ADRIENNE: It’s a great time to be a female distance runner. We’re not only getting loads of incredible performances on roads, tracks, and trails, but the running industry is finally starting to invest. Not just in signing pros, but in the physiology and experience of the female athlete. After all, someone has finally brought to light the fact that we, as women, are not just smaller men. We’re fast, fierce, and badass, but we all have different feet and mechanics. Enter the Puma Run XX Nitro WNS.
Puma’s Run For Her movement highlights women’s experiences in running, and it’s backed by a top-tier crop of professionals, including Sara Vaughn, Dakotah Lindwurm, and Olympic medalist Molly Seidel. Apparently, Puma makes some pretty sweet running shoes, too. Until now, I’ve not had the pleasure of lacing up some Big Cat Energy, but that’s finally about to change.
I was excited to try the Puma Run XX Nitro WNS when it arrived on my doorstep and immediately broke it in with an eight-mile run. Before I get into the ride and performance, let’s take a look at what makes these shoes different. Just know that I really, really wanted to like the shoe. Reality isn’t quite as rosy, but we’ll get there.
MEAGHAN: We’re finally starting to see a lot of women-specific running shoes from different brands. I applaud the effort, but I can’t help staying on the fence regarding the research (or lack thereof). We all know there are significant differences between men and women — women have a larger Q angle, which is a measure of pelvic width that’s thought to contribute to injuries — but it feels like most of the money is being poured into marketing these shoes instead of researching them.
Basically, I was a bit skeptical about Puma’s Run XX Nitro WNS, but it did find a few ways to surprise me.
ADRIENNE: I’ve got one word for the Run XX Nitro WNS — or maybe two. PUMA GRIP. It’s the real damn deal. I took the shoe out during a rain shower for one run, and on another, a kid asked if I had gone swimming. I was that sweaty. No matter where the moisture came from, the shoe didn’t care. Puma Grip is as good as advertised and easily tops most of my other outsoles.
For starters, the whole platform of the Run XX Nitro WNS is built with footstrike data from a collection of female runners. It features female-friendly contouring of the foot, which means narrower heels, a gradually widening midfoot, and so on. I’ve gotta say, the shoe fit my US W9 foot excellently — snug in the right places, some room up front (but not too much), and the arch height even felt right.
The mesh upper feels thick but looks terrific with bright coloring and signature cat logos on the toe cap. Rawr. So far, the shoe could be special. After conducting in-depth research, Puma found that a non-obtrusive heel clip (a RunGuide) would assist with any form-related breakdown in later stages of a run or race, kind of like lane assist for feet. In some ways, the idea reminds me of the now-defunct Nike Lunarglide — a shoe I really enjoyed and kinda miss.
Honestly, I think the Puma Run XX Nitro WNS looks fantastic. I’ve gotten quite a few questions and compliments about it. The comfort, step-in, and fit are all superb. It’s become my go-to post-run shoe. Notice I only said post-run, let’s move on.
MEAGHAN: The women-specific fit of the Puma Run XX Nitro WNS means you get a narrower heel with a wide forefoot to accommodate most foot shapes. The step-in feel is pretty great. There’s some substantial padding around the collar and heel, and the wider toe box accommodated my foot well.
In its research, Puma found that most women wanted more stability in a shoe (I was clearly not considered in this study), so the Run XX Nitro WNS has some built-in footstrike guidance called RunGuide. This piece of TPU that runs from the heel to the midfoot, paired with the new Nitro foam, creates a pretty firm ride. I expected to hate it, but I found it decent for easy miles and recovery days.
There’s some decent stack (31mm heel/23mm forefoot), and the shoe is completely covered in Puma Grip, easily one of my favorite Puma features.Shop Puma Run XX Nitro WNS – Women
ADRIENNE: This is where I let out a big sigh. As good as the shoe fits and looks, and as many chances as I tried to give it, I didn’t enjoy running in it. I was shocked to see the weight listed at 7.6 oz. for my US W9 because it feels significantly heavier.
It might be as simple as Puma dialing in its Nitro foam density this time because the shoe felt mostly dead underfoot. The protection was excellent, but I didn’t get much of the rebound that was advertised. Overall, I found the whole package way too bottom heavy. In my last run in the shoe, I ended up giving up halfway through and switching to another shoe altogether. To be fair, it wasn’t my best run overall, but the shoe didn’t help.
Honestly, the Puma Run XX Nitro WNS seems like a shoe that knows what she is. However, it’s a shoe that deserves better. I’d suggest some adjustments like trimming some of the midsole weight, boosting the upper’s breathability, and hunting for a more dynamic ride.
MEAGHAN: As I mentioned above, I’ve always steered away from stability and support shoes. It’s mostly down to the inherently firm ride and heavy build, which is exactly what the Run XX Nitro WNS brings. I didn’t hate the overall ride, but my preference will always be for a lighter, bouncier option. More soft foam, less TPU, Puma.Shop Puma Run XX Nitro WNS – Women
ADRIENNE: I’m all for the death of the “shrink it and pink it” era and the rise of women-specific distance running. Puma’s Run XX Nitro WNS has the potential to be a solid daily trainer and long run shoe if it’s given a few tweaks. Runners who like a firm ride and need stability might find it a good fit right out of the box, but sadly, it wasn’t for me. I don’t totally hate it, but it’s a relationship that’s better as friends than lovers. Puma nailed the look, fit, and price, so it might be worth a shot for Puma fans.
See also: The Best Stability Running Shoes
MEAGHAN: The Puma Run XX Nitro WNS is perfect for someone who likes a firmer ride or needs extra support. It’s comfortable, durable, and comes at a pretty decent price point. I have very similar sentiments to Adrienne overall. It’s not a bad shoe, it’s just not the best shoe for me.
You can pick up the Puma Run XX Nitro WNS for $130 from Puma by using the shop link below.Shop Puma Run XX Nitro WNS – Women
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