My Beef with Pink and a Nike Free Run Review

20120527-193714.jpgPink is for pansies and other blousy flowers and if that’s where it ended I’d be happy enough. The wholesale adoption of this colour by marketeers and product designers to represent all things womanly is a little repugnant in my view. I can turn a blind eye to pre-pubescent clothes and toys in pastel tones but that’s because I don’t have to buy them. When you start indiscriminately pink-washing all sports paraphernalia that has any link to womanliness, then I start to feel pretty knarked off.

20120527-193800.jpgMy latest rant started when I opened a parcel containing a pair of the latest Nike Free Run 3.0 to review. I think you’d agree, these are hideous enough to make anyone chunter.

A few days earlier I’d received a watch with the obligatory flash of pink and when I start to look critically, I find the house has been invaded by cutesy pinkness by way of bikes, socks, shoes, running bags and other sports gadgetry. I need to mount a defense.

This is really supposed to be a review of the Nike Frees but I’ve struggled to even put them on. They stayed in the bag for 3 days until I gradually exposed each member of the house to the horror and allowed them to guffaw while I wasn’t actually wearing them. I have fairly thin skin and can’t cope with that level of Micky taking.

I have quite a long history with Nike Free, ever since I embarked on my barefoot running spree. I started viewing them as an excellent transition shoe, taking me from mainstream cushioning and support through to the more primitive Vibram fivefinger style of minimalism.

So, it’s no surprise that I did eventually overcome the horror and try them out. I did wait til nightfall though and so far have only trialled them under cover of darkness and inside, on the treadmill. I don’t think they’ll ever make it out into daylight, certainly not on my feet anyway.

I can’t explain how disappointed that makes me. For all my resistance, the moment I put these on I remembered just how comfortable these shoes are. You want to wear them forever, like a plush pair of made to measure slippers. Regardless of how far you run in a pair of Nike Frees you never lose that delicious walking on clouds feeling. I need that feeling and while I’m still looking for a suitable trail shoe for next months Great North Trail Run, I’m wondering if these might be just the job, providing I can muck them up sufficiently to overcome the humiliation.

The Nike Free Run 3.0 is aimed at the minimal end of the market with support and cushioning stepping up as you move from 4.0 to 5.0.

They’ve changed slightly from the previous version and moved away from the sock style bootie to a shoe with a separate tongue. Not sure why they’ve done that but it hasn’t affected the comfort and they are still one of the few shoes you can wear without socks. Not that I feel the need to do that as it will only escalate the onset of unbearable stinkiness but it is a great test of a shoes comfort. These shoes seem to have no internal seams or stitching so there is nothing to rub or irritate. I tend to suffer with toe problems on long runs and this is why I often reach for the Nike Frees – the super stretchy toe box area is perfect for me and prevents the toenail pulling and bashing that I find with the more mainstream shoe.

I wonder if I could brave an outdoor run?

NB. If these prove to be a special breast cancer awareness edition of Nike Free then I will hang my head low and retract my words. Breast cancer awareness is another acceptable use for the dastardly colour.

Views on Nike Free 3.0 as a Transition Shoe

Somewhere along the line I seem to have developed a shoe fetish. I started off in life with a classic shoe phobia and made it into adulthood with a pair of red wellies and a work shoe.

An interest in sport increased my repertoire but even then I managed to live in a pair of Specialized Sonoma cycling shoes throughout my student days.

I blame running.

It must have ticked disturbing boxes in my psyche. I have now commandeered the shoe rack that spans the length of our hall and still have an overspill. I still only have one pair of work shoes but there is a tremendous glut of running shoes and my stockpile is set to increase.

Hiking shoes arrived last week, Nike Free 3.0 trainers yesterday, I’m awaiting stock of a pair of Vibram Five Finger Bikilas and my Soft Star Run Amoc moccasins are slowly winging their way across the Atlantic as we speak. We have a romantic weekend booked away and my only packing demand after spare pants was a selection of running shoes. I may have to hunt out an appropriate 12 step program when we get back.

In the mean time, here are my thoughts on the Nike Free 3.0

I’ve pinned a lot of hopes on minimal running shoes and expect them to revolutionise my mornings and long runs by removing the crippling pains of plantar fasciitis. With this in mind I’ve been diligently introducing Vibram Five Finger runs in to my schedule but reverting to my standard shoe for long runs.

My standard shoe is a heavy duty, cushioned, supported, mega structure so I started looking around for a suitable transition shoe. RunBlogger provided me with some much appreciated advice and Donald from Running and Rambling has written an excellent overview of the options.

Hence the arrival of the Nike Free 3.0

It’s not a truly barefoot experience or even an almost-barefoot-best-described-as-minimal experience but its half way there and a half-way house was just what I needed.

The shoe is incredibly flexible, in fact you want to pick it up and mould it like playdoh. It has a peculiarly innovative sole, made up of little cubes of rubber that enable it to flex freely, this way and that.

We were at Waterloo Station last night picking up one of the kids of Railway Children fame. We were waiting patiently on the platform when I leapt up onto my toes and declared: “Tadaaaa….bet you can’t do that!”

Well it seems they all could but I maintain that it means something that I was the only one who felt suitably empowered by my footwear to display such idiocy in public.

These are flexible shoes.

The uppers are fairly minimal, a little padding around the ankle but in the main these are made of a lightweight waffle fabric. I’m used to shoes with rigid plates in the heel and all this floppiness comes as a bit of a shock. It makes for an incredibly comfortable shoe though. Regardless of your views of Nike and the position of the Free 3.0 on the barefoot-standard shoe scale, you can’t deny that the word on the block is “comfort”.

We went for quick midnight run when we got back from the station and it was such a joy. It was only a short one so I need to test this further with a weekend long run but the first impressions were great. No pain from my feet at all. When I wear standard shoes I get the impression that my second toe nail is being ripped from its bed but there was no discomfort at all with the Nike Free 3.0

The run was silent and fast – at least by my standards. The sole felt as though it had a strange stickiness to it but it didn’t seem to hold me back as we knocked a minute off our usual mile pace.

I think I might have found my half marathon shoe.