In an ideal world with infinite resources, we would be in ownership of all types of running shoes: racing flats for short distance runs, cushioning shoes for long runs to save our knees and other joints, as well perhaps some affordable ones to run in wet weather conditions. And then, we also have shoes that just look too good to ignore, and those that perfectly match our apparel and gear. The combinations and permutations are bewildering and would cater to every whim and fancy.
But that is the ideal world, so let us welcome ourselves back to harsh realities. A running enthusiast could typically have two or three pairs of running shoes – or even one – for financial reasons. And for an added dose of practicality, there is only so much space one can have for their shoe cabinet.
Three Pairs: Air Zoom Pegasus 35, Zoom Pegasus Turbo, Zoom Fly Flyknit
Nike had some months back provided the Pegasus Turbo and Pegasus 35 to test. When the Zoom Fly Flyknit was introduced last month with the carbon fibre plate, I thought it would then be good to share my experiences using these three different pairs.
As a caveat, these observations are based on my personal feet pounding feel, as opposed to laboratory tests. Also, my comparisons are also limited to these three models that I have on hand.
Let us start with a short description of each model, in order of chronological release.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 was introduced in May this year. With a model name that has been around for 35 years, Pegasus has always been a bread-and-butter model for daily as well as long distance use. It carries its midsole mix of Nike Zoom Air and Cushlon foam from the previous model. However, the Peg 35 – as it is affectionately known as – uses an airbag that mimics the Vaporfly 4%’s carbon fibre plate shape. According to Nike, this “new shape offers responsive cushioning that improves transition and flexibility”. A men’s US size 9 would weigh 281g.
The Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo was first launched in July. The innovative technology is its ZoomX foam, which is currently only available in the high-end Vaporfly Elite and 4% models. This ZoomX foam, paired with the harder React foam, as well as the lighter upper mesh, positions this Peg Turbo as the go-to long distance trainers to complete the Vaporfly racers. The Peg Turbo weighs at 238g for a similar men’s US size 9.
Last month, Nike introduced the Zoom Fly Flyknit. This is a second generation Zoom Fly racer, with that famous carbon fibre plate of the Vaporfly 4% now made available in this affordable racing model. Paired with the harder React foam, it is positioned as the racer that can give each stride more propulsion or “pop” for a more enjoyable run. Surprisingly, there is no weight information on the official site, but searches on other sites show that a similar men’s US size 9 would weight about 246g.
All models have equal drops of 10mm each. Pricing wise, Zoom Fly Flyknit sits in between the cheaper Peg 35 and the Peg Turbo, inching slightly closer to the latter.
Visually, the Peg Turbo is the most striking for me. The few colour combinations out there together with the racing stripe in the middle are funky and easily doubles the shoes up for casual wear duties if need be. Zoom Fly Flyknit is also very attractive, with the knit upper making the shoes less bulky. The Peg 35 is probably the most ordinary looking among the three.
However, with only the Zoom Fly Flyknit having the “Racing” livery, there is the visual intention that this will be a fast pair of shoes.
Fit wise, the Peg Turbo has the widest toe boxes. This may have to do with the Peg Turbo bein positioned as long distance trainers, thus the wide boxes allow for continuing comfort when temperatures rise in the shoes and the feet swell. The Peg 35 leans towards the narrower side of things but is still acceptable for someone like me used to 2E width shoe sizes. The Zoom Fly Flyknit is the snuggest among the three, thanks to the stretchy knits.
Real World Usages
Once on the go, all three models fared differently.
First up is the Pegasus Turbo. My initial runs were short, around 5km or lesser. The shoes felt cushy, perhaps a bit squishy due to the ZoomX foam. While comfortable and light, the shoes did not feel stable and seemed slow. But timings clocked showed that I actually ran faster with these shoes than what I would usually do, so I have got mixed feelings on this one. As I ran longer towards half-marathon distances, I felt the shoes were comfortable with no sores and hotspots to my feet but did not give me enough bounce to be fast.
Next is the Pegasus 35, the granddaddy model for distance running. With the airbag in Peg 35, this is familiar technology; no dramas here. But by Nike’s standards, it feels ordinary, which sometimes can be a good thing. The ride is firmer than the Peg Turbo, and I feel assured on every stride. I enjoyed runs of any distance with this Peg 35, although the relatively narrow toe box did not give as much comfort on my feet once I hit two-hour runs compared to the Peg Turbo.
The Zoom Fly Flkynit, while having a snug fit, felt a bit strange initially once on the move. The light stretchy upper seemed to carry a lot of weight on its stiff soles, and my feet seemed to slide especially on curves and corners. But on straight roads, I really enjoyed this pair of shoes. There is enough “pop” for each stride while not being too harsh, which can only mean that this would be the first choice for long distance races.
There are many variables at play in choosing what shoes to have for training or racing, including weight, run pace and distances among many others. Weighing 65kg, shoe size US10, and average timings of about 50 mins, just under 2 hrs and a tad below 4:30 hrs for 10km, half marathon and full marathon respectively, I reckon I would probably fit the average runner profile.
Each shoe model compared here can hold their own for their intended purposes; however, I do have my personal preferences. I would wear the Pegasus Turbo for long distance training for cushioning and comfort reasons; I would skip it for racing as it does not inspire a fast feel.
The Pegasus 35 is reliable for me to use for training both on tracks and on the roads; it can also easily double up as racing shoes. I would not wear the Zoom Fly Flyknit on tracks, but would primarily wear it for training and racing on the roads.
While not perfect, the Zoom Fly Flyknit incorporates a lot of technology with its carbon fibre plate for the enthusiastic runner wanting to clock fast times. It is worth to give it a try if you have always been longing for that expensive Vaporfly 4% that is available in limited numbers.