Sometimes you immediately take to a running shoe and just know you’re going to love training in it. At other times you immediately take against one, but perhaps most often you warm to a running shoe after a few runs when it’s softened up slightly and moulded to your foot. And then sometimes you can run 100km in a shoe and still have no idea whether you like it or not. That last one is where I stand with Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35.
For a long time – 35 years, in fact – the Pegasus has stood out as one of the best all-rounder running shoes available. Not too heavy, but reasonably cushioned and suitable for all types of training. The Pegasus 34 epitomised that billing, but the Pegasus 35 seems to have lost that in pursuit of being a faster, firmer shoe.
On paper the Pegasus 35 is an upgrade on past editions. It’s 14g lighter than the Pegasus 34 (281g vs 295g) and it boasts a new full length Zoom Air unit in the sole that mimics the positioning of the carbon plate in the Nike Vaporfly 4%. On the foot, however, the Pegasus 35 lacks charm.
That starts with the long tongue, which is a little too padded and intrusive. You shouldn’t really notice the tongue on a shoe for more than the first few seconds after putting it on, but with the 35 it was always there, being ever-so-slightly annoying.
However, it’s the ride of the Pegasus 35 that disappointed me more. It’s too firm for an all-rounder and, especially on easy runs, the transition from heel-to-toe feels a mite clunky. This could be personal preference – I prefer the ride of the cushioned Nike React and Saucony Ride ISO, both of which are all-rounders with softer rides – but the Pegasus 35 just didn’t feel smooth to run in.
The shoe did soften slightly after a few runs, but not that much. I thought the benefits of the firmer sole would be apparent when I took it out for tempo runs or intervals, but even then the shoe didn’t come to life. It isn’t slow, but didn’t give me anything back when I pushed the pace and felt slightly cumbersome when I went for all-out intervals.
All of the above sounds terribly negative – but actually, on the whole, I didn’t hate running in the Pegasus 35, and that’s where the confusion arises. It never felt terrible, but I can’t say I ever reached for it with delight, at the prospect of either running fast in a lively shoe or easing off in a comfortable shoe. It’s still an all-rounder, but for me it rates as a three-star across the board, as opposed to past Pegasus shoes which felt great for everything.
Someone who prefers a firmer shoe for all training may feel differently, but for my money the best all-rounder trainer released this year remains the Saucony Ride ISO. And if you are committed to the Pegasus line then this is a good time to go looking for a deal on the 34 (reduced to £59 on runnersneed.com). Nike isn’t sitting on its hands though, with the Pegasus Turbo hitting stores in early August – this will have ZoomX foam in the midsole, which is the same stuff as in the Vaporfly 4% and Elite and promises a speedy and responsive yet cushioned ride for all your training. We’ll publish a review testing those claims soon.
£105, buy on runnersneed.com