Summary

We spent 9.4 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

8 reasons to buy

  • A tester commented that the underfoot experience felt like walking on pillows; they’d loved their time wearing the Nike Free RN Distance.
  • People used this running shoe for their daily activities and they felt that it kept them from any muscle or joint pains.
  • The colors of this shoe were more vibrant in actuality, wrote a tester; they acclimated well to its eye-catching look.
  • ‘Enjoyable’ was a word that many reviewers used to describe their time wearing this running shoe.
  • The upper unit’s cloth-like quality gained praise from a lot of consumers.
  • According to runners, the shoelaces stayed in place and they didn’t unravel easily.
  • The mid-sole cushioning system was appreciated because of its capability to keep the feet of the wearer well-cushioned throughout the running session.
  • The flexibility of the Nike Free RN Distance received acclaim; the users felt that it truly allowed them to move more naturally through the gait cycle.

4 reasons not to buy

  • The outsole unit’s hexagonal grooves didn’t last for some testers; they noticed some of them wearing off or peeling away.
  • The cushioning system made a popping noise that irritated some runners.
  • A few consumers noted that it was half-a-size smaller than what they were used to.
  • The side of a tester’s big toe had a blister because the inner fabric kept rubbing against it.

Bottom line

The Nike Free RN Distance made quite a positive impact on a great number of runners. They felt that they were able to run more confidently and freely because of its flexible and accommodating design. The cover system felt like cloth and many wrote that they felt comfortable because of it. On the other hand, there were a few caveats for this model. Most complaints were about its components, which didn’t work well for a few consumers. Still, this road shoe pleased those with neutral gaits.

Facts

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  • Terrain

    Road

    Shoes best for road, track and light gravel. See the best road shoes.

    Trail

    Shoes best for trail, off road, mountains and other unstable surfaces. See the best trail shoes.

    Good to know

    As long as you stick to the road or path, and if you want just one running shoe, buy a road running shoe.

  • Arch support

    Neutral / cushion / high arch

    Shoes for runners who do not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with normal, high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.

    Stability / overpronation / normal arch

    Shoes for runners who need mild to moderate arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a low arch. See the best stability shoes.

    Motion control / severe overpronation / flat feet

    Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.

    Good to know

    - Rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy neutral shoes to avoid injuries.
    - More about arch support in this video.
    - Find your arch type by following steps from this video.

  • Use

    Daily running

    Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.

    Competition

    Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.

    Good to know

    If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.

  • Price
    $120
  • Weight
    Men: 8.8oz
    Women: 7.3oz
  • Heel to toe drop
    Men: 4mm
    Women: 4mm

    The height difference from the heel to the forefoot, also known as heel drop, toe spring, heel to toe spring or simply drop.

    There are many opinions about what a good heel drop is. We do not recommend any in particular. Lean more in this video.

  • Heel height
    Men: 24mm
    Women: 24mm
  • Forefoot height
    Men: 20mm
    Women: 20mm
  • Width
    Men: normal
    Women: normal
  • Release date
    Nov 2015
  • Special editions
Show more facts

Rankings

Expert Reviews

Experts are runners, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

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84 / 100 based on 13 expert reviews

  • 89 / 100 | Steve Hakim

    Nike Free RN Distance: The serta mattress of running shoes

    Formally, I feel like it’s important to note that I have been a fan of Nike and the Free RN series for quite some time now. I ran my first marathon in a pair of Nike Free Run +2, way back in 2009.

    At the time, I was convinced of the superiority of the shoe compared to others I had trained in. I was amazed at how light, flexible, and comfortable the shoe was.

     

     

    However, I was 19 at the time, and this was a time when my body could handle the impact of the road while wearing such a minimalist shoe.

    Over the years, my shoe selection changed and I began running in more “robust” shoes with more support, more cushion, that were subsequently much heavier (Asics, Adidas Boost, Saucony).

    Fast forward to 2017 and the last 3 months. I picked up a pair of Free Run Distance off a clearance rack at a Nike outlet store. The clearance was undoubted because of the size (14 shoes sell at a slower rate than the 13 and under sizes). At $50, the gamble associated with testing out the shoe was minimized.

    Performance

    In the beginning, I decided to put the shoes through their paces (pun intended) exclusively on treadmills around my local gym. This decision was made to help cushion my landing, especially at higher speeds.

    Cushioning

    Standing at 6’3” and 183 pounds, my legs and back take a beating during my longer and faster runs. Immediately, what I noticed is the resilience of the Lunarlon cushioning.

     

    Sole

    I expected the sole to wear down after a month’s worth of use. However, the sole is still intact and has maintained its shape admirably.

