Nike Free RN Distance
The release of the Nike Free RN Distance brought with it the promise of a natural-feeling long-distance runner with a comfortable feel and multiple points of flexibility. For quite a long time Nike has been known for their ability to provide free and flexible athletic footwear with an impeccable sense of style. However, can a newly redesigned outsole with hexagonal flex grooves encourage those who have abandoned the Nike brand to come back? It’s indisputable that Nike felt the heat from its competitors. To combat this, they’ve stepped up to the challenge and released a highly capable all-around running shoe that may just be a runner’s new best friend for both short and long runs.
Pros & Cons
The outsole of this shoe sports BRS 1000 carbon rubber throughout the entirety of its construction. This helps to provide runners with a high durability and an appealing amount of traction. Runners who have tried these shoes also appreciated the hexagonal flex grooves, not just for their well-suited flexibility but also for the way they encourage natural foot movement. Running on wet or uneven surfaces is more easily accomplished in these shoes thanks to their waffle pattern lugs providing a double-dose of grip and cushioning. It’s apparent that Nike started building this shoe from the outsole up, rather than the other way around. This is perhaps the best method of designing a shoe since a solid foundation can make all the difference.
The midsole of the Free RN Distance provides a welcoming sensation with its solid yet soft cushioning system fully capable of providing the responsiveness that runners are looking for. While this is ultimately a matter of personal preference, Nike is well known for making design choices in this department that have the widest appeal. A large contributor to this soft cushioning system is the highly responsive IU002 carrier system Nike chose to implement. This component has become a staple among Nike products as it provides flexibility when needed and a smooth ride when runners are working overtime, which can be helpful during endurance runs.
At a time when the majority of footwear manufacturers are experimenting with bizarre polymers and synthetics for their uppers, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Nike implement a single-layer circular knit upper. Nike has built upon the fundamental layers of this material for generations, giving the Nike Free RN Distance an impressive fit while providing terrific breathability. Flywire cables are a core component of their construction and serve as the backbone of their adaptive fit. This type of quality construction ensures support for runners without adding too much extra weight. Because of this, runners have remarked that their feet were allowed to move freely and flex when necessary on their long distance runs.
The Nike Free RN Distance is just over 10 ounces on average. Strong and durable lightweight materials are the cornerstone of Nike’s ability to make reliable and comfortable everyday running shoes. Wearing these shoes endow runners with the freedom to go farther on high mileage runs due to the use of light materials such as a knit upper with a FlyWire cord based lacing system. Nike understands that even a slight weight increase could have a negative effect on a runner’s stride and endurance. Thankfully, this is something that runners won’t have to worry about while wearing these shoes.
Another crucial aspect of shoes intended for running long distances in is their breathability. The Free RN Distance handles this expertly with Nike’s patented single-layer knit upper. This lightweight and thin component keep the wearer’s foot cool and dry, even on long and exhausting outings. Satisfied customers have commented that in addition to having excellent airflow through the upper, the amount of foam and rubber under the foot helps by avoiding an increase in the Free RN Distance’s internal temperature. This design factor directly correlates with the wearer’s ability to run freely and with confidence.
Runners have floored at the level of comfort these long-distance running shoes were able to deliver. The upper portion, in particular, delivers a feeling reminiscent of soft cloth across the foot, a drastic departure from the common constricting and unforgiving latch-like feel experienced in many other lightweight running shoes. Nike was smart to implement a single piece of knit upper material that snaps over the foot. Despite being a very simple approach to providing comfort, slight changes in the positioning of the FlyWire laces work with the rest of the shoe beautifully. Even runners with chronic knee and joint discomfort felt a noticeable difference while wearing the Nike Free RN Distance.
The style is a corner of the footwear market that Nike has been on top of for as long as most runners can remember. While most companies have a tough time designing a minimalist and lightweight shoe that stands out from the crowd, Nike has no problem with this task as they consistently deliver good-looking and well thought-out shoes at a rate that makes it look easy. Whether it comes in the beautiful crimson red color scheme or the futuristic gamma blue, there is no mistaking these shoes for anything other than a quality Nike product. On the other end of the spectrum, runners who prefer a more low-key approach will appreciate the black, white, and gray color scheme options.
Shoppers will be hard-pressed to find a more durable long-distance runner than the Nike Free RN Distance. These shoes have been put through their paces by many runners, providing an excellent evaluation of their durability. From excessive bending around the toe box to hundreds of miles of hardcore heel striking, these shoes managed to retain their high level of performance without noticeable wear. This is a direct result of Nike’s mission to design a shoe with long-distance running in mind; starting with a solid foundation through its BRS 1000 outsole, designers then built on top of it with strong bonding agents in the midsole and topped it off with a surprisingly resilient knit upper. Runners should expect these runners to last for quite some time.
