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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Skechers GOrun Strada: Initial Review

I've been keeping an eye out for the Skechers GOrun Strada for quite a while now and I was pretty excited to finally get my hands on them last week. The Strada was designed as a training shoe for both Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher and according to what I've read, both of whom prefer some extra structure in a training shoe used for longer distances.

The Strada is the closest thing to a 'traditional trainer' that has come out of the Skechers Performance stable of shoes. The Skechers GOrun Strada is more of a performance neutral shoe, firm and with a more structured upper and decent amount of cushioning under your feet. The closest shoe from the Skechers Performance range that is anywhere near the Strada's specifications would be the GOrun Ride series.

Taking it out of the box, the Strada looks bulky visually and weighs in at 10 oz. for the men's size 9. For a shoe as bulky as it looks, it really doesn't seem all that heavy and falls into the weight range of traditional trainers. I had no issues with the weight of the shoe. The Strada is an 8mm drop shoe with a 25mm heel and 17mm forefoot stack height.

The Skechers GOrun Strada is a lot 'more' shoe than I would have liked. As opposed to the other Skechers Performance series shoes, the Strada has a much more substantial upper. A combination of performance fit mesh and vinyl overlays makes up the upper of the shoe. Structure in the midfoot comprises of stitched overlays that does a good job of locking your feet in place.

The heel consists of a semi firm heel counter that is lined by a rubber like overlay with 'groove' like motifs. The ankle collar is amply padded and adequately keeps your heel from slipping out. A padded tongue finishes up the upper along with ribbon like laces similar to the GR4 and GRR4.

The fit was true to size and even with my thick socks during size fitting, I didn't need to up size. I'm betting it'll be the same with most people. The Strada has a nice and roomy toebox and I could easily wiggle my toes up front. They also felt secure and snug around the midfoot owing to the more structured upper.

The durability of the Skechers Performance outsoles are something I've always had issues with. Most, if not all of my Skechers series shoe seem to wear our pretty fast especially on the lateral side of the heel. This could be due to the way I run but a few friends I know also have the same issue with their Skechers shoes.

The rubber like heel overlay.

Now the outsole of the Skechers GOrun Strada is something that is entirely different as apposed to the rest of the Skechers Performance series. The outsole is made of two pieces of foam that differ in durometer. The white section of the outsole is the proprietary Resalyte® foam while the black section of the outsole that extends from the outer heel, through the midfoot and right up the big toe is the firmer Resagrip® proprietary foam. While it's much firmer than the white outsole, it's still not up to mark. After my first run in them, I still found scuff marks around the lateral heel sections.

One thing that I was disappointed in was that the insole was glued on and can't be removed. I tend to remove all my Skechers insoles when I run. That's just the way I am. No biggie but it would have been better if it could be removed. Breathability wise, for all the added overlays, I didn't feel any hotspots in them. They were surprisingly quite airy. I've also tested them out in wet and rainy conditions in a recent 10k race I took part in and they did a decent job of keeping my socks dry. The grip on the wet roads were pretty good too.

The wife happily running around in my Strada.

The Skechers GOrun 4 is my all time favourite shoe but the Strada is fast becoming my go to shoe for training. I'm simply loving the shoe. It's firm but provides just the right amount of cushioning you need for those longer training runs. One thing I missed though is the road feel, something you won't get with the Strada.

I've taken them out for close to 50k or so and have put them through different run paces; slow, fast and sprints and it's been able to take it all in stride with no issues. I've even taken it out for a race and it came through just fine. I'll still be putting them through the wringer but I'm convinced the Strada works as a traditional trainer and will be following me to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon next month as my shakedown shoe.

Even the wife who at first thought the shoe was a little clumsy looking has taken a liking to it. She has funny feet and most shoes don't work all that well for her save for the Skechers GOrun 3. She's bought a couple of pairs just to keep stock since they work for her but after putting on my Strada and taking them for a spin, she's simply loving the shoe and speaks volumes about it. According to her, the bunion and blistering issues that she gets with other shoes are not apparent on the Strada. At least now she has another option for a shoe that works for her but for now, we'll both be fighting to see who gets to train with it ... LOL!

The scuffing on the lateral heel of the shoe after just one run in them.

