthusiastic about all things food and beverage, clothes, books, and small business, he also loves a good long run, beers with his mates, and coffees at any given time of day.
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