Barefoot Shoes

Minimalist Shoes from Skechers? Or is the GoRun Yet Another Nike Free or Reebok RealFlex?

In what will come as no surprise to anyone (Who’s paying attention) is a new “minimalistic” shoe from Skechers — the Skechers GoRun.

That Skechers would introduce a new shoe that rides the coattails of the barefoot/natural running movement was…

In what will come as no surprise to anyone (Who’s paying attention) is a new “minimalistic” shoe from Skechers — the Skechers GoRun.

UPDATE with a quote from “Design Guy” in comments — Design Guy is apparently from Skechers, and spent 15 months designing (and testing) the GoRun. See below.

That Skechers would introduce a new shoe that rides the coattails of the barefoot/natural running movement was likely a foregone conclusion given the popularity of the Nike Free line and the recently released Reebok RealFlex, which you’ll recall “perfected” natural running.

And we all know that Skechers is ever the innovative shoe manufacturer. Just take the Skechers Shape-ups, for example. Here, Skechers basically copied imitated the oddly not-barefoot-yet-marketed-that-way, super-soled rocker shoes from MBT, marketed them to the masses*, and encouraged countless individuals to buy into the notion that footwear can magically make you fit. Mind, Skechers is being sued by one woman who claims the Shape-Ups “catastrophically” injured her.

All snarkiness aside, what is the Skechers GoRun? Is it a minimalist shoe? What’s the deal with bald guys and barefoot shoes? Speculate on the answers to these questionad and more with a bit of marketing magic after the jump!

Start by taking the four minutes to watch this video of Christian Burke, who is an ultra runner from California who recently placed 2nd in the Born to Run 100K (wearing Skechers GoRun prototype shoes):

Here’s what I consider the money quote from the video:

People are trying to figure out what’s important to minimalist runners. This thing takes a completely new approach and this is the only shoe that I know of that gives me a surface on my midfoot to run on. This shoe is so soft and it conforms to my foot so well and any turn, any change in direction, any thing, any type of terrain it really molds to my foot just the way I want it.

That’s about as close as you’re going to get to barefoot running.

We’ve talked a lot about barefoot running, and specifically what it takes to make a “barefoot running shoe” or minimalist running shoe. When you get right down to it, getting close to barefoot running while wearing shoes is as simple as getting out of the way of the naked foot: let the foot function as naturally as possible (given something unnatural is attached to it). Let it flex. Let it feel. Don’t force it to land a certain way. Etc.

Will the Skechers GoRun get out of the way of the foot and let it function naturally? I don’t know. It’s also unclear what the heel-to-toe drop on the GoRun is. I’d just about put money on the GoRun not being a zero-drop shoe.

And what is this midfoot surface that Christian Burke refers to? Based on Burke’s flexing of the GoRun sole, it certainly appears to have the “nobby” look of a Nike Free or a Reebok RealFlex — particularly at the midfoot, where we see a criss-cross pattern of extra beefy nobs. What’s the deal?

I don’t have many answers to these questions. What I do know is that in addition to Christian Burke’s endoresment (Burke set the Guinness World Record for his sand run at Hermosa Beach) Skechers has also signed Meb Keflezighi, the 2001 NYC Marathon winner and silver medal Olympian (Athens 2004) as a consultant for the shoes. You can see him pictured wearing them at the Skechers blog, which oddly tells us little about the GoRuns other than this allusion to their midfoot strike technology:

Keflezighi will be running in the World Marathon Majors (including the 2001 ING New York City Marathon), road races, and Olympic Trials through August 2012 exclusively in SKECHERS Fitness performance footwear featuring the Company’s innovative SmartShoe(TM) mid-foot strike technology for serious athletes and active enthusiasts. Keflezighi will also be consulting on the development of performance product and SKECHERS expects to coordinate the launches of exciting new competition-ready running lines with his professional racing appearances.

“SKECHERS’ new performance shoes change the way I run for the better,” said Keflezighi. “I’ve been a heel strike runner my entire life, but I am now wearing SKECHERS to maximize the efficiency of my foot strike. My shoes are my most essential piece of equipment and right now SKECHERS has the footwear I need to succeed. I’m excited to be partnering with this groundbreaking company.”

