There was a period, lately when minimalist shoes and barefoot running were extremely popular. Every shoe brand introduced thin and flexible trainers.

Since then, the word “barefoot” has fallen right out of favour with runners and maximalist shoe brands like Hoka attended into the picture.

Now, the priciest, innovative trainers have thick stack heights with carbon plates and a good amount of cushion.

However, you may still find hardcore minimalist shoe lovers today. When I was owning a marathon just this past year, I saw persons running in sandals and a good guy who was simply running with bare feet.

I’ve never been a fan of minimalist shoes. My reasoning is that more cushioning means more protection and more protection means fewer injuries.

However, some persons argue that running in highly cushioned shoes is unnatural and may cause the body damage.

My last couple of Nike Free trainers was the Free RN Flyknit 2017. I came across the loose upper of these to be too relaxed which led to a sloppy fit and I finished up with them as a gym shoe.

Nike markets the Nike Free RN 5.0 as a trainer for short distances that provide you a barefoot feel. In addition they say that it works extremely well as a strengthening tool to greatly help promote natural motion.

There are two trainers in the Nike Free 2020 range: the Free RN Flyknit 3.0 and the Free RN 5.0. The Flyknit 3.0 may be the closest to barefoot running as the 5.0 is more cushioned and doesn’t have a Flyknit upper.

The Nike Free RN 5.0 sits halfway between a minimalist shoe and a typical daily trainer which in some recoverable format sounds like a far more versatile shoe compared to the Free RN Flyknit 3.0.

So may be the Nike Free RN 5.0 a shoe that I’ll manage to use as a daily trainer, or am i going to only have the ability to make usage of it as an exercise tool to fortify the muscles in my own feet and calves?

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 First Impressions
Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 – Top

One thing I noticed when I took them out the box was how futuristic the look looked. The sleek lines and sharp angles reminded me of 1 of these ultramodern concept cars that you’ll see at an automobile show.

I was surprised by how firm the midsole foam felt. It hardly had any share with it when I tried to squish it, a huge difference to the Nike Free types of old.

Nike says that the Free RN 5.0 2020 is firmer than earlier versions for better stability and ground feel.

When travelling in the shoe, it didn’t feel flat like previous Nike Free trainers. I possibly could feel the raised elements of the outsole underneath my feet and it felt like I was walking on pods.

The midfoot of the Free RN 5.0 felt more narrow than most Nike trainers and I possibly could feel the prominent arch against my feet. I assumed the feeling would disappear once I started running in the shoe and it did.

My first run in the Free RN 5.0 was a brief 10km run in order that I could get yourself a feel for the shoe. Towards the end of my run, I was amazed that I didn’t have any aching knees or sore feet.

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 Sole Unit
Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 – Sole

The midsole of the Free RN 5.0 is an individual little bit of dense, injection-moulded EVA. It’s much firmer than previous incarnations of the Free and for me, makes the shoe better.

Before, the Free RN midsoles felt mushy and unstable however the 2020 version feels more responsive and is better to go fast in it.

It still lacks the cushioning for marathons as well as half marathons but it’s simply perfect for short 5 to10 kilometre form-correcting sessions.

Stability in the Free RN 5.0 is good. The reduced profile and firmness of the midsole supports stability. The raised outsole pods on the heel and forefoot make the shoe slightly less stable.

The 6mm drop of the Free RN 5.0 feels lower because of there being no sink-in softness. When running, I pointed out that my foot strike was towards the forefoot.

Due to there not being much cushioning, my feet wished to land on the more cushioned part on my feet, the forefoot.

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 – Sole

The outsole of the Free RN 5.0 is totally exposed midsole aside from two small patches of rubber: one on the lateral heel area and one on the toe area which isn’t a higher wear section of the outsole unless you employ a weird foot strike.

Elements of the outsole are raised therefore the Free RN 5.0 doesn’t have a complete ground contact outsole- due to this fact, ride transitions aren’t as smooth as earlier versions of the Free 5.0.

Nike did an excellent job with designing the slits of the outsole in order that they don’t trap stones and debris between your grooves. This is a problem with a number of the previous Free trainers.

The slits span the complete amount of the outsole but only allows the shoe to flex in leading third of the shoe. The midfoot and rearfoot are relatively rigid.

The overall flexibility of the Free RN 5.0 is fantastic but it eliminates all the snappiness therefore the Free RN 5.0 isn’t a shoe for tempo runs.

Traction is excellent on dry surfaces however the Free RN 5.0 is quite slippery on wet grass or wet pavement because of this of no protruding lugs or blown rubber on the outsole.

The Free RN 5.0 can be not a shoe you want to take off-road on trails or gravel because every pebble and stone could be felt through underneath of the shoe.

The strength of the Free RN 5.0 is on the low end. The EVA midsole will eventually lose cushioning as time passes and the outsole which isn’t covered with much rubber will wear out faster than most shoes.

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 Upper Unit

The upper of the Free RN 5.0 is a bootie construction with nearly all it being truly a non-stretchy, thin matte material similar to the VaporWeave on the VaporFly.

There can be an overlay on the toe area for extra structure and toughness and there is merely the proper amount of width and depth in the toe box.

The tongue area is manufactured out of a softer, stretchy material which feels as though a porous sock.

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 – Inside

There is minimal padding, aside from three foam pods within the heel area to carry the heel set up.

These pods work very well as I experienced no heel slippage or discomfort and I wish Nike had used these in the Infinity Run and the Pegasus 37.

You get yourself a unique heel pull tab, not on the centre of the heel but on the inner, medial side of the heel which doesn’t work all that well. There’s grounds that a lot of heel pull tabs are at the heart.

There are no last row double eyelets to accomplish a lacing heel lock which is common on shoes with a bootie construction.

The best word to spell it out the Free RN 5.0’s upper is “floppy”. There is absolutely no structure in the heel or the midfoot and is among the few Nike trainers never to have any Flywire cables or straps.

When running, my feet felt free and relaxed. It had been like the shoe exact carbon copy of not wearing underwear.

The upper of the Free RN 5.0 runs true to size and is light, breathable and secure lockdown.

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 Conclusion
Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 – Lateral Side

The Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 includes a comfortable, breathable upper with a satisfactory degree of foot lockdown. It has the ideal amount of space in the toe box and causes no chafing or hot spots.

Its firm midsole is highly flexible in the forefoot, provides good stability and sufficient cushioning for distances up to 10km.

You won’t be breaking any PR’s in the Free RN 5.0, nor are you considering running record distances in them but that wasn’t what the shoe was created for.

The Free RN 5.0 is similar to a specialists’ tool that serves an extremely specific purpose. Its purpose is to fortify the muscles and joints in your legs and improve your running form.

After weekly of running in the Free RN 5.0, I could certainly say that my form has improved so when I land, I land underneath my centre of gravity rather than out before it.

The Free RN 5.0 isn’t capable of replacing some of my daily trainers, tempo or long haul shoes nonetheless it will be added into my shoe rotation since it does a thing that none of my other shoes can do: it creates me an improved runner technically.

I would like another version of the Free RN 5.0 to really have the heel pull tab on the centre of the heel and the outsole to feature more rubber on the high wear areas, regardless if this means sacrificing its super-lightweight.