If you're looking for a more traditional training shoe with a structured upper and a nice firm ride with a decent amount of cushioning, then give the Strada a look-see. The Skechers GOrun Strada is currently available in all Skechers Performance outlets locally The men's is priced at RM419.00 and the women's at RM399.00.

The pair of Skechers GOrun Strada above was kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia for wear testing. This review is of my own personal experience with the shoe and is in no way influenced by Skechers Malaysia whatsoever.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Reach Out Run 2015: Race Review

The Reach Out Run was an unplanned race but after being offered the opportunity to trial the new Sony Smart B-Trainer all-in-one headset and with a complimentary entry to run the race, how could I refuse. So there I was bright and early along with the usual suspects from the GC training group who were part of the group of the Sony Smart B-Trainer testers as well, on a cool and breezy Sunday morning.

Sick or not, she's ever loyal to pose with my medal :D

Initial made plans for a pre-run (we're all mileage hungry freaks) was called off since we had to be there for a photo taking session with the Sony team. The weather was cool and breezy and the skies showed signs of rain, something I was praying for cos we all know how hot Putrajaya could get on a normal day and with the race flagging off at 7.30am, we'd have hit right smack into the heat.

Team GC MY.
Pic courtesy of Jamie

So when it started to drizzle prior to race start I was pretty happy about it. It also gave me a good chance to test the B-Trainer in wet and rainy conditions cos the water-proofing is good enough to swim in, so the rain should be a cinch for it. On another note, the wet conditions also gave me a chance to test the new Skechers GOrun Strada I had on.

Team Fun Run MY :P
Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

Having only received the unit two days ago, I hadn't unlocked a few features in the device yet, so it was on free training mode and I uploaded a bunch of songs into it prior to race day. It should keep me going for now. The GPS acquisition was extremely fast and I was connected in no time as I stood there in the rain waiting for race start.

How could we resist :D
Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

I had already planned to treat this race as a purely 'fun run' kinda race, something which I've never done before. Races are normally serious business for me and I don't fool around much but there's always a first for everything right? My left inner calf has been plagued with pain for a week now and I wasn't intending to put too much pressure on it, with GCAM being only 3 weeks away.

Ah Onz,the cameraman for the day.
Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

The start was the usual affair of having to evade the usual enthusiastic run/walkers but with the easy pace run planned, this didn't pose too much of a problem. I started the race with Choon Yuen, Piew, Yan Leng, Jeanie and Yeehoo and we were all set on finishing together as well. Choon Yuen was our camera man for the day and photo ops were aplenty. I didn't hesitate to stop and get my ugly mug taken at every opportunity I could ... hahaha!

This shot was ripe for the picking!
Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

Somewhere along the route we lost Jeanie and Yeehoo but the four of us, Choon Yuen, Yan Leng, Piew and me kept together trotting at an easy pace. The voice notification of the B-Trainer prompted me on the pace, time, distance, calories burnt and time at set intervals and I realized that we were going slightly too fast and we pegged the pace down again. 

Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

Nothing of note happened throughout and we just enjoyed the run in one of the loveliest running weather I've ever experienced in Putrajaya. About 2k from the finish, I prompted the rest that we should pick up some pace and dash to the finish and everyone gamely stepped up. Piew and me may have been a little too enthusiastic with the stepping up of pace and realized we were hitting too high a pace and slowed down 200 metres or so before the finish to wait for Choon Yuen and Yan Leng as we wanted to finish together.

Damn those two mountain runners, can still smile!
Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

Our plans of running 'hugging' shoulder to shoulder was scuttled when we approached the finish and the volunteers broke us up and diverted Yan Leng to the right hand women's category finish line. Damn them for spoiling our finishing plans! LOL! Overall, it was a decently organized race. I've nothing to complain. I had fun without any pressure thrown in and I guess it's good to run races like these once in awhile.

A job well done.
Pic courtesy of Choon Yuen

A big thanks to Sony Malaysia for the complimentary race entry. I'll be putting the Sony Smart B-Trainer through a more rugged test over the next few weeks but for now, though I'm having a little issue with the Heart Rate sensors reading; it's looking more and more like a winner. A more thorough and detailed review will be posted in the coming weeks. 

Pic courtesy of Sony Malaysia