Interview by Tim Huebsch
Running shoes that are light typically earn a lot of praise. Light and fluffy trumps heavy and clunky. That’s why one of the brands that’s known for paving the way thought if runners want that feather-light feel, why not literally build sock-like sneakers on air pocket soles? If runners wanted to feel like they’re bounding on a cloud, well, Nike’s new Air VaporMax shoes (a close cousin of the Pegasus) are the way to go. These shoes were designed to feel fresh from kilometre one to the very last step of your training run. They are built to be durable and with fast performance in mind. They’re claim to fame is that they’re light. Actually, they’re 4oz. lighter than the models that preceded them. In testing, Nike put them through 175,000 kilometres (and eight years) of testing to ensure a trustworthy design. Oh, and fun fact: where most shoes are built from the bottom up, these were constructed from the top down– meaning Nike started with the airy upper first.
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Those are just a few quick facts. While you can expect our in-depth review down the line when we’ve put some serious mileage on them, we got an exclusive interview with one of Canada’s best middle distance runners, Olympian Melissa Bishop. She shared her thoughts on the shoe and let us in on a few quirky facts about her training.
Canadian Running: With this type of shoe, do you go sock-less?
Melissa Bishop: I would always wear socks. It’s just my preference. Even with training with my spikes on, I wear socks. But I don’t race in socks in my spikes. In training I do. I think I want to reduce the amount of smelly shoes I have in my closet. I had a friend on my university team who always ran sock-less and his feet were awful smelling.
CR: Aren’t you supposed to do the same thing in training as in a race?
MB: Yes, but they make exceptions. Socks are an exception. I don’t like socks sticking out of my spikes, you want them to feel as naked as possible. I suppose these would be good shoes to be sock-less in because they’re tight to your foot. I don’t think I’ve worn a shoe that’s so close to my spike in terms of weight and feel.
CR: Whats your everyday shoe?
MB: The Pegasus. I’ve run in them for six years now, but these would probably be close behind.
CR: What were your initial thoughts when trying them on?
MB: When I first put them on, it actually feels like you’re walking on air. There’s nothing to them! There’s no sole, it’s a pretty cool feeling. When you’re running, there’s almost a little lift. I have a bit more power from the toe. It’s just a different sensation. There’s a nice soft, cushion when you land on your heels and they’re very responsive.
CR: There are a lot of aids in improving your running performance. For you, how big of a factor is the footwear?
MB: That’s our equipment, right? These are the tools that we need. This is a huge factor in our performance, they are so light. Next to my racing spikes, there’s nothing lighter that I own.
CR: What’s your initial impression about the upper?
MB: It feels just like a sock. They’re not heavy running shoes. They design them to be like a sock. It’s like a second part of your body… I don’t know how else to describe them. It’s not a typical running shoe– look at it, it’s beautiful!
CR: What other gadgets from Nike have you enjoyed using in recent years that helped with your training or recovery?
MB: Last year when we launched the new app on the apply watch, that was cool to bring that in to my training. To have the GPS capabilities and the automatic pause so you’re not constantly pressing stop. There’s some cool features. That was the coolest in 2016.
CR: How into stats are you?
MB: Zero. I don’t even count miles. I can’t even tell you how many miles I run in a week. It’s not something that my coach and I have ever done. We only base it on minutes, we don’t focus on running 60K a week, it’s ‘Do whats given on the day and read your body and how you feel in a given week.’
CR: Does where you are in the world affect your shoe choice? Florida versus Windsor has different conditions to consider.
MB: I wouldn’t say it affects the type of shoe as much as the quantity of shoes I have with me. If I’m at a training camp, I’m going to bring at least three pairs of shoes just to train in because we’re training so much every day. But at home, I’m going to use one pair every day but I have five or six on the go through the week.