Back in the fall of 2011, I saw a little blurb about the newly (back then) introduced Skechers GOrun. Being a shoe nerd, I looked on eBay and found a pair for about half price ($39) so I bought them. Since then, their popularity has increased and so has their price. Lately, I haven’t seen any as cheap as last fall’s prices. Locally you can get them at Famous Footware for around $70.00. In this era of $100.00+ shoes being the norm, I guess $70.00 is not that bad.
Note: An updated (2014) Review and Comparison of the GOrun 1 2 and 3 is available here.
The GoRun is not a trail shoe and not suitable for running in the Bridger Range, but it is a great lightweight flexible training shoe for the road and track. I thought it deserved a mention in this Blog. I don’t do all my running on trails in the Bridger Range and I expect most of you don’t either.
Why Sketcher’s GoRun Shoes? Because They Won the Least Pain Contest
It was not until this spring, that I started using the GoRun. When I first got them, I had run a few miles on a treadmill, but that was last fall. At the time, I did not think they were all that special – just another low heel semi minimal running shoe. But this past winter, a foot injury forced me into using them. Let me explain.
Against my better judgment, I had allowed a Chiropractor to adjust my feet. That treatment nearly crippled me. I could not put any pressure on my foot without experiencing severe ankle pain. Even after many weeks, my ankle was not getting better. I wanted to do the Saint Patrick’s Day race in Anaconda.
It was a beautiful day and I was not going to let a painful ankle stop me. My plan was to bring a few different pairs of shoes and before the race try a little running in each to see which was the least painful.
The GoRun won the least pain challenge. So the race saw me sporting the GoRun for their first significant run. They worked. I was able to run the race without having to wince or stop because of my ankle freaking out.
A week later, I repeated the same thing at the Run for the Pub race in Bozeman.
Again, the GoRun where the only pair of shoes that I could actually run in without wincing in crippling pain. I actually ran this year’s Run for the Pub 2 minutes faster than last year. Probably because the course was shorter in 2012 compared to 2011!
What really sold me on the GoRun, was my experience with them when doing my first track workout of spring. I started off with a warm up 5K on the track using a pair of cushy training shoes (Nike Air Max). After just a couple laps into the 5K, my ankle was freaking out. Fortunately I had brought a pair of GoRuns and quickly switched to them. Running in the GoRun, I was able to finish the warm up without much trouble.
The main workout consisted of a mix of plyometric exercises bracketed by 100 meter striders. This workout puts a lot of pressure on my feet. In the past, it has rewarded me with sore tender feet for a day or so after the workout. After this plyometric/striders workout in the GoRun, my feet had nary a complaint. This was truly amazing – bordering on miraculous.
Since then, I’ve done another 3 road races in the GoRun shoes. I had an OK but enjoyable run in the Ice Breaker 5 mile up in Great Falls.
The following week, I set a 3 minute PR in the Riverbank Trifecta and won the 50 to 65 age group.
A week later I did another 10K race. I had to back it off a bit in that race as all the racing and fast running this spring had started to take a toll on my hamstring.
A Hump in the Middle
I’ve thought about why I could only run pain free in the GoRun as opposed to any other shoe. The GoRun’s sole is the thickest right under the arch as compared to the heel or the ball of the foot. They feel a bit weird to just stand in them or walk around in them. When standing or walking in them, they feel like there is a hump under the middle of the foot.
The Hump Causes your Foot to Spread Out
I suspect the hump forces your foot to spread out upon impact. A shoe that is level or has a higher heel tends to cause your foot to compress upon impact. I’m not sure what the Chiropractor did to my foot, but I suspect some cartilage in my ankle joint was torn or roughened up and the joint destabilized. When compressed, the joint is painful. If I keep the joints spread out, the bones in my foot don’t jam into each other as much so aren’t as painful. That’s just a theory. I’m not totally sure what is going on with my foot.
They Force You to Run in Barefoot Style
The biggest advantage of the GoRun is that it allows you to experience what it feels like to run in the barefoot, POSE or Chi Running Style. The GoRun forces you to run in a midfoot strike style. It is nearly impossible to heel strike in the GoRun. Their lightness and flexibility makes it feel like you barely have shoes on at all. It makes running fun again. You do not need socks either as the interior of the GoRun is very smooth, comfy and seam free.
A Good Training Shoe for Children?
If I was still helping out coaching children’s cross country I would request parents to get their children a pair of GoRuns for their training shoes.
In my observation working with children running cross country, the most common injury that the children experienced and complained about was shin splints. I’m not sure what shin splints really are, but I’m convinced that heel pounding, foot slapping running in traditional high heel stiff running shoes puts huge eccentric loads on the front of the lower leg (shin). This leads to pain and soreness in the shin area that is commonly described as shin splints.
I’d be willing to bet that putting those children in shoes like the GoRun would all but eliminate the occurrence of shin splints. The GoRun prevents you from running with a heel pounding foot slapping stride. It gently coaxes you into a less impactful running style.
Not a Trail Shoe
The GoRun is a road or track shoe. It just does not have the protection needed for trail running on anything more rugged than a soft dirt trail. For fun and curiosity, I’ve used them on the trails out at the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park and also on the M trail. They are fun, but you have to be extremely light footed when the going gets rocky. You feel every little rock through the soft thin sole. I could not run fast on these rocky trails without risking bruising the bottoms of my fee. Consequently, I don’t recommend them for trail running where the surface is rocky.
If you want a Skechers trail shoe, you are going to have to wait. Supposedly there is a GoTrail in the plans. If it is as good for the trails as the GoRun is for the roads, then the GoTrail may be worth waiting for.
Rumor is they will be available summer of 2012. I’ll be watching for them. Or if you are someone special (I’m not) perhaps you already have a pair.
So what place does the GoRun have in your arsenal of shoes?
As a light (7.1 oz for my men’s size 9.5) road racing shoe or a training shoe for the track, the GoRun works well. It has the added advantage of forcing you to run utilizing a midfoot strike as opposed a heel strike. It is not suitable for rugged trail running, but if you ever find yourself running or racing on the road or track, these shoes are a fun flexible tool.
Thanks to Ray and Nicole Hunt for the Pictures!
Latest Update – Autumn 2012, Half Marathons and Blisters
In November, I did a Veterans Day Half Marathon. At 13 miles, it was my longest run ever in a pair of GOruns. The course was entirely on paved roads, but I forgot how rough some of the paved roads are in Tucson.
For some reason, the road pavers in Tucson like to use a very coarse aggregate. During the race, I was wishing for just a bit more cushioning to protect me from the Tucson rumble pavement.
At about the 8 mile point into the race, I started to notice a hot spot developing on the inside of my big toe were it rubbed against my second toe.
By the end of the race, the hot spot metamorphosed into a blister. Putting a little lube between my toes probably could have prevented the blister.
A few weeks later, I did another half marathon in the same pair of GOrun shoes. This time I treated my toes to some lanolin lubricant pre-race. That did the trick – no blisters this time. Yea!
Based on the race organizer’s course description, I thought the race was on paved roads and mainly on a paved bike path, perfect for the GOruns. To my surprise, the course went through some rough gravely construction zones and the paved bike path turned out to be gravel.
Yikes, the GOruns would normally not have been my first choice for a course like this, but my feet survived. Based on the mile splits through mile 11, it looked like I was on schedule to break an hour and a half. Unfortunately, the 12th and 13th mile markers were way stretched out. And either the first 11 miles were all short or the last 2 were long. It was heart breaking to have my initial hopes of a fast time be dashed by erroneous mile markers. I’ve seen better organized events.
All in all, I was pleased with my GOruns. A half marathon would be my upper end distance wise for the GOruns. After a year of using GOruns, I’m on to my third pair of GOruns. My latest pair is a bit different then the original version. They are actually labeled GOrun m. The little m is new. A Sketcher’s employee told me the m stands for midfoot strike. The new ones are a bit narrower and have some rougher seams inside. There is actually a label on the inside of the tongue that irritates your foot if you aren’t wearing socks. It does not take much to remove the label and get back to a smoother surface.
Skechers original GOrun was a risky and radical departure from running shoe tradition. Skechers deserves to be commended for taking the corporate chance with it. GOruns are still my favorite shoe for running on smooth surfaces.
The GOrun 2, is now available. As of the end of 2012, I have not tried the 2’s yet. It would be great to hear from those that have tried them. No shoe is perfect. And manufactures have a propensity to change things for the sake of change. Sometimes new models are better, sometimes not.
It is unclear if Skechers will continue to offer the original GOrun or if the GOrun 2 replaces it. According to Skechers in a recent interview, the GOrun 2 has less of a hump, is narrower, and has a removable insole. These are changes to make it appeal to more people. “Mass appeal does not necessarily a good running shoe make.” We will see. You can now purchase the original GOrun for under $40.00 at some retailers.
Skecher’s trail version of the GOrun the GOtrail is now available. Amazon had them for under $70.00 so I’ve ordered a pair, but have not got them yet. As soon as I get them and log some miles on them, I will write up a review.