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Nike Zoom Elite 9 Shoe Review

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how my running suffered with my return to teaching. I didn’t put in many miles during the school year, but my goal for the summer was to get myself back into some semblance of running shape. I’m happy to say that I have made considerable progress on that front – though I’m nowhere near the shape I was in back when I was running marathons regularly, I’ve already complete runs of 9 and 8 miles this week, which gives me a shot at my first 30+ mile week in over a year (and school starts next week!).

The shoe I have used for most of my running this summer has been the Nike Zoom Elite 9, and I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with this one. Now that I’m not routinely getting boxes of review sample shoes anymore, I’ve had to be a bit more judicious about my shoe purchases. My primary criteria in picking a shoe when I made the purchase were: comfortable, light, softish sole, and price <$100. The Nike Zoom Elite 9 meets all of those criteria except for the last one (MSRP is $120). However, Running Warehouse was clearing out some older colorways, so I was able to get a pair for just under $95. (I also bought a pair of the Nike Flyknit Streak on sale, but they went back. One of the worst fitting shoes I have tried – my heel kept sliding off the inside of the sole.)

Nike Zoom Elite 9

Let’s start with the specs per Running Warehouse:

Weight: 8.2 oz (men’s size 9)
Heel Stack: 25 mm
Forefoot Stack: 17 mm

What I love most about the Zoom Elite 9 is that it’s a shoe that can handle just about anything you throw at it. I’ve done up to 9 miles on the road (and would not hesitate to use them for longer), and intervals on the track in these shoes. For where my running is right now, they are just about perfect as an all-purpose shoe.

Nike Zoom Elite 9

Upper and Fit

The Zoom Elite 9 is an extremely comfortable shoe. The upper is breathable and simple, and the internal lining is incredibly soft. There are no overlays on the outside, and the foot is locked-down by Flywire strands that loop around laces. There is a small heel counter, and the relatively thin tongue is padded in just the right spots.

This is by no means a wide-fitting shoe, but it suits my average width foot just fine with no constriction or discomfort with prolonged wear. I did not have to size up.

Nike Zoom Elite 9

Sole

The sole is what makes this shoe work so well for me. Though I’m not in the shape I was a few years ago, my preferences for shoes have not changed much. I like a shoe with a softish heel and a responsive forefoot, and the Zoom Elite 9 fits that description perfectly. The heel feels downright cushy for a performance shoe (similar to the NB 1400, Asics Hyperspeed, etc. – in fact, if you like those, you will like the Zoom Elite), but the forefoot is responsive enough to handle faster paces.

The outsole on the Zoom Elite 9 has a waffle-like pattern of little pentagonal nubs. These offer good grip on the road, but I have noticed relatively rapid wear on the outer portion of the heel. I’m not sure of my total mileage in them, but it’s less than 100 and the nubs in that area are basically gone at this point. I don’t expect that will compromise the performance of the shoe, but clearly the rubber here is not as durable as the crystal rubber on the Saucony Freedom ISO (my previous shoe review).

Conclusion

If you are looking for a versatile, do-it-all shoe that can be had for under $100, the Nike Zoom Elite 9 would be an excellent option. It can handle both distance and speed, and it offers a surprisingly cushy ride in a fairly lightweight package. As mentioned above, if you favor shoes like the NB 1400 or the Asics Hyperspeed, the Zoom Elite would be an excellent addition to your stable.

The Nike Zoom Elite 9 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse for $120, with some colorways on clearance for under $100.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Question since I know your history with shoes. Do you think an 8mm drop is suitable for a mid- or fore-foot strike? I try to buy shoes with max 4 or 6mm drop so the heel cushion doesn’t impede my running pattern. Just curious your take on this.


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