Shoe Review: Nike Lunartempo 2
Posted on November 27 2016
Nike Lunartempo 2 has been around for quite some time. Despite being so popular among NBRO running crews (some of them run 2:30-2:40 marathons in Lunartempo 2), it never caught my attention. It all changed when Nike introduced two new colourways which were Whiteout and Blackout. I am a sucker for anything black, but I prefer the Whiteout colourway better. It looks clean and fresh. I rewarded myself with a pair of Nike Lunartempo 2 after running Tokyo Marathon.
It happened that a week after Tokyo Marathon, I injured my IT band. It was disappointing and frustrating to be down with an injury. Contrary to advices that I gave to others, I tried to shake the injury off by running. I made it worse and my new Lunartempo 2 suffered from an unjust assessment. A part of me was blaming insufficient rest from a marathon, while another part of me on unsuitable shoes (Lunartempo 2), as the contributor of my injury. The injury was so bad that it altered my strides. I was limping and running instead of running. And Lunartempo 2 took a lot of heat because of this problem.
After few running outings in Lunartempo 2 totalling to around 150 kilometres, I was forced to come to the fact that I made the wrong purchase. I retired the shoes to become my casual shoes. That’s the worst shame that can ever happen to running shoes. It remained on my shoe rack for months until I wore out all of my other shoes. Buying a new pair of shoes was not an option so I had to recall Lunartempo 2 from my shoe museum.
A day before a long run at Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM), I took out Lunartempo 2 for a quick spin for one final assessment. It felt different. I started to like the shoes, so I decided to run my long run in Lunartempo 2. My review of the shoe will revolve largely on what happened during PNM.
First thing that you’ll notice once you put your feet in the shoes is the lack of weight. Despite its lightness, it offers plenty of cushioning. You only expect this lightness and cushioning combination to come from Hoka One One and Skechers, not Nike. It resembles my Saucony Kinvara 5, but lighter. The lightness of the shoes is achieved through the simple upper construction which does not have any overlays apart from the aesthetic swoosh on the lateral sides of the shoe and strategic placement of the reinforced rubber for the outsole. It is not a full ground contact shoe and the reinforced rubber is only placed at critical area, which are at forefoot and heel. Exposed Lunarlon midsole is used around the midsection of the outsole. The lack of rubber underneath the shoe shaves the weight down.
This is a matter of preference. All of my favourites running shoes come with minimal cushioning like New Balance 1400v2, Nike Zoom Streak 6, Asics Hyperspeed 7. These types of shoes are essentially called running flats where the ground feedback is pronounced. I like to train and race in them. This is one of the reasons why I initially dislike Lunartempo 2 as well as why I dislike Kinvara 5. I do not like muted ‘ground feeling’. But I know that in order to keep my feet fresh and fatigue at bay, I need to do most of my running in shoes with more cushioning. I need to allow time for transition. After some time, I start to appreciate a bit more of cushioning that Lunartempo 2 offers.
Judging from the outer appearance of the shoe, one might think that the cushioning is achieved through thick midsole based on the high sidewalls. This turns out to be misleading. The stack height (thickness underneath your foot) published by Running Warehouse is 26mm (heel) and 18mm(forefoot). Exactly the same stack height as my racier Nike Zoom Streak 6 but Zoom Streak 6 feels a lot firmer.
The cushioning is actually achieved through the soft Lunarlon midsole. I believe the accordion-like design of the midsole sidewall helps too where it allows the midsole to compress more efficiently. This sidewall theory is purely my gut feeling so take it with a pinch of salt.
Having said that, Lunartempo 2 is not overly-cushioned. Those who are used to run in heavily-cushioned shoes like Asics Kayano may find that Lunartempo 2 is not that cushioned. To me, Lunartempo is appropriately-cushioned, not too cushioned to render it mushy, and well-cushioned not to render it harsh. This is a good shoe for easy runs, long runs, and even marathons and ultra marathons.
My feet sweat easily even when I barefoot. So breathability is a big thing for me. Initially, I feel my feet to be constricted while wearing this shoe. I can feel my feet sweat more. After a while, the shoe becomes a bit more accommodating and the problem is gone. The well-ventilated engineered mesh upper combined with lack of overlays make the shoe breathable.
The shoe works mightily fine in normal condition, but performs poorly in wet. There are two occasions when the lack of traction becomes really irritating. One, when I am doing a long run at PNM when it is raining, and the other time when I am doing fartlek after a heavy downpour. During the rolling course of PNM, I need to be a bit cautious and put some efforts to prevent myself from slipping especially while running downhill. During the fartlek, I am struggling against the wet and slippery surface. The reinforced rubber outsoles do not seem to grip the tarmac well and it feels that I lose a lot of traction while pushing off, all the while worrying about slipping.
