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Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 Review: This Sneaker Made My Workouts Faster and Feel Less Terrible

And it did. I definitely saw a performance boost in my running while wearing these shoes, when talking about both speed and effort. For instance, during my one-mile pick-up during my first run, I logged one of my fastest miles in a year—and I felt fresh enough after to follow that up with two more pick-ups (albeit shorter ones). Basically, I was hitting really fast-for-me paces, without feeling like I was at my max. (Of course, there’s always the impossible-to-quantify psychological effect that may be at play here too: I knew these shoes were supposed to help me run faster and easier, so maybe that unknowingly pushed me as well?)

How My Body Felt

During the run, I felt pretty damn good. I’ve recently been bothered by some shin pain, especially during intervals or elevation change, but it didn’t feel as jarring while wearing the Alphafly Next% 2. The cushioning of the shoes really reduced the pounding with each step, especially when I was going fast.

As for after my runs? Because my runs were harder than normal with these shoes, I was expecting some aches and pains the next day. And while I did experience some soreness and tightness, it seemed to be concentrated mostly to my hips and quads—not in the lower shin/ankle area, where I tend to feel a lot of my harder training. So performance measures aside, I think this could make a good shoe to sub in for a longer-mileage workout when you’re training for a longer race and need to protect against the effects of too much impact.

In fact, that’s probably the second biggest take-home for me: These shoes can help you go long or go hard, without a lot of the aches and pains that go with it.

Versatility

If you’re looking for a shoe that’ll take you to the roads to the gym to the trails, this one isn’t it: This is a road-running—probably more accurately, a road-racing—shoe, and a damn good one at that. But it just doesn’t have the shape or stability to let you effectively do other workouts. I tried out a few bodyweight squats in them just for kicks, and it felt like I was squatting from a platform, which, well, makes sense when you think about the heel stack.

I  also think there are kinds of running that are better suited to this shoe than others. For instance, I probably wouldn’t take them on an easy recovery run. I noticed that the super slow paces didn’t feel nearly as natural as my quicker-paced strides—the shoes actually felt a little clumsy. Once your pace heats up, though, the whole process becomes so, so smooth.

I’d also be cautious about taking them on runs where you need to change direction quickly, like for turns, or when you need to hop up and down on lots of curbs. The shoes feel slightly unstable with more dynamic moves, and there were a couple times I almost landed weirdly coming on or off a curb. Finally, I’d stick to the roads for these: There’s a pretty smooth, non-technical trail that I run on frequently, but the mile I spent on it in these shoes didn’t feel as great as on the road, and I don’t think the sole would be durable enough to handle a lot of time spent on uneven, rocky terrain.

The Bottom Line

There’s really a lot to love with these super shoes: They make your hard runs feel easier and give your legs the pep they need to eke out some quick paces without beating up your lower body in the process. Plus they’re just plain fun. So far, I’ve only taken them out on everyday runs, but I’m already looking forward to signing up for my next race so I can wear them then. Could I hit a PR? I think it’s definitely very possible.

But I do think it could be very easy to let your body become conditioned to the benefits of these kinds of shoes, though—if you have a hard workout on the schedule, these are going to be the ones you’ll want to reach for, especially if you have certain paces or times to hit. I feel like these are best used sparingly, though, both for durability issues and because you don’t want to become conditioned to the buoyant, springy ride as your new normal. So I’m definitely going to keep reaching for these, but I’m also going to be very cognizant to keep non-super shoes in my regular rotation as well.

If you’re looking for an everyday running shoe, this isn’t it. But if you’re a goals-oriented racer looking for a shoe that can help you elevate your game, take it to the next level, and help you feel great while getting there? Then lace these up and take them for a ride.

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