Run-of-mine adj : 1: UNGRADED, UNSORTED, CRUDE, UNREFINED: not ground or treated 2: ORDINARY, MEDIOCRE, RUN-OF-THE-MILL <run-of-mine college graduate> 3. Ore or coal as it comes from the mine without grading or sorting for size or quality

4. That last run, the one that keeps you going back for more – it’s yours and yours alone.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skechers GoRun 2 Shoe Review

I. Love. This. Shoe.  

There, I said it.  Right in front of God and everybody.  The Skechers Go Run2 is a great shoe – let me tell you all about it.
First, let me say that I’m basing my opinion on how my feet feel as I run, more so than on comparisons to other shoes.  I’m not that guy who has like a hundred pairs of shoes in his closet.  At least not yet – are you listening, shoe companies?  I’d really like to be that guy. Email address right over there ---------->

I’ve got two pairs of Go Run2s (GR2s from here on out, just to save me from wearing out the keys on my laptop and the tips of my fingers).  How I got two pairs is a story that I think says a lot about Skechers as a company, so allow me a short digression.  In a review that I posted at Running Shoes Guru’s place (read it here, if you like), I said that I had a pair of size 12s, and they were a shade too short, but otherwise awesome, and that the store did not carry (and the salespeople said that Skechers did not make) a size 12.5.  I also said, jokingly
C’mon, Skechers, I know you’re reading this and really super 
care about what a 30 mile a week no name runner from 
Minnesota cares. Get with the program!

Well, Skechers does care, apparently, because a member of their product development and testing team (thanks, Kathie!) tracked me down to not only be a part of their wear-testing program, but also to send me a pair of GR2s in a size 12.5!  Wow.  Not bad for a no-name runner from Minnesota.  And thanks, Skechers! (The pair that the nice, nice people at Skechers sent did not influence this review.)

Here’s what Skechers has to say about the shoes, direct from their website:

Skechers GOrun 2 is the next generation of a serious minimal running shoe. Designed for speed with innovative performance technologies to promote a midfoot strike, it works as a great transitional shoe to foster a barefoot running experience.

Independent circular GOimpulse sensors offer flexibility and feedback for a more responsive running experience
M-Strike Technology™ promotes a midfoot strike
Radically lightweight - No extra material, no extra weight, nothing to slow you down
Breathable 4-way stretch mesh toe panels engineered to allow toe splay
Custom Fit insole is removable for an even more minimal feel
Roomier Forefoot - Extra space to reduce friction and allow your toes to spread, grip and push off
4mm Heel Drop - substantially less heel drop than traditional running or training shoes to bring you closer to a natural barefoot experience
Resalyte™ Midsole - Proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact
Progressive Flex midsole transitions from stable platform to forefoot flexibility

Nearly weightless synthetic and mesh fabric upper
Nearly seamless flexible upper with lace up front
Flatlock stitching detail for seamless feel and lighter weight
Soft smooth fabric shoe lining for easy barefoot wear
Weight: Radically lightweight 6.6 oz per shoe based on a men's size 9

The Go Run2s are really my first foray into the world of minimal-ish shoes.  They are, in essence, my transitional shoe.  I went from a pretty significant motion-control-type shoe (the Saucony Guide 3) to flatter shoes and shoes that are just, well, less shoe.  The transition was pretty easy for me – very little on the sore calves and other various leg parts than others have reported, but this is very likely not due to the shoes as much as to the fact that I generally wear flat shoes (Converse All-Stars and Adidas Sambas, plus Born casual shoes to work) and sandals casually and I go exclusively barefoot inside the house and in the yard as much as I can.  It’s always a good idea, though, to transition slowly and gradually to a shoe with less heel-toe drop.  

As an aside, if you'd like a bit of insight into how shoes get developed, and how this shoe in particular came to be the way that it is, head on over to here for a small history lesson and to read Pete's take on the shoes.

Initially thought I had gotten myself into too little shoe, but I realized that I had been running during the peak (or valley, depending on how one perceives such things) of a Minnesota winter, and was doing a fair amount of running on ice bumps and random fragments of ice and snow on the paths and sidewalks.  The sore ankles and feet came from the flexibility of the shoe, I think.  The GR2 is a lot of things, but it is not a technical trail shoe, which is essentially what I was using it for.  Now that the snow and ice is gone, they are pretty much the perfect shoe.

