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Finlay McAndrew  •  Running Gear •  09.03.2022 •  5 min read

What's the point of the Nike Tempo NEXT%?

Running is hard. And when you’re pushing the pace, it’s even harder. However, it is fair to say that race pace has been made slightly more comfortable over the previous few years with the evolution of carbon-plated super-foam shoes. These shoes have the potential to lower the stress placed on key areas of the leg which are particularly prone to fatigue in the later stages of a hard run. While it’s anecdotal evidence, a common consensus among runners is that muscles and tendons don’t feel as damaged after hard running in carbon-plated super-foam shoes versus traditional running footwear. So, if these shoes make you faster and they stop you from getting as sore, why wouldn’t you want to wear them all the time?

Firstly, this type of shoe is typically at the top end of the price curve and they don’t last as long as a typical running shoe. Using them on a weekly basis, even in one session, simply isn’t affordable for everyone. Furthermore, Emil Zatopek famously said,

“There is a great advantage in training under unfavourable conditions. It is better to train under bad conditions, for the difference is then a tremendous relief in a race.”

The argument could certainly be made that wearing your racing shoes throughout all your training could potentially blunt some of the performance benefits in a race. Even if it is psychological we know the placebo effect to be incredibly powerful so, saving something extra for race day makes a lot of sense.

While we may want that extra boost on race day, we’ll also get a benefit from being rested, well recovered and ready to go when we step on to the start line. It is the daily training miles and hard sessions on tired legs for the weeks and months leading into the event that are almost more demanding. Is there a running shoe that brings a performance advantage to training sessions that still leaves somewhere to go on race day? After all, a smart tactic is to train hard so you can race easy. Nike have answered this call and created a running shoe that helps aid performance in harder training but runners can still make an upgrade on race day: the Tempo NEXT%.

Tempo NEXT% – Behind the design


The midsole is made from two materials – ZoomX and React foam. ZoomX foam is Nike’s highest energy returning midsole material and is classed as a super-foam. It feels ultra-springy underfoot and highly protective. This is positioned from the midfoot to forefoot area. As this is a training shoe, a more durable and slightly more stable feeling React foam is placed in the heel area. This combination of foams achieves a great balance between stability and springiness.

Side view of Nike running shoe

Energy return

To further enhance energy return, two Zoom Air Units are positioned under the forefoot. Tensile fibres are placed in the air bags so the pressure that’s placed on a certain part is pulled back to give you that energy. A full-length composite plate runs through the midsole to aid propulsion and smooth out the transition from the ZoomX foam to the air bags. This creates an energetic toe-off feeling that provides a boost at faster paces.


A Flyknit upper delivers support in the places it’s needed most while increasing breathability in areas that heat accumulates. An asymmetrical lacing design improves the feeling of security which is perfect while moving at faster paces and around corners. There is also a Flyease version which features a collapsible heel design. You can put your foot in by simply pushing down the heel and sliding the foot in. The unique construction means that more runners can use them.

Close-up of Nike running shoe


As mentioned already, the React foam helps improve durability and means these will last longer than other Nike models that have a full-length ZoomX midsole and carbon-plates. A hard-wearing rubber is also placed on the outsole to protect the midsole foam and help these last longer.

Illegal speed

The Tempo NEXT% isn’t World Athletics approved as the midsole stack height exceeds the legal limit of 40mm. The heel is 45mm and the forefoot is 35mm. This confirms the notion that Nike have designed this as a training shoe and not a racing shoe. The high midsole stack height helps provide more protection and reduces the load on legs, exactly what you want for training.

Eliud Kipchoge said, “Because when you are too tired, then you cannot actually do the next workout in the required time.”

Close-up of Nike running shoe
While you can run fast in any shoe, how you’ll feel the next day could be drastically different based on what shoe you’re wearing. Not only can the Tempo NEXT% help you push your pace when it matters, it has the potential to lessen the stress on muscles during the session so the time to recover is lessened. While we can aspire to train like elites, the majority of us can’t rest up and recover like the fastest in the world. We live busy lives and often have to move onto the next part of our day once we’ve finished a run. The Tempo NEXT% can help improve your run, and the one the next day.

Designed for fast training

Sharing some of the same features as Nike's fastest racing shoes, the Tempo NEXT% is designed to last longer but provide benefits for fast paced sessions and is best suited to:

  • Steady paced runs that build to half marathon and marathon pace
  • Tempo runs – long intervals at a harder but sustainable pace
  • Interval sessions  short intense efforts broken up with periods of rest

These runs aren’t defined by pace, the effort is relative to what your easy pace is. When you’re looking to go faster, the Tempo NEXT% is ready to help. If you’re looking for something that feels good on the easier days, check out the ZoomX Invincible Run and React Infinity Run.


Nike have ... created a running shoe that helps aid performance in harder training but runners can still make an upgrade on race day

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