After thinking 10 times or more and discussing with my wife at-least 20 times, I bought the expensive stuff exclusively for myself.
By now you would have figured out that I bought something related to running. That is correct! I recently got myself $250 Nike Vapor Fly 4% and as far as I remember, this is by far the most expensive stuff I have ever purchased.
I don’t spend money on anything other than running. Why I am telling you all this? Hang in there, I want to do another test-this time on shoes to know whether or not shoes can make you run faster.
What Nike Claim
Nike originally made these shoes for Eliud Kipchoge. If you don’t know him, please google and you will find that he is the greatest of all time Marathon runner. He broke the 2 hour marathon barrier. A great documentary about his quest to run the unthinkable can be found Here.
Nike did many tests on these shoes with elite marathoners. They came to a conclusion that one can reduce their marathon time by around 4% just by putting these shoes on.
I started reading reviews and blogs on vapor fly 4% and most of them agreed that these shoes help you run faster. One of the dude said that while running in vapor fly, he feels like someone is pushing him forward.
Very recently my buddy Alex also said the same thing. He told me that he got huge PR in many races ranging from 5K to half marathon.
Since I had signed up for lakefront marathon and wanted to get a PR. I gave a thought to purchase these shoes and received them 10 days before the lakefront marathon.
What makes them unique (as per Nike and other runners)
Vaporfly 4% shoes have carbon fiber plates embedded in them. These plates act as mini springs when someone run. This helps runners glide forward.
The shoes weight is also really light. The breathable mesh on top is very unique and it keeps a good air circulation on your feet. So you won’t get sweaty feet at all (ideally).
From performance point of view, there are two data sets available. One study done by Nike where they asked athletes to run with Vaporfly 4% and then with any other shoes. It was concluded that Vaporfly can make one run 4% faster. That is why shoes has a weird name that ends with a % sign.
Another study was reported by Strava (an run, bike, swim) app where they analyzed data on Vaporfly 4% and concluded that these shoes can help marathoners run a faster time.
Looking at the data and talking with some runner friends including Alex Atturbury (who got big PR with these shoes), I bought them with a hope that they will help me get my marathon PR. I assumed that I am very well in shape of running a 2:50 marathon and Vaporfly may put me 2:45 range.
Which shoes I use
I am a big fan of Altra shoes and use their Escalante for road running and superior for trails. I have not tried other brand since Altra works very well for me.
I started with ASICS, tried Saucony and then switched to Altra because of shin pain. Zero drop in the Altra shoes helped me a lot in eliminating the shin pain that I had for years of running.
I also changed my running form consciously which took more than 3-4 months. In past, I was a heel striker and now i do midfoot or forefeet landing (mostly).
Does vaporfly 4% help?
My answer to this question is a big Yes. But they did not help me run 4% faster. I will call them Vaporfly 2.5%. 4 % would have ideally put me in 2:44 range.
I ran 50 miles with them in total that includes 24 miles in training before the lakefront marathon. I am saving them for the Asian & Oceania championship in Jordan where I need them for continuous 62 miles. I will be representing my country India in that event.
I felt wonderful with these shoes during my marathon. I have read reviews which states these with vaporfly, runners feel like someone is pushing them forward. I didn’t feel that way but the cushion, bouncing and their light weight certainly help.
The only downside of these shoes is their hefty price tag. Runners like me will only use them to run big races. This is because they cost more than $9.82 per mile. Why is that? Well, if you are buying them only to get a marathon PR, each mile is going to cost you $9.82. If we dig a bit further and assume that these shoes have made me faster by 3 minutes. Then I had paid $83 for each minute. Was it worth it? It may be a topic of discussion.
There are some other downside of these shoes . The worse one is that they do not last longer. The springiness of carbon fiber plates is not that great after you put 100 miles on them. I am making these statements based on reviews that I got from my friends.
One week before the lakefront marathon, I ran with my friend David. He saw my shoes and asked me if it is vaporfly 4%? He knew about it and was thinking of buying them. He asked my opinion and I suggested him to invest in them. He placed the order 4 days before his marathon in Twin Cities. David can not stop talking about them as he is very pleased with his purchase. He got a huge marathon PR by running it in 2:53.
I am in no way promoting Nike and/or Altra and just providing my opinion on shoes. I am not associated with Nike or Altra in any form.
However, I have tried to reach Altra multiple times for shoes sponsorship without any success.