shoe review: Nike Zoom Fly SP Fast
Like every other running blog out there, it’s only a matter of time before you get the urge to share a shoe review. After all these are the two most important items in the lie we tell ourselves at every purchase, “these will make me a faster runner”.
I’ve had a lot of crazy shoes over the years with a particular affection for the insanely light. I’ve bought Asics Hyperspeed 6 (still one of my favourite 5-miler shoes ever) and the ludicrous Asics Piranha SP5. I only ever wore the Piranhas for 1-mile time trials on the track, I don’t think I’d fare well beyond that.
I started my running life in Nike shoes and ran my first marathon in a pair of c. 2007 Bowerman Series Pegasus. They were a great shoe. Not long after that though, like most shoe manufacturers, Nike started tinkering and made things a little too soft for my liking. That was the end of my love affair with Nike for about 11 years, until the Pegasus 35 was released. The Breaking2 project inspired Pegasus shoes have now been the mainstay in my running since their release, with many pairs having completed their duties.
Zoom Fly SP Fast
The Nike Zoom Fly has been around for a while and is a popular racer, albeit in the slightly heavier end of the racer spectrum (8.7oz/246g). It’s Special Projects (SP) version weighs in slightly lighter (8.2oz/232g) but it is noticeable. As soon as you pick this shoe up, it feels like rice paper draped over a cushioned sole. In fact, I was nervous wearing it for the first time, imagining my foot would rip straight through it. The next thing you notice is that these shoes come with a track bag. I’ve never bought a pair of non-spikes that came with a track bag before now. That makes them seem special for some reason. The next thing you notice is that these shoes are practically see-through!
The almost non-existent upper is only the start of the differences between this and the average racer. With the Pegasus 35 we became accustomed to a full-length air cushion delivering a slightly more stable platform from heel-to-toe. With the Zoom Fly and (SP Fast variant), it borrows more from the Breaking2 4% VaporFly shoe by incorporating the carbon-infused full-length plate throughout the sole.
That plate always sounded like a gimmick to me, until I tried on a pair of these shoes. Genuinely, I don’t think I have ever tried on a pair of shoes that immediately felt so different. You can feel that plate as soon as you stand up in them. I wondered how that odd feeling would transfer into a run.
I took them for their first outing on a relatively unplanned session, as I didn’t know how it was going to go. Also, I’ve never gone for a run with the notion of writing a shoe review afterwards – is there a formula for such things? After a couple of miles the ‘odd’ feeling was still there but it felt less odd and more functional.
I took in some small hills, a set of 30-second strides, and a lots of running on the flat. Eleven miles later I returned home with a smile on my face – these shoes were awesome.
Lots of shoe manufacturers talk about “energy return with every stride” and how their shoes “help to propel you forward”. I’ve bought quite a few of these shoes and honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever had that feeling. With the Zoom Fly SP however, there was definitely something there. Every stride felt different. I’m not completely sure what “energy return” is supposed to feel like but I did feel like it would take more effort to push against that plate on foot strike than it would to just allow the foot to recoil with it. I guess that’s kinda what they were after?
I love these shoes! Okay, that may perhaps be a little overly positive for a first shoe review but genuinely, I love these shoes. I can’t wait to try them out in a race situation and put them through their literal paces. Unlike super racers that I’ve had previously such as the Asics Hyperspeed, the Zoom Fly SP feels sturdy enough, with enough cushioning to carry me for a much longer distance. In fact, I think I would be quite comfortable taking them for a marathon distance run. Don’t take just my word for it, check out RunRepeat’s review too.
Confession: after this run I went back to the Nike website to see if these shoes were still on special. They were and I bought another pair. I have an addiction!