I know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of “NoBull running shoes are a thing?“
If you’re a functional fitness or CrossFit fan, you know NoBull as one of the biggest names in the industry. Or maybe as Reebok’s successor as the official sponsor of the CrossFit games.
And even if you didn’t know that, it’s likely you’ve seen their shoes in your social media feeds as the NoBull team has made their brand impossible to escape across all digital platforms (which our authors, one a current marketing guy for comics and the other a reformed marketer, fully support).
We get lots of questions about NoBull and their shoes. We figured it was time to give you some answers, so expect this and more NoBull reviews coming up over the next few weeks.
From the jump, we need to say that NoBull provided these shoes to us free of charge. Though they have no involvement in the review, they won’t see it before we publish it and have no control of the contents.
We’re also going to try a new format with these reviews as both of us are very different reviewers with very different goals and builds, so we want to make sure you have that context going into things.
And with that – let’s get into reviewing the NoBull running shoes many have asked for, the NoBull Runner+, provided to both Drew and Arune in the “Ink & Sky Tie-Dye” colorway.
Release Date: 2022
Sizing: True to Size
- Rundown: The NoBull Runner+ is a wide-foot friendly, bouncy, and responsive running shoe that’s pricey but very good for shorter runs.
- Wide Foot Friendly
- Immediate Comfort
- Good for Short Runs
- Don’t Go Long
How Do The Authors Train?
Arune (age 40, 5’10”, 205lbs): Trains daily with functional fitness programming provided by Deadboys Fitness, founded by Colby “Seth Rollins” Lopez and Josh Gallegos. He also jogs regularly (maxing out at a 5K session) and looks for every opportunity to get some time on a heavy bag. Given his medical history of Sleep Apnea and Myasthenia Gravis, Arune’s focus is on lean muscle mass and getting down consistently to 190lbs, with a secondary focus on cardiovascular training and aesthetics. He works out in a home gym with a rower, air bike, bench, adjustable dumbbells, and kettlebells.
Drew (age 40, 6’6″ 198lbs): Trains daily with a focus on running, strength training, and mobility. He writes the majority of our running shoe reviews and runs a lot of miles both due to testing needs and his growing affinity for long-distance races. He recently completed the Boston Marathon. More marathons, half-marathons, 10k, and 5k races are in his future. His strength training and mobility regiment center around maintaining flexibility and lifting heavy to build power as a counterbalance to all the long-distance running he’s doing. His number one focus is staying injury free so he can keep up the sweet gig of reviewing shoes for a living.
Wide Foot Friendly
Arune: As someone with slightly hobbit-ish feet, I have bothered Drew numerous times on the WearTesters Discord about footwear suggestions for my feet since my pinky toes tend to get crushed. I’m thrilled with the NoBull Runner+ forefoot width and the opportunity for full toe splay. The midfoot is also just wide enough that it hugs my foot but my midfoot doesn’t roll all over, as happens with some wide-fit shoes. This may also be the source of a con that we’ll discuss, but I appreciated the immediate comfort as I slid my foot into that wonderful mesh upper.
Drew: As we’ve begun testing both NoBull training shoes and NoBull running shoes it’s clear NoBull prioritizes a wide fit. The last is plenty wide and the mesh used on the upper is very forgiving and soft. I prefer wearing thicker socks with the NoBull shoes to fill up some of the extra space. Due to foot expansion as I run, I prefer running shoes to start out a bit wider so the fit of the Runner+ is on point.
Arune: We touched on it above, but this shoe is incredibly comfortable right out of the box – it reminded me of my first Adidas NMDs, which will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll leave it to Drew to explain Pebax foam and how it compares to other foams (React, Boost, Nitro, FFBlast+), but it immediately felt familiar in really good ways. It’s also really easy to slide on and off your feet, which is an area where I’ve struggled with many of NoBull’s shoes. Really glad to see the wider opening for hobbit-footed people like me.
Drew: Pebax is currently the most coveted foam in the running shoe industry. Many of the shoes on our Best Marathon Running Shoes list use it, including the vaunted Nike Alphafly Next%. It’s a super lightweight, bouncy compound. In the NoBull Runner+, it’s a pelletized pebax paired with a full-length nylon plate that bisects that foam in order to 1) keep it stable and 2) add even more energy return.
While the Runner+ is resilient and bouncy, it’s not quite plush enough for my liking. The pebax feels firmer than in most of my other pebax running shoes. While I imagine this was done for stability, since the majority of NoBull customers lift frequently, it limits its versatility as a running shoe. Which, it turns out, is a perfect segue.
Good for Short Runs
Arune: I’m going to leave the tech explanations here to Drew because I don’t know what a nylon plate does in comparison to other plated shoes, but I was impressed by how much return I got from the shoe in shorter sprints, from 500m to 1 mile. I really could feel the return in those short sprints as I really pushed off my forefoot with confidence. But, there are limitations.
Drew: As I mentioned in the last section and Arune hinted above, the responsiveness is great, but the formulation of the foam is too firm. This means that these NoBull running shoes should probably stick to runs of 5 miles or less. They make a fine shoe for working out on a track, but on longer distances, you’ll start to feel a lack of impact protection.
Arune: Call me basic, but these shoes look FUN. The Tie-Dye colorway is a blast and I like that NOBULL balances these unique patterns along with more conventional colorways. It allows me to decide how much I want my shoe to speak for me, along with giving me something I won’t see anyone else here in LA wearing to the gym.
