The product: Nike Air Zoom Structure 20
In a nutshell: The support shoe has been heralded as the cure to all ills and more recently chastised as the ruin of runners, yet it still remains a fundamental part of the running market and as Nike celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Air Zoom Structure, we’ve been putting some miles into the latest version.
The technology: Dynamic Fit, Dynamic Support, Zoom cushioning and Flywire lacing are the main Nike technologies in the shoe, but the main change has come in the Dynamic Support where the plastic block - for want of a better description - of the previous two models has been replaced with ‘dual density foam’ that is more dense on the medial side (in-step) than the lateral side and transitions from the heel to the forefoot (the green and blue in the sole of the shoe in the picture above indicates the two different foams, the green being denser).
What they say: “Its distinctive style and support has earned legions of fans ranging from elite athletes to everyday runners, the shoe compiles insights from past styles to introduce the line’s most-advanced design to date.”
What we say: Surprisingly, it feels like a structured shoe! The medial support is ever present, though the change to the dual density foam makes the shoe more progressive upon impact, giving a more uniform ride through the whole foot strike and toe off, where as the support in the 18 and 19 very much restricted the amount of ‘give’ on the medial side.
In practice this is a good thing; it makes the shoe lighter and for any heel strikers who want to try the shoe, it means the initial transition from heel edge to mid-foot will be slightly more fluid rather than obstructed.
For midfoot strikers, the support does exactly what it’s meant to do – it reduces the amount of pronation inwards as the foot lands. If this is what you want/need, it works. If not, look elsewhere.
For forefoot strikers, the Structure 20 might not seem like a shoe to consider but it sits in Nike’s RUNFAST silo of shoes so it has adopted some character traits from shoes like the Pegasus 33, meaning it’s quite nimble for a bigger shoe. As a user of the Pegasus I was pleasantly surprised how the Structure felt compared to its previous incarnations and other shoes within the range. The support creates a totally unique feel, but it's not a shoe now designed for those looking for a solution to a problem, but more a shoe to help all runners if they feel they might need it. The plan is try racing Royal Parks half in them, something I would never have considered with previous models, so we shall see how that goes...
Full review coming soon.