Here’s what I liked about the shoes:
There’s a lot to like about these kicks, in my humble opinion. Buckle up, kids.  Here we go:

Soft Heel Counter: To me, it feels something like a sandal strap. I’m not a great one for a rigid heel counter – I’m happiest in sandals (can’t run in them, though – them huarache-wearing ultrarunners are crazycakes, although I will fess up to lusting after a pair of rubber tire sandals after reading Born to Run, and my next footwear purchase is going to be a pair of Luna Sandals, so maybe they are not so crazy after all).  My feet like the feel of just support and being wrapped more than strangled, I guess.  That said, I very much feel like my heel is locked down and not moving.
Squishy yet supportive heel.

The aforementioned stitching scheme.

Stretchy Mesh Toe Box: Even in the size 12 which is technically a half size too small, my toes were confortable, since the mesh on the toe box was so stretchy.  I like the fact that there is not a stiff toe piece on the shoes as well.  Not as good for off-roading, but these are not trail shoes, by any means.  (Skechers does make a nice trail shoe, from what I’ve read. They'll be my pair for next winter…)

Plenty Wide Toe Box, especially with Injinji socks:  The wide toe box is possibly my favorite part of the shoe – I’m pretty sure that my feet haven never been so comfortable, toeroom-wise, in any shoe.  In fact, I wore my old Saucony Guide 3s (great shoes as well, and a very good first serious running shoe for me, but way too much shoe now) in the snow and ice right after snowfalls, and they felt really, really, narrow and pinchy, especially on my pinkie toe.  Here is the obligatory and ubiquitous photo from Altra Running about toe splay:  
Filched from, via Google Images. Thanks, Pete.

I do actually think that my feet have spread out in the 350+ miles that I have worn these shoes.

Colorways:  There are 10 colorways altogether for the GR2s.  They range from pretty subdued to pretty bold (garish and obnoxious are other ways in which my shoes have been described to me).  I have the Red/Lime and the Green/Green colorways.  [Looking on the Skechers website today, though, it looks like my green on green version has been replaced by a green on black style. Boo.]  Each of the pairs came with an alternate lace color as well  - the reds came with a red lace, and the yellows with a blue lace.  Both, you will be happy to know, were snatched up greedily by my kids and promptly installed in their own shoes.
View from above - do you feel like you're flying?
Or at least hovering?

Snazzy, no?

As I mentioned in the review on, I like my shoes to be bright and obnoxious.  Maybe it’s a Clark Kent/Superman phone booth thing (not that I’m that great of a runner, goodness knows).  I mean more that during the day, I’m a mild-mannered (usually) first grade teacher in sensible brown shoes, and when I’m running, I get a chance to be, well, not that.  I also think that it is because I do nearly all of my running in the very early morning, before the rest of the city (and my family, more importantly) is awake.  When I shuffle down the stairs still half asleep, it's cool when I look over at my obnoxious shoes and they look like they are rip-roarin’ ready to go, even if I don’t necessarily feel like I am either rip or roarin', much less ready to go.  For dogless me, it’s kinda like the dog eagerly waiting by the door, leash in mouth, tail wagging, ready to go for a run.

Soles: Skechers makes the outsole out of a compund that they call Resalyte.  I like it quite well.  It's very flexible, but still feels durable under foot.  It's got good ground feel - not like a super-minimal Merrill or another shoe where it's just a lone strip of bark or something under your foot. More importantly for me, they don't have the "clompy" feeling as I'm running.  More on that in a bit.
The yellows (when new) and the reds (125 miles in).

The soles seem to be wearing very well - I have 200+ miles in each shoe, and they look as though they will perhaps 200 more. 

The colored dots on the soles are "Goimpulse sensors" and they are made of a harder rubber material, theoretically strategically placed, although the biomechanics of that discussion are beyond me.  Even the dots that are made of the Resalyte seem to be wearing well.  They are getting a bit worn, but not so much that it impacts the ride.

Foot Feel:  I wore the GR2s for my recent half marathon* and they were, very literally, the least of my concerns that day (another post on that race coming up soon!).  They performed very, very well – no hot spots, plenty of cushioning, and very comfortable.  The fact that they seem to disappear on my feet, and I don’t give them a second thought as I am running is, as many other folks have said, the holy grail of running shoes, and is just about the highest compliment that anyone can give to a shoe.

