REVIEW: Skechers GoRun 4

The Skechers GoRun 4 generated a lot of interest over the last few months, so I was quite excited to try it. This model took a while to hit the local stores so I ordered mine from the USA instead. I’ve had the shoe for about 3 months now so it’s finally time to crystallize my impressions.


Size US9.5
Weight 220g/226g
Stack Height: 23mm (Heel), 19mm (Forefoot)


Upper

The upper uses a sort of sublimated mesh material and lightweight overlays. When you examine the material up close, you actually find that the mesh uses is quite close-knit and you don’t actually see the ventilation pockets in the mesh that you often see with the uppers from other brands. There are very minimal overlays, and almost none covering the toebox. The result of this is an upper that is not super breathable, though I did not find the shoe to feel warmer than my other shoes, yet has a somewhat stretchy feel, that makes the toebox very comfortable by providing a snug fit without being restricting. 


The upper is somewhat low volume, though this is fairly well-compensated for by the wider outsole last. This combination is actually pretty rare among shoes in this weight class, and in my opinion, fits Asian foot shoes very well. There is minimal structure in the upper and I suspect people with lower arches will like this shoe very much. 

One of the new features of the GoRun 4 is the heel loop, which I feel is really only useful for multisport races e.g. triathlons. The loop works pretty well and in combination with the almost seam-free upper, makes the shoe a legitimate candidate for sock-free running up to half-marathon distance. The heel-cup is relatively low and soft in this model, so much so that I didn’t notice it at all while writing this. I would characterize the heel as medium volume. It is not particularly snug, but the small amount of Achilles support provided by the heel loop section is more than sufficient to eliminate any heel slippage for me.


Some people have taken to running in these shoes without the insole, in an effort to get around the relatively low volume of the shoe. I can attest that i did once run in these shoes without the insoles by accident, and did not realize why the shoes felt a little loose until the end of my run. Skechers did a really good job of making the shoe very comfortable to run in, even without the insole. As the insole is relatively thin and inflexible, it does not significantly affect the ride of the shoe either way. You can see the soft and smooth nearly seam-free fabrics inside the shoe once the insole is removed. 


Midsole

The midsole is where the GoRun 4 really hit the nail on the head. Skechers decided to firm up the midsole durometer just a touch in version 4, to further differentiate the feel from the GoRun Ride (GRR3 to 4 is completely unchanged in the midsole/outsole with only updates being done to the upper), and I think they hit the durometer sweet spot for me at this weight class.

Getting a shoe to produce the right feel is really challenging. It is not just a matter of tuning the density of EVA foam. The shape of the foam matters, and the stack height matters. E.g. if the foam is too soft, and the stack height is low, your foot ends up sinking into the shoe too much during footstrike and what you get is excessive ground feel as your foot compresses the foam all the way to the outsole rubber. I’ve had that problem with 1 or 2 shoe models recently. This is why a lot of racing models (those with low stack heights) have denser foams in the midsole.

The GoRun 4 uses a dual density construct.

The bulk of the midsole is composed of their Resalyte compound, which is a “lightweight, injection-molded compound with extreme flexibility and memory retention that provides impact protection and cushioning.” That’s the white foam you see in the midsole, and it is a soft, low durometer compound (est low 50s). Incidentally, the GoRun Ride 4 which is only 10grams heavier than the GoRun 4, is simply a thicker midsole of Resalyte without the M strike section.

Then there is the M strike section right in the midsole. It is there to “promote an efficient midfoot strike.” The durometer of this M strike pad is higher than the surrounding Resalyte compound (I estimate high 50s). I think the M strike pad promotes the midfoot-forefoot transition by virtue of its downward sloping angle towards the toes. The higher durometer also provides a stable, responsive platform on landing. Looking at the shape of the M strike pad, the resemblance for the plastic torsion plate in the midsole of the Adidas Boost shoes is uncanny, though bear in mind M strike has been around since 2011, but Boost shoes only came out in late 2012. I would have liked the M strike pad to extend some prongs into the forefoot to function more as a torsion plate, similar the non-Boost Adidas Takumi shoes, but I think that would probably add a bit of weight to the shoe. As it is, the shoe already has a fairly nice snappy feel to it that makes you want to only run at tempo pace in them. No easy runs for these puppies.


In earlier iterations of the M strike pad, there was a noticeable hump in the midsole, and some people didn’t like the feel of this. That hump has gotten gradually less pronounced with each revision and I can safely say I did not notice any hump at all in this shoe

It is difficult to put the ride of a shoe into words, but let’s just say that on footstrike, there is a noted dulling of the ground impact without any significant compression of the midsole, leading to nice smooth transition to forefoot toe-off which is sufficiently responsive.

Outsole

There is a touch of beveling at the heel to aid heel strikers in this shoe, though I suspect at that degree, it is mostly just cosmetic. The toe spring is more pronounced by comparison, and, in combination with the high flexibility of the resalyte foam, generates a very nice fast transition once the cadence goes up.


Durability is probably where this shoe suffers the most. To achieve that remarkably low weight for the amount of cushioning it provides, the designers opted to go with a lot of exposed midsole Resalyte, and just the bare minimum of blown rupper pods in strategic areas to generate grip. Theses pods are all located at the circumference of the shoe, where extra grip is deemed to be most useful. None of the outsole areas contain carbon injected rubber as far as I can tell.

Despite this, the outsole has worn relatively well, partly because most of my runs are on smooth pavement. This is how it looks after about 200km of running, mostly at uptempo paces.


I wouldn’t expect this shoe to last as long as your usual daily trainer. One big drawback of low durometer EVA foam is that they go “dead” faster than their higher density cousins. This, in combination with the relatively scarce amount of blown rubber on the outside, can make for faster wear. I estimate ~400km for most people. That’s not bad for a shoe in this price category. US MSRP for this shoe is US$100 but locally it retails for S$169. $169 would put it at a mid-priced category, (the LunarTempo for e.g. is $159 retail), but Skechers tends to have lots of discounts from time to time so just look out for one of those. Earlier in the year they had a 30% discount with POSB credit cards for e.g.

Summary

At 223g (ave; US9.5), this shoe is in a very hot weight category at the moment. Other shoes I have at this weight are: New Balance Zante (220g), Adidas Adios Boost (230g), Nike Zoom Speed Rival (215g), Asics Skysensor Japan (225g), Saucony Kinvara 5 (219g), Hoka Clifton (220g). (these are all actual weights that I weighed) There is probably sufficient cushioning for a full marathon in these shoes, though I think there are enough options out there that the GR4 will not be my first choice. It does make for a very comfortable uptempo trainer though, with the fit and comfort maybe even better than the NB Zante, and definitely better than a Kinvara5 (which is a bit plasticky) This shoe may suffer a bit with grip on slippery gravel or wet roads due to minimal blown rubber pods, but is an otherwise solid shoe that would handle uptempo work and races up to 21km quite well. 



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