Competitive runners usually have a favorite pair of shoes that they stick with for years to come. If you have started running recently and want to purchase your first go-to running shoes, you have a vast library of products to choose from.
But that is not always advantageous, as beginners might make the wrong decision while deciding which shoes are good for running.
One popular name on everyone’s wish list nowadays is the Nike Air Max – the durable and stylish lifestyle sneakers designed by one of the most revered names in the footwear industry.
But if we put aside the appeal of Air Max, can we truly say that those shoes are suitable for runners?
Let’s find out.
What are Nike Air Max Shoes?
For those of you who are a little out of touch with recent fashion trends and hot products, let us tell you a bit about the popular Nike shoes stealing the spotlight currently.
The Nike Air Max is one of the many superior product lines launched by the sports footwear brand.
The Air Max line is renowned globally for producing some of the best sneakers. Moreover, they have been around for a long time, so there is the factor of trust – the first Air Shoe by Nike was launched as early as 1978.
Even today the Air Max line is still going as strong as ever. If we listen to experts and influencers, we can even say that Nike Air Max has become a brand in itself now. From celebrities to athletes, you would come across pictures of high-profile individuals simply chilling in their latest Air Max sneakers.
More than just being stylish, these shoes are known for their durability, breathability, and other supportive features to make your feet feel good throughout the day.
But are these features enough to support the heavy-duty requirements of a runner? Keep reading to find out.
Are Air Max Running Shoes?
The Nike Air Max line is not originally meant to launch running shoes. The brand markets the products in the Air Max category as lifestyle sneakers that can be worn regularly for casual purposes.
While there are many attractive features in a pair of Nike Air Max shoes, like extra cushioning, durable soles, and lightweight feel, they simply do not have the functionality offered by traditional running shoes.
However, it is also important to note that the Air Max line has several shoes, each designed to cater to different needs and requirements. So, there are some shoes like Air Max 95 running shoes and Air Max 97 shoes that are more suited to quench the demands of a professional runner than others.
But generally, the consensus is that using Nike Air Max for running should not be your first option as they are not exactly running shoes. So, if you are into intense activities like running marathons or long-distance races, then a pair of Air Max shoes will not help you all that much.
That’s because Air Max models are simply not designed for high-impact activities like running. They serve as lifestyle sneakers. While some of the models, like the Air Max 90, might be serviceable for running, they ultimately are not going to feel as good as a pair of actual running shoes.
There are some benefits of wearing Air Max shoes for running. Some of them are as follows:-
Functional Upper Edge Build
The upper edge build of many Air Max models, like Air Max 90, can specifically benefit runners because of the functional advantages it serves.
For example, the upper edge of these models is composed of a lean leather piece combined with mesh material. The unique combination makes the upper part of the shoe more flexible, allowing greater movements and providing the breathability needed by runners.
So, these shoes can actually be good for short-distance running as they will keep your feet cool and dry and even assist your feet in making quick movements.
Great Midsole Support
If there is one advantage to wearing Air Max shoes while running, it’s that they are extremely comfortable to wear. That is because the midsole provides the appropriate support to your feet.
The midsole comes with an air unit in the heel tab, along with an extra air pocket in the front part of the shoe. Moreover, the foam placed in the sneakers is dense and rigid, making short-distance running very comfortable.
Maximum Outsole Support
The outsole section of most Air Max models is made out of rubber. The design, moreover, is stickier and less tactile than any other shoe in the same category.
While you might think that stickiness might not be the best attribute in a pair of shoes, it actually makes the shoes feel heavier, more comfortable, and convenient for short-distance running.
Good Shock Absorption and Responsiveness
The Air Max models come with an extra layer of cushion. As such, it absorbs most of the shock that your feet would have felt with each impact on the ground while running.
So, using these lifestyle Nike shoes can actually keep your feet protected against potential untimely injuries while you are on a run.
Moreover, the unique design incorporating thick midsoles and thin outsoles offers a degree of extra bounce and responsiveness to the shoe.
Excellent Grip and Traction
One of the most important things to consider when you are on a hunt for a pair of good running shoes is the amount of traction they offer.
Fortunately, Nike Air Max takes the cake on this one.
