Skechers. Seriously.

IMG_5934by John Schrup

I began working for the Skechers Performance Division (SPD) in July of last year.  Well before I took the job, I’d become familiar with a few of their models and had written about how impressed I was.  BMort1 had hooked me up with a pair or two and then Kurt2 had sent over a couple of others.  The GO Run series had become part of my regular rotation, along with the Kinvara, Adios, Tarther (RIP), 1400 and beloved Launch.

At first, I was hesitant to trumpet the merits of Skechers product because I was a shoe snob–the wrong kind, really, leaning more toward brand snob than anything.  But I was digging the shoes so much that eventually I couldn’t hide that I was wearing them on more runs than not  (I still have the almost unused Kinvara, Adios, 1400 and Launch to prove it. They’re in the closet, and we still chat, though mostly now it’s like when you run into an old girlfriend and you’re married with kids and you’re like, soooooooo, how’s it going?)

And then last summer I got a message from my man Seth, who was working on the SPD marketing team at the time, that I should send my resume tout de suite.  Some things happened after that, obviously, and I ended up at the Intergalactic Sales Conference in Manhattan Beach.  If you’ve never been to Manhattan Beach, CA, it’s the kind of place where everyone smells real, real tan and you get sand in your parts, whether you want it there or not.  Also, if it gets below 60 degrees, they call FEMA to bring in some long sleeve shirts, because you never really know.

Several people asked me, upon my return from MB, seriously, dude?  Skechers?  Just like I’d been asked when I was reviewing the shoes.  Yes, Skechers.  Specifically, Skechers Performance Division.

There are some challenges I really, really enjoy.  If there is an underdog quality to the challenge, I’m all over it.  And Skechers Performance is an underdog in the specialty running market, so the excitement was immediate and visceral.  The challenges are real—most of you probably didn’t even know that Skechers makes performance running shoes, and even more of you probably only knew of the Shape Ups and all that. And running specialty is well aware of it, so there’s the challenge.  How to introduce to the public a really, really, really good product from a brand that has previously not been associated with performance product?

ATHLETICS-US-MARATHON-BOSTONThe idea is to change the perception of the brand.  Most people probably don’t care that the product team is as good as it gets and is making product that is as good or better than anything I’ve seen in 30-something years of running.3 Most people probably won’t even raise an eyebrow that Meb wore them when he won Boston, because truth be told, most people don’t follow the sport in that way.  All it really takes is to get the shoes on some feet.  It’s that simple; and it’s not.  Obviously you can’t just go around giving away all your shoes, can you?  No, but all it takes is a few who are willing to try.  Word of mouth, and all that.

We know that if you’re looking for a shoe to try, there are really two fundamental variables to consider:  fit and feel.  The shoes have to fit your feet well enough that they function the way they’re supposed to.  Both the shoes and your feet, that is.  And they should feel as if you’re really not wearing anything at all.  They should disappear on your feet.  Neutral, maximal, stability, whatever.  The shoes should allow your foot to move unrestricted.  And that’s the idea behind SPD product:  To make the smoothest transitioning footwear possible.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt when you get to rub shoulders with Kara and Meb.

Skechers is now carried at Rogue Running. Stop in, try ’em on and see for yourself!

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1 Dude is fast, but he puts his pants on one at a time, just like you and me.

2Stockbridge.  VP, Technical Development, Performance Division.  Good people.

3Note to self:  Edit, using actual math.

Off and On Again

by Chris Mclung

There are two ways that I know a shoe is good.

One of those I documented in this previous review of the Adios Boost. To save you from having to re-read that one, I will summarize: basically, my dog helps me.

The second is based on what comes to mind when someone asks me after a run: “So, how was the shoe?” If in that moment, my mind goes blank, then I know we’re on the cusp of shoe nirvana.

Enter: the Cloudracer from On Running.

On is a relatively new and unknown brand in the US, although it’s been going nuts in Europe for at least 2 years. It all started when Olivier Bernhard, a three-time World Duathlon and multiple Ironman Champion, retired from professional competition. As someone who struggled chronically with Achilles issues, he teamed up with a Swiss engineer to make a shoe that would give him enough relief to continue running for fun as a retired pro.

