Before I get to my Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo review, let’s talk about how scary it is to sign up for a marathon. I've always been a casual runner, the kind who runs in the same pair of shoes for years longer than I’d like to admit. But recently, I was given an incredible opportunity by Nike: a spot in the Chicago marathon, and a coach who would help me and a group of women in LA train for it. I thought about it for only a little bit, then excitedly accepted. And then I promptly started to freak out. I hadn’t even put foot to pavement and I was already very grateful that I had a coach and some built-in running partners to ask for advice. Stuff like: What are you supposed to eat? What shoes do I wear? Do I have to give up wine?
For now, let’s focus on that shoe part (although, for the record, you don’t have to give up wine). As part of my training experience, I joined Olympian and 2017 New York City marathon winner Shalane Flanagan in Tokyo for the launch of Nike’s new Zoom Pegasus Turbo shoe ($ 180). Within hours of getting off a plane, I was hitting the streets of Tokyo for a quick two-mile run in the shoes (trying to play it cool that Flanagan was also part of the pack). Since then, I’ve logged just over 70 miles in the Pegasus Turbos while I train for Chicago. Here’s what I’ve learned about the shoe, and my thoughts on how it holds up during marathon training.
The Pegasus Turbo incorporates design aspects of the Pegasus and Zoom Vaporfly shoes.
The new shoe is a version of Nike’s Pegasus 35, the latest iteration of the much-loved Pegasus shoe Nike has produced since 1983. Meant to be used as an everyday trainer, shoes in the Pegasus family have long been favorites of elite runners and athletes. For the Turbo model, the design team sought to make a shoe that incorporates technology used for elite runners; the design was developed from direct feedback of a team of elite athletes, including Flanagan and fellow Olympian Eliud Kipchoge. Kipchoge, who ran in Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly Elite during last year’s Breaking2 event—where elite runners attempted to run a marathon in under two hours—had asked for the light proprietary foam first used the Vaporfly to be available in an everyday trainer. Nike’s answer is the Pegasus Turbo, made with the same ZoomX foam used in the Vaporfly.
Flanagan credits ZoomX and the Vaporfly with helping her win the NYC Marathon; she also likes the Pegasus Turbos. “It’s a great shoe to use for long runs and tempo runs,” she told me in Tokyo. She might have had to say that—she’s a Nike-sponsored athlete, after all—but her enthusiasm seemed genuine. So after I got home from Tokyo, I couldn’t wait to test them out on my regular training runs.
One of the first things I noticed about the shoe was just how lightweight and, well, bouncy the foam feels.
When I first put on the shoe it felt super light and springy (a women’s size 8 weighs 6.9 ounces, according to press materials—while I don’t know how much my other shoes weigh, these ones do seem pretty light to me). They also felt comfortable as soon as I put them on, no breaking in required. The extended heel of the upper, similar to the Pegasus 35’s design, is meant to avoid any discomfort to your Achilles area. The back sole curves out a bit more, similar to the aerodynamic heel on the Vaporfly—it’s a little weird if you’re not used to your shoe sole sticking out that much, but it didn’t bother me.
Another thing I noticed is that the sizing seems a little different than other Nike shoes I've tried. When I first put on the Pegasus Turbos in my regular size they felt roomier than my Pegasus 35s in the same size, which I had been previously using on my runs. I have a narrow foot so I considered going down a half size but now, having logged some mileage, I am glad that I didn’t. As soon as I started running in the Pegasus Turbos the sizing felt perfect. If you’re wondering what size to buy, I recommend going to a Nike store to test them out or reading other reviews online to get a sense of how they fit.
Once I started logging miles in the Pegasus Turbo I knew it was the right shoe for me.
I have a normal pronation when running, despite having a slightly flat arch, and one thing I don’t like about some shoes I’ve run in, including the Pegasus 35, is that my arch sometimes hurts after a run. I've barely had any discomfort anywhere on my feet when wearing the Pegasus Turbos, even after my first 10-mile trail run (not one blister or sore area after that one!). I even felt great running the very next day in the same shoes. For my first speed run in the shoe, I felt like the ZoomX foam helped me stay quick on my feet.
I’ve gone on a couple more runs of similar mileage since that 10-mile trail run: another 10 miler and, most recently, a 13-mile one. The last one was a trail course just north of Malibu, which was was at a high elevation and had a good amount of hills. Read: super challenging for me. But the shoes held up pretty well; while the uneven terrain was hard on my ankles and I got a small blister on my left big toe, I had no foot or knee pain. I iced my ankles immediately after my run and was able to do a treadmill session the very next day in the same shoes.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing (running?), however. One downside to the Pegasus Turbo is that the upper has a dual layer that makes it less breathable than other shoes I’ve been running in (like the Pegasus 35 and the Nike Epic React), something that I noticed immediately while first trying them out in the sweltering Tokyo heat. This decreased breathability has still been noticeable when I’m running in hot temperatures now that I’m back in LA, where I live; switching to a lightweight sock has helped, but it’s still a little annoying. In any case, the breathability issue is only a minor complaint—on my most recent long run, I had forgotten all about my hot feet by mile three and instead was grateful that the shoe felt supportive and comfortable enough to get me through several more miles of uneven terrain.
All in all, I definitely recommend grabbing a pair of the Pegasus Turbos if you’re in the market for a lightweight yet sturdy running shoe.
As Flanagan predicted, this shoe has been great for me on both semi-long and short runs (the longest I’ve run in these shoes so far has been just over 13 miles, while my short runs average around two or three miles), so I’d recommend it for either. I’ve yet to try them on anything longer than 13 miles, so I can’t say how well it’ll help me with leg or foot fatigue and pain as I ramp up my miles. But so far, it’s felt the same whether I’ve run on pavement or on a trail. The bounciness helps with speed in quicker paces and in my latest longer run it mentally and physically helped me stay light on my feet when I felt that I was hitting a wall. When my legs started to feel like bricks, my feet felt like they could still fly and keep tempo. And the aesthetics of the shoe, in my opinion, are great (hey, if you’re going to be logging hundreds of miles in a shoe, it helps if you like what they look like, right?): the laces are anchored by something called Flywire, which is meant to reduce the overall weight of the shoe but also just looks really cool, and the colorways (a grayish white with neon stripe, grayish green with green stripe, or black with white details) are just the right amount of flashy.
I know I’ve been given some incredible opportunities by Nike (an invite to a popular marathon and a dedicated coach! Running with famous elites! A trip to Tokyo!) and those experiences could seem like they’ve skewed my experiences with this shoe. But, look: it’s my marathon. Finding the right shoe to carry me through months of training is essential for me, and my personal performance and comfort are far more important than any (perceived) obligation. The fact is that in October, I’ll be in Chicago, running my first marathon. So this summer you’ll catch me running in the LA heat, logging miles in my new Pegasus Turbos. I’m happy I found a shoe that will help get me to the finish.