Nike's latest innovation is here, and it has everyone talking
Editor's Note: This piece of content is brought to you in partnership with Nike Running.
I know you’ve heard of these shoes by now. You’ve seen them on your IG feed or they’ve popped up while you’re browsing Nike.com, or maybe someone sent you a pic, but however you first heard of them - they’re here now. Today we’re talking about the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit (we’ll call them ‘Invincible’ from here on) - what it is, why Nike made it, what you should use it for, and a heap more.
Oh, and if that’s not enough we have marathon royalty Sinead Diver, and Nike Running Coach Dave Ridley along for the ride. Ready? Let’s go.
More than anything, we know Nike for making fast racing shoes - and making them sexy at the same time. We’re in the middle of an era of huge technological innovation in footwear and Nike have led the way - especially when it comes to going fast.
So, what if the team @ Nike started looking closely at other areas of running - like making running easy and keeping people on the move? It’s what Nike are calling ‘Project: Run Fearless’, which in their words is “Our ongoing mission is to keep runners running by providing them the tools to stay healthy.”
It started with Nike gathering feedback from runners who told them comfort was everything to them (which is absolutely true - I don’t care what a shoe can do, if it’s not comfortable I’m not wearing it). This ultimately led Nike to stack up more and more cushioning, with ZoomX being the perfect foam for the job - it’s incredibly light (used in Nike’s racing shoes) and soft.
The other thing we know about comfort is that a wider base is more stable, and stability is critical for keeping us on the run. So Nike stretched the base out on this one, creating what would have to be the widest platform I’ve ever seen from Nike in both the heel and the forefoot, meaning you’re always working with a wide base, whether you’re striking the ground or toeing off. Absolute chef’s kiss.
But where I actually want to go first on this one is the upper - because there’s a lot going on. So let’s dive into that first.
I love Flyknit. I have done ever since the Flyknit Racer dropped back in 2012/13 - the LunarEpic was also a stud, as was the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit (still my favourite carbon shoe, fwiw), just to name a few. So anytime a shoe has Flyknit, I know it's going to be comfortable.
What we have on the Invincible is a Flyknit outer with a couple of reflective details around the toe. It’s a dual layer upper though - internally there is another layer that sits closest to the foot. At first glance it looks like part of a gusseted tongue, but this aqua coloured layer actually runs the length of the forefoot. It doesn’t bunch or get in the way; far from it. Like a lot of the design elements on the Invincible, it’s based around comfort.
Another feature of the upper is the tongue - it’s a thicker, almost neoprene feeling tongue. You get the comfort of a plush tongue and the thickness means less likelihood of any hotspots on top of the foot from laces digging in. Even the laces on this shoe feel premium - it’s like comfort is deliberately reinforced at every touch point.
The heel of the shoe stands out - and not just because it’s red. Lots of padding for a snug, secure fit, and a rigid heel cup for lockdown. There is a pronounced heel counter - a large red plastic clip, that adds stability. It’s the same concept as we’ve seen on some of Nike’s other shoes - most recently the Infinity React, but slightly larger.
That’s the upper. If you missed the theme - it’s comfort (seriously though how could you miss that? Please start paying attention).
This is understandably the hero of the shoe and the main talking point for most people - a big ol’ slab of ZoomX foam with nothing added. No layers of React foam or carbon plates, just more ZoomX than we’ve ever seen in a shoe before.
So, what’s ZoomX and why should you care? For starters, ZoomX was first seen in the OG Vaporfly from Nike - the shoe Eliud Kipchoge wore to his 2:00:25 marathon in Monza, Italy in 2017. Eliud was so hyped on ZoomX that he told Nike he wanted it in a training shoe - which became the Pegasus Turbo. We’ve seen ZoomX in all of Nike’s marathon shoes since 2017, and now we see it applied to a daily trainer in a meaningful way.
ZoomX is Nike’s lightest foam. It’s also their softest, and their most responsive. Let’s think about that. Light is good. Soft is comfortable. Responsive means we get more back from each stride. Now think about all of those things in relation to your daily trainer - they’re the exact properties you want, the exact features that are going to keep you running.
Sinead Diver (2019 London Marathon - 7th, 2019 New York City Marathon - 5th, 2018 Melbourne Marathon winner, and the list goes on), runs up to 180 kilometers a week around Melbourne. The Invincible is giving her the rare combo of softness and responsiveness.
“These shoes feel really soft and comfortable when you step into them, so I was surprised at how responsive they were on the run. They are light and bouncy and will make for a great daily trainer.”
Flip the shoe over and you’re greeted with a pretty unique looking rubber pattern. There’s basically 100% coverage of rubber on the outsole which is going to translate directly into durability. Durability isn’t sexy, but it probably should be. Nothing worse than buying new shoes and loving them, only to find out they last a couple of months before you have to re-up.
While we’re on the outsole, it’s probably the best time to talk about the footprint of the shoe. This really is unlike anything we’ve seen before from Nike - an almost square heel gives you a huge landing area and means your heel is going to be safe and supported (especially when combined with the big heel counter we’ve already spoken about).
We asked Nike Running Coach Dave Ridley what he thinks about the supersized landing area, "The wide base is great. With all the extra cushion it makes the run easy and keeps my legs feeling fresh."
Moving away from the heel we also see a squarish shape around the midfoot. So you’ve got a super wide base whether you’re a midfoot or heel striker, and for the launch phase of your stride you’ve got this great stable base to work with.
HOW TO USE THE INVINCIBLE
Now that we know everything there is to know about the shoe, how do we add it to our rotation? If you’re an occasional runner who wants to lace up for 5k a couple times a week, the Invincible will absolutely get the job done for you. The wide platform, soft foam, and supportive heel counter should get you through your runs feeling pretty fresh - and the Invincible has enough comfort that you’ll probably leave it on for the cafe trip after the run.
If you’re a runner who is training for an event, the Invincible could be a great easy day shoe for you. You know, the day after a session when you’re supposed to go and run but your legs are heavy and you’re a little sore? Those are the days where you just want comfort and protection - you want to pick out the shoe that says ‘hey, pick me - I’ll get you through this run feeling good so you can reload for your next session’.
What about long runs? I asked Dave Ridley how he planned to use the shoe and I got a typically Dave Ridley response (if you aren't familiar with Dave, he's a mileage monster and can be found most weekends churning out 35-40km around Albert Park at speed).
"This shoe fits perfectly in my lineup as my go-to long run shoe. I tested the shoe with a 40km long run straight out of the box and the ride was smooth and controlled. And most importantly, my legs weren't beat up afterwards."
"I plan to use the Nike Invincible for my easy and recovery runs. They are light and bouncy and will make for a great daily trainer."
The Invincible hasn’t been designed to be a ‘fast’ shoe - it’s not the shoe you’re going to do any sessions in or even really strides at the end of a run. There’s so much else in the Nike stable for that. But if you’re looking for something to keep you running day in and day out, it might just be the shoe for you.
Publisher's Note: The Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit is available now at Nike.com and be sure to hit the Nike Run Club App to explore the work Nike has done in developing tailored training plans for running smarter.