Drew: I rarely comment on a shoe’s looks because they don’t affect performance but I think Arune is right to touch on it. NoBull has a look that consumers like. Their presence at the gyms I frequent has increased exponentially over the past 2-4 years. It’s a look that’s resonating.
And how about the colorways? The colorways of the NoBull training shoes are endless. The Runner+ was released earlier this year and already has seven different options. Given what NoBull does with their other silhouettes, I’m expecting the Runner+ to get plenty more color options. Extra points for giving the people what they want.
Arune: I don’t know about you Drew, but I could swear my heels were going to come out of these shoes at any given moment. I cinched those laces as tight as I could but the heel slippage was quite consistent and quite annoying.
Drew: As long as I was firmly laced up, I didn’t have the same heel slip problems as Arune. But, if I tried to loosen them even a little, I felt my heel start to slip. That’s not ideal. The rear collar needs some achilles pillows or an extra lace hole to keep the heel fully locked down inside the shoe.
Don’t Go Long
Arune: I am by no means a distance runner. The idea of running more than 10 miles is ludicrous to me. At that point, just let the zombies take me. Then people like Drew or Kofuzi can be the ones to keep the human race alive. However, I regularly knock out 5k jogs in my Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 and I’ve found some joy in cardio that isn’t a rower or air bike.
After running just 2 miles in the Runner+, my feet were sore and it felt like the cushion had bottomed out – which clearly wasn’t the case. Drew, does this mean the midsole is too firm? Or am I just a newbie runner who needs to toughen up a bit? I mean, I ran in Vibram Five Fingers years ago and enjoyed it, so I’d like to believe I’m somewhat adaptable.
Drew: Yes, my young padawan, that does mean the midsole is too firm for you and your tender feet. But it’s also too firm by modern running shoe standards. The increased impact protection of running shoes in this era helps a ton with recovery, especially when we’re talking about long runs. Only super efficient athletes and young bucks should take the Runner+ above 5-6 miles. I did…and I regretted it. Or rather, my lower back let me know rather pointedly that the Runner+ shouldn’t go that long.
Arune: Maybe it’s the plate, but standing still in these shoes always made me feel like I was going to fall over – especially if I had more weight on one foot than the other (like snapping on-feet pics). Despite feeling really good on my runs, slowing down or standing still felt like more work. Drew, are you feeling this too? Did I skip too many leg days?
Drew: I’ve seen Arune’s legs and he does not, in fact, skip leg day. So that’s not the issue. The higher stack of a shoe like the Runner+ can make you feel unstable. For me, the medial side of the Runner+ is plenty stable but the lateral side feels a bit wobbly. If you tend to supinate or land on the outside of your foot, you’ll feel a lack of stability. NoBull needs a little more structure on the lateral side of the upper to prevent this. Hopefully, future colorways take this into account.
Arune: I saved this for the end because it’s a brutal one – this shoe costs $179 in some colorways and $199 in the one we were sent. Now I’m not saying that isn’t fair – I don’t know how NoBull manufactures things. Perhaps the costs come from paying competitive wages and/or other reasons that I would totally understand.
But that makes this shoe more expensive than almost all non-plated offerings from Brooks, Asics, Hoka, or Nike. And when I think about a certified super shoe like the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ costing $250, it’s hard not to pause when thinking about the price of the Runner+.
Perhaps that Nylon Plate is a bigger deal than I realize, but I would need to love this shoe a lot more in order to pay so much more than the myriad of shoes I do love.
Drew: In the current market, a shoe with pebax cushion and a nylon plate retails for $160-$170. NoBull is about $10-$30 too expensive. The first year of the shoe’s existence is the most expensive one due to opening midsole/outsole molds. I think NoBull tried to recoup too much of that cost in year one. The Runner+ would be a lot more palatable at $160.
Are NoBull Running Shoes for Me?
Arune: Unfortunately, this isn’t a shoe I can see myself using frequently – it isn’t a strong enough running shoe to supplant the Gel-Nimbus 24 as my everyday trainer and not enough of a speed shoe to be something I keep around.
Drew: I’m already on to testing other running shoes. The NoBull Runner+ doesn’t make the cut as something I’ll keep on hand for the rare moments I’m not testing something new.
Are NoBull Running Shoes for You?
Arune: If you’re looking for a shoe to be on your feet all day or just to keep next to the door for errands, I think this may be a good fit for you (depending on your price sensitivity). This is a comfortable shoe that’s also got a great look that’ll turn heads. To you, that may be worth what I consider a premium. I’d argue you could get a lot of the same from Adidas’ redesigned NMD or their Boost line of shoes with some extra $ left in your pocket, but that’s your call.
Drew: If you love NoBull trainers and are looking for a shoe to wear when your workout calls for a lot of running or jumping I think you’ll be happy with your purchase.
NoBull Runner+ Summary
Arune: There’s enough right with the NoBull Runner+ that I can see future iterations being something really special and appealing, but that time just isn’t now. I applaud NoBull for expanding their footwear offerings, but as a runner, this simply isn’t in the same league as the everyday running shoes from established brands and isn’t high-end enough to work for me at that price point.
Drew: I didn’t expect the first of the NoBull running shoes to be an effort this solid. Usually, training brands really struggle to make shoes for runners. I think NoBull is well on its way with the Runner+. If NoBull tweaks a few things (including the price) they’ll give runners something very attractive. For now, I think NoBull’s current training customers will find this shoe useful. Personally, I’m hoping NoBull keeps iterating and takes its running shoes to the next level.
- Wide Foot Friendly
- Immediate Comfort
- Good for Short Runs
- Don't Go Long