Short Sprints: Nike Zoom Air Structure 18

Media test running the NIKE Zoom Air Structure 18

You might be surprised by what running shoe companies have come out with in their latest models. Take for example the latest iterations of the Altra, Hoka One One and Saucony shoes. These running shoes may look big and chunky but are actually very light and more advanced in built. The newer models are also pushing the boundaries of technical innovation.

Let’s look at NIKE’s latest offer, the Nike Zoom Air Structure 18. Last Wednesday evening, i hied off to the Nike Park Store in BGC as NIKE Philippines was going to have this model tested by me and 5 other bloggers and from those in media on a group run which also coincides with the Nike Running Clinic being held nearby.

The numbers speak for themselves. The Air Structure has been one of Nike’s best selling models to date and here now is their 18th version!  True to Nike’s innovation, this venerable stability shoe has been updated regularly from its previous incarnations.

We went to the nearby Track 30th Park which is a few steps outside the Nike store and put on this model in our sizes to get a feel for the kind of support, flexibility and stability they’ll give when you actually run in them. As a warm up, we did 3 loops of 300 meters each of easy jog inside the park’s perimeter after which we did running drills to loosen up the muscles.

With our first few steps in the NIKE Air Zoom Structure 18, here are my initial impressions of the shoe:

FIT and FEEL:

It has a decidedly snugged fit, enhanced by a contoured arch, narrow mid foot, an accommodating toe box and a smooth upper which is made comfortable by its “Flywire” technology. It is superbly light, and you’ll detect some bouyancy that springs back immediately after foot impact. I also noticed the super secure heel which did not play around while doing our warm-up stretching and running drills.

Doing dynamic stretching with the Nike Zoom Air Structure 18

CONSTRUCTION:

At quick glance, it has a great looking upper with its famous seam-less mesh. The “Flywire” technology is incorporated into the lacing system that wraps the foot nicely for a very snug fit. The Structure 18 incorporates yarns and fabrics that were knitted right into the Flyknit upper, which helps reduce seams, weight and areas of friction and keeps the shoe lightweight. The result is a more  precise fit that adopts to the foot in motion and gives it a plush look.

PERFORMANCE:

This short test run entailed us to do a warm-up jog for about a kilometer and about 20 minutes of running drills.  To give this shoe a final test, the Nike coach asked us to do 6 x 100 meter sprints with about 70-80% effort. We were grouped in pairs and while doing the sprints, we were mindful how the shoe would react to fast paced running.

The feel on these fast pacing was SMOOTH! No issues about hot spots, irritations, nor dragging. It offers a soft, resilient ride and feels more comfortable at fast speeds which may be due to the easy flexing upper.

The other runners in our wear-test group found the ride to be a little bit bouncy but surprisingly stable for such a soft trainer. For me, the agility and responsiveness in the midfoot and forefoot were more than adequate which i believe would be ideal for a marathon.

The shoe’s outsole with lugs similar to those of trail shoes

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION:

I really can’t give an all-out endorsement regarding this shoes’ performance because the wear-test limited us to just doing short interval sprints for a few minutes and to give it a full recommendation should also entail testing on how they would perform during long runs and races. Unfortunately, we had to return the shoe after this initial test.

However, based on my initial impressions, i would give this high marks for its sublime feel during the speed work-out. This shoe is sufficiently cushioned and it’s spry enough to be able to rev up for faster paced work-outs. I also liked the snug and secure heel cup and accommodating but not baggy forefoot.

Suggested Retail Price for the Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 is PHP6,095.00 for both Men’s and Women’s models.

Women’s model

PRESS RELEASE:

New Nike Air Zoom Structure: Stability Has Never Been Faster
The 18th version of the beloved workhorse delivers stability and performance that are unshakeable at high speeds.

Strength and growth come from continuous effort — but growing up doesn’t have to mean slowing down, as proven by the new, revolutionary Nike Air Zoom Structure 18. Now in its 18th version, the Nike Air Zoom Structure raises the bar for a running shoe that delivers both speed and stability.

Over the last two-plus decades, Nike designers have debunked the notion that stable means slow. They’ve constantly pushed to make the Nike Structure shoe lighter, smoother and more responsive without sacrificing any of its vaunted stability features. The design of the Structure 18 is a quantum leap from past versions where designers revolutionized it from top to bottom.

The Nike team worked closely with elite athletes such as 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp and 3,000m world junior champion Mary Cain for insights to bring the distinctive shoe across the finish line. Rupp, who runs nearly all of his 120 miles per week in the Nike Structure, said the Structure 18 gives him a more stable ride and feels faster all the way through his runs.

“The Nike Structure is the only shoe I’ve trained in since I started running, so it feels special to me to have input in the design of the new one,” Rupp said. “I love the Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 because it hugs my foot in the right places, providing the support I need to go the distance. I was really surprised when I picked them up and felt how light they were. It’s like Nike found a way to magically shave a few ounces off, and because of that, I feel like I can run faster in them.”

The Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 delivers uncompromising stability through the combination of an upper featuring Asymetrical Dynamic Flywire and a triple-density Dynamic Support system in the midsole. The new contoured last — created to provide a better fit and more responsive ride — combined with Nike Zoom Air cushioning, provides added toe spring for the snappy, quick-off-the-ground feel athletes expect from Nike Zoom Air.

Designed to provide runners with support and cushioning, the innovative Dynamic Support system uses opposing wedges of foam with different densities to help slow the rate of pronation. Designers enhanced the support in the Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 by adding a third, high-density foam to the existing system. When needed, the three-density Dynamic Support system kicks in to help provide added support and enhance the smooth transition upon foot strike.

The design also features a Nike Engineered Mesh upper with Asymetrical Nike Flywire cables that wrap the foot and provide support without the bulkiness of previous models, letting the foot move naturally. Nike Engineered Mesh also improves comfort and breathability. Nike Engineered Mesh enables designers to precision-engineer ventilation and lightweight support where needed most, improving comfort and breathability.

Nike’s Zoom Air technology is the fastest, most responsive Nike Air cushioning, making it the cushioning of choice for many elite and everyday athletes. Highly responsive Nike Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot combined with the added toe spring of the new Zoom last, provides the Structure 18 with a responsive snap and fast transition.

“We designed the Zoom Air collection to be a revolution in speed,” said Rob Dolan, Nike VP and Creative Director, Footwear. “Whether athletes are racing or training, they repeatedly ask for Zoom Air because they love that fast, snappy, responsive ride and the energy return they get from it.”

For the first time, the Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 will be available for customization with NIKEiD on nike.com starting Sept. 25. NIKEiD will exclusively provide choices in widths, sockliners and personalization with colors, color-fade graphics and characters. The inline Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 will be available on nike.com starting Oct 2.

The Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 is part of a collection of Zoom Air running shoes that includes the Air Zoom Pegasus 31, Air Zoom Elite 7 and Air Zoom Streak 5.

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