We chatted with Tara Shick, the PLM who worked on the Air Zoom Pegasus 37, for the inside scoop on one of Nike's most popular & longest running training shoes. Let's dive in!
Heartbreak: First, what exactly is a PLM and what is your role in footwear development?
Tara: Great question, there’s definitely very few schools holding a degree in PLM-ing! It stands for Product Line Manager. The role is really focused on two things. 1) really understanding what runners want on a running “line” of shoes. Vomero runners have different preferences than Peg runners, than Free runners, than those who prefer Peg Turbo and Vaporfly. Our goal is to understand what runners love about a particular shoe and what they’d like to see updated. The second part is the bigger job – making sure that “Voice of the Runner” is at the forefro
nt of every cycle of making the shoe. Most shoes go through multiple rounds and rounds of sampling and testing, and ensuring we are thinking of the runner first is critical from beginning to end.
HB: What’s the timeline from beginning to end in creating a new running shoe?
Tara: Each shoe has its own unique lifecyle at Nike. Running shoes are a special breed, the level of precision in testing, durability, fit are some of the toughest stardards to hit. Runners have high standards, from my experience! When we do a fully update on a beast like the Peg, there’s definitely a longer timeline than say, the progress from the 35 to the 36.
HB: Let’s talk about the aesthetic of speed. How important is that to the Pegasus? We saw the big leap forward in the 35 and it was hammered home with the jet engine animations. How have you seen this aesthetic evolve and does help it help identify where the peg fits in with the rest of the line?
Tara: Speed with the Peg is critical. It’s never been a racing shoe, on purpose, but it is our true “Workhorse with wings” – workhorse – be durable. Be dependable. Fit me like all generations past. Wings – that is the piece here. If you were the PLM on the Peg 1, Peg 10, or Peg 37, “response” is what runners love from this shoe. That pop you get from the midsole, has to have that goldilocks effect – not too much and not too little. That’s where the aesthetic piece comes in. Our incredible FW designer did an amazing job taking those sharp lines on the midsole, the wavy graphic, the sleek silhouette and bringing an intuitive look to an expected ride.
HB: This year the shoe offers differing air pressures in the female and male zoom air units. We understand this decision was based on testing feedback. Can you tell us more about that?
Tara: This is a really fun one, because we had the opportunity to test with some Heartbreakers! We strategically focus our testing on hubs where runners are active, have a point of view (thank you Boston!) and put serious miles in the shoe. We hit all 3 on your area and had a great chance to hear from all types of runners – elite, everyday, male, female, committed, casual on their thoughts about the shoe. You fully hit this one above – we don’t look to make changes in shoes unless the Voice of the Runner tells us otherwise. The PSI preference was loud and clear from M and W across testing rounds so we wanted to honor it.
HB: The Peg switched from a full-length zoom unit to a taller one in the toe and from Cushlon to React foam throughout the midsole. What’s this complete package going to feel like?
Tara: Hmmm…well, it's easier to split into two parts. Feelings you know – a familiar fit, great midfoot lockdown. Durability, and outsole pattern that looks and performs to Peg standards. A comfortable collar and tongue that allow those key spots that hit the foot feel amazing.
The elevated performance – extra responsive feel from that bag and the foam. The air bag is top loaded, sitting right beneath the forefoot so the foot get the bounce and the foam pushes back from the road. The upper is fully engineered, even the tongue – meaning that the graphic not only looks amazing, but provides areas of flexibility and structure in the zones of the foot that need it most.
Watch Tara discuss the latest Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 below: