Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Skechers GoRun4 Review

A complete overhaul - that is the best 3-words I can use to describe the new (yet to be launched) Skechers GoRun4. My 2-years experience with Skechers has been nothing but great. With new editions and addition to my running gears, I count my blessing for not only on the receiving end of these good shoes, but also the opportunity to lend my opinion that will be fedback to the shoes designer in Skechers. Improvements are sometime a hit and miss, depending on your own personal preferences as there is no one shoe that pleases everyone, even if it is the most expensive shoe on the rack. So, what can you expect from the new GoRun4?
Unboxing - sort of
The unit I received were a "sample" unit. Meaning it is first cut from the factory and meant for testing purposes. There is the "Not for sale" under the tongue and the size were not printed on any part of the shoe. I went for US11 for this iteration. It came with two sets of laces (as how most Performance series would) and minus the inner sole.
All new upper
The upper of the GR4 consist of a tightly woven mesh outer layer of tightly woven mesh over an inner layer of more open mesh. It's stretchy despite looking "tight". Compared to the "Powerprene" 4-way mesh in the GR3, it is as flexible which reminds me of the FitKnit material in the GoRunBolt. I did not feel if the shoe is hotter than usual and I run sockless 90% of the time (the other 10% is just to make sure the socks I have are still elastic)
See the inner mesh (criss cross white square). Note the padded tongue compared to GR3, and the sockliner that are supersmooth
The tongue on GR4 is slightly padded compared to GR3, but thinner than GR2. It seems that the desginer can't decide to go less, or more, so I guess they went "more or less". ;-). No complains here, as it worked as it should, providing sufficient padding on the top of foot when you lace down. One thing obvious is that there were more ventilation on the tongue via meshes as shown below.
More mesh on tongue
The midsole of the GR4 was reported to be thicker than the GR3. The drop is maintained at 4mm without the sockliner or insole and 8mm with it. The bump in the midsole has been reduced as well - or maybe it is just me after wearing Skechers that long it sort of "blended" into my arch or feet.
GR4 is minimally structured. Overlay welding seen on toe area
Running the Skecher's tradition is the minimally structured upper that uses welded-overlay to provide the support. It was good (for me) and you may feel it's under-supporting if you are using Skechers for the first time. Comparing to the GR2 and GR3, the GR4 actually provide more support with addition of the back (heel) counter that provides a bit more support at the back.
reinforced eye-lid allow quick lacing
more structured heel counter (blue). Also visible is the new "Quick-Fit" loop
New to GR is the Quick-Fit loop, which are designed to allow you to hold it and pull up the shoes without you unlacing. I felt this is not required and there was fear that the back end may over-extend and bite into my Achilles. Good to report that the material is soft and supple, which did not bother me much after running in it a few times.
Front of shoe with the extended front crash pad
The M-Strike is still there, which meant the GR4 continues to help promote midfoot strike. You can see the front and back portion is curved upwards with the shoe pivoting on the mid-sole position.

Balancing act
M-Strike rules. Side profile also provide the impression that the sole has been slightly thicker compared to GR2 and GR3

The sole of the GR4 has been revamped with the round pod receiving some pattern which may add in a bit more grip as it wears off slowly. Don't get me wrong to think the previous round pod provide no grips, just that visually, it provides a better assurance, apart from acting as a wear indicator of some sort. It is worth to mention that the pods are actually thicker than the GR2 and GR3, which meant it can possibly last a bit longer.
Remind you of any shoes?
The mid section of the sole is a complete revamp and I was told it is molded from the same piece of Resalyte material - which meant it offers the same cushioned ride that may not favor those that like a firm feel on the ground. I have no complains as I like the bounciness of the Resalyte materials.
Closer look
A word of sharing is if you are runner that do land on the heel or scrape your heel as you run (thus not mid-footlanding or forefoot landing), you will see significant wear on the heel portion due to the pods being placed at the far end margin of the sole. Nothing to be worried about as I have myself questioned if the shoe were wearing off faster than it was intended to. Happy to report that I've seen this in all my Skechers and it did not impede the shoe service life to any less than 500km. 

Fitting the GR4
The US11 without insole/sockliner was a bit too roomy for me. I can conclude now that Skechers caters for many wide footed runner which is good as most Asian feet are wider and smaller as well. Perhaps due to us growing up not wearing shoes. I never had any issues with Skechers when it comes to toe-box fitting. Except now. It's a tad too wide and it could be because I was without the sockliner (the sample did not come with it, remember?). I will try the next few runs with the sockliners I have at home and see how it fits up. My guess is it will be a good fit. 
Take note of the new Skechers Performance logo. More dynamic outlook
The GR4 is a very flexible shoe. I've never failed to fold the GoRun generation up to demonstrate the suppleness of the shoe. The photo below shows how it is when rolled up, with the rear heel portion a bit stiffer due to the heel counter that lend a bit more structure to the back. 
Bending it like Skechers

Weight wise, it comes in light at 220grams. A 20grams heavier than the GR3. The increase is expected with the thicker soles. No big deal as the shoe is already light. 
Add in 10grams more if you use the sockliner or insole
I took the GR4 out for a few runs to gauge the feel. Good to report it requires no breaking in and getting used to. It was straight to the road with no socks and sockliner and minimal issue.
lost count of shots I took to get this!
Minimal issues here meant that I had one issue and it was hotspot felt at the inner ball part of my right feet. I attributed this to the wider toebox due to the missing sockliner - or I've not ran enough lately (feet became more...errrmm...sensitive?)
Successfully taken this after 120++ burst shot... But worth it.
As to the concern if the shoe is sufficiently able to support your feet? The photo right above shoes how it manages to wrap around uneven ground, spread it out (notice the far right side what appeared as if my right toe touching the ground?), molding itself to the uneven surface and cushioning the impact. I am sold. It is like running barefoot without being barefoot (at 4mm drop).
The pseudo hill sprint - smaller steps, faster shuffle = blurred image
As of today, the GR4 has been clocked close to 90km over the past 3 weeks. Not huge mileage by my standard as I use to run double of that in a fortnight. With the ITB feeling better, and hopefully no relapse, I need to catch up on my running and get back up to speed. Nevertheless, the GR4 will now be part of the "shoe cycle" as to ensure longer service life. Wait up for more reviews as I past the mid-life cycle of the shoe at approximately 300km.
Decent 8km in 40mins Tempo paced
Note: This pair of Skechers GoRun4 is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair of GoRun4 will retail for RM369(women) and RM399(men) and is available at all Skechers store in December 2014 or early January 2015.

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