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Engineered for Speed: Nike Zoom Air Running Collection

Three-time world champion and double gold medalist Mo Farah, four-time American record holder Galen Rupp; and three-time Boston champion Rita Jeptoo have more in common than their monumental accolades. They share supernatural talent, sheer speed and an unwavering work ethic, and when it comes to the shoes they race and train in, they all choose to run on Zoom Air, Nike’s fastest, most responsive Nike Air cushioning.

Like an engine inside a finely tuned sports car, Zoom Air is highly technical and engineered for performance with the real work being done on the inside. The Zoom Air cushioning is encapsulated, within the outsole and acts like a propulsion system under the athlete’s foot. 

“We see Zoom Air running shoes on top of the marathon podium time and time again, It’s the go-to for many elite athletes,” said Taryn Hensley, Nike’s Category Director for Cushioning Innovation. “Zoom Air is one of Nike’s most technically advanced cushioning systems, engineered to be quick off the ground and responsive.”

The snappy responsiveness of Zoom Air cushioning comes from tightly-stretched tensile fibers woven inside a pressurized Nike Air unit. When the athlete’s foot touches down, the fibers release their tension, allowing the air to cushion impact before quickly snapping back to their original state, generating an explosive, powerful response off the ground. The result is a fast, cushioned ride whether the runner is out for a morning run or a marathon personal best.

Zoom Air was first introduced in 1995 after more than a decade of research and development. It made its performance debut in three styles: the Nike Air Marauder football cleat launched with both heel and forefoot Zoom Air units, and the Air Go LWP basketball shoe debuted with forefoot Zoom Air units. Soon after, Zoom Air was introduced to running footwear in the Air Zoom LWP; ever since, athletes have trained, competed and won in shoes featuring its responsive cushioning. 

Designing with Zoom Air

“The Zoom Air shoes are the preferred shoes for many of our fast, elite runners. Through athlete insights from many elites, including Mo Farah, Galen Rupp and Matt Tegencamp, we heard that when they’re running up to 20 miles a day, they want their shoe to do some more work for them. They liked that Zoom Air gives them a real snap-back feeling,” said Mark Miner, Senior Footwear Designer, Nike Running.

Zoom Air units can be designed into the heel, forefoot or in both places of the shoe in a range of thicknesses, depending on the athlete’s needs and the purpose of the shoe.  Designers invented a new last to build the Pegasus, Structure and Elite that provides runners a sleeker, more contoured fit and added toe spring that comes from the built-in curvature in the toe. The 2014 line features the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31, Nike Air Zoom Elite 7, Nike Air Zoom Streak 5 and Nike Air Zoom Structure 18. 

“We designed the Zoom Air collection to be a revolution in speed,” continued Miner. “Whether they’re racing or training, athletes repeatedly ask for Zoom Air because they love that fast, snappy, responsive ride and the energy return they get from it.” 

Each Zoom Air shoe includes design elements mastered and tuned for specific runner needs:

  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31: A neutral running shoe for training day in and day out, the new Pegasus feels faster and more responsive than any model in its impressive 31-year heritage. The latest Pegasus retains key features loved by loyal Pegasus runners – heel Zoom Air for a cushioned ride, a breathable upper and excellent fit – and introduces enhancements like a contoured last for streamlined fit, dropped offset (10 millimeters) for a more natural stance and an engineered midfoot saddle for targeted structure and support. 

  • Nike Air Zoom Structure 18:  A stability running shoe for everyday training, the new Structure feels faster, looks great and is built to slow down the rate of pronation. The Structure delivers a smooth transition through the combination of upper stability features such as Dynamic Fit technology working together with the outsole, which includes a lateral crash rail and a Dynamic Support stability system made up of foam with three different levels of density.  Together this stabilizes the foot onto the platform and slows down the speed that the foot is starting to roll in. The new contoured last provides added toe spring and combines with Zoom Air cushioning to give the snappy, quick-off-the ground feel.

  • Nike Air Zoom Elite 7: The lightest of the Zoom training family, featured on a neutral platform, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 7 is designed for tempo runs and athletes who want to stay fast and light on their feet in training or competition. Forefoot Zoom Air gives runners a snappy response off the road. The new edition’s lowered offset (eight millimeters) puts runners closer to the ground for more control, and a sleek upper combines Nike Flywire technology, no-sew overlays and lightweight mesh for a supportive, breathable fit.

  • Nike Air Zoom Streak 5: More athletes win marathons in the Zoom Streak than any other Nike shoe. The racing flat is built for speed over the miles, with a lightweight, mesh upper and a midsole system of Zoom Air and Phylon for zippy forefoot snap. Nike Flywire technology wraps the midfoot for excellent fit and a seamless toe construction helps eliminate any irritation as the finish line nears. 

The Nike Air Zoom Streak 5 and Air Zoom Pegasus 31 are available now at The Air Zoom Elite 7 will be available in August and the Air Zoom Structure 18, in October. For more information on Zoom Air, visit