I can’t say I know much about Keflezighi though he’s certainly an accomplished runner. And Christian Burke? He seems like a nice enough chap and I’m not just saying that as a fellow bald man (What’s up with all of us minimalist footwear fans being bald? Chris McDougall, Barefoot Ted, the Reebok RealFlex guy … it’s either bald or crazy haired like NB Minimus Trail spokesman Anton Krupicka or the Godfather of Barefoot Running Barefoot Ken Bob).

I’ll stop the speculation and snarkiness here. Hey, the Skechers GoRun could be awesome. It’s yet another wanna be minimalist shoe. Whether it will be or not is yet to be determined. What do you think?

Update – Availability! The Skechers GoRun is available for sale. It looks like it’s retailing for $80 online (e.g. Champ’s).

UPDATE From Skechers GoRun designer! Per a comment below from “design guy,” who apparently worked on the design of the Skechers GoRun, we learn the following:

Since there is so much interest in the Go Run & very little in the way of technical details I thoughtI’d clear things up, seeing as how I designed the shoe. Fist off this shoe took over 15 months to design & test, through three rounds of hundreds of runners. We wanted to build the ultimate barefoot shoe & started way before the Reeflex shoe ever surfaced. The shoe has a 4MM drop & offers more protection than a 5 fingers etc. We have a heel geometry that forces correct running form (midfoot strike) not pods like newton. Stay tuned for more info……

Given Skechers is ramping up their marketing materials and signing some big names in running, I’m suddenly reminded of bumping into Evander Holyfield in Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson Airport. He was wearing Skechers, too. Shape-Ups.

What say you?

H/T to Joshua for alerting me to this news!

* Does this remind anyone else of Fila Skeletoes? Any wonder Vibram is suing Fila?

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

34 replies on “Minimalist Shoes from Skechers? Or is the GoRun Yet Another Nike Free or Reebok RealFlex?”

Not as minimal as VFFs, but if it gets people on the road, path, track, more power to it. Love how just a few years ago the major shoe makers were pushing padding, stability etc., but now that VFFs have made such a difference in the running community, they jump on board with their own shoes. Hopefully, though as with the Vibram web site, they try to inform newbies on not trying too much too soon.

Those raised “criss cross” dots at the mnidfoot…could it be an imitation of the Newton forefoot pod-type thing that encourages a midfoot strike? That would support the smartshoe stuff.

I’m not horrified at this exactly; I actually do most of my running now in Nike Free’s. Think this is where the hole in the market is right now, in the transition category. So given that, it doesn’t shock me that Skechers is attempting to fill this hole.

Since there is so much interest in the Go Run & very little in the way of technical details I thoughtI’d clear things up, seeing as how I designed the shoe. Fist off this shoe took over 15 months to design & test, through three rounds of hundreds of runners. We wanted to build the ultimate barefoot shoe & started way before the Reeflex shoe ever surfaced. The shoe has a 4MM drop & offers more protection than a 5 fingers etc. We have a heel geometry that forces correct running form (midfoot strike) not pods like newton. Stay tuned for more info……

They look too thick to me…would rather stick with the vibrams. Have never been a sketchers fan. Always too big and bulky and heavy for me…these look to be the same, only on a minimalist level. Though I did just buy the new Teva sandal, and love them! A nice looking, and comfortable shoe.

“that’s as close as you’re gona get to barefoot running” ha! that’s ridiculous! at least market them as a transitional shoe. you’ll get more respect that way. i’ve transitioned people using nike frees in the past and that’s what these look more like.

Look kind of cool to me. 4mm drop? Well that is a whole lot better than any of the Nike Free products. I’m realizing now that, to me, the most important aspect of minimalist running is minimizing the heel-to-toe drop. Ground feel is great most of the time, but when I’m running very long distances (ultras) cushioning and full foot protection becomes much more important. I understand I’m in the vast minority, especially on this forum, but I’m liking the rise of more “transition shoes” or shoes that offer minimal or no drop but have some measure of cushioning and with or without some under foot protection like rock plates. But that’s just me. I’m still a fan of VFFs and Huaraches, but more as training tools and not full time trainers. I’m frankly surprised that nobody has done a review on any of the Hoka One One line, they have 4mm drop but have a huge amount of cushioning. For long distance road racing the Bondi B is excellent; got me through the Badwater Ultramarathon unscathed.


