Are Nike Cortez Shoes Good For Running? (Read First)

The Nike Cortez is Nike’s original running shoe, designed by Bill Bowerman and released in 1972. However, is the modern version of the Nike Cortez good for running?

The Nike Classic Cortez Shoe is not suitable for running. While they’re better than nothing, the shoes will fall apart quickly because they are fashion sneakers that cannot endure the harsh, rugged terrain of high-performance running.

Additionally, the upper is not breathable and the narrow shape may be uncomfortable. In this post, we explain the 4 reasons why the Nike Cortez is not the best choice for running.

Is Nike Cortez a running shoe?

Currently, the Nike Cortez is not a running shoe. While the shoe was Nike’s original running shoe in 1972, it has transitioned from being a running shoe to a casual sneaker. 

The Nike Cortez was first designed by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman. He tried to make a comfortable and durable running shoe for distance training and road running.

During the peak of the 1972 Summer Olympics, the Nike Cortez was released and quickly gained interest from the general public, mostly due to the simplicity of the shoe.

The comfort of the Nike Cortez lies in its thick rubber midsole. It has an elevated heel to help decrease injuries, especially Achilles tendon strains. In fact, one of the world’s leading marathoners described the Nike Cortez as “the most comfortable shoe ever.”

Over the past 20 years, however, the Nike Cortez has been redesigned numerous times.

Early on, the shoe set the standard for running shoes. Today, as running shoe technology has grown, the Nike Cortez is not known for being running shoes but as casual streetwear.

Are Nike Cortez shoes good for running?

Despite being worn by the 1972 U.S. Olympics athletes, the modern iteration of the Nike Cortez is not good for running. Below are the 4 reasons why the Nike Cortez is not good for running:

1. Not as durable as modern running shoes

Due to the durability factor, you shouldn’t run in the Nike Cortez. Unlike modern running shoes that are built to last 300 to 500 miles, the Nike Cortez is casual sneakers made for walking.

Most performance running shoes are made with layers of fabrics and mesh sewn and glued together. As a result, the one-piece uppers can stretch and provide support in all the right places.

While the soft materials make the Nike Cortez comfortable and not terribly heavy (like the Air Force One), the shoe won’t be able to survive the demands of high-performance running.

It’s certainly better than nothing, but don’t expect the Nike Cortez to last longer than 3 months, assuming you run consistently and log in more than 10 to 20 miles per week.

2. The upper is not breathable for running

During running, your feet will sweat a lot. You will need a breathable running shoe that provides enough airflow and ventilation to circulate the moisture inside the shoe.

The Nike Cortez is made with a combination of nylon, suede, and leather at the top. Those materials are great for casual sneakers, but they do little to provide breathability during running.

The nylon, suede, and leather combination will make your feet sweat more than they should. Instead, go for running shoes made with breathable mesh material at the top.

3. Thick midsole does not provide stability

Performance running shoes have advanced exponentially in the past half-century.

Today, the best running shoes have a balance between cushioning, stability, and ground feel. Not only do they have midsole cushioning, but they also have forefoot and heel cushioning.

For example, the Adidas Ultraboost is equipped with Boost midsole while the Nike Vaporfly has ZoomX foam. Both are designed to absorb the impact and provide a higher energy return.

The midsole is the foam material between the outsole and the upper, designed to cushion the runner from impact forces and guide the foot through each running stride. 

Because the Nike Cortez does not have innovative running technology, it won’t provide you with a softer “crash pad” area to smooth the landing and give you more force to run faster.

Running once or twice with the Nike Cortez won’t harm your body, but do it over the course of more than 6 months and it will definitely take its toll on your knees, tendons, and ligaments.

If you’re serious about running, do yourself a favor and invest in running shoes. Not only will you have a more enjoyable time running, but you also prevent injuries in the future.

4. Narrow shape may be uncomfortable for running

The toe box is an essential aspect of a good running shoe.

You’ll need to look for a toe box that stays out of the way, allowing your foot to flex and spread out naturally in both width and length without binding or rubbing your toes.

In fact, some trail running shoes made for outdoor running are equipped with a reinforced toe bumper that holds the fabric off your toes and protects you from stubbing.

Sadly, the narrow toe box of the Nike Cortez won’t provide you with the necessary space needed for running in comfort. It will definitely cause you to want to stop running as soon as possible.

You also need to consider that you will be wearing socks during running.


Now you know that the Nike Cortez is not good for running. The thick midsole and narrow shape do not provide running stability. It is also not as durable as modern running shoes.

If you have broad feet, you should not buy the Nike Cortez because the shoe is very narrow. This shoe is better. However, the Nike Cortez is a solid option for you if you are looking for:

  • A timeless shoe that will never go out of style.
  • A comfortable shoe for walking long hours.
  • A simple pair of sneakers that is easy to clean and maintain.
  • A neutral shoe that goes well with many outfits.

Despite not being suitable for running, the Nike Cortez is still one of the most comfortable casual sneakers because of its thick rubber midsole and substantial cushioning.

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