The Puma Fast-FWD goes well beyond our expectations and here's why
Our team started testing this shoe a month ago or so. The initial excitement was high and it is still up there as the shoe keeps on delivering session after session. But before revealing all the goodness, we need to provide you with some background information. Puma told us that they imagined this shoe as a pair of long-distance spikes albeit for the road. The target population is made of elite and sub-elite athletes (without further details on what constitutes the latter category). But essentially faster runners on the 5k distance. Because numbers matter to backup some serious claims, Puma partnered up with Chemnitz University in Germany for their lab testing phase of development. They conducted a study trying to demonstrate the benefits of the Fast FWD on lactate levels at or around 5k paces. While the study isn’t available yet, we will certainly update this article later in 2023 when the data will be out.
Fast-FWD – Specs
Weight: Actual: 219g (7.8oz) in size US11 / EU44.5 and 190g in size US8.5
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 34/26mm
Durometer score (0 to 100, soft to hard): 35.3/100 for the EVA outer foam compound (Nitro Elite Peba is only at the core of the shoe thus not measurable)
The platform is average in terms of width. Nothing super narrow for a top end short distance racer. For specific values, please check the Shoe Comparator in which you can compare the width for the forefoot, midfoot and heel against other shoes.
The Puma Fast-FWD looks quite aggressive and fits like a glove
Tim: I really like the design of this shoe. Same goes for the upper. It’s similar to the Vaporfly or Adios Pro 3 uppers in terms of structure and heel lockdown. There isn’t much structure to the heel and the lockdown does not come from the shoe’s construction but mostly from the lacing. If you like to have sturdy heel counters, this one is not really for you. The upper seems to be very breathable and the lacing does not present any issue. The tongue is padded but only on one side and it is rather comfortable. One thing I don’t get with the upper is the rear aero « wing ». I don’t really see a purpose for it but I can be wrong of course.
Ivan: I was lucky to receive a sample of the Puma Fast FWD Nitro Elite quite early as it is not expected to be released before sometime in 2023. First thing you will notice is definitely the looks of this shoe. It looks very unique and innovative. The undercut heel and forefoot in particular looks extreme and the midsole has also been carved out significantly. The thin upper is also visually noticeable. It is semi-transparent with just a few reinforcements around the midfoot and a funny looking “shark fin” in the very back. Just looking at the shoe there is no doubt it is meant to go fast and this is further revealed by a few cool details. Like the option to fill in the time and date of your PR on the midsole. It has even written the sentence ‘ONLY RUN NGTV SPLITS’ inside the shoe.
Ok, so how was the actual on-foot experience. Just looking at the shoe, I was afraid it would feel a bit flimsy but I was pleasantly surprised. The shoe fits me like a glove. I got the shoe in my usual US 8.5 and I actually don’t think I have ever worn a true racer that fits my foot this well. Heel looks a bit wide for my quite narrow heel but the thin heel cap just seems to adapt well. Also some slight heel and tongue padding combined with midfoot reinforcement created a great lockdown all around. Forefoot width is great and just half a thumb of space up front. It just feels pleasant and light and regarding weight it comes in at 190g in my size. Exactly the same as my original Deviate Nitro Elite but somehow feels even lighter.
Midsole and ride – you expect a lot, the Puma Fast FWD delivers a ton moreTim: The foam is just incredible. (Alex’s note: Puma’s Nitro Elite foam is a unique compound on the market. it is Nitrogen infused Peba. The Fast-FWD comes with two layers of it within an EVA rim. The first layer lies on top of the visible carbon fiber plate and the second is the insole itself. Despite Nitro Elite being written on it, the outer part is like I said a rim made of regular EVA). I really have a sensation of sinking in the foam. It is so comfortable. To me this is a geometry that works only if you’re a midfoot striker. Maybe heel to midfoot but with a very quick transition in your gait cycle. Surprisingly as this is a shoe targeting elite runners, I don’t see this working for pure forefoot strikers.
In terms of efficiency my feeling is that the shoe works very well. Now on my first track session with the shoe, the numbers in terms of watts were slightly disappointing compared to the obtained paces but again this can be imputed to my poor overall freshness at the moment.
Outsole & stability – a no brainer
Tim : Puma Grip is so good. The grip level is really unbelievable like on the Deviate Nitro 2. The sensation of being sticked to the ground is second to none. The thickness of the rubber is good but in only one session I already started noticing some wear. Is it some preliminary wear or does the outsole have a very short lifespan because of the specific nature of the shoe? Time will tell.
Ivan : I have had absolutely no issues with the grip. It’s probably not as sticky as the Puma Grip found in the Deviate models, as Tim also mentioned. But still way better than most race shoes out there. It never feels unstable or slippery when cornering at higher paces whether I’m running on roads or track.
Conclusion – Puma did something very special here and your 5k PB may be in dangerTim : One of my initial reaction after running in the Fast-FWD was to think: this thing “feels” so fast. I was really flying with it despite my Stryd metrics not being as good as expected (I believe the lacing pattern is not optimal for the pod placement). I also immediately asked Alex how is testing was doing because I’m not sure he would like it given his more mid to forefoot strike (Alex’s note: my testing is not going well so far and I will join Tim and Ivan in this article in a couple of weeks). This shoe is fast. But maybe not meant for everyone (which is what Puma says actually). Ivan : I agree with Tim, that the Fast-FWD is probably not for everyone. Severe heel or forefoot strikers might not get along with the midsole cutouts. But it’s hard to say for sure and maybe the geometry actually “guides” runners for a more efficient ride. I will definitely look forward for some feedback from different kind of runners when this shoe hits the market. As for my own experiences, I must say that every run has been an absolutely blast so far. I can be hard to please when it comes to uppers and fit. But this one just feels light, secure and very performance oriented in every way. As for the ride, I still haven’t been taking it out for a road race as the shoe is intended for. And it’s hard for me to say if my running form/economy is strong enough to maintain an efficient ride for longer periods of time. But as an interval shoe, the Fast-FWD has delivered. Every time. Always snappy, responsive, propulsive and maybe just as important, it puts a smile on my face.
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