They expeon-cloudracer-running-shoe-review-4rimented with all sorts of designs, but the most effective was a make-shift shoe where the traditional foam was augmented on the bottom by cut up loops of old garden hose. These garden hose loops would eventually transform into On’s Cloudtec technology, the little rubber circles that appear on bottom of their shoes.

The company claims that these little clouds provide the magical combination of a more responsive ride with better horizontal and vertical force dissipation (i.e. cushioning) than conventional shoes. The video at the bottom of this page shows the comparison in action: [Note: That video is pretty compelling until you realize that the comp shoe is a Nike Structure Triax without the swoosh on it, a shoe bound to make anyone land with a thud.]

My first reaction when I saw them? Gimmick. Let’s be honest, that’s what you are thinking too. Much like with the lugs on a Newton shoe, the first thing you think of when you see something silly protruding from a running shoe is “that’s a gimmick, where’s my tried-and-true Brooks or Saucony or Mizuno?”

HOW WAS IT?!?

HOW WAS IT?!?

But I will try anything once, so I took a pair of On’s for a spin about 18 months ago. I was seeded a pair of the original Cloudracer, their lightweight trainer (in the orange and silver color you may have seen). We will call it Cloudracer 1.0 for the purpose of this blog. Upon returning from the first run, Subtle Chuck screamed, “How was it?” My honest answer at the time: “Awful.” I felt the little clouds protruding into my feet with every step. It wasn’t painful by any stretch, but it was annoying, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the shoes.

At that point, the decision was easy. We wouldn’t be carrying On shoes anytime soon. Fast forward 15 months, and I was given another pair of Cloudracers to try, this time in green and silver. I was promised by the On rep that I would love this updated version (we’ll call it Cloudracer 1.5). I accepted the shoes politely because I don’t usually turn down free shoes, but I quietly thought that it would be a cold day in hell before they made their way onto my feet on a regular basis.

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 12.48.50 PMOther than the color change, the shoes looked exactly the same as version 1.0. I had plenty reason to be skeptical, until I accidentally ran in them one day. They were the only pair of shoes I could find one morning (thank you, Jasmine) while getting ready to coach, and therefore, the only shoes I had when I went for my usual post-coaching easy run on Wednesday.

After that run, I didn’t think about them again, until Subtle Chuck asked me in his soft, muted voice: “Have you run in those new On shoes yet? What did you think?” The mind went blank. Let me think. Had I run in them yet? Yes, I did accidentally that one day after coaching. How did they feel? Wait, I don’t remember. I don’t remember thinking about the shoe at all that day. That can’t be right.

So, I started to play it back in my mind. I remember the run being slow (as usual on my easy days) but also smooth and free. The clouds didn’t bother my feet. I thought about a lot of things that morning, as I would during any solo run, but not the shoes, not once. The shoe disappeared on the run that day, like it should. That’s shoe nirvana.

The difference from version 1.0 to version 1.5 is the all new “speedboard”, a rigid, plastic piece (similar to the Adidas torsion system) that is integrated into the midsole foam to make the ride more responsive and give the On shoe a more uniform feel. What a difference it makes. With that change, the clouds could do their magical thing and your feet don’t know the difference.

The On Cloudracer now has a home on our wall

The On Cloudracer now has a home on our wall

Now, the Cloudracer has a permanent place in my rotation as my Wednesday/Friday shoe (for easy days). It’s light (at 8.5 ounces for men and 7.5 ounces for women) and responsive (thanks to the speedboard) like any racer should be, but has enough cushioning to be used as training shoe for most. The offset is just 5mm (heel to toe), so there’s no extra bulk in the heel to get in the way of smooth, efficient running. In addition, the upper is probably the most breathable on our wall, perfect for hot, humid summer runs.

So, I was wrong. On is definitively not a gimmick. The shoes are the kind that make your mind go blank when you run… that free your mind to think about solving all of the world’s problems instead, taking you one stage of enlightenment closer to shoe nirvana.

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Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 2.46.38 PMChris McClung heads up all things retail at Rogue Running, and currently coaches The Morning Show, a group for half marathoners and marathoners alike.