I know we’ve hashed this out in the past, but you’re comment here just makes me think about it again — it seems to me that you could sorta sum things up thusly:

– if you’re learning to run, barefoot is best. Why? Ground feel teaches you to minimize impact, land lightly, minimize friction, etc.

– as you dial in running lightly with low friction, transitioning to “barefoot shoes” becomes more an option.

– once you’ve memorized good form in minimalist footwear, transition down the curve to a bit more cushioning for longer distances if you prefer or find need.

That sound reasonable? If that’s the fastest way to learn to run naturally/painlessly, it really makes you question the need for transitional shoes for novices — they’re more for seasoned runners who already know how to run naturally.

Because on the other side, if you’re running with a heel-strike, which is a learned behavior from running in cushioned shoes, I’d go so far as to say starting over fully barefoot or close to it is more likely to be necessary to unlearn bad behaviors and rewire your biomechanics/brain to run naturally.

Mind: this comment/plan of training is mostly a mental exercise at this point, so I’m just throwing it out there for sake of discussion.

Thanks Justin, now I have a good excuse for my thinning hair! To think I’ve been blaming it on the water all these years! 🙂

As for the shoes… in my opinion a shoe should “allow” correct running form, and not “force correct running form” as design guy wrote.

My favorite part, when he’s talking about people’s comments at the Born to Run 100k… “..they get the attempt to be a minimilistic shoe…” Anyone else find it odd that the spokesperson is still calling it an attempt? It just seems to me like he is putting way too much effort into trying to bend and flex the shoe. I usually run in the NB Minimus shoes, and I can bend those things in half with a thumb and forefinger. Maybe it’s just me, but Skechers has always thrown a lot of advertising and ‘research’ behind their products, but I never here anyone actually saying “Wow! Theese things are awesome!”

Totally agree.

However the problem of “transition shoes for novices” isn’t just limited to shoes like this (min drop w/ cushion and flexibility). I also would take issue with the thicker versions of VFFs such as the Bakilla et. al. If you are heel striking or are new to running starting out in one of those VFFs is going to create the same sort of issues as running in a transition shoe; possibly more issues since at least with the transition shoe you have some underfoot protection! With the thicker VFFs you know as well as I that you can get away with bad form to a point.

So I’d propose more education to the novice to start with barefooting to learn proper form and then, and only then, go into VFFs, especially the thicker ones.

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the approach taken by most judging by the rash of TMTS and other related injuries (a quick look through the forum on this site should show this).

Just seems like a lot of the approach is backwards or at best murky…

You need to do an act of faith to believe that the heel drop is only of 4 mm (difference in sole thickness under the heel and under the ball of the foot).
The soles also look too thick.
Additionally, the soles are flat, they haven’t been molded to line the shape of your feet: the soles under the heels and the balls of the feet protrude at both sides like eaves, and they also protrude backwards.
It seems they haven’t learned much from VFFs success.

Hi All… Thanks for your comments. I am the project technician for this Go Run trainer and I have 20 years of performance footwear product creation experience mostly from another running brand.
Just a couple points… what Christian is trying to say is that the shoe is versatile… and ‘it’s an attempt to be minimal’ without being a true minimal or barefoot shoe. He truly loves this shoe and trains and competes in every race wearing it.
Though barefoot or natural running may work well for you, and is no doubt the best way to run provide your mechanics are truly efficient enough to be able to do it, it’s not for everyone… especially those shod runners who are used to a more conventional trainer… though want to begin transitioning to a more minimal trainer. The designer, whom you heard from earlier, and I never intended this to be a barefoot (VFF like) shoe. It is meant to be a transitional minimal trainer designed to hit a fairly versatile customer base. Though not a true racing flat, it is a good racing shoe for longer distances as well. As you’ve pointed out, it’s much more minimal, however, than what our consumers are used to seeing from us and we believe we are headed in the right direction. Look for a true minimal trainer from us down the road!
Also, drop (heel-to-toe offset) has nothing to do with midsole thickness as most of you know. It simply means the difference in sole thickness from toe to heel… which is indeed 4mm for the Go Run (actually it is 3.7 but we rounded up). You are right… the sole is not designed to be thin but is thinner than most conventional trainers. The sole is 10mm thick in the ff (12 mm is more typcial for conventional neutal trainers) and 14mm thick in heel (not 22-24mm like most conventional trainers). We also designed it to be 19mm thick in the midfoot, however. This feature helps shift the center of mass forward not only promoting mid-foot strike, but also provides cushioning (again, for our targeted consumer who relies on some cushioning) where it is most needed at the point of impact. In other words, the shoe is really not that well cushioned in the heel. This also helps promote midfoot strike since the shoe is not comfortable to wear if you heel strike since you WILL bottom out. Also, because of a more midfoot stike pattern, there is more time spent on the active phaseor mid-stance and propulsion… and less time spent on the passive stage… or impact. This is also good for the runner!
Again, we understand clearly that this sole design is NOT typical of a barefoot or natural runnig shoe since cushioning is not their priority. But at 6.9 Oz for M9, this shoe is indeed ‘about as barefoot as you’re going to get’ without being truly barefoot or minimal.
We also realize that we are new to this arena and we will rely on your objective feedback to help us make the best possible running shoes! We are focussed on making great product… and thus your comments are important to us (provided they are honest and objective and with an open mind). Thanks. – KS

Hmm. Im pretty sure the closest you can get to barefoot running is running barefoot. Cant wait for sketchers 5 fingers.

I agree, Jordan. And if you are one of the lucky ones who can run in barefoot footwear with no issues… due to the time/effort you’ve already invested towards transitioning and form training, etc., then I agree… The Go Run is certainly not for you.

u r really just a hater because the shoe has an S on the side of it.. Skechers is the 2nd largest shoe company in the world. Yes they hav made some shoes similar to other companies but hav taken good ideas and made them great. they hav also come out with ideas that no other shoe company hav ever considered. the GOrun is actually a very comfortable and practical shoe with some ingenious designs.

Well, I’ll have to say that I’m now a new owner of the GoRun. I’ve never owned a Skechers shoe before, and never even considered them for my running, until I saw some reviews and tried them on for myself. My current shoe rotation is the Altra Instinct and the Merrell Trail Glove, so I know all about zero drop and bareform running (which I transitioned to several years ago in Nike Pegasus trainers). I’m not a barefoot purist, and am working my way back up to half-marathon distances again. Anyway, they felt strange when I first put them on, but as soon as I started running they felt completely natural. The forefoot is one of the most comfortable I’ve tried, aside from the Altra. Far superior to the NB Minimus line and the Brooks PreProject line. I think Skechers has done a good job with this model, and I look forward to seeing where they take it with their racing model.

Skechers is no newcomer to minimalist running, at least not in my closet. I run ultras and use their Talus “dress shoe” as a trail trainer. (I ripped out the insoles and other stuff they put inside and ended up with a zero drop shoe that feels like my VFF treks without the toes. I did plop in a 4 mm rock shield for a little protection and drilled some holes for water to drain out.) I try to run about 50% of my miles in minimalist shoes and change up between VFF, FeelMax and said Skechers. Definitely will want to try the new GoRun for street runnin’. Perhaps they’ll make a trail version if it takes off.

y have plantar fascitis, thanks to skechers resistor running y come back to the running, this shoe its recomendable for my patology???, thanks and sorry for mi poor english

More junk from Skechers…. Nothing like yet another copy of the Nike Frees from a company that’s only claim to fame is copying others’ designs.

At the $80 that these cost, why would I go with the company that has little idea how to design a running shoe? I’d rather buy a Nike Free, Reebok Realflex, NB Mimimus, Brooks Pure, etc….

Hey Kurt. Im a free runner and martial artist. I have ALWAYS worn regular tennis shoes. Several nikes and skechers. I bought my first pair of vibrams last year with zero time spent transitioning and immediately ran 2 miles in them. Then I started parkour and freerunning training in them. I required zero transitional training. The idea of running on the balls of your feet is pretty easy to figure out especially when you have the design and natural instinct of your body to help your brain out. I know that Its not normal to be able to transition so quickly. But still do you really think that people need all that help. Just go barefoot. Thats all you need.

Skechers is such a Joke!!! The are the biggest bottom feeders I have ever seen. I saw a video of there VP of Advanced Concepts(I guess this means he is the best they have when it comes to coping real brands) this guy is such an ass he is doing the same exact pitch as Nike did with the Free skeleton of the fot and all. It is just gross, what an asshole. Skechers should be shut down and there VP of AD should be jailed I HATE SHECHERS!!!

