Late last week, Australian media gathered to the Nike Free Studio in Melbourne for the unveiling of the latest sneaker technology. What involved a curated selection of strength, stretching and a 1km run – all before the sun rose – we spent the morning learning about the latest iteration of the Nike Free sneaker line. Naturally, I spent the rest of the day donning the sneakers, all while attending breakfast, catching a flight back to Sydney and heading home from the office. In that time, I was stopped twice with questions about the kicks I so proudly wore: introducing the Nike Free RN 5.0.
In early 2001, Nike designer Tobie Hatfield took a trip to Stanford to meet the school’s track and field coach, Vin Lanana, to find out how his athletes had become so successful. Surprisingly, running barefoot was the secret answer to the team’s success and so Hatfield continued his research finding the unique grip, flex and pressure of the foot while running shoeless.
After meticulous development in an effort to “free” the foot, the first Nike Free to make it to consumers was the Nike Free 5.0, in the fall of 2004. Following the 2009 iteration, the 2012 Nike Free Run +3 was introduced, followed by the 2014 Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit and lastly the Nike Free RN Flyknit in 2016. Now, three years in the making and the technology has been reintroduced in an all-new silhouette.
Unique to any other sneaker before it, the magic comes from the highly contoured midsole. Drawing from the legacy of barefoot running, the latest Free design naturally moves through the stride while an increased number of flex grooves allow your foot to bend exactly where it wants. But unlike many of its sneakers, these aren’t designed for long distant running, rather they act as a “tool” to build all 52 muscles in your feet – allowing for longer, more supported runs.
“The Nike Free 5.0 isn’t meant for every workout. It’s ultimately a matter of preference, and many elite athletes will use the Nike Free as a shoe for warmups and cool-downs, as well as gym strength-training workouts and shorter runs,” explained Director of Applied Product Connection, Nike Sports Research Lab, Jennifer Bishop. “The Free enables an athletes foot to work through a wide range of motion, while faster or longer runs can be run in a Nike Air Zoom Pegasus.”
The newly reintroduced Nike Free RN 5.0 Sneakers are now available here. Each pair sold will also include a cheat sheet to assist in unlocking the unique benefits of the technology. And for those in the Melbourne area, check out the Nike Free Studio for an immersive experience into all things Nike Free. For more information, visit here.