Nike Air Zoom Structure 20
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83% say it's true to size.
Overview of this review
The NZS (Nike Zoom Structure 20) is one stunning shoe and catches the attention of your eyes immediately. With crazy colors to choose from, it is almost as though the beauty of the shoe is limited to your own imagination.
At first, you will notice the thick and bulky looking sole and probably tell yourself “now that's more support than my mom gave at my preschool review”. So yes, the new shoe feel will strike you well when you open the NZS box.
The upper mesh did not look cheap or plastic like as many other shoe reviews would say, but rather they were quite stylish, easily standing out in the crowd as one fancy shoe.
The first run went exceptionally well, with great space in the toe box and almost immediately great first fit. The NZS felt as though I was really running on air, which is probably why Nike adds ‘AIR’ to their brand everywhere.
The shoes gave me an immediate response almost forcing me to move faster and increase my cadence. Every step felt as though I was been propelled forward with more ease, a slight spring in my step giving me that extra boost and mental desire to want to run a PB every day.
But on the negative side, coming from a typical running shoe with no weird tech in the lacing up system, lacing up a pair of Nikes for the first time was quite tricky.
At first, it was overly tight and I had to stop a few times to adjust the laces as that it felt as though the sides of the NZS was cutting into my arch, so I would recommend maybe ½ a size bigger as a means to end this issue.
But other than that, on my first run the NZS left me with no strain or injury afterward, rather I felt quite happy with my purchase.
As time went on
As I ran more with NZS, I was quite confident with its ability to accelerate when need be and easily maintain a good speed and high cadence without the feel of two bricks on your feet. As a pronator, they offered me great support and held my heel in with ease.
The shoes offered great breathability on the longer runs and no sweat or moisture gathered creating any problems. The shoe also felt super light every time, regardless of the distance or how tired my legs were.
Although there were some negatives that I could not get past such as the lacing system which genuinely bothered me. Anything more than an 8km run and you could feel the pressure on your arch again and you would be forced to stop and loosen the shoe a bit so as to release some pressure.
Then there is the lack of traction on wet surfaces.
Trying to power up a wet hill in the NZS kind of makes you feel like a supercar trying to speed off in the underground parking, all spin but not moving forward. This did allow me to do some cool sliding maneuvers across the roads or at water points in a race though.
So yes, my two biggest issues would be the lack of wet traction and the lacing system.
Besides the normal road run or race, I use the NZS for my track work on a school grass field. It offers me the best response on the 400/800m repeats compared to my other shoes and also decreases a lot of the impact that I generally felt after a tough track session.
As mentioned before, these shoes have some serious support to them, kind of like riding a Bentley, tons of power with a luxuriously smooth ride.
Time to race
Heavy breathing sets in as you feel your heart rate getting stronger and faster with it pounding on your chest ready to race, you start deafening the sounds around you as you focus on the countdown and a slight tingle sets in the legs which adds to the nerves, all you see are the bodies in front of you and you have one goal set in mind, to win!
“AND GO” screams the commentator, the race is on, the NZS propels you forward with the agility of a gazelle and the strength of a horse, you feel that you can go faster than anyone and you believe it.
In the races I have ran with the NZS ranging from 4km to a 21.2km, the NZS never let me down. It helped me hit PB’s on almost everything, the shoe demanded that you go out the and JUST DO IT!
The shoe was truly a great racer for me. Even though it was on the heavier side of things, I still had that springy crisp step in it which compensated for everything else.
Considering everything you get in the NZS from support to response to speed, this well-rounded shoe is quite affordable and completely reasonable.
The Nike Air Zoom Structure 20 is a great shoe for someone with a proper arch. If you’re a bit flat-footed, I would say that you are going to struggle with the lacing system.
It's quite durable and with roughly 350km to them, the thread is still quite visible and the support is still there with that springy crisp step.
I do wish that Nike's lacing system is not the same throughout all the ranges and that hopefully, the future NZS will offer a more comfortable feel for your arch. But all things pushed aside, I would easily buy another pair.
The NZS serves as a nice 10-15km racer for the serious pronator or heavier runner and will give you the support and speed you need to get across that line.
Updates to Nike Air Zoom Structure 20
- The very popular stability shoe from Nike gets considerable modifications in the 20th edition of the Structure. One clear change is the number of Flywire cords. From 5, there are now only 2 cables that are directly connected to the first two eyelets. Midfoot hold is about the same, but the tension is now focused almost entirely on near the tip of the tongue. The well-cushioned tongue prevents any type of irritation or hot spots. The lesser number of cords saves weight and gives the upper a more refined look.
- The Flymesh also uses bigger forefoot holes for improved breathability. Nike boosts the endurance of the upper with a thicker lamination as eyelet support. In this version of the Flymesh, there is an improved mix of structure and flexibility in areas where the runner needs it.
- Nike wanted a ride that is a bit smoother in the Structure 20 by removing the bump in the arch. While the medial post is still around, the now almost plain arch section moves heel strike to take-off a bit quicker.
- Stability, though, is a touch better in this version as the tri-midsole foam is a hint firmer than the earlier model. The firmer ride also makes the shoe a hair more responsive.
- In the outsole, the lugs in the forefoot are now extended all the way to the medial part of the heel. Traction gets better with the expansion of the lugs to this area.
Size and fit
Nike continues to give the Air Zoom Structure 20 a very standard fit. The inner heel counter and the Flywire cables provide excellent, but not restraining hold in these areas. The forefoot has good volume and enough width for the toes to naturally splay out. As the shoe also comes in wide and extra wide versions, it should be good options for those who require extra space from the heel to the forefoot. It runs true to size.
The 20th instalment of the Zoom Structure continues to use the honeycomb outsole layout that now covers the shoe all the way to the heel on the inner side. A crash rail that extends from the heel to the forefoot gives the shoe better and smoother transitions.
Two types of rubber deliver a nice blend of traction and durability. A soft blown rubber offers grip while the hard carbon rubber in the heel and midfoot provides long-lasting work.
The durability and traction of the shoe are comparable to the outsole unit of the Nike Air Zoom Structure 22.
The midsole of the Air Zoom Structure 20 is made up of a three-density foam. An injection molded EVA occupies a large portion of the midsole for main cushioning duties. On the medial side is another layer of dense foam for better support. And finally, the third wedge of foam running from the heel to the midfoot provides even more support to a collapsing arch. This midsole layout is what Nike calls the Dynamic Support System. It gives the shoe a stable ride for moderate overpronators.
Nike brings back the Flymesh upper in the Structure 20. It gives excellent ventilation and support and allows Nike to completely do away with overlays as the Flymesh itself gives enough structure and integrity to the upper. There are Flywire cables on both sides that are connected to the laces and the midsole for improved security and midfoot hold. An inner heel counter helps lock down the foot from extra movements. Nike packs the tongue with enough foam to prevent the cords from causing irritation. A removable sockliner adds cushioning, support, and a little responsiveness to the shoe.