Nike's latest Alphafly running shoe is every marathon runner's dream

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2
(Image credit: Nike)

Nike has announced its Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2, the second iteration of the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% running shoe. 

For those not in the know, the original shoe helped legendary long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge run a marathon under two hours, breaking a world record. It’s certainly one of the best road running shoes ever made, said to improve running economy by around 4%, and the new iteration looks set to be even faster. 

The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2, like its predecessor, has a midsole of ZoomX foam, a single curved carbon fiber plate and two Zoom Air pods, small hollows of air designed to reduce the weight of the shoe while maintaining the optimal shape for improved running economy.  It’s said to offer runners a ‘propulsive, lightweight and supportive ride’, but there have been a few changes since the last go-round. 

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2

(Image credit: Nike)

The upper of the Next% 2 features a revised version of the original’s Atomknit, dubbed Atomknit 2.0. This new upper is said to be engineered for breathability in the toes, closer containment in the forefoot, and padding under the shoe’s tongue. 

There’s an increased amount of ZoomX foam under the midsole’s Zoom Air sacs, while the heel is wider for increased stability during heel-toe transitions. 

What this means is that, in essence, the shoe will be more comfortable, supportive, and stable during marathon-level distances than even the original, keeping your feet nice and stable as they’re planted, while increasing the amount of lift you get as the foot pushes off the ground again. You’ll be able to go further for longer. 

The shoe is available in its ‘Prototype’ colorway in limited quantities worldwide, starting today, at $275 in the US, £275 in the UK, and Australia’s pricing is TBC. More colorways are due to follow.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2

(Image credit: Nike)

Analysis: A shoe for the few?

With a hefty price tag and limited stock, it seems as though this shoe was built for record-breakers and record-breakers only. However, Nike is insisting that even if you don’t plan to smash any world records, if you’re targeting your own PB over any great distance, you’re going to want this shoe. 

During the announcement, Elliott Heath, Nike Running Footwear Product Manager, said: “the Alphafly NEXT% 2 is built for athletes going after their personal best in the marathon… The updates we’ve made in the second iteration continue to equip elite athletes competing on the world stage but we’re focused on improving the racing experience for all runners chasing their personal best."

If you’re a dedicated distance runner, this is the shoe for you. If you run half-marathons, 10ks or 5ks, and have no desire to increase your distance, this shoe is going to be simply too expensive, and over-engineered, for you to get any discernable benefit from it. You’ll be better off with an attractive mid-range, cheaper shoe like the Saucony Ride 14

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.