Regarding the lighter color choices for these shoes, one thing the Nike Free RN Distance doesn’t provide excellent protection from is visible scuffs and dirt. For this reason, fashion-oriented runners may want to pick a darker color palette when picking up a pair of these runners. Aside from this, these shoes offer a level of protection that will serve the vast majority of runners. With its emphasis on prioritizing long-distance running sessions, design features such as a low weight and high breathability help to protect runners from feeling fatigued during their exercises. Additionally, the impressive outsole traction helps to defend runners from slipping while running on tougher terrain.
Runners who are looking for an ultra flexible midsole that has the proper amount of cushioning while still providing snappy and responsive feedback will not be disappointed with the Free RN Distance. Because of these highly responsive design features, these shoes have the ability to foster faster running times over long distance. A surprising degree of responsiveness is provided by the combination of a dense yet pliable midsole and a lightweight and soft upper. As a result, runners wearing these Nike shoes while negotiating technical trails will be able to work with their natural ability and retain excellent energy efficiency.
While more seasoned runners may not like lacing systems that loop through nylon material, the manner in which Nike secures the nylon to the shoe in their lacing system removes the danger of lace degradation over time. A snug and supportive fit are created between the foot and the shoe as a result of this design decision. The overall structure of the Free RN Distance also does wonders for the levels of foot torsion. Nike accomplished this by slightly increasing the padding underneath the midfoot while allowing for a more confident stride as a result.
This shoe makes for an easy recommendation as an everyday long-distance runner. Something worth noting is that some more technical terrain, such as rough trails, can also be handled easily due to Nike’s dozens of recent patents on shoe technology. The implementation of these designs and materials raised the ability level of their lightweight distance runners; however, some caution should still be exercised on tougher terrain since they weren’t expressly designed for these environments. Generally speaking, this shoe is slightly different from previous Nike runners due to its revised outsole geometry which ultimately leads to better terrain performance.
Since the minimalist barefoot-style running shoe has largely gone out of fashion in recent years, runners nowadays are looking for shoes with a more substantial underfoot. Nike flexes their expertise in both shoe design and marketing by sourcing high-quality materials at lower prices, passing savings directly onto consumers. As a result, runners can expect the Free RN Distance to provide a perfect combination of mainstream and minimal design philosophies at a terrific price point.
In order to provide suitable traction for a variety of running surfaces and conditions, Nike designed this shoe from the ground up to work with its highly competent outsole. The use of heavy-duty BRS 1000 rubber in a hexagonal formation mimics some popular trail running shoe designs to lend some of their effectiveness to this lighter product. Additionally, the ability for the Free RN Distance’s midsole to evenly distribute pressure makes sure that the entirety of the outsole is used during a run. Finally, a tight-fitting yet comfortable upper made from a lightweight knit material with FlyWire lacing ensure the weight stays low on top.
Ordinarily, a shoe that offers the same level of traction as the Free RN Distance does wouldn’t have a very flexible fit. Fortunately, Nike designed these shoes to take after traditional running shoes to just enough of a degree that a forgiving pliability can be felt while they’re worn. This impressive feat is accomplished through the subtle use of Phylon for the shoe’s midsole; enough is present to cushion the wearer’s foot from the ground beneath it without adding so much that the shoe feels rigid. It’s a design that must be felt in order to be believed.
While the sturdy and well-designed outsole of the Nike Free RN Distance may be viable for use on technical running trails, the level of stability present in these runners isn’t enough to take full advantage. Because of this, runners expecting these shoes to function like a solid pair of trail running shoes will be in for a rude awakening. This isn’t to say that stability isn’t present in these shoes’ design, simply that the amount present from the midsole and upper is just enough to manage traditional running environments.
Bucking the design trend of more common running shoes, including Nike’s own quite popular Air Zoom line of products, the Free RN Distance features a surprisingly low heel drop. The difference in elevation between the heel to the forefoot is around 4 mm, providing a small increase in heel cushioning to compensate for rearfoot strikers while still promoting a stride that incorporates more of the foot.
- Seamless and lightweight upper
- Firm yet flexible Phylon midsole
- Durable BRS 1000 rubber outsole
- Color options ranging from bright to subdued
- FlyWire lacing ensures a snug and comfortable fit
The Nike Free RN Distance is a very light and flexible long distance running shoe that helps make longer running sessions more enjoyable. There’s a lot at work under the hood of these shoes and Nike does an incredible job of providing runners with enough cushioning and spring in a way that looks effortless. This shoe performs well on both 5K and 10K marathons and on many different forms of terrain. Technical components managing stiffness reduction and even pressure distribution help to ensure this impressive long-term comfort. Ultimately, runners can run in a pair of Free RN Distances with the knowledge that they are protected every step of the way.