    Three months in and the shoe still provides excellent comfort. This is surprising considering the weight of the shoe (A size 14 coming in at a little over 9 oz). I expected “wear and tear” to be a more significant problem.

     

     

    When training, my runs fluctuate between 8 and 16 miles at an 8 mile an hour pace. At this pace, the Lunarlon performs admirably.

    The material provides an excellent bounce to each stride, making my runs feel efficient and effortless, which is surprising considering the minimalist heel to toe drop (4mm).

    Outsole's flexibility

    The outsole is also rather responsive, with the flex grooves offering excellent flexibility. While they do not “glide” me to my next step, I never feel weighed down during my runs.

     

    Upper

    The upper, a single layer knit with Nike’s Flywire cables, wrapped the arch of my foot perfectly. After only three runs, the shoe felt as though it was tailored to my foot.

    This leads me to my first complaint about these shoes: comfort comes first. This is particularly obvious when discussing the “deconstructed” mesh heel. Especially on longer runs, the integrity of the heel is challenged.

    At around the 10-mile mark of each run, I would become particularly aware of the heel losing its shape, making me feel as though the shoe was going to fly off my foot at any moment.

     

     

    Furthermore, the comfort of the upper becomes a problem if I lace the shoes up tight. When lacing the shoe tighter for added stability, the laces tend to dig into the top of my foot on longer runs.

    Upon loosening the laces, my foot begins to slide around the inside of the shoe, where the partial inner sleeve does little to keep my foot in place.

    Toe box

    The shoe also runs wide, with a boxier toe than most running shoes I have owned, which is a welcomed change considering the size of my foot.

    I can honestly say, that my toes were never inconvenienced during runs at any distance. However, when loosening up the laces, my foot tends to slide around more than I would like.

    It is also important to note, especially with Nike’s, that these shoes run a little small. In most running shoes, I wear a size 13-13.5. With Nike’s, my general suggestion is to buy at least a ½ size larger.

    Conclusion

    In general, I have enjoyed running in these shoes. Simply put, compared to my $200 shoes, in the Nike Free RN, my performance (speed/time/distance) took a hit, but my recovery time was shorter. Even as I transitioned to road running, my body never suffered.

    The breathable upper also eliminated overheating. Personally, I have started using these shoes for training, subsequently saving the $200 shoes for race day. While the Free RN Distance doesn’t excel in any specific realm, it is comfortable, resilient, and cost friendly. I recommend them.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 92 / 100 | Jons Journeys

    It is a perfect balance of natural feeling and cushioning.

  • 82 / 100 | RockStarRunner

    I recommend this for marathon to half marathons.

  • 88 / 100 | Running Competitor

    Despite the thicker amount of foam and rubber under foot, the Free RN Distance offers unparalleled agility for an everyday training shoe. Our wear-testers found it best for short to medium-length runs, long intervals, fartleks, shorter tempo runs and races up to 10K.

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Updates to Nike Free RN Distance

  • The Nike Free RN Distance features the natural-motion outsole that had hexagonal flex grooves with six points of flexibility. It allows the foot to move freely and flex to where the foot meant to. It gives flexibility for a comfortable, long distance run.
  • The shoe comes with a lightweight cushioning that delivers enough support for high mileage runs. The soft foam delivers a great combination of plush comfort and durable support for distance runs.
  • It also features the single-layer knitted upper that delivers maximum breathability, keeping the foot cool and dry. The upper is engineered with the Flywire cables that comfortable wraps the arch for a more adaptive and supportive fit.

Nike Free RN Distance size and fit

The Free RN Distance has a close-to-the-foot fit just like the other Nike Free shoes. The forefoot and the midfoot area are in shallow volume, providing a snug fit for runners with medium and narrow foot shape. This shoe is absolutely not ideal for wider foot. It is available in standard running shoe size.

Outsole

The Free RN Distance uses the BRS 1000 carbon rubber extended in the entire outsole that delivers durable traction. With the aid of the hexagonal flex grooves that promotes maximum flexibility, the foot can move naturally. The waffle-pattern lugs deliver reliable grip on wet surfaces while giving added cushioning.

Midsole

The shoe has a soft cushioning and it delivers a durable and responsive ride. The fused lunar core gives a lightweight yet responsive cushioning and the IU002 carrier system offers a smooth ride while giving the necessary flexibility needed for comfortable and enhanced performance.

Upper

The upper of the Nike Free RN Distance features a one-layer circular knitted upper that delivers an impressive fit while giving plenty of breathability. It also uses the Nike’s Dynamic Flywire cables that provide added support and adaptive fit without adding to much weight to the shoe’s overall weight.


Comparison