Nike persistently under-market and under-explain the usefulness of the Free as much more than the training tool it’s so often described. It’s a legitimate choice as an everyday running shoe or trainer as well as a superior shoe for getting the feel for improved running technique.
I’ve been recently wearing the Free 3.0 much more over the past few weeks as I’ve continued to fine tuning my foot-strike and maintain my patient journey towards forefoot oriented running. As I’ve written previously in my book and on this blog many runners can be successful maintaining a light heel-toe contact pattern, so this is in no way a call to arms to every runner to get up on your toes.
The reason the Free 3.0 is so useful as a shoe to wear when making improvements to running form – especially if you’re heading towards a forefoot first contact pattern, is it gives you fantastic feel for the loading cycle that occurs as the forefoot contacts and then flattens under pressure from the glutes and hamstrings. The Achilles and calf stretch to complete this loading and absorb landing shock. If you get it right.
It’s by no means something that you just decide to do, getting it wrong is very easy and can lead to injury inducing mistakes. But having the right shoe to practice with does make things easier, and the Nike Free 3.0 does a good job of this by allowing you to get a better feel for the cycle of load and release.Pretty much any time I run in more traditional shoes – even something as light as the Adizero Ace or indeed an old pair of Nike Free 5.0 I find I lose the feel for this stretch and load process, the result is usually holding the foot and calf too stiff on contact leading to tight calves. A more flexible and flatter shoe seems to help allow this loading phase to occur more easily.nike free sale