Are NMDs Good for Running?

Adidas NMD shoes have become an incredibly popular casual sneaker since they were first released in 2015. With their stylish design and boost midsole, they make a great lifestyle shoe. But can they perform well for running? In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at whether NMDs are actually good running shoes.

The Purpose and Design of NMDs

First, it helps to understand what NMD stands for and what the shoes were originally designed for. NMD stands for “Nomad” – meant to suggest a shoe that could work well for traveling and everyday wear.

Adidas designed NMDs as a casual, comfortable lifestyle shoe rather than a performance running shoe. The initial NMD_R1 design featured a boost midsole for responsiveness and softness and a lightweight breathable Primeknit upper. This made them flexible and comfortable for all-day wear.

While they incorporated boost technology from running models, NMDs were never intended for serious running or athletics. The focus was fashion, wearability, and a comfortable fit for casual use. Over time, Adidas has released various NMD styles, but most retain this lifestyle focus.

NMD Pros and Cons for Running

Can NMDs work for running even though that wasn’t their intended purpose? They do have some design aspects that make them decent for casual runs:


  • Boost midsole – The responsive boost foam provides good energy return and absorbing impact. This can benefit runners when used moderately.
  • Breathable upper – Primeknit versions have lightweight knit uppers that allow good airflow to feet. This helps ventilation on short summer runs.
  • Flexible design – Most NMD versions have a relatively flexible sole without too much stability control. This allows a natural running stride.
  • Modern styling – For those wanting running shoes that are stylish, NMDs check that box with their athletic look.


  • Lack of support – NMD soles tend to be less structured and more flat compared to performance running shoes. They lack features to properly control overpronation or stabilize intense side-to-side movement.
  • Durability issues – The boost foam and Primeknit materials may start to break down more quickly with sustained high-mileage running. They just weren’t constructed to be truly durable trainers.
  • Not weatherproof – Models with knit uppers can let water in and may perform poorly on rainy or winter running sessions. Boost foam also loses responsiveness in very cold temperatures.
  • Impact risks – There’s no rocker shape in the sole to facilitate smooth heel-to-toe transitions. Combined with the higher stack height, NMDs may increase injury risks for some runners.

Performance and Recommendations

NMDs can work quite well for short, casual runs at easy paces. Think 3-5 miles at a moderate effort level. This allows you to enjoy a comfortable, fashionable shoe for jogging without significant performance drawbacks. However, they wouldn’t be recommended for frequent intense training due to lack of pronation control and weakened durability when used heavily.

More serious runners would be advised to opt for purpose-built running shoes with features to support the individual gait cycle and biomechanics. Companies like Nike, Brooks, Asics, Saucony, and others offer models tailored for various foot types and pronation issues that NMDs just don’t address.

Certain NMD versions will work better than others for running purposes:

  • NMD_R1 – The original model provides the most flexible, barefoot-like feel that some runners will appreciate. Just be aware of the minimal sole structure.
  • City Sock models – These offer a sock-like upper that hugs feet without extra material or stitching. Great for highly breathable summer runs.
  • Trail versions – If running on paths rather than pavement, trail NMDs add some outsole grip while retaining a flexible ride.

When Worn Out for Running

Be prepared to replace your NMDs more frequently – often after 300-400 miles – if using them routinely for runs. Watch for the boost foam compressing down and losing bounce, Primeknit fabric wearing thin, and worn outsole treads slipping excessively on smooth surfaces.

For casual runners hitting the roads a few days per week, NMD lifespan may stretch closer to 500 miles. But at the first signs of foam breakdown, it’s best to swap them out for new running shoes rather than risk injury by extending use further.

Similar Questions about NMD Running Performance:

Are NMD R1 shoes good for running long distances?

Due to the flexible design but lack of pronation control/stability features, most runners would be better served choosing a different running shoe for longer distances rather than NMD R1. They can work for occasional short runs but don’t provide enough support over many miles.

Can I use NMDs for tempo runs and speed workouts?

Tempo runs and speedwork require substantial energy return, ground feel, and durability from footwear. NMDs aren’t optimized for these intense running purposes and there are better performance options available. Save your NMDs for casual runs instead.

Do NMD shoes have enough cushioning for running on hard surfaces?

The renowned boost midsole foam does give NMD models very good cushioning properties overall. They can work well for running on harder surfaces like pavement and cement when used for easy, moderate pace runs. Just be cautious about taking them out for very long distances on hard surfaces if you need extra pronation support.

Are trail/hiking versions of the NMD durable enough for off-road running?

Trail models of the NMD add some extra grip and protection compared to the original, but most aren’t truly built rugged enough for intense off-road running.

Expect that sustain off-road usage will break down the boost foam and upper materials much quicker than casual wear. Plan to replace them sooner if you take NMD trails out on rough terrain.

As you can see, while stylish NMD shoes can work for casual running purposes, serious runners need an actual performance running shoe tailored to their foot type and training regimen.

Be realistic about the mileage and surfaces NMDs can handle before breaking down. For fashion-forward gym shoes with occasional running utility, NMDs get the job done. Just don’t expect them to be a substitute for proper running footwear if you are logging high weekly mileage or training for races.

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