… I apologize for this comment, but tonight I’ve been wearing my tinfoil hat.

Where the hell did all of the skechers apologists come from? The comments usually bemoan anything resembling padding. 2mm of drop would be scoffed at.

(I guess they have a very creative marketing department?)

“This shoe is so soft and it conforms to my foot so well and any turn, any change in direction, any thing, any type of terrain it really molds to my foot just the way I want it.”


I have problem feet….they are short and wide along with bunions and mortons neuroma. I have always wanted to run but never found anything remotely comfortable. I wear flip flops year round, so I was intrigued by the barefoot concept and started with Luna sandals. I haven’t run in them yet, but wear them most of the time. I think I need to take my time with those. I thought I would try a minimalist shoe in the meantime to transition to my sandals. I went to try these GoRun shoes, and they are the answer to my prayers!!!! The wide toe box and stretchy cover accomodate my wide feet and bunions without pinching my nerves. The extra cushion in the mid foot keeps me pain free. I feel like a gazelle in them. They are very light weight. I never dreamed I would go sockless either, and these shoes keep my hot sweaty feet relatively cool and dry. I am ordering more ASAP before I wake up and find out that it was all a dream and these didn’t exist! I have never been more motivated to run outside….I hope I finally have to tool to help me reach my goal of being an outdoor runner!

I tried gorun for a few months now and it is very good. I went for my 8, 13 and 20 miles trail + path training. Here is my fiding, on trail, it cannot stop pebbles from hurting your feet if you are not careful striking on large one directly. but the soft cushion on forefeet is great on landing during every strike, this is best noticed on metal road. The best thing about this shoe is its forces your midfoot landing when you almost out of energy at the end of your 20 miles training when you start to get to your end point with automatic midfoot strike when your shine muscle ca nnot take it anymore. This is best part of this shoe, the cushion prevent injuries for long distance training especially on metal road.

I just ran 15 miles in a brand new pair of GoRuns yesterday and I had to come home and take them off after that and finish the last 7 miles with my Luna sandals on. I think my body, feet, arches, etc are too used to the natural barefoot or Luna sandal running. It’s just not comfortable when your arches want to do the work of the shock absorbing and instead, you have this thick center portion of the sole (the part that is supposed to make you strike with your midfoot) that is jamming up into your arch…by the time I got home, I had a blister and had all sorts of “hurts” flaring up. Did the last 7 miles in Lunas and felt back to normal, except for that blister that will still have to heal up. I was hoping to like the GoRuns coz sometimes in a multiday race or in a race with rocks, it’s not easy to wear Lunas or Feelmax shoes. I wanted an nice pair of a sorta minimal shoe that had no heel to toe drop, but this shoes just has too much meat to the center and really started to flare up some old injuries. Have to stick to the Lunas. Sorry.

First, I’ve used VFFs to get rid of PF in both feet, used Brooks Green Silences religously. Was just browsing on the web and came across where Brooks is stopping th Green Silence in favor of their Pure Line, figured hey, try the Pure Connects, worst decision in my running experience ever. The power band (arch support) killed my feet after 2 miles. I want my arch to support itself, not a insert or power band thingy.

Found a review on another blog about the Go Runs, yes, I laughed also. Skechers????? Never would I be caught in Skechers, alive or dead, just wouldn’t happen. I kept on reading, and decided I could always try them, and then return the shoes if they didn’t work.

I ordered the Go Runs, and the Go Run Rides. the regular Go uns are being returned due to the bump in the sole which kills my arch, but the Go Run Rides, are probably the most comfortable “LONG” run shoes I’ve ever been in. I said “LONG” run shoes, to use these for a short (3-5) mile run is a waste and isn’t doing my feet muscles any good. Anything over 10 miles though I will use the Rides.

I’ve ran up to 20 miles in VFFs and although I managed, my feet felt like crap the next day. with the Rides, I’m already thinking of a 10+ run tomorrow.

Yeah, I know…Skechers, but I could really care less what someone thinks as I run past the Fs in their name brand shoes. I run for me, and my sanity.
So laugh, snicker, my feet are laughing back.

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