I am never a fan of pod outsole because of the feeling underneath the foot as well as durability issues. One may say that Lunartempo 2’s outsole is not categorised as one, but the concept is similar. It is not a full-contact outsole, with reinforced rubber pieces thrown around the forefoot and heel areas. This reduces the contact area between the shoes and ground, hence increases the pressure. Despite using reinforced rubber, it does not take long before I notice wear on the outsole. After few runs, the wear is quite noticeable. I supinate/underpronate, so the lateral side of the outsole suffers the most. Since it is not a full contact outsole, the wear creeps to the vulnerable midsole. You also need to be careful when running on gravel surfaces as the exposed soft midsole traps gravel easily and is susceptible to sharp objects. For this reason, I won’t recommend Lunartempo 2 to be used in trail.
‘Sockliner’ is the thing I dislike the most about this shoe. It is a deal breaker. But the problem is not the sockliner. One flaw contributes to a problem, contributes to another, eventually contributes to sockliner mishap.
While doing 33 kilometres long run at PNM, I did a ‘Kipchoge’. Not the third fastest marathon time kind of Kipchoge, but the dockliner slipping out of the shoes kind of Kipchoge. It is a warm, humid and wet night at Putrajaya. After 10 kilometres, the sockliner starts to crease underneath both of my feet. The nuisance is so irritating that I have to stop, take off my shoes, take out the sockliner, and put it back properly. I repeat the same sequences for the next 10 kilometres before I decide to remove the sockliner from the shoe. I run the rest of my long run without a sockliner in my right shoe.
While the sockliner takes the blame, the problem lies deeper (or may I say outer?) in the upper. The lack of overlays (apart from the aesthetic swoosh) makes the upper unstructured which is a double-edge sword. Unlike Flyknit, where the designers can play around with the thickness of the material to reinforce critical areas, the engineered mesh material used cannot. To reinforce the critical areas, it needs other piece of material like overlays, which it does not have. Understandably, the unstructured upper makes the upper more accommodating but the stretchy upper also allows the feet to move around unrestricted.
What happens during PNM is, especially while running downhill, my toes slip to the front, stretches the upper (and my toes) beyond the base of the shoes, and every time I push off, my toes dig into the sockliner and push the sockliner back. Consequently creasing the sockliner. The wet condition makes it easier for this problem to happen. Probably, same thing happened to Kipchoge during Berlin 2015 and since, some of newer Nike running shoes like Zoom Streak 6, Terra Kiger come with glued sockliners to prevent sockliners slipping out of position.
Among shoe reviews that one can find online, I think this is a section that reviews tend to overlook. What defines a good shoe? A lot. But one shoe can be great at shorter distances but terrible at longer distances. There’s no do-it-all shoe.
Easy runs: It is suitable for easy run. Those who are used to high-cushioning shoes may find the cushioning insufficient, but for most, the cushioning is enough for easy runs.
Long runs: Same thing for long runs. Enough cushioning to keep your legs fresh.
Tempo runs: There is a reason why it is called Lunartempo. It is meant for tempo runs. However, I prefer shoes that have more pronounced ground feeling for tempo runs.
Intervals: It is too soft for intervals. And like tempo runs, I like shoes that feels more alive (ground feeling).
<10k races: Read ‘Tempo runs’ and ‘Intervals’ above.
Half-marathon: Lightweight with enough cushioning. It is good for half-marathons. Though, I still prefer more lively shoes like Asics Hyperspeed 7.
Marathon: Definitely enough cushioning to last a marathon.
Ultra-marathons: For 50k road ultras, this will suffice. For distances longer than 50k, I may look for shoes with a bit more cushioning.
It is easy to figure out why people love Lunartempo 2 so much. It is lightweight and appropriately-cushioned. At this price point, it is hard to beat. It is not at all a maximal shoe like Hoka, but it offers the same .
In a normal dry condition, the shoe performs so well. But when the condition is far from ideal, wet and slippery, the lack of grip is definitely a concern.
It is not true to size as well. I usually wear US7, and mine is also US7, but I think I might be better if I half-size up. Perhaps, by half-sizing up, ‘Kipchoge’ won’t happen.
It is a good marathon shoe but I don’t plan in running any in it. Because it is down to my preference of running in a lively shoe where I can feel the ground. According to Running Warehouse, the stack height is exactly similar to Nike Zoom Streak 6, but Nike Lunartempo 2 definitely feels higher from the ground compared to Zoom Streak 6.
There is one minor tweak that I would like to see that will make the shoe better. A bit of structure on the upper especially around the toe area that will prevent the upper from stretching too much which in turn will prevent the foot from sliding around. Unfortunately, rumour has it that we won’t see a Lunartempo 3. Nike is said to discontinue Lunartempo line. I do not understand this decision as Lunartempo 2 is such a popular shoe. It is a shame really because it is an alternative to the slightly firmer Lunaracer.