Leave it to Nike to do it again. This time, the innovators over in Portland have created the Nike LunarEpicÂ ($175, nike.com).Â And epic it is.Â With a mid-rise silhouette, the LunarEpic, which dropped today, is the latest kick in the athletic brandâs Run Easy category. Translation: Itâs all about comfort. And the more comfy your running shoes, the longer youâll runâat least thatâs Nikeâs theory.
The question is, are they worth that $175 (I know, I know) price tag? I think so, but here are the deets so you can decide for yourself:
Cool factor:Â How many running shoes have that extra ankle support? Exactly. Plus it sort of makes it feel like the shoe is an extension of your leg. Very clever, Nike.
The upper: Made with the ever-popular Flyknit, aÂ material that's super light yet super strong, it fits like a glove, err sock, err it molds perfectly to my feet.
The midsole: Itâs made on a contoured last, with the promise of delivering even more comfort. (I have to say, I have wear-tested plenty of runners in my day, and these are pretty plush.) Nike's Lunar foam makes the shoe soft and bouncyâsomething I noticed during sprints. Then there are these little laser cuts in the lateral and medial sides of the midsole's foam that squish down each time your foot hits the ground.
Photo: Courtesy of Nike
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The outsole: It's pressure-mapped with pods that provide targeted cushioning throughout your running gait. These pods even pack a little extra oomph under the heel, metatarsal heads, and forefoot, which are the parts of the foot that need it most since they take the brunt of impact during running. There are also laser cuts on the sole for a nice grippy feel.
What itâs best for: According to Nike, itâs great for low- and high-mileage runs. If you are going long, though, swap out the insole. It also comes with a cushier one for that very reason.
My thoughts: In an intimate setting (there were only seven of us) I put this shoe through its paces in a little fartlek (Swedish for "speed play")Â training on the treadmill. I jumped between marathon, 10K, 5K, and mile pace, observing how the shoe responded to different speeds. When I upped my speed to about a 7:30-minute mile pace, I really noticed how bouncy the shoe was. It felt like I was bounding forward with each step, which made me feel really light on my feet. They were cushy when I put them on and cushy throughout the workout, so thatâs a plus. One tiny point: I did "notice"Â the shoe on my left ankle. It didnât rub or anything ,and it wasnât uncomfortable, it was just a thought that popped into my head, so I wanted to share. Overall though, I think it is love at first runâat least as far as the treadmill goes for these babies. TBD if Iâll feel the same way once I hit the road.