I covered the Air pods more extensively in my Alphaflty review, here, but in short: They’re two air-filled pockets that help to distribute the impact of each stride and also propel the runner forward into the next step.
One other notable aspect about the shape of the shoe is the rough outsole—which is clearly made to log miles on a road or track. Unlike the Alphafly, which has a much smoother (and softer) outsole that seems to make it clear the shoe was only made for race occasions, this shoe looks much more durable. There’s a thick layer of rubber (like most running shoes have) that shows no signs of wear even after a month of running.
Feel of the Shoe
If you’re a child of the ’90s, you might recall a TV commercial for Moon Shoes that frequently ran between Saturday-morning cartoons. The coveted toy shoes were essentially hollow frames with elastic bands and a sandal that affixed to your foot and allowed the wearer to bounce around. (For the record, my mom said they were too dangerous, so I was only ever able to surreptitiously try these at a friend’s house.)
Anyway: That’s what these sneakers feel like. Incredibly bouncy, springy, and buoyant with the kind of energy return that propels every step forward and will keep your legs feeling fresh for miles. Energy return is really the name of the game with running-shoe innovation these days. These are cushioned—my old-lady knees felt just fine—but the standout sensation is how energized every stride became.
The upper part of the shoe is made of Nike’s proprietary material FlyKnit, which they’ve used for years on a number of shoes. I personally like this material better than the AtomKnit that’s used on the Alphafly Next%. Flyknit is softer, provides more flexibility and stretch, and is just slightly warmer—meaning you can wear these shoes well into cooler temps.
How My Body Felt
As you might have gathered already, my body felt great throughout the run. One of the times I tested these shoes I actually ran 2.5 miles while pushing the stroller, then dropped the baby at home and ran another 3.1 miles on my own. I felt great the entire time, but the coolest thing? I shaved a full 15 seconds off my 5K time while running on my own. Did I push myself a bit more? Yes—but these shoes also made me feel like I could. I know nobody is racing right now, but these would be superb training shoes if speed is your goal.
The following day, my legs were a little sore, but not nearly as bad as I expected them to be after pushing my speed so much.
Company Return Policy
Nike typically offers 30-day returns on all items however during this pandemic period, they’ve extended it to 60 days. What’s more, you can try out any pair of Nike shoes for 30 days (Yes! Go for a run in them!) and if you’re just not into them, they’ll accept the return. That’s great news, especially considering the price tag on these ($ 200).
The Bottom Line
I’ll be wearing these shoes again and again for my shorter and speedier runs. The Tempo Next% are lightweight, extremely bouncy, and feel great on my feet. As with so many of these supercool shoes from Nike, they’re also pretty expensive.
If you’re just looking for a great pair of everyday running shoes that you can also use for strength training or HIIT classes, these are not those shoes. They’ve got a fairly specific, narrow purpose. But if you’re serious about training and cutting seconds off your next P.R., these kicks could help you get there.