 

Why is Rogue Moving?

by Steve Sisson

“Nothing endures but change. “ – Heraclitus
Not to get all philosophical on y’all, but as Rogue has been planning, preparing and now, finally, executing our move from our current Eastside location to a new West Austin address, I have continuously had to remind myself that as that rogue Greek philosopher stated in the 5th century BC, change is a fact of life. However, I also have been reflecting on the fact that change is significantly tougher if you don’t have any idea why it is occurring. My goal is to share with you the reasons for this change in hopes that it will make the transition easier.  We hope that you’ll be as excited as we are about this move, but understand that there is also some trepidation and sadness, which we absolutely share. So I am writing to you, as a founder and owner of Rogue, to walk you through the thought process that led to our decision to move from east 5th to west 5th.

FRUSTRATIONS & CHALLENGES
constructionAs all of you know, the two-block area that Rogue has occupied since 2008 at the corner of 5th and San Marcos has recently been undergoing a huge construction project. In and of itself, this has just been a minor inconvenience. The trash, dust, disrupted parking, huge trucks and constant noise are not that big of a deal.  It is temporary and while we’ve all been irritated at times, we’ve overcome. The new condos will brighten up the neighborhood, bring a different clientele and create more energy for the block. Spin it in a positive light, right?

The real problem is that this is just the first of two condo projects that are going up on this corner. The other will take over the dirt lot that we currently use for parking. The railroad tracks will be pushed over toward 4th Street and the entire lot will become another multi-year condo project. We already feel the logistical and financial strain of accommodating the current project, and stretching that over another 2-3 years is more than we felt we could handle.

More importantly, there will be no designated parking for our training groups. We were informed that in the finished plan for both spaces, we would be provided limited parking for our retail store but no additional consideration for the large groups that train from this location.  One of the key reasons we moved to the Eastside in the first place was to be central to the Butler Trail system and yet still in central, downtown Austin. Finding suitable parking for the groups that we have was foundational to our move.  With no parking and another few years of construction ahead, the appeal of remaining at this corner was gone.

On top of those frustrations, we’ve had the challenge of outgrowing the space we have in the training room. There is little stretching room either inside or out, the foot drill lane is like MoPac at rush hour and there is nowhere for all that hot, sweaty post-run air to go in the cramped room.  Additionally, as I know many of you will agree, our bathroom and shower situation has gotten pretty distressing.

1604889_10152061460278666_311103843_nAN EXCITING PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITY

We’ve known about these issues for a few years and have been working diligently on locating another space. We’ve looked all over central Austin: east and west, north and south. We needed something close to the trail, with enough interior space, enough parking for the retail store during normal business hours and additional free, safe street parking for our training groups. Additionally, we needed to be able to afford it. As you can imagine, this presented a significant challenge. After well over a year of searching, we found a space that would work: an 11,000 square foot former car repair warehouse.  We couldn’t afford this much space all by ourselves, so we partnered with Pure Austin Gym, a similarly well-respected local business, to split the space and create further evolution of our “athlete’s village” vision.

A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Another significant reason for our decision to move is that we want to have a headquarters for Rogue, a statement space that matches our style, sensibilities and vision. We want to showcase the Austin running lifestyle in a space that matches our commitment to cutting edge equipment, limits-shattering training and growing a happy, healthy and strong community. We wanted a space that we can all be proud to call home.

Ruth England, another founder and owner of Rogue, has challenged our coaching and retail staff to adopt her vision of  “world domination.” When she shared that with us at a staff retreat, it shocked many of our employees. At first they thought she meant that her goal was to have Rogue training and retail centers across the globe in pursuit of the American financial dream. But she surprised them all with a much different interpretation, one that hits much closer to home. She explained that, to her, “world domination” means sharing running as a means to happiness, health and community. If Rogue can impact the lives of runners in Austin in these three areas, then that change will catch fire and change the world. Her goal for Rogue is to change the world, one mile at a time…world domination, indeed.

971047_10151702747098666_711282543_nCOME RUN WITH US

We hope that you, the Rogue Running community, will be excited for the move, even as you prepare for the challenges that settling into the new space will require. We ask for your patience early on to allow us to work through the issues that will inevitably present themselves. We believe that the new location addresses many of the challenges that we have had in our previous space, and are confident that the initial challenges will be overcome and you’ll come to see the new Rogue HQ as your running home.