The "Holy Grail" of Holy Grails.
Quiet: I’m coming to see that for me, the real test of a running shoe is how quietly they ride.  If I can get them to be pretty much silent as I’m running, I know that they have many of the attributes that I’m looking for in a shoe.  I'm talking ninja-quiet (ninja-quiet, of course, excluding the panting sound of my labored breathing).  If it's quiet, I know that the sole is flexible and not ‘clunky.’  I know that the upper fits me well, and that my foot is not sliding around and making slipping noise on the ground.  I know that they feel nice on my feet if I’m not cursing at them, which also plays into the silent factor of a pair of shoes. [Nike Structure15+, I’m looking at you.  Worst shoe advice I ever got from a running specialty store. I’m sorry if these are your shoes – I’m sure that they are ideal for someone, but for me, the upper never fit right, they feel clompy and inflexible, and my left foot felt like it was falling over to the outside all of the time.  Perhaps a topic for another post.  Suffice it to say, if you are a size 12 and would like a pair of Nike Structure+ 15s in great shape, about 90 miles on 'em, I’ll give them to you for the price of postage.  Shoot me an email.]

Simple Upper:  The upper is no frills, with really no big technology touted.  I like the simplicity of it, which to me equates to comfort.  They are nice sockless  - I've only worn them once on a run (about 5K) without socks.  They were fine, but I have pretty sweaty feet (okay, TMI, I know, but it was your choice to read this...) and my feet were a bit soggy.  I do wear them out and about without socks, and they are quite comfy, with an almost completely seamless interior. 
This is pretty much the only major seam inside the shoe.
The tongue is attached on either side of the top, which I also like.  It's not a sock-like fit like some iterations of the Nike Free Run+, but it keeps everything in the proper place, which is always a good thing on a run, and in life in general.

As I already mentioned, the stretchy mesh is great, and the soft heel is awesome but still somehow stable, I think due to the strap-like top of the heel and the stitching on the back sides. 

Comfortable Footbed:  There is none of the mid-foot hump that the original GRs had, which to stand in felt like a teeter-totter (see-saw?).  The hump, which Skechers calls the “M-Strike Technology,” is there officially. 

The stack heights confirm this (11mm forefoot, 20mm midfoot, and 15mm heel) but my admittedly philistine feet can’t feel it as I’m running or walking.  In fact, I’m using the smaller of the two sizes as my “walking around shoes.”  They are that comfortable.

The Not-as-Good:

Fading Colors:  Not 100% sure, but it seems like the both of the colorways that I got – the red/lime and the green/green pair, have faded a bit.  They aren’t as bright, I don’t think.  I should take them to the store and compare, but the reds, especially on the toebox, seem a bit more “neon melon” color than “bright red.”  There is similar fading on the green/green pair.  It actually seems like the color is fading, like the sun would fade fabric, as opposed to just overall dinginess (of which there is plenty too).  Not a huge deal, and I still wear them for pretty much all of my runs.

Slipping Insoles:  Another complaint, and it’s one that I’ve read in several other places, is that the insole on the GR2s slips.  On most of my runs, the toe of the right insole ends up about halfway up the sole of my foot, and it creeps up the back of my heel.  It’s not a huge issue, and it’s nothing more than a nuisance, but it is a thing.  I think that it’s somehow a design flaw, because it’s happened in both pairs of my GR2s – and in one pair it’s the left shoe and in the other pair it’s the right shoe.  

Weird.  It’s easily remedied by putting a couple of strips of double-stick tape under the insole.  (Had to change them when they got wet a couple of times  - such is the life of a spring runner in the northern climes.) I've also just popped the insoles out and gone without - the footbed is smooth.  The insoles are about 2mm thick anyhow, and they are flat, so it doesn't change the 4mm drop or the cushioning dramatically, at least from my unschooled feet.

In my final estimation, for what it’s worth (must be worth something if you've read this far, or maybe you’re just some sort of masochist – in either case, you’re welcome…)  these are great shoes.  Now if Skechers could just put out a brown casual shoe like this one for me to wear to work, something like the New Balance Minimus MT10 Leather, except without the leather – I try to use as few animal products as possible, since nearly every other member of the animal kingdom seems to try to use as few human products as possible. Only seems fair.  At any rate, I’ve been wearing Skechers casual shoes for some time now, but would LOVE to be walking around all day in shoes that feel like the GR2s on my feet.  Not to mention the fact that I could go all ninja every day at work…

*Oh yeah, I just throw that phrase “my recent half marathon” around like it’s old hat for me.  It was my first run that is longer than 10K, and when I got to the mile 11 marker, it was the longest run I had ever done. 

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