When I first started running a few years ago, I would never have thought about how technical things could get. From your running style, rhythm during any given run, as well as any of the build-up to even just a basic practice on a random day. Despite the efforts of many brands, things don’t get easier when it comes to choosing your trainers. Apart from the previously mentioned, runners also have to factor in their foot type (neutral arch, low arch, and high arch). The type of foot may also affect your pronation and how the shoe wears over time. Failing to consider all these factors could easily lead to injuries when putting in hours of running per week, like your feet, toes, ankles and the likes all feel the impact during the best of runs and only escalate from there.
Nike has launched numerous objectives and challenges – to itself – in recent years with two of the most ambitious being the aim to make every runner faster and the second to reduce potential runner injuries. It’s this latter challenge where the Nike React Infinity Run comes into play in this review. The feat seems overly ambitious on the surface, but factoring in all of the previously-mentioned factors when it comes to personal style and human anatomy, there is quite a lot of data to work from to achieve this goal. All well to have this information, but does it really work?
Nike React Infinity Run Design
Before we get to the real crux of the React Infinity Run, we take a look at the design. The design plays an important role in how the shoe delivers on its promises, other than just looking the part. For starters, the Infinity Run has a wider platform, which aids stability while also allowing for extra cushioning underfoot. If you’re familiar with the first shoe to launch with Nike’s React technology, the Nike Epic React Flyknit, you wouldn’t be amiss to think that the shoe is almost identical, especially looking at the midsole and outsole. Both variants from the React range include a similar rippled-pattern design, with the major difference being the inclusion of the TPU stabiliser on the React Infinity Run, which extends from one side of the midfoot to the other.
The upper is created using single-piece Nike’s Flyknit Loft, featuring multiple layers of knitted material, which allows for durability as well as breathability. The tongue is slightly thicker than its predecessor while also extending further back with the idea to create more support around the opening. The heel area is pushed back slightly so as not to dig into the Achilles tendon area, which can often cause long-term irritation and make running unbearable. While the lacing features the same zig-zag style as before, the eyelets are now free-standing. The biggest change between the two uppers is as a result of the branding, with the new shoe featuring a half-completed Nike outline atop a platinum base with an orange to a pink faded pattern. There are now multiple colourways since the first two at launch.
There are actually two variants of the Infinity Run, for men and women. On the men’s version, the stabiliser is featured in black and grey colour, while on the women’s variant it’s a lot bolder with a pink and grey colour scheme. It’s not a major difference but does make it stand out a bit more. Being a predominately white shoe, don’t expect to keep these babies clean for too long. Having started my review period at the gym on a treadmill it still picked up some dirt along the way, which really increased as I took the run to the streets. Interestingly, Nike’s marketing campaigns have embraced the dirty Infinity Run shoes, a sign of an active runner.
Nike React Infinity Run Comfort
When it comes to the comfort on the React Infinity Run, there’s basically only one aspect to discuss – the React foam cushioning. That’s really all you need to know, as it does the job quite brilliantly. The foam is both soft and durable, which means it can absorb quite a lot of stride impact, while also being tough enough for any terrain.
The shoe is also quite wide in comparison to most other running shoes. Nike has specifically made mention of the width in its marketing campaigns, with a focus on the results it delivers in providing stability underfoot. For most runners, looking at the shoe at face value would almost immediately bring up discussions on weight. With the Infinity, a size UK9 shoe weighs around 275g. It’s not lightest around, but still extremely lightweight overall all things considered.
Another key focus of the design team was the shape of the rocker in the midsole. In layman’s terms, this is the role of the shoe – the curvature from the toe to the heel. The rocker is responsible for the roll of your foot during the stride. With the pronounced rocker on the Infinity Run, Nike aims to reduce stress on the foot during the point of impact and push-off, the ‘ride’.
Nike React Infinity Run Quality and Performance
When it comes to the quality of the product, you’re almost guaranteed that you’re going to be getting the best quality. As with many other running shoes, manufacturers don’t have much in the way of leeway in making errors, as a drop in production quality could mean increased injury, increased product returns and potentially, increased lawsuits. The React Infinity Run is a really solidly built shoe. From the moment of unboxing to hitting the tar and going for the first run, you notice visually and practically that it is.
