I’ve been trying out a fair few pairs of trainers recently. Which is good, as I’ve been doing a hell of a lot more running this year than I ever have before. Next week I’m heading over to Margate for the Red Bull Quicksand event, for what will be my 48th race of the year so far. I wasn’t even trying to do loads of races, I’m just really enjoying it at the moment.
Anyway, back to trainers.
I’ve tested out some really nice shoes this year (I’ve also tested out some pretty lame ones) but none got me quite so excited as trying out the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo. There’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, I haven’t run in Nike trainers for years, so I was interested to see how they’ve come along. Secondly, everyone has been talking about them, so being one of the first group of runners to give them a go is a pretty big deal. Lastly, and this is the big one, they’re a shoe with a pretty damn interesting development history behind them, which also meant they come with a some high hopes when it comes to running speed.
Nike have been pumping a chunk of effort into developing shoes over the past few years (as you’d expect), culminating in the Breaking 2 attempt that took place last year to see if they could create a shoe, and a situation that would see an athlete break the 2-hour marathon. They didn’t manage to do it (you can watch a really interesting documentary on it here), but it did mean they could focus on their Zoom range of shoes, specifically designed to make athletes faster. Now, over a year from the record attempt, Nike have released the Pegasus Turbo, a shoe which takes learnings from the project into a design available for anyone who wants to buy it.
Now first of all, most shoes claim to have been developed to make runners run better, why would they bother otherwise? But few have the sort of development effort thrown into them as the Pegasus Turbo. I’ll be completely honest, if I started wearing them without getting any sort of positive effect on my running, I’d be pretty disappointed, especially with a £159.95 price tag attached.
Before I start running through the details of the shoe, I should probably let you know that I’ve been wearing them for a few weeks now. I’ve so far used them for two races. The first of those, the RunThrough QEOP 10k, I ran the fastest 10k I’ve ever ran in my life, beating my previous PB from over six years ago (here’s my Instagram story from the day). The second race I beat my course PB on the RunThrough Greenwich Park 10k, a race I’ve done a fair few times in the past and the event I would call the toughest 10k in London. So yeah, as sceptical as I normally am when it comes to bold marketing claims, I’m seeing some pretty ridiculous positives since wearing the Pegasus Turbo’s.
So, let’s go through the details.
What exactly are they meant to do?
Well, along with the shoes came an overview of the technical and design aspects of the shoe. I’ll try to cover off these as I run through the various elements. Some, as you can probably see, look like vague marketing copy, others essentially say the same thing as something else.
- 95% Energy return
- Super light
- Flywire cables giving superb lockdown and stability
- Bevelled heel cup to help minimise Achilles strain
- ZoomX for outstanding cushioning and comfort
- Weighs only 238g in men’s size 10
- Mesh upper for aerodynamics
- Layer of Nike react foam on sole for stability and durability
How do they feel?
Well, they feel great. They were comfortable from the moment I put them on and headed out for a 10k across London. The main thing you notice straight away is how light they are. By far one of the lightest pairs of shoes I’ve ever ran in, and you can really tell the difference. The other thing I noticed instantly is that the heel feels thick. It’s the one bit of the shoe which you can actually sense when you start walking in them. It feels a bit like a hardened spring under your heel (energy return). It’s nice. Makes you feel a bit like they’re pushing you forward a bit onto the soft front section (the ZoomX developed for Breaking 2).
The other thing interesting is the heel design. Unlike every other pair of shoes I’ve used, the heel has a rounded back. You don’t notice it until you go back to wearing another pair of trainers and suddenly you feel the heel. I wasn’t quite sure how this affected my running until I did the Greenwich 10k and tackled a fairly steep downhill section. It promotes a much more fluid motion as you heel strike the ground – it kind of rolls you forward, or at least that’s what it feels like.
The flywire cables that connect the laces are meant to create more support in the shoe. I’m not sure whether it’s those that actually have the effect, but they do feel nice and sturdy for such a light shoe.
How do they look?
At first glance they look pretty impressive. Like a sort of Back To The Future trainer that they’ve stuck some speed boosters in. It’s a clean, curvy design that’s very eye-catching. Especially with the bright pink logo and thick line at the front. People will know what you’re wearing from a good distance away. The shape is far enough removed from any trainer you’re used to seeing to make you wonder what they are.
I did initially like the colour, however after running in them a few times I’ve started to think they’re getting a bit dirty – I’m not entirely sure if they are though. The opaque, creamy mesh means you can see some of the darker colours underneath, which does, in certain lights, make you think you’ve got a bit of mud on them. The times when I actually do get dirt on them it’s quite noticeable. It’s a picky aesthetic thing, and something a future colour variant would easily resolve.
Who are they for?
Based on the cost, I’d say they’re primarily focused on relatively serious runners. I’m at a point now where slight changes can have an effect on my race times and I’m very sensitive to whether a shoe works for me or not. I’m only using them for races at the moment and sticking to shoes with a bit more support as my training shoes (I also don’t want to waste them).
That said, they are a very nice race shoe in general, so if you were happy with the cost, then they may be a good option. The only downside I can foresee is that they probably won’t last as long as a heavier shoe. So if you’re doing a lot of miles, stick to these for race day, otherwise you’ll be buying a few.
Do they make you faster?
Look, there could be any number of things that have meant my race times have suddenly jumped up. I was ecstatic when I beat my 10k time a couple of weeks ago and I thought that I’d never get a PB ever again. Sure, it may have been the mental placebo of wearing faster shoes, it may have been a massive coincidence, but based on the fact that these shoes feel great and I’m getting the fastest times I’ve had in over six years, I’m a massive fan of them. There’s also a very interesting piece from the NY Times about the numbers behind people running in the Vaporfly 4% (a shoe that uses much of the same technology) compared to other trainers. Have a read here, it’s a long one, but I do love a stat or two.
It’s a damn nice shoe with a hell of a lot going for it. Light, comfy, springy and the fact I’ve knocked almost a minute off my PB means I’m already a massive fan of the Pegasus Turbo. It’s been a long time since I’ve been as impressed by a shoe as I am with these – even hoping I’ll manage to knock some time of some other distances with them.
For more information on the Pegasus Turbos, head over to the website here.