- ZoomX foam gives a soft and springy ride
- Very comfortable for easy training runs
- Fairly versatile
- Not very stable thanks to soft midsole
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Ever since Nike launched the Vaporfly racing shoe, observers have been wondering if the ZoomX foam used would appear in an easy training shoe. The foam is soft and springy, and very comfortable after all. When paired with a carbon plate in the Vaporfly it makes for a protective and very fast ride – but would it work without the plate?
ZoomX is so soft that stability could be a problem without that carbon in there. Durability was also a worry, because ZoomX isn’t the most long-lasting foam and while that’s fine in a racing shoe used sparingly, that’s not ideal for a trainer you want to use several times a week. Other Nike training shoes like the Pegasus Turbo and Tempo NEXT% that have some ZoomX in the midsole pair it with other foams to increase stability and durability.
The Invincible is the first training shoe from Nike to have a midsole made completely of ZoomX, and Nike has gone all in. The stack is huge, rising to 36.6mm at the heel and 27.6mm at the forefoot, for a drop of 9mm.
To ensure this high stack doesn’t lead to instability Nike has taken two steps. The first is to make the base of the shoe very wide, and the second is a long plastic heel counter that runs all the way around the back of the foot.
These measures have evidently worked. I had no problems with stability when using the Invincible, not least because it’s not a shoe for running fast in. It’s designed mainly for easy and recovery runs, and it’s very good when used for that purpose.
The ZoomX foam feels exactly as you’d hope it would. It’s very soft but still has some spring to it, and I found I could progress from an easy to a steady pace comfortably enough. I’ve logged two long runs in the Invincible of 24km and 30km, both at the end of long weeks of training, and found it protected my legs well and didn’t hamper my efforts when increasing the pace a little at the end of those runs.
While it does feel large, the Invincible is not heavy. My UK size 9 was 297g. While it’s never going to be described as a nimble shoe, the Invincible feels lighter than it really is.
However, it’s not so versatile that it could be considered an all-rounder. Holding a fast pace in it for long stretches isn’t that comfortable compared with a more speed-focused shoe, and I’d only consider lacing it up for long races if I wasn’t really concerned about time.
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At £160 the Invincible is expensive, especially for a shoe designed for easy running. You can get great shoes for base and recovery types of runs for far less than that: the durable Nike Pegasus 37 is usually available for under £100, the bouncy Asics Novablast not far off that, and the exceptionally comfortable Brooks Glycerin 19 goes for £140. At that price there’s also the Nike Infinity Run 2, which has a smoother, firmer ride than the bouncy Invincible, but lasts basically forever thanks to the React foam in the midsole.
Durability could be a concern with the Invincible. There is a full rubber outsole to protect the ZoomX foam in the midsole, but I’ve noticed some wear to that outsole rubber after 80km, and if that does wear down quickly the ZoomX itself is not a durable material. Compared with the Boost foam Adidas uses and Nike’s React foam, both of which you can find in shoes suited to easy running that last well over 800km, the Invincible’s ZoomX midsole is unlikely to prove as durable.
The Invincible does deliver on what it promises – it’s a soft, bouncy shoe that’s great to run easy miles in thanks to that ZoomX midsole. However, its price and my durability concerns would probably steer me to cheaper options proven to be long-lasting and a little more versatile.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.