Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite for Half-marathon Runners

Fast-R Nitro Elite on feet

The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is a one-of-a-kind shoe that is perfect for races up to the half-marathon, intervals, and short distance runnings. Its sole design promotes quick heel-to-toe transitions, but its firm EVA heel can make transitions feel disconnected at slower speeds. Although not as versatile or long-lasting as the Deviate Nitro Elite 2, the Fast-R Nitro Elite does provide a faster sensation during brief bursts of speed.

If you're in search of a racer for a 5K, 10K, or half marathon, consider the Fast-R Nitro Elite. This option provides a stable ride and midsole design that promotes a quick pace. It offers excellent foot security and a lively experience.

If you desire a running shoe that provides ample cushioning, comfort, and efficiency for long-distance races, you will have to search elsewhere. The Fast-R falls short in terms of slower speeds and seamless transitions.

Fast-R Nitro Elite in 'blue/red'

Puma, a brand known for its running gear, has made significant progress in the last two years. They have developed a strong collection of training shoes that excel in all areas. While the Deviate Nitro 2 stood out as my preferred carbon-plated trainer in the previous year, Puma's super shoe for marathons has been decent but not exceptional.

In my assessment of the Deviate Elite 2 (as well as its predecessor), I discovered that both shoes possess impressive durability, satisfactory stability, and exceptional versatility. Nevertheless, they fall short in terms of propulsion; I found them lacking the necessary aggression. My desire for increased speed assistance and more forceful toe-offs remained unfulfilled.

Puma's Fast-R Nitro, the brand's second high-performance shoe, surpasses the Deviate Elite in terms of pricing. With its bold and innovative design featuring a separate heel and a visible carbon plate, it stands out from the rest.

The Fast-R Nitro Elite is not a recently released shoe. However, obtaining this particular super shoe has proven to be quite challenging because of Puma's manufacturing difficulties.

I was able to snag a pair at the Singapore Marathon Expo before. These sneakers are a special edition with the Singapore Marathon logo printed on the insole. They differ in several ways from the initial version that was given to reviewers in the beginning.

The finalized edition of this product tips the scales at 7.9 oz (224 g), slightly heavier than the prototype's 7 oz (198 g) in a men's US 9 size. Additionally, the outsole of this version varies, featuring a flatter rubber in both the rearfoot and forefoot compared to the preproduction model.

Fast-R Nitro Elite pull tab

During my initial jog, I completed a 9 km routine which involved a warm up followed by 7 sets of 1 km repeats. As soon as I began running, I immediately noticed that the sensation under my feet was unlike anything I had experienced before. The sturdy back of the shoe, when paired with the incredibly cushioned front, provided a distinctive and captivating feel.

The sensation of a small, circular stone lodged beneath my heels was undeniable. This uncomfortable feeling stemmed from the detached EVA heel. It required some time to acclimate, but as the workout drew to a close, the prominence of this sensation diminished.

The upper had a distinct narrowness, particularly in the middle area, yet it didn't cause any discomfort. I found the heel to be securely locked in place, and I was pleasantly surprised by the performance-driven feel of the semi-bootie design.

I found myself quite amazed by the swift transitions I experienced. Although the midsole's inconsistent densities hindered smoothness, the shoe exuded an assertive feel, allowing me to effortlessly pick up my pace. Surprisingly, the workout's average speed exceeded my initial expectations.

Surprisingly, the shoe that left the strongest impression on me was the Mizuno Wave Rider 25 of the current year. This particular shoe boasted a remarkably solid heel coupled with an exceptionally cushioned forefoot.

Fast-R Nitro Elite toebox

The Fast-R's upper boasts an equally captivating design as its sole. Unlike the Deviate Elite 2, the upper is constructed with mono-mesh, a type of engineered mesh. While mono-mesh is thinner and offers better breathability, it feels sturdier and lacks the same level of foot conformity.

The Fast-R features a semi-bootie design, incorporating a flexible, knitted fabric to create the collar, tongue, and inner gusset. While I typically have reservations about bootie constructions due to their lack of secure fit, the Fast-R does not encounter any issues with foot lockdown. Additionally, the knitted gusset ensures that the tongue remains in position throughout runs.

The presence of a tough TPU heel fin serves the purpose of offering external support to the heel counter. Personally, I am not particularly fond of this heel fin as it tends to hinder me when I remove the shoes. Nevertheless, I must admit that the heel lockdown is exceptional, although I do need to employ a runner's knot to ensure it.

The Fast-R is accurately sized, with a slender heel, midfoot, and toe-box. Those with flat feet will experience the midfoot hugging their arch snugly, though it is not uncomfortable, only discernible. It is important to note that this shoe is not intended for individuals with wide feet.

Fast-R Nitro Elite outsole

Puma deserves recognition for the Fast-R Elite's captivating ride, which has provided me with an intriguing experience. Despite its potential for gimmickry, the design proves to be remarkably distinctive and effective, particularly at specific speeds.

