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A low cost racing flat, perfect for first time racers due to great cushioning, but also great for experienced runners up to half marathon and beyond
As part of a review of the best racing flats of 2015 (coming soon, check out our best of 2014 in the meantime), we set the best brands in running the challenge of sending us their best/fastest/lightest running shoes. Nike suggested their Zoom Streak LT 2, which I have to admit I hadn’t heard of before, the Streak perhaps overshadowed by it’s more fashion-friendly racing flat cousin, the Flyknit Racer. Nike position the Streaks as a road, track and dry cross country shoe, so we put it to the test accordingly.
As with most racing flats, the Streak has a pared down, stripped back feel. Out of the box they feel pretty light (156 grams), although this is actually quite heavy for a racing flat. The weight comes from the fact that this is a racing flat with cushioning – Nike’s proprietary Lunarlon cushioning to be precise. They’re not completely flat either, with a 4mm drop from heel to toe. So they’re more like a racing almost-flat. The fact that they do have the 4mm drop and that there is a degree of cushioning should mean that those new to wearing racing flats get on well with these, with less need for ankles/Achilles etc to adapt to the strains of zero drop running.
In terms of look and feel the pair Nike sent were certainly eyecatching, however the trainer comes in a variety of colours to suit. Personally, I don’t mind bright trainers, I care more about the feel and performance…
In terms of comfort and feel I have to insert a caveat that I always find Nike shoes very comfortable to wear. They seem to be able to make a shoe mould to my foot like no other. I’ve worn the LunarGlides, Lunar Racers, Air Pegasus and LunarTempo and every time, they’ve fit like the fairy tale slipper. Never a slip or a blister.
The Streak LT 2 also does fit well, although being stripped back, the tongue is a little flimsy and the elastic with which it attaches to the shoe upper has become slightly stretched/baggy after 50 miles of running in them. This can’t be felt or noticed when they’re being worn but worth noting.
With the upper being made of Nike’s ultra-lightweight mesh the shoe does, in fact, mould to the shape of your foot. I found it a little tight for the first 10 miles or so, however after this the mesh had stretch sufficiently to follow the exact shape of my foot.
The cushioning is what makes the shoes so good though. With the Zoom unit, I found the sole across the heel and mid foot to be very comfortable. Not so soft that the ride became sludgy, but not so hard that I felt every impact with the ground. Just enough to allow you to wear these racing flats for longer distances. A pure racing flat, like the Newton MV3 for example, gives great speed up to 10k, but become too hard and uncomfortable over this distance. In contrast, the Nike Zoom Streak LT 2 can be worn easily up to a half marathon and perhaps beyond. I ran 13.1 miles in them for a training run and they felt great. I also wore them for a 5k road race and they felt even better when being used at a faster pace, and again at a track session – amazing.
The durability may be where the compromise in price becomes apparent. The outer sole provides very good grip, with the blown rubber suggesting they would be fine on dry off road. I wore them for a 3.5 mile off road race and found them fine. However, after 50 miles I have noticed the grip of certain, high contact parts of the shoes becoming worn. There’s also the issue with the tongue elastic becoming baggy – not an issue yet but could degenerate further. Overall though, as with all Nike shoes, the quality of materials is extremely high and you know their running scientists will have put a lot of thought into each section of the shoe.
As a tester of running shoes, my house is filled with lots and lots of pairs, some old some yet to be tested but all available for wearing. The key thing with these Nike Zoom Streaks is that, when I needed a shoe for a 5k race, out of all the shoes I could have chosen, my hand went straight to these. I then had to force myself not to use them for every single run. Why? Because I feel good when I run in them. True, they’re not the lightest, but they’re still pretty damn light. Every foot strike is effortless and they’re so comfortable, my hand reaches for them every time.