Are Nike Air Max Plus Good for Running?

The Nike Air Max Plus, also known as the Nike Air Tuned Max or TN Air, has been around since 1998. With its eye-catching design featuring prominent tuned air technology along the sole, bold colors, and plastic overlays, the Air Max Plus made a splash when it debuted. But beyond looks, how functional is the Air Max Plus as a running shoe? Let’s take a closer look.

Sole Cushioning and Responsiveness

The main technology in the Air Max Plus that aids in running performance is the visible Tuned Air units along the sole. This system contains polyurethane pouches filled with pressurized air that compress on impact to absorb shock and return energy back to your foot for propulsion. Testing shows the Air Max Plus offers about average cushioning compared to other performance running sneakers.

The phylon midsole foam also aims to dampen impact while providing responsive toe-offs. Overall, testers generally find the sole provides adequate comfort for short to moderate distance running and training.

However, some report the Tuned Air system feels slightly stiff and lacks the plush flexibility of max air variants in shoes like the Nike Air Max 270.


The Air Max Plus hits a decent middle-ground weight for a running trainer, ranging from around 11 to 14 oz depending on the model. This puts the Air Max Plus in the average weight class compared to modern performance trainers meant for speedwork and racing. So while not exceptionally light, the Plus won’t weigh you down noticeably on feet either.


Nike built the upper of the Air Max Plus with layers of mesh and molded synthetics. The mesh allows for airflow throughout the shoe, preventing hot spots around the toes.

However, some runners find the plastic overlays and closed-in design leads to excessive heat retention on hot days or during intensive training. Moisture control is also just average based on feedback from wearers.

Traction and Durability

The original Air Max Plus featured a waffle-like rubber outsole in a Z-shaped pattern that performed well on various surfaces with reliable grip. Nike tuned the traction over the years, but current Plus models still incorporate durable rubber with secure traction comparable to other trainers in its class.

Testers also note the Air Max Plus holds up well over time and intense use compared to other Nike classics like the Air Max 90 and 95. The Phylon midsole retains its bounce longer than EVA foam and the visible air units avoid creasing and deterioration in the sole. So while not built for hardcore competition, the Air Max Plus is durable enough as a daily running shoe.

Fit and Stability

One common complaint about the Air Max Plus surrounds the narrow fit and tight toe box. Nike designed the shoe in the ‘90s when runners preferred a glove-like fit. But by today’s standards, the Plus fits snug, especially in wider feet. Going up half a size helps relieve pressure points for some. Still, the restrictive upper and rounded sole are not ideal biomechanics for stability.

Considering these characteristics, the Nike Air Max Plus performs best for neutral runners with narrow to normal width feet. It lacks pronation-correction features and tighter foam lasting for substantial arch support. The retro look also obscures modern structural design elements that improve stability in modern runners meant for overpronators.

Performance Summary

• Tuned Air units provide adequate shock absorption
• Middle-of-the-road weight for daily running
• Mesh/synthetic upper allows some breathability
• Rubber outsole supplies sufficient traction
• Holds up well against wear and tear
• Fits narrow, lacks stability mechanisms

So is the Nike Air Max Plus good for running? While not in the same tier as premium Nike performance trainers, the Air Max Plus can work for casual running and training. The Tuned Air technology softens impact to protect joints from jarring. Yet, the ride feels less responsive and flexible than max air in other models.

The Plus also fits quite narrow and lacks pronation support features found in stability shoes. So runner experience may vary greatly depending on foot proportions and arch type. Most fare better sizing up and sticking to short runs under 3-5 miles rather than long distances or speed intervals.

Ultimately, the Air Max Plus falls more into fashion lifestyle category today given its retro streetwear aesthetic. Yet its lightweight feel and adequate sole cushioning allow it to double as a stylish choice for easy jogging and gym sessions for some.

But serious runners will likely find more comfortable, breathable, and biomechanically sound performance in Nike’s cutting edge trainers using ZoomX foam and innovative Flyknit uppers seen in shoes like the Pegasus and Vaporfly.

Still, as far as retro runners go, the Air Max Plus stacks up above classics like the Air Max 90 and 95 which lack cushioning tech entirely. So while not a hardcore running shoe today, the Nike Air Max Plus can certainly work for recreational joggers focused more on looks and all day wear over serious performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the sizing of the Air Max Plus compare to other Nike shoes?

The Air Max Plus runs at least a half size small, possibly going full size down for wider feet. The shoe fits much narrower than Nike’s wide-footed mainstays like the Air Monarch. The upper is more constricting than other retro runners too like the Air Max 90. So sizing up in the Plus is recommended, especially if you prefer a roomy toe box.

Is the Air Max Plus good for wide feet?

Not traditionally – the Air Max Plus fits quite narrow even when sizing up. The midfoot and toe box are restrictive on wider feet. However, Nike has released special wide footer editions of the Air Max Plus like the TN SE Asia that have a roomier fit while keeping the same sole. So wide footers can find a model that accommodates, but may need to hunt down one of the unique wide versions.

How long do Nike Air Max Plus last for running?

When used primarily for running, most Air Max Plus models last around 300-500 miles before cushioning deteriorates. That’s on the higher end for longevity among performance trainers.

Traction holds up well also over 200+ miles. So while not as durable as a hardcore racing flat, the Air Max Plus outlasts expectations for a retro model used aggressively for running.

Can the Nike Air Max Plus be used for gym training?

Answer: Yes, the Tuned Air cushioning and lightweight feel of the Air Max Plus make it versatile for cross-training as well as running. The low collar construction allows flexibility for weightlifting.

Traction grips well for agility moves during HIIT-style training. Durability also holds up to diverse indoor training. So the Air Max Plus works great as gym sneaker, though the snugger fit may bother some for high intensity training sessions.

In summary, while the Nike Air Max Plus falls short of a dedicated performance running shoe for marathoners, its Tuned Air cushioning, traction, and durability allow it to work for casual jogging and gym sessions.

Retro runners who prioritize style and all day wear can log recreational miles comfortably in the Air Max Plus. Just be mindful of the notoriously narrow fit by sizing up or looking for special wide versions.

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