I’ve worn a lot of different running shoes over the years. I started paying attention to my footwear when my high school track coach realized I had some potential and insisted I ditch my old, worn-out Nike Shox. He helped me pick something more suitable for the tight turns of an indoor 200-meter track, as well as the occasional laps around the school parking lot pavement when the track was covered in snow.
Fast-forward more than 15 years and a lot has changed. I’m still an avid runner, but I’ve traded in the track for the city streets and parks of Brooklyn, NY. In addition to the change of scenery and surfaces, I somehow managed to age a bit as well. These days, you can find me jogging along Brooklyn Bridge Park with my wife and Vizsla, wearing a pair of Nike Free RN Commuters.
Despite my halfway decent knowledge of running shoes, I have to admit that my first reaction was sheer excitement over the fact that the Free RN C’s do not have shoelaces. This is my new favorite feature of any shoe (I’m 30, I swear). Instead of laces, they have elastic bungee-like straps that can be tightened and are made of a stretch-knit material. To this date, I have not had to tighten the straps as the shoe hugs my foot like a sock, even on faster-paced runs. Best of all, I can slip them on and off quickly and hassle free.
The next best thing about the Free RN C’s is the weight. According the Nike, the men’s size 10 comes in at 9.15 ounces. For reference, that is less than the average human heart, but a little more than an adult hamster (I Googled “what weighs 10 ounces” for that noteworthy information). In all seriousness though, they are super lightweight which is great when your legs are feeling heavy or you’re packing them in your duffel bag. At less than 10 ounces it may be hard to distinguish, but some will swear they feel the difference.
Last, Nike touts the flexibility of the Free series. This mostly refers to the fact that they were engineered to feel natural, almost as though you are running barefoot – while still offering structure and support. I definitely agree that they are more on the minimalist end of the spectrum, but not so much as to compare them to those Body Glove-style shoes. The outsole is made of a rubber material that makes navigating the streets of New York really comfortable. However, if you’re running through a park or some gravel, I have to caution that you will feel a large root or sharp rock.
Overall, I am incredibly pleased with the Nike Free RN Commuters for runs up to 10 miles. I would absolutely recommend them for the urban runner, who likes to participate in 5K and 10K races, or even those that stick to the treadmill. I am also partial to the way they look, and am considering getting a pair for every day use (or dare I say, commuting?). If you are a marathoner or even half-marathoner, you can probably get away with them, but I would personally search for something a bit more supportive. As is always the case, consult a doctor or foot specialist to understand what is best for you.