The season of competition has arrived, but it took a lot of work to get here. Every Spring, it can be a real struggle to get ourselves out that door and do what’s necessary to be in the best shape possible for the first big race of the year. This year, that is the Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Known to bring in more than 20,000 athletes every year, the competition is fierce, and the energy is indescribable. If you’re anything like me, and you find the spirit of competition too overwhelming to deny, you can understand the importance of having the correct tools to be fully prepared when the gun goes off. This Spring I laced up with the Asics GEL-Nimbus 18 running shoe, one of the brand’s flagship shoes with 18 years of experience and innovation. From the day I began my training cycle, and on to race day itself, these shoes have been there with me to help me achieve all of the goals I’ve set for myself, no matter how ambitious.
- FluidRide® Midsole: FluidRide® provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability.
- FluidFit® Upper: ASICS FluidFit® upper technology combines multi-directional stretch mesh with stretch reinforcements that adapt to the athlete’s foot, creating a truly customized glove-like fit.
- Seamless Construction: The use of seamless materials reduces the potential for irritation and friction caused by traditional stitches and seams.
- Guidance Line® Midsole Technology: Vertical flex groove decouples the tooling along the line of progression for enhanced gait efficiency.
- ComforDry™ Lasting: This lasting material features plush underfoot comfort while providing excellent moisture management and a high level of breathability.
- Heel Clutching System™ Technology: Exoskeletal heel counter provides improved support and creates improved heel fitting environment.
- Discrete Eyelets: Independently placed eyelets disburse lace tension, creating a customized fitting environment and enhanced upper comfort.
- Guidance Trusstic System® Technology: This Trusstic System® integrates Guidance Line® construction for enhanced gait efficiency while providing midfoot structural integrity.
- ComforDry™ X-40 Sockliner: This premium sockliner features higher rebound properties while providing excellent moisture management and a high-level of breathability.
Out of the Box:
At first glance, the GEL-Nimbus 18 has the appearance of your typical running shoe. The color scheme is pretty standard on the model that I pulled out of the box: a fairly even blend of silver and royal/navy blue, with bright yellow laces and highlights to add a bit of extra pop. As I scanned over the shoes more thoroughly, I took notice of the seamless shoe design. Yes, this aids in the performance of the shoe which is very important, but from an aesthetic standpoint, the GEL-Nimbus 18 is quite impressive thanks to this feature from close and far away. The pattern, although splayed on the smooth surface, is loaded with a great amount of three dimensional illusion in its design. Within the Asics logo, I noticed the subtle reflective surface that in low light would be visible over long distances from just about any angle, so safety around traffic is well covered. In all, the GEL-Nimbus 18 is quite a nice looking shoe, traditional and simple at a glance, but with highly functional visuals that make it look good from any angle or distance.
The process of breaking in a shoe adequately is always a rough one. As a rule of thumb, I only wear my running shoes for walking during the first week, so that the shoe can conform and adapt to my foot’s natural shape. If it breaks in too easily, that’s a sign of weak construction. On the other hand, if it takes too long, I become concerned about poor materials in the build. In this instance, The GEL-Nimbus 18 took just about the right amount of time to break in. After the initial week of walking the streets, I felt some minor numbness after about 4 miles of running in the ball of my foot. That sensation went away after the first week of running for the most part. There were a few times even after putting 100-150 miles on the shoes, where I felt a faintly similar sensation during runs of 6 miles or longer. It wasn’t painful or numbing, but it was present, which indicates a minor weakness in the front of the sole. Over all though, any issues I’ve discovered here have been extremely minor.
As an extra bonus here, Asics has designed the GEL-Nimbus 18 with the FluidFit® Upper Technology, a multi-directional mesh designed to reinforce the stability of the shoe while conforming to the shape of the upper foot after prolonged use. I’ve certainly noticed that the shoe continues to adapt to my foot, not just over an extended period of time, but during longer runs when my toes tend to splay out more with every step.
When training for any race 10 kilometers or longer, you need to put in much longer distances every so often to be properly prepared. Muscles don’t only get heavily fatigued along the way, but all joints below the waist will take a serious pounding. On top of things, while running longer distances in the early spring you’ll be bound to find plenty of moisture along the way from your own pores and Mother Nature. Thankfully, the GEL-Nimbus 18 is loaded with features meant to keep you protected from all of the heavy impact and the elements.
As the weeks progressed and I pushed myself over longer distances, the Asics Trusstic System® helped to dramatically reduce the weight of the sole without any loss of cushioning or structural integrity of the shoe. After running a great distance over time, this lightness in step really makes the difference to help shed those extra seconds of my miles. Additionally, the ComforDry™ material did exactly as Asics suggests on the occassion I found large puddles or found myself in the rain during early Spring. These shoes remained comfortable and breathable in the wettest conditions, and that makes a big difference in the for foot health and maintenance.
The Exoskeletal Heel Clutching System™ in the GEL-Nimbus 18 has been a huge benefit as well. There was a time during the last few weeks of my training cycle where I went through some heel pain. I know this was just a minor strain, and not due to the shoe because after a few days of nursing it I was back out there with no continued issue. However, I do believe it was the Exoskeletal system that gave me the additional support I needed to get out there and stay healthy as the day of the race drew closer.
On race day, there’s a raw excitement about knowing that all of your hard work comes down to this one moment. On the flip side, you know that in order to perform your best, you’ll need to put yourself through miles of grueling agony. The 2016 Fifth Third River Bank Run 10k was no different for me. The first few miles were a struggle for placement in the pack…and by the third mile I questioned what the point of all this is. The idea of just stopping to walk sounded amazing, but I pressed on. It was in the fourth mile that I finally began to feel my stride, and thank goodness for that. Normally, I like to run in big packs, so I can concentrate on the runner ahead of me, reel them in, pass, and go on to the next one. On this particular day though, I found very few runners near me, which indicated I was holding a strong position, but forced me to just concentrate on each step as I worked my way through those last few miles. The GEL-Nimbus 18 running shoes were doing their job though, helping to minimize the effort during the most difficult portion of the race. The Asics Impact Guidance Technology protected my foot from heel strike to toe off, and the vertical flex groove on the under-sole of the shoes helped to enhance gait efficiency as I made each step. I don’t normally look at my time during a race, but a time clock provided on the fifth mile marker caught my attention, and I knew for the first time during this race that I was on pace to make my goal with only a mile to go. It was one of the hardest finishes of all the races I’ve ever run, but thanks to the GEL-Nimbus 18 I crossed the finish line, not only achieving my goals for the day, but crushing my time goal by more than a minute.
The Road Ahead:
This Spring I pushed myself to greater distances than I’m used to in preparation for race season. the GEL-Nimbus 18 running shoes have carried me over 200 miles by my estimation, and I’m amazed with the results they’ve helped me acheive. As I look ahead and question what’s next, I have to say that these shoes are looking ready for the challenge. The High Abrasion Rubber that make up the construction of the shoe’s outsole remains almost entirely intact with minor, but totally acceptable wear in the toe and heel. Everything above the sole, from the stitching to the mesh upper, looks as it did the day I removed the shoes from their box, just a bit dirtier. At the end of this training cycle, I have a sense of excitement for things to come.
As one of the great flagships of the Asics brand, a high asking price comes at no surprise with the GEL-Nimbus 18. At the end of the day though, I was surprised it wasn’t a bit higher when compared to other shoes of the same caliber. These shoes have protected my feet from the elements as well as the brutal treatment they received after a great many miles on the road. After everything I put them through, they withstood it all in stride, and look to be ready for the next training cycle.
- Amazing Foot and Joint Protection
- Withstands Impact for Long Distances
- Ultra Durable
- Takes Some Mileage to Break In