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Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Performance Review

The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is a wild-looking new Puma running shoe aimed at long-distance racing. It doesn’t replace the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite but instead complements it. It gives runners another choice depending on what sort of underfoot feel they prefer. The good news is the Puma Fast-R is just as good as the Deviate Nitro Elite. Whether you want to wear it on race day will depend on your preferences. At the end of this review, you’ll know whether the wild style of the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is right for you. The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite also made our list of the best marathon running shoes in 2022, as well as our best Puma running shoes list.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite

Release Date: July 2022

Price: $250

Weight: M 7.5oz, W 6.1oz

Drop: 8mm (27mm forefoot, 35mm heel)

Sizing: True to size

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  • Rundown: A light, supportive racer with amazing traction and bouncy forefoot cushioning. It’s a fun shoe that performs well and gets attention.

Pros

  • Midsole Geometry
  • Forefoot Nitro Elite Foam
  • Puma Grip Outsole
  • Upper Support

Cons

  • Heel Striking
  • Breathability
  • Rear Fin
Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Running

Pros

Midsole Geometry

A running shoe with a decoupled midsole. If you grew up playing basketball like me, you’re used to the flexibility offered by decoupling the midsole. A good example from almost a decade ago is the Air Jordan 28. Just like on the Puma Fast-R, the heel and forefoot are connected with a carbon fiber plate. But just because a decoupled midsole with a carbon fiber plate was done before doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing.

The way it’s designed and implemented in the Fast-R is different than anything we’ve seen before in running. The heel is a denser foam (it feels like Puma’s ProFoam) and the forefoot is Puma’s peba-based supercritical Nitro Elite foam. Firm and stable in the back with a forefoot that feels rocket-like. Does it feel weird on foot? Yes and no. But we’ll touch on that later. What you need to know now is that this midsole setup is FUN. And everyone else will ask you how it feels. Welcome to the center of attention.

Forefoot Nitro Elite Foam

I said earlier the forefoot is rocket-like. It might partially be the juxtaposition with the heel that makes it feel so bouncy, but speeding up and pushing off your toes feels amazing. The faster you go, the better the Fast-R’s forefoot feels. It’s perfect for a race day shoe. The more effort and speed, the better it feels. Mentally, it’s an extra positive signal that keeps your brain primed to enter PR (personal record) territory.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Outsole

Puma Grip Outsole

I’m not exactly sure how many reviews I’ve written for shoes featuring a Puma Grip outsole since it appeared in early 2021, but I’m 100% sure every review has the outsole in the pros section. Puma Grip is one of the best traction compounds in the running shoe industry. It just doesn’t slip no matter the conditions. Rain, snow, or shine, it’s dependable.

Upper Support

The upper is mostly a see-through monomesh (similar to Nike’s previously used Vaporweave) paired with a gusseted knit tongue and ample Achilles padding. The monomesh’s tight weave isn’t as breathable as open mesh shoes but there’s still some airflow. The upper trades some breathability for superior support. The monomesh and PWRTAPE overlays work extremely well at keeping the foot on top of the sole. You won’t ever feel unstable, even on the sharpest of turns.

And even with that supportive of a build, the upper is comfy. The knit tongue is thin and stretchy but still wraps the foot nicely and protects against lace pressure. Sure, the Fast-R looks wild, but it feels great on foot.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Footstrike

Cons

Heel Striking

My first run in the Puma Fast-R was an easy run the day after an intense speed session. My form was breaking down and I was heel striking a lot (as I do when I’m tired). Despite the three big flex grooves in the heel, landing hard on it isn’t ideal. If you’re a heavy heel striker, the Fast-R isn’t the race day shoe for you. It’s just too firm back there. If you’re a midfoot striker, it’s awesome. You get a little bit of firm support in the back and plush cushioning in the front. And if you’re a forefoot striker, you get plush Nitro Elite foam with every footstep.

The Puma Fast-R will feel a lot different depending on how your foot hits the ground. If you hit the ground with the back edge of your heel it will feel clunky. If you land a little more forward, you’ll experience a smooth landing and toe-off.

Breathability

As I mentioned in the upper section, the monomesh trades breathability for support. It’s a worthy trade. But…you may have a different opinion. If you live in a super hot, muggy climate you may be better off with a shoe that feels more convertible-esque. That said, if you’re just saving the Fast-R for race days, especially spring and fall races where temps are manageable, you’ll be fine.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Upper

Rear Fin

Ok, hear me out. The rear fin looks hella cool. And I guess it takes the place of a traditional heel counter. However, this is a performance review. And the fin, though cool, feels unnecessary on a race day-focused shoe. Puma could easily lose the fin in favor of a more streamlined overall design.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Midsole

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Summary

The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is a rocket-like race day shoe when you’re on your toes or midfoot but a little clunky when you’re on your heels. It’s light, supportive, and has amazing traction. Oh, and it looks super cool. Some of the upcoming colorways I’ve seen are absolute fire.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite Sunset

Overall, I really like how Puma is pushing the envelope of what a marathon running shoe can be. This is a fun change-up in an industry that often plays it safe. I love that Puma took a chance and succeeded with a really fun and fast shoe. Whether you want the Puma Fast-R for speed work, marathons, or the neighborhood 10k/5k, it’s a shoe that makes running more fun.

The Puma Fast-R will be available in June or July 2022 at Puma and various local running stores.

9/10
Total Score

Pros

  • Midsole Geometry
  • Forefoot Nitro Elite Foam
  • Puma Grip Outsole
  • Upper Support

Cons

  • Heel Striking
  • Breathability
  • Rear Fin

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