The just-launched Nike Joyride Flyknit is here to make running suck less, whether you're a beginner or training for a marathon.

By Kylie Gilbert
July 26, 2019
Credit: Nike

If running a marathon has been put in and out of your bucket list for what feels like forever, Nike might just have the answer to keep it firmly in place with its newest launch, the Joyride Run Flyknit. The footwear behemoth is specifically targeting beginner runners—even those who feel full-blown *hatred* toward running.

Unlike previous Nike launches geared toward helping serious runners go faster and farther, the Joyride aims to make running easier and more accessible. "Not everyone wants to win a marathon or beat a personal record. Some just want to start running, or run three times a week, or run a 5K for the first time, or in my case, get running again after having a baby," says Rachel Bull, Nike's Senior Product Line Manager for Joyride, at the shoe's launch event in Los Angeles.

Credit: Nike

So what makes the product uniquely equipped to handle the challenge? The Joyride features a first-of-its-kind cushioning system made of thousands of resilient beads, designed to ease impact and make running feel a whole lot easier, explains Bull. (Related: 10 Weird Running Pains—and How to Fix Them)

The design team took more than three years to perfect the Joyride. After testing 150 different materials, they found that beads made of TPE (a type of foam often used to make yoga mats) deliver the most energy return, says Bull. The beads are placed within pods that allow them to expand in all directions, creating a dynamic footbed that conforms to your foot and adapts to your foot strike, no matter what surface you're running on. (Related: Nike Is Revolutionizing the Sports Bra and Extending Their Sizes)

That's not to say serious or elite runners can't benefit from this technology. In fact, the initial purpose of the shoe was to help speed up recovery, explains Bull. But Nike quickly realized that the cushioning system offered a broader use. If you're a seasoned runner training for a marathon, it's the perfect shoe to wear for a shake-out or recovery run, or to wear around on rest days, she says. (FYI: While not technically a long-distance shoe, the Joyride was put to the same rigorous testing like Nike's other running shoes, the Pegasus and Epic, and can theoretically be worn for any mileage if you prefer the feel, adds Bull.)

Bottom line: The Joyride is all about making running a more enjoyable experience, especially for newbies who find it painful, intimidating, or just plain boring, says Bull. TBH, even after completing three half marathons and a Ragnar Relay race, running still generally brings me more dread than delight. I was admittedly a bit doubtful about the buzz around the shoe, but curious to put the magical sneaks to the test.

At first glance, the Joyride Flyknit is bright and fun, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. (The cushioning beads remind me of summer days spent eating Dippin' Dots, or diving into a foam ball pit as a kid.)

Despite being super supportive and comfortable, it's still remarkably lightweight, without the extra bulk of many cushioning shoes I've tried. While I was nervous the beads might feel like an awkward, distracting foot massage, I can attest they really do feel like "running on bubbles", as the brand claims.

Unfortunately, I still find running pretty damn hard (and sometimes boring—open to all podcast recs!). But the cushioning system *did* make things feel easier on my body. My mental running game may need work, but at the end of the day, finding a shoe that feels like running on clouds eliminates half the excuses I usually come up with to avoid lacing up—and that's worth at least the price of a new pair of Nikes in my book.

The Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is available today for NikePlus members and launches worldwide August 15.