Earlier this week, I was in NYC for the launch of the Nike React Infinity Run. The Infinity Run is the spiritual successor to the popular Nike Epic React.
Reducing Running Injuries
Physically, the Infinity Run is a lot different from the Epic React and represents the beginning of Nike’s latest moonshot project: shoes that reduce or eliminate injuries. And I’m glad Nike, who achieved their first moonshot of Breaking 2 hours in the marathon, has decided to tackle injuries as their second moonshot.
Obviously, Nike isn’t going to solve running injuries with just one shoe. Nor can a shoe prevent a runner from overtraining. Some part of controlling injuries will always be what the NBA terms load management. And if you’re familiar with the running community, there’s rarely talk of managing your workload. The conversation usually begins and ends with the amount of miles you’re running.
One of the people Nike brought to introduce the React Infinity Run talked consistently about not running high miles compared to his peers and focusing on his own body. That man was Bernard Legat, a 44 year old former 1500m World Champion and the American record holder in the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m races (he’s kind of a big deal). Legat is currently training to compete in February at the US Olympic Trials in the Marathon. Even with his transition to 26.2 miles, he’s more interested in what his body is telling him than hitting a specific mileage.
His mindset blends perfectly with the mission of the Nike React Infinity Run. Avoiding injury so runners can continue getting faster. To achieve that mission, the Nike team led by VP of Running Footwear Brett Holts and Nike Sports Research Lab Footwear Research Director Jay Worobets focused on three big performance pillars:
- Cushioning: Adding more of Nike’s popular React cushioning. There’s 24% more React foam in the Infinity Run’s midsole.
- Stability: It isn’t clear if correcting over pronation reduces injury. To create a more democratic solution to stability – without motion control – the running team widened the midsole to complement the added cushioning.
- Rocker Geometry: Finally, to create a more fluid transition from heel to toe, the team borrowed learnings from the Vaporfly and created a rocker geometry that allows for a smoother transition.
How does all that affect your running? After two miles on a treadmill (btw Woodway treadmills are incredible) and seven miles on pavement, these are my first impressions:
Epic React fans will feel like Nike hit an upgrade button. I heard the various complaints about the Epic React just like everyone else and Nike answered every single one.
The new last is noticeably wider. My narrow foot had no problem with the Epic React. However, I know plenty people who could only wear Epic Reacts casually because their feet would suffocate while running. Now there’s ample room for toe splay and foot expansion.
The new last hugs your arch. Not in a stiff way, more like a light embrace. I enjoyed the feeling but I know there are some that hate when a shoe connects with the underside of their arch. Still, I’d recommend trying them on because it’s not bothersome and enhances the overall fit.
The Infinity Run fits true to size. I had the normal amount of space lengthwise and my high arch didn’t feel constricted by the stretchy flyknit. Of note, Bernard Legat told me he went up half a size in the Infinity Run. He’d didn’t specify why other than it felt better on his foot. Of course, he’s a world class runner so he’s not your typical consumer :). He told me this right before we geeked out about his other favorite training shoe, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2, which I wore to the event.
The Infinity Run has ample rubber on the outsole. Wherever the outsole connects to the ground, there’s rubber. The Infinity Run is going to be durable and last 300+ miles.
Stability is much improved. You’re still sitting on top of a very squishy foam, but now you sit inside the midsole and have a TPU clip that extends from the heel to the midfoot on both the medial and lateral sides of the foot. The whole setup acts like a cradle for your foot. I didn’t expect to feel this stable in a shoe with a React midsole.
The new flyknit helps too. It’s still really breathable but feels stronger. Not as strong as the flyknit patterns used on Nike basketball models, but easily the strongest they’ve used on a running model.
The new rocker motion is noticeable compared to the Epic React but if you’ve run in the Nike Zoom Fly 3, Nike Vaporfly Next%, or something like the New Balance Fresh Foam More, you’ll already be used to the feeling. I’m happy this type of rocker geometry is appearing on more shoes as it’s one of my favorite new innovations.
The Infinity Run is going to be a casual winner. The launch colorway features a trendy orangish-pink and Nike VP Brett Holts was wearing an understated Black/White/Green Glow colorway that was minimal but showed me we’ve got some really nice options coming soon.
Offset and Weight
Men’s size 10 has a 9mm offset (Heel: 33mm, Toe: 24mm) and weighs 10.3 ounces. Women’s Size 8 has a 8.4mm offset (Heel: 30.9mm, Toe: 22.5mm) and weighs 8 ounces.
Performance Review Coming Soon
Give us a few weeks (Jodi will get her pair shortly) with the Nike React Infinity Run and we’ll have the performance review ready. The Infinity Run will be priced at $160 and available on Nike.com on January 3 for Nike Members with a general release on January 16.