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Rogue Running’s eastside retail store will remain open until 5pm on Wednesday, February 5 and will reopen in the new location at noon on Thursday, February 6. The new address is 410 Pressler / Austin, Texas 78703.

Must-haves for the runners on your holiday list

lights Lights on the houses are not the only things illuminating the streets of Austin these days! Runners like to be seen by cars as they bob and weave through the streets in the wee hours of the morning and the dark after-work hours. Rogue Running has a number of options to keep runners visible and safe.  High on the list are Nite Beams, which range from L.E.D. Rings for $5 to Arm Bands for $20. With gifts like these, your runner is sure to be seen!

 

booksRunners are always looking for new, tasty and easy-to-make recipes that can fuel them after a hard run, and the makers of Skratch have just the thing. Biju Thomas and Allen Lim have two books out on the shelves at Rogue that will help you get the most out of your meals. The Feed Zone and Feed Zone Portables ($25 each) offer plenty of new ideas and delicious recipes and even give you a list of the 30 or so items every athlete’s kitchen should have.

 

compressionRecovery is essential for runners and what better way to stimulate blood flow and get the legs flushed after a hard run than in a nice new pair of compression socks? Rogue offers many brands to slide your feet into. One brand near and dear to the heart of trail extraordinaire and Rogue employee Erik Stanley is 2XU. 2XU Compression ($50) offers a wide variety of colors and sizes, so you’re bound to find the perfect pair to help you stand out on Town Lake.

 

rollersTight, achy muscles? When stretching isn’t enough, it’s time to roll. Come check out all of our roller options to help massage and relieve those knots! A new favorite, The Worm ($34), uses your own body weight to massage out any problem areas you might have. They even offer a convenient portable option that can be used all over the body and fits easily into most bags.

 

 

watchesRunners live by the clock, be it their pace, distance or both, so having a reliable watch at all times is a must! Rogue has a vast selection, including everyone’s favorite brand, Garmin. Garmin offers a wide variety of options to fit any runner’s needs and price range ($130 – 400). We have the Garmin 110, 210 and the new 620 currently on our shelves and ready to go under the Christmas tree!

 

Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 12.31.57 PMStill not sure what your runner needs? Gift cards to Rogue Running are the perfect solution, and can be purchased online!

 

 

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Rogue Running has two Central Texas locations with running experts ready to help you knock out your holiday shopping (and maybe find a thing or two for yourself):

Austin: 500 San Marcos St. 78702 / 512.493.0920

Cedar Park: 2800 E. Whitestone Blvd. 78613 / 512.777.4467

Do you Karhu? (Part III…the final part)

by Chris MacLeod

Steady3

Note: This shoe is currently only available at Rogue’s downtown location.

After my mini love affair with the supportive Fast, I was downright excited to give the Steady a go. As a shoe that’s advertised as a supportive, stable shoe, I was a bit surprised Karhu got this one through the Rogue front doors.

The answer to that…well, like a Facebook relationship, it’s complicated.  The Steady was quite simply nothing like I expected it to be.

First off, though I didn’t feel any of the Karhus could be said to run “true to size”, the Steady was by far the most egregious offender. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when I pulled on my usual size 9:

SteadyLength

And then I followed my coworkers around demanding, “Look! Look at my foot! Hehehe!”

Unfortunately, the general feeling of “too-bigness” wasn’t mitigated by dropping down a size. Not only did I face my all-too-common battle with a bunchy upper, but my foot actually slid around when I started running in this shoe.

I’ve never had a narrow enough foot to merit ordering narrow shoes (and Karhu doesn’t make them anyway), but I’m afraid this shoe was just too big for me to give a fair shake.

For the sake of completeness, I did still jog around a bit so I could report the other features:

This shoe is quite stiff, giving it a nice amount of reactivity with the ground.

SteadyBend

It’s possible I’m a tad obsessed with taking this particular type of shoe shot.

Also, at 8.9(?) ounces, the Steady is noticeably lighter than other shoes in the stability category. Granted, you pay for this in less cushioning and less-noticeable support than a typical stability offering.

One other thing you sacrifice for less weight is the “new and shiny” feel of the upper. After just 20 minutes, the shoe looked like this:

SteadyFabricNobody tell Chuck, okay?

