Nike Air Zoom Hayward +3: Impressions

I picked up this pair of shoes a month ago when I couldn’t find a pair of New Balance 903s. Since I’m working on no landing on my heels, I needed a low profile shoe with a minimal heel. I noted the Haywards after some glowing user reviews on several shopping websites, particularly users who’ve run with knee pain in the past. After trying on the shoe in various sizes, I ended up buying the shoe a full size up (I have wide toes).

On paper, the Hayward is a bit of an oddball that’s based on a shoe design left by the late Prefontaine. As such, it’s a retro-styled waffle trainer with amazing flexibility but still soft and supportive with looks to match. It’s a bit heavy to be a performance trainer (though it is advertised as such), but it’s far lighter than my New Balance 1010s.

My first few runs with these guys were on the treadmill at my local gym. The first thing I noticed was responsiveness of this shoe; it needed no break-in time. Being considerably lighter than shoes I’ve previously ran in, I felt much faster as well. Plus, the lower heel gave me plenty of clearance for forefoot striking without forcibly landing on my toes, so it definitely works for building technique.

My longest run I did in the the Haywards was the 5 miler last week. Some users complained that the minimal design makes the shoes bad for longer runs. I finished the run with a little bit of pain around my right forefoot, but I can’t necessarily blame it on the shoes considering this being the longest distance I’ve run in a long time. The aching went shortly after finishing, so it wasn’t too big of a deal.

The Nikes have been good to my knee , more or less. I still have the occasional twinge, but most of my days have been pain free. Despite not being my original choice, I really like the Haywards, perhaps more so than I would’ve liked the 903s. These shoes are cushioned, flexible, and easy on the eyes.

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