The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% is a race shoe that made us zoom through the streets! It's fast, bouncy, and light and - it's everything speed-ready. With its steep price, it's exclusively for runners who only care about beating PBs and nothing else. For a race shoe, it's surprisingly cushy. During landing, our feet felt like they were stepping on marshmallows!
If you are not accustomed to running in a maximally cushioned shoe, it will take some getting used to. Running in this shoe is like running -- bouncing -- on mini trampolines. Since this is a race-day shoe, it is built for a forefoot strike, not a heel strike, so the rubber on the heel is minimal. The few times I did find myself landing on my heel, it was exceptionally cushioned, like marshmallows.
These shoes are the lightest, bounciest shoes I have ever worn. They make you want to run fast, even forcing you into a forward-moving, mid to forefoot landing, propelling you with a responsive boost.
The Alphafly Next% fits true to size
The shoe length is perfect and it fits snugly around my feet. The midfoot is extremely narrow that I have a difficult time getting the shoes on my feet. Once I do, though, they perfectly hug my feet.
The only hot spot I noticed was after an 8.5-mile speed workout, the inside of my left arch had some discomfort. Again, this is due to the extremely narrow "waisted" midfoot and the pressure put on the inside of my arches after a workout.
The toebox is wide enough to allow ample movement and flexibility, but the midfoot is locked down tight.
Not for walking
These shoes are built for speed, nothing else. Do not wear these on easy days, as that is not what they were designed for. I didn’t even feel comfortable walking in them.
Not for runners who prefer higher heel-to-toe drop
The stack height is 39mm in the heel and 35mm in the forefoot, providing a 4mm drop. This does not take a lot of load off the calf, so if you are accustomed to a higher drop, you might not like this shoe.
The Nike Alphafly Next% is a race-day-only shoe
It is a good idea to try the shoes on for several miles just to make sure you know what to expect on race day. But, because they are not built to last hundreds and hundreds of miles, and because they are somewhat expensive, it is best to preserve them for race day. If you are not planning to race your best, take down your PB, or give it your all, I would save these for a later day.
The Alphafly Next% is unstable for quick turns
I tested this shoe on a number of different surfaces, including asphalt, concrete, and track. While track surfaces combined with the bounciness of the shoes provided a terrific surface for speed, the turns on the track caused some instability. The upper is simply not made to handle quick turns.
Feather-light racing shoe
I wear a size 12 and the shoe weighs 264 grams (9.3 oz). While these are not the lightest racing shoes made by Nike or other manufacturers, they are extremely lightweight considering all of the technology included.
The upper is see-through breathable mesh, the foam is the lightest there is, leaving the only place for extra weight in the Zoom Air pods. For a clunkier, high stack height shoe with air pods, these shoes are surprisingly light.
After a few runs, I do not notice any wear and tear, so I suspect they might last anywhere from 150 to 300 miles. But, considering the hefty price tag, I would save them for the special occasion of taking down personal records.
There is no “breaking-in” period for these shoes, as they are stiff and prolonged running would only wear down the outsole and foam.
The grip shines on the streets
On the streets, this shoe shines. The grip is superb, assuming you land on the forefoot where the largest amount of rubber outsole is.
The laces are extremely lightweight, and there are no extra holes at the top to keep the heel in place. To provide a heel lockdown, there is an extra cushion on the back of the heel, just below the collar.
The entire upper is in one piece and there is no tongue. I had to crank the laces down very tight to feel a sense of security. Even so, I still felt like they were not tight enough to feel secure.
Final thoughts about the Alphafly Next%
At $275, this shoe is insanely pricey for a race-day-only shoe. While you might not get a thousand miles out of the shoe, how much is a new Personal Best worth to you? You will definitely achieve it on race day in these shoes.
I am a huge fan of the bounce, cushion, and grip of these shoes. No other shoe compares at this point.
However, I am nervous about racing a distance longer than a half marathon. I experienced some discomfort after 8.5 miles and I would be afraid of how my feet would feel if I attempted 26.2. I might consider other long-distance running shoes for a marathon.
If you are ready to race your hardest in a race up to half marathon in distance, I highly recommend the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%.
My name is Mark Clements. I’m an avid runner in my 40’s and I run races from 5Ks to Marathons. I’m always training for a race and run at least 40 miles/week, rotating up to 5 pairs of shoes through my runs. My long term goal is to run into old age, remaining injury-free, which comes in part by being equipped with the best shoes out there!