I’m pretty sure the creased decoration is purely that – decoration – and doesn’t represent an actual structural problem with the shoe. But, if you’re the type to try to keep your shoes pristine, consider this a heads up.

Steady3 Verdict

Pros: Very light for a stable shoe.

Cons: Sizing was pretty far off. Upper may be a tad too light to support its own decoration.

Overall verdict: I really don’t think the Steady fit me well enough to give it a fair shake. It’s not the shoe for me, but not because it’s lacking in technology or features. Not the most helpful shoe review, but for me, the shoe just don’t fit!

Karhu Steady3 Specs*
Weight 8-10 oz.
Heel/Toe Drop 12.6 mm (or 8 mm – we found conflicting reports)
Design Features

 

Construction:

  • New “EV-icient” EVA foam midsole
  • Assymetrical Karhu Fulcrum technology to help control overpronation
  • High-abrasion rubber on outsole
  • Reflective piping on upper
Available Sizes M: 8-13

W: 6-11

Available Widths Standard
MSRP $125
* – We were unable to find Women’s specs for this shoe.

Missed Chris’ earlier reviews? Check out the Flow3 here and the Fluid3 and Fast4 here.

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About Rogue

Stop by to check out the Steady3 and talk with the experts at Rogue Running – two Austin-area locations!

Do you Karhu? (Part II)

by Chris MacLeod

What was the first thought when I slipped on the Fluid3?

“Holy crap, this shoe is long!”

FluidLength

I dropped down a size and the shoe STILL fit like this.

Perhaps I should remember this the next time a customer is upset about how “big” their shoe is. Buying a Karhu is like shopping at Chico’s; everyone’s a size 2! (Gentlemen, don’t worry about understanding that last sentence.)

The next thing I noticed about the Fluid was how light it felt on my foot! This was quite odd, given that the Fluid is technically about half an ounce heavier than the Flow, but let’s just accept that if you want someone to estimate weight by hefting an object, I might not be your go-to person.

I think the reason this shoe felt “lighter” to me was its stiffer last, which gave the shoe a more responsive, “springy” feel than the Flow.

FluidBend

Not so flexy now, are we? (Ouch, I think I pulled something in my hand…)

The Fluid is still a tad heavier than I would choose for a 5K, but I could see using it for quality work. Full disclosure: My Flow fan friend (say that 3 times fast) calls it a “long run shoe”, so I perhaps I’ve just gone completely off the range on this one?

Drop-wise, the Fluid feels low, but not zeroed out, which I personally prefer. (The prodigal daughter writes shoe reviews, hehehehe!)

I might have to bite the bullet and admit I’m a cushion fan, because I also liked that I couldn’t feel the fulcrum as much in the Fluid, as compared to the Flow.

I’m starting to sound redundant with all the things I “liked”, so I’ll just say it flat out: I really LIKE the Fluid! I would never have pulled it off the wall for myself were I not expressly intending to review it, but I’ll take it as a life lesson that I shouldn’t be afraid to try new things.

The only real down side of the Fluid for me was that in addition to fitting long, it was also a bit wide on my narrow feet. Even cinching down the laces, I could just generally feel my foot moving around in this shoe.

FluidWidthWhy do shoes always look like this on my foot?

Of the four Karhus, the Fluid3 and the Steady3 (review to come) fall noticeably in the “too big” camp. They also came out at the same time, leading me to wonder if there was a machine calibration change somewhere on the assembly line.

Fluid3 Verdict

Pros: Light, responsive ride with enough cushion to stay comfy over longer runs.

Cons: This shoe is huge! Who do you think I am? Bigfoot?

Overall Verdict: For most runners, the Fluid3 would likely make a solid everyday trainer or a good transition down from more structured shoes. It’s not a racer, but it’s no pillow either.

Karhu Fluid3 Specs
Weight 8.9 oz
Heel/Toe Drop 8
Design Features Construction:

  • New “EV-icient” EVA foam midsole
  • Karhu Fulcrum technology (higher durometer EVA)
  • High-abrasion rubber on outsole
  • Open mesh upper
Available Sizes M: 8-13W: 6-11
Available Widths Standard
MSRP $125
*-We were unable to find certain specs for this shoe

Fast4

Remember that history lesson at the beginning of all this? As you can tell, Karhu is a brand that fills me with nostalgia. The Fast4, in particular, takes me right back to 1989.