The strong and rigid outsole used in the Air Max line provides maximum grip and traction to help runners prevent any accidental slip or trip on the road.
While the amount of traction offered by the shoes is ideal for all surfaces – smooth, wet, or dry – one must remember that Air Max shoes are not actually designed to be worn on rough or rugged terrains.
Despite offering some stunning benefits, the Air Max shoes have some limitations when it comes to using them as a substitute for a pair of running shoes:-
Restrictive High Soles
Most Nike Air Max models have high soles to add an element of style, cushioning, and comfort.
While such a feature is excellent for providing an extra touch of comfort to your feet, it’s not necessarily the best addon for runners.
That’s because running in these high soles might feel unnatural and uncomfortable.
When running with high-soled shoes, it can feel weird, which might make you more prone to falling down, especially when covering long distances.
This happens because during long runs, you tend to lose awareness of your surroundings and rely more on your muscle memory to keep going.
Lack of Stability and Pronation Control
Running shoes are designed in such a way as to provide some amount of stability and pronation control to your feet.
While the Air Max models are equipped with some modern functional features, they simply do not have the support mechanisms to address specific foot types and gait patterns, resulting in an increased risk of overpronation or under-pronation while running.
Lack of Running-Specific Research
When new pairs of shoes are designed, they are not just launched into the market without any consideration.
The prototype first undergoes various tests to examine its durability, features, and ability to address the specific requirements of the target market.
Because the majority of Nike Air Max models are primarily designed for fashion and lifestyle purposes, their running performance and features are never tested. As such, they are not recommended to be used as a direct substitute for running shoes.
Are Nike Air Max Good for Running?
The Nike Air Max shoes are good for running over short distances because of their midsole support, lightweight build, breathability features, and cushioned designs.
However, they cannot serve primarily as a pair of running shoes because they are not designed to meet the heavy-duty requirements of long-distance runners.
Apart from experiencing slight wear and tear due to the constant pressure of being used as something that it was not designed for, it’s likely that your Air Max model will also feel uncomfortable while running over long distances, which might even lead to injuries.
So, it’s clear to say that the Air Max shoes are serviceable for short runs. But they are not ideal for high-intensity runs or marathons.
Things to Consider When Buying Running Shoes
Here are some details or features that you should look for before you invest in a pair of running shoes for yourself:-
Fit and Build
Without shoes that fit you perfectly, your investment is likely going to be wasteful. Make sure that your running shoes feel snug and secure on your feet. They should neither be too loose nor too tight or constrictive.
There should be just enough room in the toe box to wiggle your fingers slightly and facilitate natural foot movements.
Determine if your pronation type is neutral, overpronated, or under-pronated. Depending on that information, get yourself the appropriate pair of running shoes for added stability and support.
Also, get your gait analysis done at a specialty running store so that you can understand your gait and pronation patterns.
Cushioning and Arch Support
The amount of cushioning offered by your shoes is another important factor. The more rigid and high-quality the cushion, the better shock absorption performance your shoes will provide.
Moreover, determine the amount of cushion that you need. Some runners prefer more cushion for added comfort. Others prefer low cushioning designs to run more naturally without feeling restrictive.
It’s also important to determine your arch support and then purchase the shoes that offer you the best arch support. Your arch may be high, medium, or low. Different shoes have different levels of arch support to accommodate people with arch issues.
Flexibility and Breathability
Your running shoes should provide a healthy balance of flexibility and support. Your feet should be able to move naturally while keeping your entire body stable and protected.
Moreover, your shoes should be highly breathable. There should be proper ventilation systems to cool your feet and keep them dry.
Plan a budget and stick to it. The shoe market can be pretty volatile. You can get a decent pair of running shoes for as low as $30. You can also get a premium for $500 if that’s in your interest.
As such, it’s best not to get carried away and explore the market with a predetermined budget.
The Air Max line is a legendary addition to Nike’s already-decorated shoe lineup. It has been around for more than four decades and is still dominating the footwear industry.
That being said, there is definitely something special about the Nike Air Max shoes. They are fashionable, durable, and highly versatile. Despite being meant for casual wear, they also provide some good attractive athletic features and support.