Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Skechers GORun2 - In-depth Review

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Skechers, they make fashion shoes don’t they? Well, yes, but recently they’ve launched a Performance division focused on bringing to market a range of running shoes designed for comfort and, perhaps more importantly, speed!

Still not convinced?  No, neither was I.  But after hearing several Skechers-sponsored athletes (whose opinions I respect) constantly raving about the GORun2 shoes, I caved-in on a recent trip to the US and bought a pair to test.  I’ve since received pairs of some of the others shoes in Skechers’ expanding range, but I’ll review these separately as I’m still in the middle of the test period.

Initial concerns

When I first clocked the GORun2s, several things stood out and some things gave me cause for concern.  The first thing most people will notice is that most of the available colourways are LLLOOOOUUUDDD!  Now personally I love that, but if subtlety is your thing, you might not be such a fan of the bright orange or dayglo yellow colour schemes (others are available!).

In terms of construction, the thing that most concerned me was the lack of what I would describe as a ‘structured’ heel cup. Instead there is a lot of flex in the heel with more soft fabric than firm rubber / webbing. The reason this concerned me was that all the different gait analyses I’ve done over the years show I pronate and have a pronounced collapse in my right heel.  The advice I’ve received has always been to go for a more structured shoe to help prevent damage in the heel.

Finally, the sole felt very soft and I did wonder how long it might last – maybe it would be fine for a couple of races but would it stand up to regular training runs and racing on different surfaces?

First impressions

Going totally against all the rule books, I strapped-on the GORun2s shortly after purchasing them and took them for a 90-minute run around Houston’s Memorial Park in 90 degrees C heat.  And do you know what, they felt fantastic.  I remember thinking at the time it was like wearing a pair of slippers, so comfortable was the fit.  The minimal upper seems to fit snuggly against the foot, while still giving plenty of room for toes to spread and preventing hot spots.

The fact that the sole is pretty minimal (with a 4mm drop) was obvious from the get-go, but I was surprised by how soft my footfall was.  Compared to the Adidas Boosts I had been running in the day before, I could literally hear how much less ‘slap’ I was making on the pavement.

The concerns around the heel cup were unfounded. I finished the 90 minute run (some of it at tempo, so about 20km covered) feeling surprisingly good – no aches, no strains, no chafes (except the ones caused by my shorts and sweaty skin in the 90 degree heat!).

I can’t pretend to understand exactly how it works, but the Skechers Mstrike technology designed to promote more of a midfoot strike really does seem to work. I could honestly feel that my form was better in these shoes than many others I’ve tried recently.  Similarly, I don’t feel expert enough to comment of the effectiveness of the ‘sensor’ pads on the bottom of the shoe, but perhaps the fact I didn’t really notice them is a sign that they are working just fine.

As Mallorca 70.3 approached, I had intended to wear my On Cloudracers, since one of their claimed benefits (and I do think it’s a claim that stands up) is reduced calf fatigue.  But the more I wore the GORun2s, the more tempted I was to change my mind (the fit just felt 'better').  With a day or so to go I made my mind up to run the half-marathon in the Skechers which meant changing-out the stock laces for elastic lock laces.  On some previous shoes I’ve had, this swap has totally changed the fit of the shoe (and in some cases made an otherwise well-fitting shoe quite uncomfortable).  Thankfully there were no such issues with the GORun2s and they still fit well with the speed laces.

You can read all about my Mallorca 70.3 race on my blog, but in short the shoes performed as well as I could have hoped. Yes my legs were shot by the end of the run, but my feet were good and the shoes were comfortable throughout.

Continued Use

Back in the UK, I kept finding myself returning to the GORun2s, regardless of whether I was running speed reps or long easy runs, running on road, gravel paths or even (dry) forest paths.  For what appears to be a minimalist shoe, they are surprisingly comfortable to train in day-to-day (I’ve since been sent a pair of the Skechers GORun Ride to test, they have 25% more cushioning, and will report on these separately).

I did do one long off-road run which left my ankles and feet a bit sore, but that’s not really surprising given the terrain I was running on (beware, you really WILL feel every stone and pebble you tread on in these shoes, so flexible is the sole!).

Since then, I’ve continued to use the GORun2s extensively for training and even equaled my 5km PB in a pair of ‘fresh’ dayglo yellow GORun2s a week or so ago (30 seconds faster than I’ve run a 5km for the last six months).

I haven’t accurately tracked the mileage on my ‘original’ orange GORun2s, but I would guess they’ve done close to 200 miles by now, maybe more. The uppers still look in great shape, even doing a pretty good job of resisting staining by dirty puddles etc.  The soles do look a bit more messy and show some obvious signs of wear (running off-road was probably a bit mean on them!), but judging by how they feel against the ‘fresh’ pair, there’s still plenty of life left in them yet.  It’s only a very rough guess, but I reckon I’ll get a good 300 miles out of them before it’s time to retire them (or pass them onto my Dad as gym shoes, as seems to be the trend at the moment!).  300 miles is a pretty good innings for a racing-oriented shoe that costs a lot less than many of its rivals.

Speaking of rivals, how does the GORun2 compare?  Well, to me it’s somewhere between the Adidas Adios and Saucony Kinvara – the comfort of the Kinvara but a little lighter and less material, like the Adios.  They're nothing like as harsh to run in as the Adios.

Conclusion

Despite my initial reservations, I have to confess I like this shoe. I like this shoe a lot.  I am really surprised by how good it is.  It has everything I like in a shoe – it’s bright(!), light, and comfortable. I don’t feel like it’s a shoe that can only be worn for racing or speed reps, it’s much more versatile than that.

They are minimal – and that might not suit everyone. But for someone already used to the Kinvara, Adios, Cloudracer type of shoe, the transition was easy and positive.

I’m now looking forward to continuing my tests of three other Skechers shoes – the GORun Trail (for trail running, stupid…), the GORun Ride (similar to the GORun2, but with more cushioning, designed as an everyday trainer) and the ultra-minimal zero-drop GORun Bionic.

But for now, I’m clear which trainer I like the best.  Dare I say it, the GORun2 could be the only run trainers you need in your closet…