Which is not a knock on the shoe in any way! I’m going to go ahead and ruin the ending right here: I LOVE this shoe. I’m just not 100% sure my reasons are entirely objective.

Technologically speaking, the Fast has the same basic features as the Flow and the Fluid. The fulcrum, the cloth upper, the crazy colors…all present.

But, as the “most supportive” of Karhu’s neutral shoes, these modern features are accompanied by a distinctly old-fashioned amount of cushion and structure.

FastMedial

Also, they’re purple, and I totally had a pair of purple gym shoes when I was six!

As you can see from the picture, the Fast also has a more “old-fashioned” amount of heel lift, with a full 14 mm of drop from heel to toe. With the recent takeover of low- and no-drop shoes, this is a legitimate rarity in running specialty.

The other feature of the Fast that can be tough to find these days – Adidas Boost’ shoes aside – is cushion. This shoe is soft all over (except for a surprisingly noticeable – and reassuring, if you tend toward overpronation – amount of arch support).

The toe is downright squishy, but not so built up that you feel like you’ll trip over it, and the heel feels like it includes a pre-installed heel cup. Which, granted, was disconcerting at first, but I stopped noticing the slight “bump” after about 3 minutes in the shoe. I suspect it would settle with wear.

Of course, all this cushion and support do mean that the Fast isn’t exactly a lightweight model. At 11 oz., it rivals bigger support shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline in weight, which explains my gut feel that for me this would be a long run shoe. As much as I love this shoe, it just can’t match the Fluid or the Flow in terms of the responsiveness I would want for track work.

That said, if you told me to pick a shoe to go run 20 miles in, the Fast would be a contender. (It also passed the “stand around” test with flying colors…I could work in this shoe all day.)

FastBend

Can’t you just see the cushiony comfort?

Fast4 Verdict

Pros: Pure cushioned comfort! Also, support. And purple!

Cons: A bit heavy with a large heel-toe drop that might feel a bit 1989 to you, too.

Overall Verdict: The Fast4 is a solid, grind out the miles shoe for those looking for a comfy ride. It does not feel “lightweight”, but if you yearn for the old days of solid stability, the Fast may be for you. Though advertised as a neutral shoe, I felt the Fast had adequate support for a severe over-pronator like myself.

Its sheer comfort could also make it a great option for those prone to impact soreness.

MensFastWallProof that the men’s version is not purple.

Stay tuned – the Steady3 is up next!

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About RogueStop by to check out the Fluid3 and Fast4 and talk with the experts at Rogue Running – two Austin-area locations!

Do You Karhu? (Part I)

By Chris MacLeod, Rogue Running Cedar Park

Here at Rogue, we have one surefire method for determining how much of a shoe geek someone is. It involves observing their reaction to this shoe:

FlowWall

Average runner: “Oh, that’s a different-looking shoe.”

Total shoe geek: “Oh wow, you guys carry Karhu???”

Karhu History

Karhu, Finnish for “bear”, is a Helsinki-based company that dates back to 1916. (Technically, the company name is “Karhu Sports”, not to be confused with Karhu beer, reportedly Finland’s most popular lager.)

Long before the rise of runners from East Africa and the Caribbean, the world of track and field was dominated by the “Flying Finns”. Karhus graced the feet of such famous runners as Paavo Numi and the Finnish team that accepted Steve Prefontaine’s invitation to race at Hayward Field in 1975.

Yes yes, this is supposed to be a shoe review, not a shoe history report. Just ONE more fun fact: It was actually Karhu that created the famous 3-stripe logo that now graces Adidas products. Karhu sold the mark to the then-small German company in 1951 for the equivalent of 1,600 Euros and two bottles of whiskey (the latter being equivalent to…two bottles of whiskey.)

Technology Overview

Here at Rogue, we carry four of Karhu’s road shoe offerings:

KarhuCollage

Clockwise from top-left: Flow3, Fluid3, Fast3, Steady4

These shoes run the range from very light neutral trainer to decently-cushioned stability shoe, but all four are built around Karhu’s patented “fulcrum technology”.

Don’t you wish you’d thought to patent the fulcrum?? Genius!

