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Karhu Fast Review

I really liked these shoes when the rep first came round to Accelerate and I happened to be in the shop so got a look in. This was about 3 years ago and at the time there was a lot of companies offering ‘fantastic’ shoes based on improving (but mainly cashing in on) the minimalist shoes that have come on the scene a year or so earlier. The main idea of all these shoes is to get you off your heel and onto the mid-foot / forefoot and shoe is going to make this transition easier for you. Only able to try the original on the treadmill but the fulcrum did ‘roll’ you through the midstance phase and into propulsion. A lot of the other shoes we used to see were either too soft (and so you got stuck in the middle of the shoe) or just could not quite bring themselves to leave out the antipronation features (and so could not really be trusted).

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So the fulcrum is that black bit in the middle of the midsole (yellow bit) on the side of the shoe (not the bit underneath). In the original pairs it was made from plastic – so was much harder than the surronding midsole and so probably helped as the midsole has to be firm so the platic fulcrum did not just sink into and so lose the effect it was trying to achieve. On the new version it is made from a higher density EVA – so I was not so sure it would still have the same feel as the original plastic.

Now this shoe (we found out) was not everyones taste (or running style). Just because you may want to stop hitting the ground with your heel it is not aways going to happen by just putting on a shoe that says it will on the box. But if it worked for you it worked well and we could see an immediate change in peoples running style and they (the runner) felt it to. Often when I am working with someone who wants to change how they are running we look for a shoe that is going to help the runner achieve this. The shoe has to help the process not hinder it. So I often have an idea of what I want the shoe to do for the person and how I want it to help them but it is always essential that I see them running it as there are always going to be a few surprises. I.e. the shoe just does not work in the way we want it to.

But back to the Karhu above.

So the idea of the fulcrum is that it ‘rocks’ you forward from your contact point onto the mid/fore part of your foot. So heel strike and you have to get up and over the fulcrum, hit it right and it rolls you forward off it. It works. Simple. Run in it and heel strike and it feels hard work, bring your contact position closer to you and midfoot strike and you feel the shoe roll you onot the forefoot. But I hear you say “Wouldn’t you feel this in any shoe? Stop heel striking and running will feel easier – heel strike with a fulcrum in the way and of course it will feel harder.” Yes to a certain extent but the fulcrum seems to make the roll through easier to handle. As I have said it does not work for everyone but if it works for you then it helps you start to use your hamstrings more and this should help your running. Basically Karhu say that the fulcrum gets you off the heel strike and onto a more midfoot strike and it appears that this is the case. So if you want to change your running from a heel strike to a more midfoot strike then this shoe should help that process.

The other things I like about this shoe is that the midsole and outsole are quite simple in design. There are no sneaky antipronation features hiden away in here. The shoe is not going to try and alter how much you pronate but let your foot function in the way it wants to. The lateral heel is still pretty stable – no big grooves or splits, no flare on the inside, some torsion stiffness due to the fulcrum but that is about it. The outsole was pretty good to – it rained a lot today and I am not very good at running on roads so did find myself up on the tracks in the woods between Win Hill and Ladybower – good grip despite being on tracks and some mud. My only concern is the midsole did start to feel a bit soft at the end of the run but this may have been down to the rain and underfoot conditions. Laces stayed tied, although being a new shoe I did need to adjust them a couple of times but this is not unusal in a new shoe.

So overall I like it, it seems to do what it says it does – for me anyway, no fancy gizmos. Just a straight forward shoe that lets you move pretty much how you want to and if you are looking at trying to avoid a heel strike and get a bit more onto your midfoot then this shoe will help.

Just one last point, after all this talk of hamstrings and midfoot running I think this may need some further explanation so will follow up this blog with another which focuses a bit more this aspect of running, except to say that if you are trying to change from heel to midfoot strike it is not as easy as just hitting the ground with a different bit of your foot but looking at your whole body posture and how it all fits together. More to follow.

 

 

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