Nike Zoom Streak XC Review: Fast Shoes for Fast Racing
Posted May 30 2012 11:15am
by Jason Fitzgerald
With a name like Zoom Streak there’s no surprise this racing flat is meant for speed.
So they sound fast – and they look pretty damn nice too. That’s nice, but it won’t mean anything when you’re pushing the pace during your next half-marathon. Are they actually fast when you need them to be? Can they perform on race day?
Yes, they’re indeed quite awesome. If you’re in the market for a new pair of flats, I highly recommend the Nike Zoom Streak XC 3 as your next go-to racing shoe. Here’s why…
I tend to do a limited number of reviews here on Strength Running because most products are mediocre and sometimes it’s best just to try them yourself instead of relying on other people’s opinions (which is why I love Road Runner Sports – they let you return shoes after you wear them if they’re not right for you).
Running shoes are especially tough to review – my foot anatomy, running mechanics, stride pattern, weight, personal preferences, and past shoe history will all influence what shoe I like and which models I despise. Shoe selection is intensely personal and what works for me may not work for you.
But there are certain shoes that I think have broad appeal and the Nike Zoom Streak XC is one of those shoes.
I’ve been wearing the Streak XC for about three months and have run everything from a 5k race, duathlon, and track intervals ranging from 200m reps in 32 seconds to miles in 5:20. For any speed faster than a tempo effort, these racing shoes are perfect.
With just the right blend of cushioning and responsiveness, I can run short intervals all the way to 10 mile races in comfort. Because of my over-pronation and tendency to get sore arches, I wouldn’t wear them for the half or marathon distance. Shorter races are a perfect candidate for this racer though.
I own the Zoom Streak XC model 3 – the latest version and the updated edition of the shoe you can see Dathan Ritzenhein wearing in the photo I used in my interview with him. The images used in this post are also the Streak XC 3 model.
Pretty sexy shoe, huh?
Racing in the Zoom Streak XC (I’m on the left)
The Nike Zoom Streak XC 3 has a unique feature that I haven’t seen in other shoes that makes it one of the most comfortable racing flats I’ve ever worn: a padded tongue. As you lace up the shoes, you’ll notice that the tongue is rather thick. Instead of this being cumbersome or a nuisance, it’s incredibly convenient.
When you lace up your racing shoes you often tie them really tight for a snug fit. If the tongue is too thin, the laces will dig into the top of your foot and may even restrict the movement of the tendons on the top of the foot. The Streak XC’s thick tongue prevents this from happening so you can have a very snug racing flat without the hassle of sore feet or injured tendons.
The “mini-waffle” sole of the Zoom Streak XC provides great traction on the roads or the track. I’ve worn them in wet conditions on both surfaces and they performed perfectly. Traction may suffer on wet grass though and seeing as this is technically a cross country shoe that could be a serious limiting factor for many runners.
One of the other main features that set this racing shoe apart from other models is the upper. As you can see from the main image at the top of this post, the fabric that encloses your foot is mesh (the red color right above the white foam sole is actually in the shoe – you’re looking through the mesh to the inside of the shoe).
The mesh upper contributes to the Nike Zoom Streak XC’s low weight and it drains well when they get soaking wet. I ran a track workout in the rain and I never once felt like I was weighed down by soggy shoes.
Some other basics you should be interested in: the Streak XC is a mid-weight racer at 5.5 ounces. It’s a unisex model (for both men and women) and has no spikes.
First, I want to be clear: this shoe is not for everyone. It’s a lightweight racing shoe that’s for neutral runners who want to experiment with a small amount of minimalist running or get a new racing shoe. I don’t recommend this as your first racing flat since it’s so lightweight and offers very little support.
While I’m not a neutral runner – I over-pronate – I’ve been wearing racing flats and spikes regularly for nearly 14 years. My philosophy on barefoot running and lightweight shoes is to be a “cautious minimalist” – do some barefoot strides, work gradually into racing flats or other lightweight shoes, and don’t consistently try to run in less and less shoe. Here’s my step-by-step guide to running in more minimalist shoes.
The goal for runners who want to see improvement is to stay healthy, consistent, and progress in their training – not try to become the next Barefoot [Insert First Name Here].
But if you’ve worn light or neutral shoes (like the trainers on my Running Resources page) then the Zoom Streak XC’s are a fantastic racing shoe and will last you a long time.
For most runners they’re ideal for the 5k to 10-mile distance, but if you have a neutral stride and don’t over-pronate then this shoe could be great for the half or marathon distance.