Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nike Structure 18 Review

This is my first attempt at a review of any kind, so I hope you find it useful.  Feedback on whether it should have more or less detail, including how much technical info you would like to see would be helpful for future reviews.

My Shoe History

Many years ago, I started down the path of a runner.  My initial goal back then had been to lose weight, with the hope of getting back to a reasonable and healthy weight.  I first started with basic sneakers, something you could grab at Dicks or Modells.  My initial training was on a treadmill in a gym.  This meant that my experience with how shoes should feel lacked actual stress from running on hard terrain.  When I moved to the outside world, I kept using the same types of shoes.  After a while, I started to worry about the quality of my shoes.  I was already fighting the stress throughout of the legs from carrying an extra 100 pounds while trying to run.  Bad sneakers could have caused other problems or injuries, so I listened to what I read online and in magazines and went to get my gait looked at by more seasoned personnel.

From there I started with New Balance, as they were traditionally better for heavier runners, and specifically a shoe to help pronation, the 870.  These had a 13.6mm drop from the heel to the toe, which favors heel or midfoot striking.  It also kept some stress off the Achilles.  This is a normal drop that you would find in a standard running shoe.  It should be noted that later versions of the 870 (v2, v3) all lowered the heel to toe drop to 8mm.  As I lost weight and understood what I wanted in a shoe, I moved to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS, and the Nike Flynit.

Eventually I started running with less weight and more mid-foot, so I started to try a lower drop shoe.  This brought me to Saucony, where I first tried the Hurricane, and eventually settled on the Saucony Guide, a 8mm drop shoe with mild support and decent cushion.  Each change was due to how I wanted to feel the road, as well as how well they breathed, and left my feet and legs after long runs.  These days I run in multiple show brands, as each type of training requires a different type of shoe.  For trail runes, I use the Brooks Adrenaline ASR, as it has a wide toe box to support my wide feet.  For my long runs, I trust in the Guide 8 or 7 (the 6 was just dreadful).  For shorter runs, I tend to use a less padded shoe, with a bit less weight.  This led me to the Nike Structure.

Nike Air Zoom Structure 18

The Nike Structure 18 is a mild pronation support running shoe designed for everyday running.  The shoe uses Nike's Air cushioning and lightweight Flymesh wraps to help give maximum comfort while being as light as possible.  The shoe also relies on Nike's Dynamic support mid-soles and help keep the heel and medial mid-foot stable while running. 

The Feel

For the pair that I used, the size was 12(w).  When I first put the shoes on, I experienced the Flymesh wrap that makes up the upper part of the shoe.  It covered my foot well, without feeling tight or inflexible.  It is a breathable man-made fabric that is laid out with almost no seams.  This would help reduce the chances of friction on the feet and possible allow some runner to go sans socks.
This shoe has a heel to toe drop of 9mm, which is slightly higher then the Saucony shoes I have been wearing, at 8mm.  The heel counter felt smooth and was at a height that fit with my feet.  Years ago, I wore shoes that had plastic support for the heel counter, which would rip out and dig into my heel and lower Achilles.  This has created a permanent buildup of scar tissue, so I tend to prefer heels that ride lower on the back of the foot, versus a hightop or mid-height shoe.  The heel counter itself hugged the back of the foot and heel, allowing for very little movement up or down while running.  It should be noted that I do loop the laces through the additional holes at the top of the shoe for additional heel snugness.

Support Structure

When I initially put these shoes on, I could feel the two support points built around the mid-sole.  This feeling is like putting two pieces of fabric into the shoes at the arch and heel, thus creating pressure points.  This is due to the cushioning and support design used by Nike that reacts to a runners gait.  The support will actually change based on how your foot hit the ground.  This meant that the feel would be very different from walking, to running, to sprinting.

This feeling worried me initially, as a previous pair of shoes I have used gave me the same feeling, both while standing and running.  Those shoes ended up damaging my feet due to too much support that didn't adapt based on my stride or foot strike.  I could also feel the Zoom Air cushioning while standing and walking, which reminded me a bit of the Hokas I use for recovery walks.  Both of these feelings have traditionally put me off of a shoe, but I decided to try them out on a short run with the local running store Potomac River Running.  Once I started running, the feelings I had on the feet disappeared.  The 3 mile run at 10k pace had me forgetting I even had new shoes on.  They felt natural, and gave me great feedback on the road.  Once I returned to a walk, so did the over supportive feel.  This removed them from being a walking shoe in the future.

Additional Notes

After that run, I decided to pick a pair up.  From there, I used the shoes as my second pair in my weekly rotation, submitting them to both short and long runs.  Each time they seems to be up for the task, keeping my feet inline, with little movement.  As my feet became swollen, I never felt any additional pressure on the sides of the feet.  The one truly annoying thing about the shoe is the noise it makes.  Specifically, the shoe is not quiet in any way.  Each hit of the foot, be it heel, mid-foot, or toe striking, caused a loud SMACK noise, and I never found a proper foot strike that reduced the noise.

Additionally, as I used them for longer runs, my lower legs felt a bit more beaten up then when I use the Guides.  This may be due to the different cushioning between the two, which may keep them limited to half marathon distances and less.


I found that the Nike Structure 18 running shoe is a nice compliment to any runners shoe rotation.  Utilizing them for short to mid distance runs seems to be the best choice, and I would recommend them to anyone who may need a mild support shoe for daily running.  Anything longer and I would recommend purchasing a shoe with more cushioning and less noise, as after 20 miles, I really wanted ear buds to help hide the sound.