Buy the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% if…
- You’re looking for a Nike-specific shoe for tempo runs and longer interval speed work
- You like racing in the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% and want its training partner shoe
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Keep reading for the full Run the Shoes Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% review.
Offset: 10 mm
Weight: 9.3 oz (Men)
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% is a mouthful of Nike buzzwords that ultimately describes the training version of Nike’s marathon racing shoes, the Alphafly Next%. Both the Alphafly and the Tempo Next% feature ZoomX foam and Zoom Air pods, but while the Alphafly has a carbon fiber plate, the Tempo Next% has a layer of the ultra-durable React foam. I quite liked the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% and wore them regularly while training for two marathons, but I don’t think anyone other than elite runners and diehard Nike fans would notice if the shoe was discontinued. In fact, I suspect its popularity is waning as Nike discontinued the women’s model.
Before we get into the full review, let’s touch on some of the shoe’s key features:
ZoomX and React Foam
ZoomX is Nike’s softest and lightest foam, and its responsive cushioning means that every time your foot hits the ground, some of that energy is returned and transferred into your next step. Because Nike’s product team intended for the Tempo Next% to be a training shoe, not a racing shoe, they added a layer of React foam to the design. React is a similarly responsive foam to the ZoomX, but it’s way more durable, which for runners, means more miles.
Zoom Air Pods
From afar, the Tempo Next% looks similar to the Alphafly because they both have Zoom Air Pods beneath the forefoot. These isolated pods are essentially air bags filled with fibers that allow for more energy return when your foot strikes, propelling you further with each step.
Breathable but snug upper (and overall fit)
The Tempo Next% has a breathable upper made of Nike’s Flyknit material. It’s stretchy but lightweight and has a sock-like feel. Because Nike discontinued the women’s version of the shoe, I wore the men’s version and found the upper to be quite snug at first, though it ultimately stretched to a more comfortable fit. I have normal-width female feet, so I’d expect the shoes to be quite tight on male feet. (Nike’s website recommends ordering a half-size up.)
How I tested
I bought a pair of Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% in August 2021 when I was training for the New York City Marathon that November. I wore them for my weekly tempo runs and marathon-pace long runs. I meant to write a full review of the shoe after that race, but what can I say, life got in the way! I wore the same pair of Air Zoom Tempo Next%’s during my Boston Marathon buildup in early 2022. Once again, I used them for my speed workouts and double-digit long distance runs, as well as a few 10k races. I continued to run in them sporadically after the Boston Marathon, wearing them for both short and long interval workouts. I also wore them for the occasional easy run to assess how they felt at slower paces.
What to love about the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%
I was incredibly surprised at how many miles these shoes can handle. Neither of Nike’s long distance racing shoes—the Vaporfly Next% and Alphafly Next%—last very long, so I didn’t have high expectations for the Tempo Next%. But it really delivered, largely due to the rubber outsole. That rubber outsole is another crucial difference between the Tempo Next% and the Alphafly—it adds significant weight to the shoe, which is why runners who seek any (legal) advantage they can get on race day should wear as light a shoe as possible.
I’ve trained for two marathons in the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% and have worn them for at least 20 tempo-specific runs. I owned them for about a year and a half and only got rid of them a few weeks ago, when I noticed the Zoom Air Pods started to detach from the outsole.
Overall, I loved how much of a confidence boost these shoes gave me during the throes of marathon training. They’re a very fast shoe! When you have to do a 10-mile marathon tempo run in the middle of a high-volume training week, any boost you can get is much appreciated.
What not to love about the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%
The biggest con the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% has going for it—other than having an extremely clunky name—is that it has the price tag of a race day shoe without the benefits, like carbon plates. The MSRP is $200!
The super snug upper takes some getting used to as well. It has a narrow toe box so as previously mentioned, if you have wide feet, it is not the shoe for you.
The bottom line
Overall, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% is a great choice for high-volume runners who are training for a marathon and looking for a running shoe designed for tempo workouts and long speed intervals. It’s too fast to be a daily trainer but too clunky for short track work or race day. It’s also quite expensive, but if you have the budget and are a fan of the Vaporfly Next% or Alphafly Next%, it’s a solid addition to your closet.