In running shoe terms, this means that the midsole includes a triangular-shaped wedge of higher durometer (stiffer) foam that creates a pivot point for your foot as it rolls over the ground. Karhus basically have a pivot where traditional shoes might have some form of medial posting. Needless to say, this is one shoe I would like to cut in pieces to see all the layers! (If only performing surgery on quality running shoes didn’t make me tear up.)

According to Karhu, the fulcrum design not only fights over-pronation, it also reduces vertical oscillation. In short, the shoe makes your foot roll so efficiently over the ground that you bounce up and down less, thus conserving energy.

KarhuOsc

Image from karhu.com/technology. The green line is Karhu; the red is everybody else.

According to Karhu, by reducing oscillation, you reduce other common evils like over-striding, braking with your heels, etc. The end result is a more consistent stride.

I’m not quite as clear on how the fulcrum controls over-pronation, but Karhu does have a video of a guy running pretty darn neutral. I think the basic idea is more efficient stride = less time on the heel to over-pronate, which is in line with the idea of controlling injury-causing foot movements by running on the mid- to forefoot.

If you read my previous review of the ASICS Super J33, you know I’ll be giving these shoes’ pronation control abilities quite the workout!

Flow3

The lightest of the four Karhus at Rogue is the Flow3, which Karhu promotes as durable enough for an everyday trainer yet light enough for a racing flat. Even I, one of the more “stability-friendly” Rogues you’ll meet, find the “racing flat” claim a stretch. The Flow is by far the most flexible of our Karhus, and not too cushioned, but it’s no Adios Boost.

FlowBend

Well hello, Flexy.

As the pic illustrates, there’s not a whole lot of cushion/stiffness/etc. in the front half of this shoe. This can be great if you like a lot of flexibility and ground feel, but for me it caused that pesky metatarsal joint on my left foot started whining a bit.

Note: Metatarsal pain is a problem for me in most lightweight shoes – or any that are particularly low on the cush-factor – but if you are prone to it yourself, you may want to watch out for it in the Flow.

Another element of the Flow that I decided to attribute to the lack of cushion (and this was definitely the standout factor for me) was that I could feel the fulcrum almost as much as the posting in a support shoe. Weird, right?!?

I won’t say there was a lot of pronation control per se (nor would I expect it in a lightweight trainer), but I could definitely feel something under my arch. Very odd. Perhaps this gets less noticeable as you adapt to the fulcrum?

On the run, the Flow definitely rides like a low-drop shoe. Granted, at 5mm, this is far from the lowest shoe on the floor, but I was legitimately afraid to land on my heel. I’m not sure if that was due to forward propulsion from the fulcrum or just not wanting to land on the stiff heel, but either way, for me, the Flow did encourage a forefoot strike!

One last noticeable element of the Flow was the “heel collar” on the insole, between the heel and the ankle. I noticed no such feature in the other three Karhus, which was a shame, because it fit perfectly! The little padded nobs clinched the shoe in place: I couldn’t have made the Flow slip if I tried! (And I did.)

FlowInnerHeel

Heel collar on the Flow.

Flow3 Verdict

Pros: NO heel slippage, low drop, encouraged a forefoot strike.

Cons: Felt “piece-y”. I could literally feel each separate piece of the shoe. I also expected a lighter feel given the lack of cushioning.

Overall Verdict: If anything, this would be a quality workout shoe for me. While I don’t think I’ll be adding the Flow to my regular rotation, another Rogue termed it “One of [his] favorites. The only Karhu [he] likes to run in.” Consider this a good reminder that every foot is different, so you should always take your shoe reviews with a grain of salt! (Or silica pellet.)

Karhu Flow3 Specs
Weight M: 8.6 ozW: 7.3 oz
Heel/Toe Drop M: 5.1 mm (23.3 mm/18.2 mm)W: 5 mm (18 mm/13 mm)
Design Features  Construction:

  • Compression molded EVA foam midsole
  • Karhu Fulcrum technology (higher durometer EVA)
  • High-abrasion rubber on outsole
  • Open mesh upper
Available Sizes M: 8-13W: 6-11
Available Widths Standard
MSRP $115

Stay tuned – the Fluid3 is up next!

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About RogueStop by to check out the Flow3 and talk with the experts at Rogue Running – two Austin-area locations!