We’re just days away from the London marathon, and that’s enough to turn our attention to the fitness technology which will be powering the runners. In today’s review, we investigate the Asics Nimbus 14 running shoes. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
First of all, some specifics. The Gel-Nimbus 14 running shoes are a male model, but there is a female version available. We’ll cover that separately, but first we want to focus on the male shoes. These trainers weigh in at 11oz, which puts them in the heaviest thirds of the market. Relative to the running shoe market, they have a high level of heel cushioning (95%) and stiffness (also 95%). This means that they’re high profile shoes with a high degree of cushioning (79% ranking), yet they somewhat surprisingly only come in at 30% for stability offered. They deliver a 10.1mm heel drop, with a 27.2mm forefoot profile and a 37.3mm heel profile.
Technicalities aside, the first thing that I noticed when I tried these shoes on for the first time was the comfort. That high cushioning rating really shows through, and we’re literally
talking about a pillow soft feel underfoot. Asics utilise memory foam material – not unlike the type you see advertised around mattresses – in order to ensure the shoe moulds to fit your unique foot shape. The result is that the shoe actually becomes more comfortable as you break it in, and this comfort level carries on improving right up until the shoe starts showing the first serious signs of wear and tear. As a result, I can imagine that these Nimbus shoes will take some throwing out when the time comes.
These training shoes deliver a good ratio balance between weight and cushioning, meaning they’re able to deliver a good weight to performance ratio. Unlike many similarly designed running trainers, you are able to run fast in these 14’s, despite the cushioning. I have stated before that I am a bigger fan of zero-drop running shoes – that’s a personal preference – and it largely rotates around my personal preference for lighter and less ‘obtrusive’ training shoes. It also reflects the fact that I prefer to train in the gym, and this leads to more varied training protocols, not to mention carrying my bag around with me all day (so weight counts!).
Despite this, I have gotten real value from these trainers thus far. To illustrate, I put them through the paces on a treadmill in the local gym and also on the roads around the suburbs of London.
Acics Nimbus 14s on the road
As we’ve already ascertained, the profile of these shoes makes them better suited for middle distance running and upwards – as opposed to full out sprint work. I tested the latter on the treadmill, see below, but for the majority of this test I wanted to get out onto the roads. It’s here that, as expected, these shoes really excelled and I started to see why they have been getting plenty of hype on the net.
I embarked on a common middle distance route that I periodically take in my local area. Its got a really good mix of different terrain, ranging from flat roads, to steep downhills, offroad tracks and some uneven steps. It’s a brutal 11.73KM run, and I was delighted to hit a new PB of 51.37 in the Nimbus 14’s. Whilst the running shoes can’t take all of the credit, there were two features that really made this time possible for me.
1) The springy sole
The memory foam material really came into its own during the latter 6KM of this run. It was at this stage that I hit 3.5KM of nicely tarmacked road, and it was amazing just how well the power transferred into a powerful and fast stride. Up to this stage, I had been running across mixed surfaces, so didn’t yield full value from the soles. This tough terrain had taken its toll, and I was fairly gassed by this stage of the run. The better stride repetition offered by the smoother surface allowed me to really notch
up some nice speed, and this springy sole really helped me average a faster speed than normal.
2) The cushioning and stability
In the earlier stages of the run, I covered some really hilly and rough terrain – think loose gravel and generally poor quality surfaces. All of the different rocks and stones, not to mention lack
of tarmac, always leaves me concerned that I could turn an ankle (part of the reason why I prefer the consistency of running machines, but I digress) yet these shoes really helped combat this. Its times like this that I really appreciate the extra support offered by designs like this shoe. By the time I came to power up and then down a rugged, uneven, often broken, set of steps on a hill near home, I was actually in love with these shoes. I have never gone up those steps with such faith in my stride, and that’s totally thanks to these Asics.
Acics Nimbus 14s on the treadmill
For my treadmill test, I elected to test around a moderate intensity workout which was loosely built around high intensity training. Whilst I would normally execute some real high intensity sprints – I’m talking full speed hill sprints, 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off – I decided to go with moderate intervals of three minutes. At this kind of duration, you’re not doing a full out sprint by any means, yet you are going fast. This enabled me to test these trainers from a speed perspective.
Even over three minute intervals, I did feel that these trainers are slightly heavier than is ideal. I would have preferred a first third percentile trainer in the weight stakes. However, I must point out that the stability offered by these shoes was brilliant. The shoes felt like they delivered the perfect blend between cushioning and stability, and this really allowed me to put my all into my intervals. Often case with intervals, especially longer duration ones, you find that your feet take such a beating that by the end, you’re having to hold back. I was impressed that these trainers allowed me to keep going with no discomfort at all. Bar my screeching lungs, I would happily have continued. That’s definitely not always the case.
In summary; I am really impressed by these running shoes. The bottom line is that they deliver a wonderful mix of cushion without bulk, making them a brilliant trainer for all runners bar the sprinters amongst you. If you like to pound the pavements – taking in a mix of terrains and surfaces, then you can do much worse than buy the Ascics Nimbus Gel 14’s.