Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Skechers GORun Strada

One of the recent additions to the growing range of Skechers performance running shoes, the Strada was apparently developed to meet the needs of their elite athletes for a more supportive high-mileage training shoe.

It differs from the existing GORun, GORun Ride and GORun Ultra in a number of ways.

Skechers GORun StradaThe story goes that Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher wanted a shoe with a bit more structure than the GORun Ride, something closer in feel to the raciest of the Skechers range, the GORun Meb (also known as the GORun Speed).

Upper

With the GORun and GORun Ride, Skechers bucked the trend for running shoes and built shoes with very little structure in the upper and lots of give. The Strada reverses this trend and feels a lot more ‘solid’ on the foot. If you like to feel that the shoe is closely-fitted to your foot, you’ll like it. If you prefer the roomier fit of the GORun Rides, it might not be for you.

Toe box

While Meb is known for his narrow feet – and thus the original GORun Meb had quite a narrow toe box – the Strada seems to have a reasonably roomy toebox. Certainly wide enough for me, anyway.

Heel

The heel on the Strada is quite firm, but well-shaped. Again, it’s quite different to the almost heel-less approach of the earlier GORun models. There’s quite a lot of padding which again I like.

Sole

Along with the upper, the sole on the Strada is quite different to the GORun and GORun Ride models, featuring two different levels of hardness (durometer for you nerds). The lighter colour is softer, while the darker is firmer. While this doesn’t make the Strada a ‘stability’ shoe, it does lend some resistance against pronation which will benefit from runners. The sole is foam, rather than rubber, which means it may not have quite the life of other shoes, but on the plus side I do think it helps ‘feel’.

Colours

After a year or so with some very sombre colour schemes, it’s great to see Skechers returning to their loud and proud designs. My favourite is probably the orange, but the red ones I tested also looked good and were relatively easy to keep clean after mucky runs.

In use

In my experience, while the Strada looks quite similar at first glance to the GORun Ride, in feel it is quite different. The most obvious difference is how it feels on the foot – a more snug fit all the way from the toe box, to midfoot to heel. Personally I’ve come to like this, especially as most of my long runs are over mixed terrain and I prefer the closer fit over loose or uneven surfaces.

Skechers GORun StradaRunning in the Strada feels a lot firmer than the GORun Ride. In fact, after a few weeks of wearing the Strada almost exclusively, I was really surprised at how ‘spongy’ the GORun Rides felt when I switched back to them! This isn’t a criticism of the Rides, as I would have never called them ‘spongy’ before, it just goes to show the level of difference in the shoes. Again, this firmer feel seems to work really well when running on surfaces other than smooth tarmac (for a pure road run, I’d probably still take the GORun Rides, for that little bit extra cushioning and comfort).

The sole on the Strada doesn’t look particularly aggressive, but I was surprised how different the shoe felt when running on canal paths, gravel tracks and even over rocky surfaces. First, the grip was noticeably better than the Rides (although not up there with the Ultras) and second my feet felt like they were taking less of a bashing from rocks underfoot (the price for great road feel on the Rides is that you really feel the ruts and rocks on trails).

It’s a very subjective thing, but for me the Strada has become my go-to shoe for most of my runs at the moment. This might have something to do with ‘shiny kit syndrome’ (i.e. they’re new) but actually I also have a new pair of the Ultra 2 shoes and they’re sat languishing in the corner most days (they really excel in the colder, wetter conditions).

I think that’s largely because the Strada has turned out to be an excellent match for the run routes that I have around me – i.e. a mix of roads, canal paths, gravel paths and farm tracks. If my run routes were on different surfaces, I might feel differently.

Having spent some time running in the GOMebs (I didn’t really get on with the original versions, but the new Meb3s seem to suit me a lot better), I can see the similarities in the feel of the two shoes and understand why the Strada was developed at Meb’s request. Personally, if I was running on the road, the Strada would probably be a little too firm for me compared to the Ride.

So, almost by accident, I found a great shoe for my local area! If, like me, you run a lot of your longer runs on a variety of surfaces, these could well be a great fit your needs.