Shoe review: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 Review // MasteringRunning.com

Purchased by me

For years, I was a Nike Air Pegasus loyalist – until one day, when my foot no longer recognized the shoe after too many frivolous yearly reinventions. I took a break from Nike shoes for awhile, running solely (haha) in the Brooks Launch 3 and the Mizuno Wave Rider.

This summer, I needed a new pair of running shoes. I have bad bunions from genetics, compounded by years of ballet dancing on pointe shoes, so I need shoes with a roomy toe box but snug ankle. For this reason, my teammate Breandan, who works at Philly Runner, suggested the Air Zoom Elite 8. I had trepidations about another Nike shoe. But I tried them on and they felt like a slipper, light and roomy. I bought a pair in Pepto-Bismol pink, the only color available.

My first run in these shoes was only a 3 miler, and it was painful. Admittedly, it was not smart for me to try new shoes in the throes of my inflamed gastroncnemius; the 8mm heel-toe drop was lower than I was used to. Frankly, I was afraid to put the shoes back on after the first run.

Eventually, I wore them for shorter runs, got used to the lower heel-toe drop, and then donned them for longer runs. I started reaching for them more often toward the end of the season because they were so comfortable and forgiving. Now that I've run 122 miles in this shoe, I feel opinionated enough to write a review.

Overview: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

The Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 is a lightweight daily trainer (7.1 ounces, women; 9.9 ounces, men) designed for a neutral runner. It enables a fast ride, feels light, and does not constrain the movement of your feet. I use this shoe for speed work and daily runs. I've also worn it on a a few 10-milers, but nothing longer yet. I will probably wear it on longer runs this winter as I train for the Boston Marathon.

Bottom line: I love the Air Zoom Elite 8. It took some getting used to, as is the case with any new shoe, especially when the dynamics are different. But the Air Zoom Elite 8 has become one of my trusty, go-to running shoes. In fact, I just ordered a second pair.

Cost: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

Retail prices for Nike shoes retail prices tend to run a bit high, and the price for the Air Zoom Elite 8 is no exception. It retails for $115. The price is in the "normal" range for Nike shoes. High, in my opinion, for a shoe of this caliber.

But does anyone really ever pay full price for running shoes anymore? Work the system, runners.

I either purchase my shoes online, or in stores where I get a discount or where there's a significant sale. A few minutes of research can save you big bucks. For example, I just found a men's Zoom Elite 8 on Amazon for as low as $52! Much better than $115. 

Aesthetics: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

I wasn't crazy about the Nike swoosh placement, the overall pattern or the odd shade of pink. Who cares, when a shoe feels this good?

I wasn't crazy about the Nike swoosh placement, the overall pattern or the odd shade of pink. Who cares, when a shoe feels this good?

First things first. I never-never-never consider aesthetics when I buy running shoes, beyond color choice. If there is a color choice. Nor should you.

For a serious runner, fit and feel must trump style. When you find an attractive running shoe that also fits well, it's a simply special added bonus from the universe, for which you must be grateful for and enjoy - because it does not happen very often.

Tread pattern: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

Tread pattern: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

Still, when I first tried on the Air Zoom Elite 8, I honestly thought they were particularly ugly. Fugly, to be precise. Fugly, like my 2016 Boston Marathon jacket.

I didn't like the placement of the Nike swoosh over the toe box, plus I was not a fan of the purple pattern on the odd, washed-out pink model I bought (I had no choice over color; the pink and white was the only women's model in stock when I bought mine). I though the pink, white, and purple color scheme was a bit blah: faded girly girl.

Funny thing is, once I broke the shoes in, they grew on me. The pink is not so acerbic now, and a little wear and tear muddled the pattern to the point where it's easier on my eyes. 

I just ordered a second pair – in blue.

Have you tried the Air Zoom Elite?