The secret to finding the perfect running shoe is the optimum fit

The secret to finding the perfect running shoe is the optimum fit

With Nike, be the fastest you’ve ever been — or at least look cute trying.

Art by Gianne Encarnacion

 

Just like any other overweight kid with a paranoid mother, I grew up playing a sport I didn’t really like to shed unwanted “baby weight.” I was around seven years old when my parents enrolled me in karate classes. I gladly obliged in the hopes of fending off the bullies and maybe showing off a few high kicks during family reunions to get the extra moolah. Looking at the medals I’ve won competing at the national level and the brown belt hidden in my drawers feels like all of it was productive. I mean, I wasn’t able to lose my chubby cheeks but I had cute photos of myself in a kimono standing on top of a podium. But I also know that our training process also contributed to the development of my poor relationship with exercise a few years after I left the sport.

Being an overweight athlete, I finish a barefoot sprint seconds after my teammates, feeling all their stares in front of me as I inhale the last breath of air needed to push to the end. Even playing patintero as a cross-training activity felt like an invitation for scrutiny for always being part of the losing team. Because of these childhood experiences, I’ve always been ashamed of running so I stayed off the treadmill until two years ago. All it took to get me on it again was a very stressful week of work and the appeal of running with an Olympic gold medalist. 

Gymnast Simone Biles won the Olympic gold medal — and my heart — back in 2016. Just like me, she started training for her sport when she was around six years old; the only difference is she’s really good at it. When I found out that she has a special episode with Nike Running Club, a guided run app that you can download for free via the App Store and the Google Play Store, I was intrigued but that intrigue spiked even more when I saw the word “fartlek.” For the uninitiated, fartlek basically means that you run intervals without stopping for breaks. 

You can run slower but absolutely no walking allowed. That seems easy for a seasoned morning runner, but for someone who still trembles and gets wild flashbacks when thinking about running, it’s next to impossible. But for the love of Simon, I gave it a try. 

And let me tell you what happened next: I died. But in a good way. Because of that episode, I was able to focus on my breath which felt similar to meditation, and that’s something I can get behind. The next day, I did the same thing but with stronger confidence and sore legs. Running gave me the calmness that I thought only meditation could provide. I finally understand what I’ve been missing all these years — the only difference is, I don’t have a scary sensei screaming my ear off when I’m lagging behind. 

The next few months after my first run felt great. Instead of running with Simon Biles, I felt like I was Simon Biles, just zipping through my kilometers on the treadmill day after day. I felt unstoppable… until I got a case of plantar fasciitis. My feet started aching after just running for three minutes. Superman has his Kryptonite, and a slight heel pain is mine. After consulting a doctor, I found out that there are two essential things you need to become a better runner: rest and a good pair of shoes that actually fit.

As it turns out, the old Nikes that I was using were for cross training, not running. So when Nike sent over a pair of Nike Phantom React Flyknit and Nike React Element 55 to try, I was over the moon. I immediately tried them on and ran an Instagram poll, asking which style my friends and followers liked best. The Nike React Element 55 wins for overall style, but the Nike Phantom React Flyknit looks and feels more comfortable. 

Of course, the real test can only happen at the gym and on the treadmill. I really liked the comfort and security that the Nike Phantom React Flyknit provides. It doesn’t have any shoelaces so the chances of you falling on your face while running on the treadmill are very low. The Elastic Flyknit in the shoe also ensures a snug fit, guarding your feet from possible injuries. Aside from some solid cutie points that the Nike React Element 55 gives you, the shoes also provide good padding for your feet. Running with them can be compared to whatever childhood image you have of running on a cloud. 

While the Nike React foam present in these shoes was first launched in basketball shoes, it easily found its way to other sports. I mean, if this technology paved the road to championships for NBA players and Simon Biles, then it’s good enough for me. Now if I can just go back in time and run with these along with my old karate teammates, I bet I could finish as fast as they did — or at least look cute trying.

 

The Nike React Element 55 and Nike Element 55 PRM are available in Beige/Volt, Black/White, White/University Red and Indigo/Fog colorways and retails for P6,745 and P7,195 respectively. The Nike Phantom React Flyknit is available in White/ Hydrogen Blue, Black/University, Red/Hyper Jade, White/Pure Platinum colorways and retails for P7,645. The latest Nike React shoes are available at Nike Park Fort, SM Mall of Asia, Alabang Town Center, Glorietta, Greenbelt 3, Ermita and Circuit Stores.

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