You’re on the hunt for the perfect running shoe, and you narrow it down to two choices: Nike vs Asics.
How do you decide which one to run with to go the distance, train, race, and treat your feet, knees and joints with the respect they deserve?
There’s the old-school method…
You know, flip a coin to decide the Nike vs Asics debate.
Here’s the problem with this approach...
Chances are pretty good you’ll just keep wondering which shoe is better (Nike vs Asics) for your feet and running goals.
And if you’re an engineer and runner like Dan Purdy, you never leave anything to chance.
So he took a long hard look at the Nike vs Asics debate, run-tested the shoes for miles, and discovered some surprising reasons it was time for him to make a switch.
In this post, you’re going to learn:
What to look for in a running shoe to support your goals
How to decide if it’s time for you to change running shoes
And Dan’s answer to the ultimate question...which is better Nike vs Asics?
Meet running-shoe aficionado + engineer Dan Purdy
Let me begin by stating that I loved my Asics. They were the very first shoe I started running in while I was slogging through an engineering degree in Florida.
Almost every morning at about 5 a.m.— well before the scorching sun made its blistering appearance — I'd lace up my Asics running shoes in front of my dorm building.
When do you like to run...morning, afternoon, evening?
After getting out the door, I'd wave to the raccoons that would inevitably be exploring the building dumpster and take off for my run.
I was out for some steady cardio in these early and inexperienced running days and nothing more…
No times to beat
No intense pacing
The Nike vs Asics debate wasn’t even on my mind.
Instead, it was the faint glow of the approaching sun lighting my way, and just me and my breathing.
Asics: The gateway shoe to running
My Asics running shoes were ideal for these unhurried jaunts as I broke into the running sport for a couple of reasons:
Just the right amount of cushioning
And flashy designs, which I enjoyed immensely.
But then something changed...
I ran the annual Turkey Trot through downtown Minneapolis, racing against other runners.
I loved it, but there was just one problem…
I was nowhere near the front of the pack. I decided it was time to:
Be more competitive
Push myself harder than I had in a very long time
Learn to run faster
And I was going to tap into every possible advantage to make it happen...including hanging up my Asics.
Ever wonder if the right running shoe can make you faster?
4 Reasons I Switched to Nike Running Shoes
I loved Asics for their plush cushioning and excellent stability. But I realized I wanted more from a running shoe.
Here are the top 4 reasons I switched to Nike:
1. Weight & Performance
But as I started to push myself towards running faster and faster, I decided I needed a running shoe that focused more on speed in a lightweight design.
After exhaustive research – I studied to be an engineer, so I knew how to research – I settled on Nike.
By this time, I'd relocated to Duluth, Minnesota, and our local running store was fully stocked with shoes to try on – plus a handy treadmill to give them a whirl.
I visited that store perhaps four or five times before I finally settled on a very early version of the Nike Free RN. They were light, very flexible, and suited me perfectly when I was running for maximum speed.
I discovered these shoes’ most important feature a couple of years later – packability. The itch for travel overwhelmed me in 2017, and I sold almost everything I had stateside and headed abroad.
Those same Nike shoes made the cut to stay with me, mainly because they could pack down to nearly nothing and thus earn their spot in my bag.
Wherever I landed in the following years, I always had my Nike running shoes with me for an introductory run around my new surroundings.
From a ridge run in Norway to a jaunt through Leon, Nicaragua, my Nikes were the perfect combination of packability for traveling and lightweight for sprinting.
Now that we’ve covered my running shoe change, let’s take a look at what both of these shoe brands offered me.
Why I loved Asics
For me, Asics running shoes were my introduction to running. They offered plush cushioning combined with a slightly stiff design for increased support. Therefore, they were perfect for someone like me, who was beginning to run regularly for the first time.
My Asics running shoes of choice:
Gel Nimbus. These shoes have gone through numerous iterations, and I've always found their cushion and support to be very comfortable.
However, as my running slowly began to migrate towards speed, I realized that my Asics running shoes were becoming a little too bulky.
That extra cushion and more rigid sole made it harder to find a rhythm when I was trying to maintain a 6-minute mile pace – which brings me to Nikes.
Weight: Both are lighter than any pair of Asics running shoes that I've tried in the past. The Zoom Pegasus is closer to a traditional shoe with a rigid and supportive heel.
Minimalism: However, the Free RN goes a step further where the upper fabric is minimalist and collapses down to almost nothing when my foot isn't in them. While handy for cutting out bulk from the shoe in general, this feature is critical to my nomadic life.
Thanks to this collapsible upper, these shoes can squeeze into just about any nook in my travel bag. From mesh cup holders in a backpack to the last nanometer of space in a duffle, I've wedged these shoes into just about every conceivable travel space.
Comfort: This minimalist design extends to the soles as well, where less cushioning and bulk make these shoes an absolute breeze to run in. Also, I'm a huge fan of the hex-pattern sole on the Free RN.
The design allows the sole to bend in every direction to perfectly conform to my foot no matter how I step. This feature is especially useful to me as I run on the balls of my feet – my heels rarely touch the ground when I run – and I need a shoe that can flex with my foot.
Find the right running shoe for you
The great Nike vs Asics debate...My intention isn't to tell you that Nikes are the best and Asics are too bulky – not at all!
Every runner has their preference, and my goal here is to offer a glimpse into my personal running shoe selection process to help others who are weighing their options.
Therefore, add a little seasoning to my experiences and advice with your own personal running needs, and you’ll find a perfect pair of running shoes. Happy running and have fun!