Monday, March 11, 2013

Run # 1 in Go Run # 2

Virgil, the late (17-90 BC) Roman Poet, said "GO Forth a Conqueror and Win Many Victories." In terms of starting off on the right foot, Skechers, more specifically, their Performance Division, certainly picked the right athlete, Meb Keflezighi, the fastest American at the 2011 New York Marathon, who then reconfirmed that status by being the Champion of the US Olympic Trials a few months later (full marathon in 2:09:08); both deeds having been accomplished in an iteration of the GO Runs.

Before I continue, this is NOT a promotional piece on Skechers GO line of shoes, and I receive neither compensation nor free samples from the company.

Like many people, I was not too keen on the Skechers brand. When I first came across the GO Run in Christmas 2011 though, I was amazed at these shoes which were so feather-light AND soft AND flexible. Plus the purported "Midfoot Strike Sensors" on the outsole, and I was sold!

I started running regularly in January 2012 and the original GO Run just happened to be my first regular running shoes. 14 months and 1,100 miles later, I have racked up 60% of my mileage in different variants of the GO shoes:
From Top to Bottom: Go Run Ride, Go Run 2, Go Run, Go Bionic.

Bear in mind that I am no Meb. Far from it (the distance from earth to moon would probably illustrate the gap, and that's putting it mildly)! In fact, I am a Clydesdale (heavy) runner, and wearing thin-soled shoes like the GO Run did give me the jeebies early on.

This review will focus mainly on the GO Run 2, with comparison to other iterations of the GO shoes. I've been waiting for the GO Run 2 to arrive in Indonesia, and this past weekend I saw them at the mall. After leaving the store empty-handed .....I went back the day after (yes, this shoe-fetish is an illness, a chronic one!); and here they are at home:

Skechers GO Run 2, fresh out of the box, with 2 sets of laces included.

Today (March 12th) is the Hindu's Nyepi holiday here, and I had a chance to take them out for a 5K run and write this initial review.

FIT: Being used to the GoRun, stepping into the "2" version has a "coming home" feeling to it, added with an extra touch of comfort. With the original GoRuns, you can feel the middle bump, which was not a problem for me but others have found to be a big negative. The GoRun 2 does not have this rocker feeling. 

Skechers GO Run with the rocker outsole (left), and the non-rocking Go Run 2 (right).
I have wide feet, and other reviews of the GR 2 indicate they are narrower than the original. I was worried about this, but when I put them on, I feel my feet "enveloped" without being constricted. My previous shoe purchase was the Adidas Boost, which has the excellent Techfit upper. The Boost hugs my feet like a polyester compression suit, whereas the GoRun2 feel like a cotton-blend-poly compression outfit (IMHO more comfortable). In two words, the GoRun 2 is "comfortably snug."

TOEBOX: I like to feel my toes having the freedom to "splash and splay" within the confines of the shoes. I truly believe an adequate toebox helps allow a more natural running motion, especially when one runs sockless, or use 5-finger socks (I always wear the latter for running). The GoRun 2, with its flexible uppers and (still) generous forefoot area, is excellent in this regard.

RIDE and COMFORT: at 215 grams (7,6 oz, for size US 11) per shoe (only 10 grams heavier than the first GoRuns!), the GR 2 is FEATHER light, and, utterly comfortable. I have always found the Resalyte midsole in the original GoRun to be the perfect mix of flexible and cushioned. With this iteration, the GoRun 2 has turned from thinly-cushioned to confidence-inducing comfortable, as in no trepidation to pick up speed, or go uphill or downhill when the occasion calls for it. There is none of that rocking motion, and the extra cushion, coupled with the 4mm heel-to-toe drop, gives you that extra confidence in your strides. 

The feel is somewhat similar to the GoRun Ride's. This was my big concern when purchasing the GoRun 2. Would it be exactly like the GoRun Ride? After the initial test run, I am happy to report that the GoRun 2 gives more road-feel compared to the Ride variant. You can see the difference in the outsole's shape and thickness, in the four iterations of the GO shoes in the following photo:

Difference in outsole's shape, from Top to Bottom: Go Run Ride, GR 2, GR 1, and Go Bionic.

TECHNOLOGY: I am always wary about shoe-related "technology," as I believe that the primary "technician," i.e. the runner, is the most important part of the endeavor. The GoRun 2 again promotes "the Mid-foot Strike Sensors," which presumably help your feet land on the middle part of the shoes. Has it worked for me? Based on the wear pattern from the photo below (taken with the original GoRun having approximately 200 miles on it), my strides are landing in the middle-outer area of the outsole. I don't know yet if the GoRun 2 will help me continue striding midfoot.

CONCLUSION: With the taller stack height, the GoRun 2, based on an initial 5K run, fills the gap perfectly between the original GoRun and the GoRun Ride (which has more cushion than both). The Ride version is missing that close-to-the-ground feeling of the original GoRun, with the zero-drop GoBionic being the best in terms of road-feel. 

There are times when we want to run with a feeling of protection, and for such days, the GoRun 2 fills that niche of minimalist-yet-cushioned category, without resorting to the mega stack-height of shoes such as the HOKAS. The GoRun 2 gives you just enough road-feel, and add an extra dose of comfort for good measure.

In terms of VALUE, at US$ 80 (Rp.799.000 after discount here) the GoRun 2 is IMHO great value, especially compared to shoes such as the Adidas Boost, which at US$ 150, is almost twice as expensive, and, 80 grams (2,8 oz) heavier. The GoRun 2's reasonable pricetag, feather-like weight, sleek good looks, and proven Resalyte midsole, may translate to improved running economy, literally and figuratively. Now, if only Skechers Performance Division can escape the colorfully bling-bling stigma of the company's other offerings.

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