With all running shoes, none of the previously mentioned is of any value if you’re not receiving any benefit during an actual run. Whether it be to meet specific goals, increasing performance and the likes. With the Infinity Run, the practicality of the shoe is increased with the challenge of aiming and proving to reduce runner injury. Nike has employed biomechanical efficiency and cushioning technology in an effort to achieve this. The result of having already launched the React Infinity Run with the marketing around reducing injury already speaks to the company’s confidence in pulling it off.
Already having touched on the shoe’s rocker design of the React foam midsole, which adds to comfort in your stride, it also assists in providing a fluid transition while running from the moment the foot hits the ground to the toe-off. The geometry also promotes a slight lean forward to create a forward motion during the run. These two aspects of the midsole align with most runner’s goals, as they focus on each stride, one after the other to create a steady, equidistant and equally-paced momentum. Hitting this perfect balance makes it easier to hit those mini-milestones within your run. The shape, however, was designed for higher speed runs and isn’t quite effective during slower, recovery runs.
The improvement for me here was that I could feel more of a difference towards the end of my runs, where many times I would increase my pace either to meet a goal or just that final burst of energy. At these moments I can feel the tension in various muscles and even my knees and hips. With the Infinity Run, a lot of this was reduced. With my recent push and 2020 objectives, I have noticed quite a few more aches at the end of runs. While it hasn’t been enough for me to miss a scheduled run, it was a noticeable feeling time after time. With the Infinity Run, however, there was a definite change of this feeling.
Further to this is the wider build of the midsole for extra support. Nike specifically stated that the React foam wasn’t designed to correct pronation (riding of the ankle) but instead created more stability during your run. This feature of the shoe promotes a smoother run in a straighter line to reduce side to side wobbling. This aspect, more than the above-mentioned was key for me. Every so often there would be extra tension in my right knee or right hip, especially after long runs. There was none of this during the two weeks of running and observing the results during this time.
I mentioned previously that the heel provided additional space to prevent chafing on the Archilles. This, however, was the only downside of the design for me. The extra space wouldn’t be too much of an issue for a standard frame, but with the Flyknit upper and the positioning of the eyelets, runners won’t be able to make use of the loop knot to correct the tightness around the ankle and heel area. It’s either one or the other, you cannot have it both ways, especially on a running shoe. That said, having chosen a few pairs of thicker socks somewhat corrected the effects and really didn’t impact my overall run.
Depending on your foot type as well, the insole’s slightly higher than neutral arch may make it uncomfortable for some. For me, it fit perfectly. However, for others, like my fiancé with a slightly flatter arch, the insole isn’t ideal. Again, this isn’t a train smash, as with all running shoes, you should be able to remove the insole for an alternative. Simple enough.
During its own studies, Nike confirmed a 52% reduction in injuries over a 3-month testing programme for 226 runners split between the Infinity Run and the Structure 22. There are quite a lot of variables here to consider and may not be the out-and-out proof we need that these shoes work. We’d need a lot more runners across a lot more test days across a lot more independent studies to make such claims.
But, having had these shoes for almost three weeks now and have put them through its paces for a solid two weeks of running, I can definitely attest to the fact that there is something there. I had less ankle, shin, knee and hip aches during and after my runs as a result over this period and looking forward to experiencing the next two weeks of running to see if the gains persist. The great thing about the Nike React Infinity Run into my running regimen is that I can definitely start pushing those boundaries faster than I have been doing so far this year, which hopefully means I can meet my target well ahead of the scheduled date and then beyond that mark.
The Nike React Infinity Run dropped earlier this year, back in January 2020 and become more widely available into February. If you’re looking for a running shoe that will assist you in pushing the boundaries well minimising the impact on your body as you run, I will definitely recommend these shoes. They retail for R2,699 at your local Nike stores and many other retailers online and in-store across the country.
Nike React Infinity Run
The Nike React Infinity Run aims to reduce runner injury and after a few runs, I can attest to this being plausible. Apart from that, the shoe provides a comfortable and stable run.
- Incredibly lightweight considering wide frame
- Soft but responsive midsole
- 30mm React cushioning
- Rocker form aids stability
- Slightly loose heel collar
- Included insole may need to be swapped for some runners