Feet on with Nike’s ultra-light Air Zoom Elite 8 trainers

Nike’s new sneakers promise to make you run faster with less effort – we can dig that

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There's something wonderful about checking out a new pair of trainers – probably something to do with the smell, unfettered by your stinky plates of meat and the strong, stiff frame that's not been ruined by gym bags.

But Nike's gone one step further than that, with these trainers weighing very little indeed while offering a plethora of features that it promises will help you get faster, run better and generally have a better life.

After the Zoom Elite 7's colour blast, which made us feel like we needed a day-glo headband and Global Hypercolor T-shirt to match up, these black, grey and white affairs feel a lot more understated.

Nike's big promise with them is all about energy recovery, trying to nab back some of that effort you put into forcing your foot into the floor to push you forward. It's a lot like Adidas' Boost foam promise, where helping you run with less effort is the name of the game.

Nike's trying to do it with the construction of the trainer though, using FlyWire technology that spring back when compressed to add force to your stride. These are seriously light trainers too, and with the 8mm drop (the difference between the toe and heel sizes) those that prefer to 'feel' the ground under their feet will enjoy the ride

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So, what's it's like to strap them on? In an effort to reduce weight, the tongue is pretty thin, which would normally bring up worries of laces digging into the top of the foot over longer runs. But the asymmetric design sees to it that this isn't the case, with the result being a comfortable fit.

What I did find odd in this shoe, touted as lightweight and breathable, was the stiffness apparent throughout the chassis. The first few kilometres were rather clumpy although after a while they seemed to loosen up somewhat.

I didn't notice a huge amount of springback when using them over a longer distance, but they weren't uncomfortable. They did promote a mid-foot strike (which is a good thing for most runners) but there also seemed to be a fair amount of movement inside, leading to a slightly sore foot.

They aren't as breathable as other trainers on the market either, despite being promised as such, with my feet getting a little toasty over time – which didn't help the slight soreness.

But I'm a long way from bedding these fancy trainers in – and for looks alone, they're definitely some of the better trainers I've strapped on.

Early verdict

While not as cushioned or breathable as I was expecting, these neutral shoes offer just that: a ride that lets your feet do the work, but with added support. They promote a slightly better start than some of the other fat-heeled options out there, but aren't quite as free and airy as the name suggests.