The Fast-R Elite features a two-layered midsole, consisting of firm EVA foam in the back and soft nitrogen-infused PEBA foam in the front. Connecting the back and front is a sturdy carbon PWRPLATE, with no foam in the middle.

It seems as though your foot is placed on a sharp decline, and despite the mere 8 mm heel drop, it appears to be much greater due to the significant contrast in density between the heel and front of the foot.

The purpose of this configuration is to provide support to your heel upon impact and facilitate smooth transitions from your heel to your forefoot. In practice, the shoe accomplishes this objective precisely. Although the transition from heel to forefoot may not feel entirely natural or seamless, it effectively enables you to enhance your speed and rhythm.

The Fast-R is at its best when used for quick bursts and shorter runs. I found that it wasn't as enjoyable when I used it for longer distances, like my 30-kilometer run. The slower I ran, the more noticeable and uncomfortable the firm EVA heel felt. It didn't provide the same level of enjoyment as other high-performance shoes.

The Fast-R shoe is not as versatile as the Deviate Elite 2 when it comes to slower paces above 5 minutes per km. It excels in fast running scenarios, where transitions are smoother and it provides a unique experience.

The Fast-R geometry lacks a crucial feature: a higher toe spring. By incorporating this, the shoe would offer a more seamless experience during toe-offs, enhancing overall efficiency. In its current state, it feels noticeably flat in comparison to the top-performing super shoes.

The Fast-R features a distinct carbon plate that sets it apart. Unlike other carbon plates, the PWRPLATE in the Fast-R has transparent sides and longitudinal grooves, making it more flexible. Interestingly, the plate comes with a warning about breakage. Unlike other plates, the Fast-R's plate is not surrounded by foam in the middle, making it more prone to snapping.

The Fast-R utilizes PUMAGRIP-LT, a lighter but less long-lasting outsole rubber compared to regular PUMAGRIP. Rubber covers the entire front part and majority of the back part of the shoe. The back part also features a rearfoot EVA wedge with three substantial flex grooves, enabling the outsole rubber to envelop the curved heel unit.

The durability of the Fast-R Elite falls short compared to the rest of the Nitro shoe collection. Unlike Puma's highly durable Nitro/Nitro Elite foams, the EVA foam in the Fast-R's heel is more prone to scuffs and chips, causing it to deteriorate more quickly. As a result, my Fast-R shoes are displaying noticeable signs of wear on the outer lateral heel, specifically in the area between the flex grooves where my foot naturally makes contact with the ground.

The traction provided by the Fast-R outsole rubber is not as impressive as that of the Deviate Elite 2 and the Deviate Nitro 2, both of which feature forefoot lugs that extend outward. Unlike those models, the Fast-R outsole rubber has a more level design.

Fast-R Nitro Elite quarter

The Fast-R Elite didn't quite live up to its intended purpose as the top-tier, long-distance race shoe. The preference of Puma-sponsored marathon runners like Molly Seidel and Rory Linkletter for the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 instead of the Fast-R serves as evidence for this.

In my opinion, I would opt for the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 when it comes to participating in a marathon race. Its performance is superior over extended distances, providing a more comfortable experience due to its seamless ride transitions. Moreover, the Deviate Elite 2 boasts exceptional durability, alleviating concerns about wear and tear during training sessions.

The Fast-R is particularly efficient in shorter distances. It shines in intervals, brief threshold runs, and small-scale races. Its dynamic sole configuration gives it an extra push, while the Nitro Elite foam in the forefoot adds liveliness. I will definitely keep using the Fast-R for my training sessions because it brings a sense of enjoyment to the experience.

The price of the Fast-R, which stands at $260, makes it a difficult purchase to justify. I would not advise spending your hard-earned money on it at its original cost. It falls short of being a top-tier marathon running shoe and its limited comfort for long distance runnings restricts its adaptability. For the same amount of money, you can acquire a superior marathon racing shoe that offers better cushioning, a smoother ride, and enhanced efficiency.

The Fast-R is an option for 5K/10K/half marathon races, but it weighs 7.9 oz (224 g), which is quite heavy. Despite its weight, you'll be paying the same price as a full marathon racer.

Puma can enhance the Fast-R by replacing the EVA heel with a gentler, more pliable foam like Nitro foam. Additionally, they should refine the midfoot transitions to enhance long-distance comfort.

  • Price: $260
  • Style:
  • Usage:
    • speed training
    • racing
    • 5K / 10K / half marathon races
    • interval short runs
    • short distance running
  • Constructions & Features:
    • NITRO™ Elite cushion for responsiveness and lightweight
    • PWRPLATE carbon fiber plate for maximizing energy transfer
    • PWRTAPE for upper support and durability
    • PUMAGRIP rubber outsole for multi-surface traction and lightweight
    • Low boot construction
    • Mono-mesh upper reinforced with PWRTAPE for support
    • NITROFOAM™ ELITE midsole for unrivalled responsiveness
Fast-R Nitro Elite heel