Our whole back injury journey has really reminded us what we have been missing out on in terms of other forms of exercises. Running for one is one of the most accessible in terms of just putting some trainers on and heading out the door. Unfortunately, we were in no state to carry out a running review but we knew just the guy. A colleague of ours, Peter Palmer, was chomping at the heel to put a pair to the test and seeing he is a fan of 10k runs, he was the ideal candidate to see if 361's Strata-4 would shave a few seconds off some PBs...
I was really looking forward to receiving my pair of 361 Strata 4s. It’s been a while since I slipped on a pair of box fresh running shoes so anticipation was high. First up, they look good. This pair was the Poseidon/black colour combination - stylish and definitely a running shoe look rather than an all-purpose sports trainer look. Putting them on, I didn’t go ‘Oooooh! Now that is comfy.’ But new trainers always take a little breaking in and getting used to. However, after only about 15 mins of walking around the house they felt much better. The tongue is a kimono style attached to one side of the shoe to stop any movement.
This made it a little tight slipping it on and adjusting the Morphit lacing system (attached to the tongue) was slightly fiddly at first but once I got the feel of how and where to loosen things up they went on and off nice and easily. There’s a good bit of padding around the ankle and the heel feels firm and well-cushioned. The base EVA midsole material has been upgraded to Quickspring to give them more cushioning and comfort at lower weight. There is also the 20% recycled Ortholite sock liner for comfort and breathability.
Eager to get running in them, I set off on a 5km road run to break them in. I don’t know if it’s just putting on any new pair of trainers, or these particular ones, but they certainly felt nice and springy. There is definitely good bounce in the heel and I headed off with a leap in my step. At this stage, I was questioning how they didn’t feel that comfortable when I first put them on – now they felt great. Just what you would hope for. Comfortably snug and supportive, they felt like they wrapped around my feet nicely. I’m an average size 10 and have never had any problem ordering any type of shoes in 10 and these were no different. I would describe my feet as slim but there seems plenty of room and give if your feet are wider. Ample space for the toes, but not too much.
At this early stage, I couldn’t feel any areas with potential to start rubbing or chaffing. The grip on the soles is pretty good. There was only some loose gravel and a couple of soft grass verges to navigate on otherwise smooth pavement and road. I put in a few sharp, quick turns to test the support and they held up well. I used to have a much lighter, road running shoe but any tightish turns and your foot would slip across the sole with potential for rolling an ankle. In contrast, these may be slightly heavier but feel well supported and I would feel confident taking them on rougher, off-road tracks. With a few steep inclines and a long downhill section, they performed well. Not once did I feel any discomfort or signs of potential discomfort. Change of speed and direction were handled well but I still felt like I had on running shoes not a slightly clumpy, all-purpose sports trainer as my current ones feel. Early days but they comfortable passed their first test.
They are advertised for longer distance running so it will be interesting to see how they hold up to that. My current pair gave me sore toes after their first 10k and my trail shoes give me blisters on the instep after about 12k. So after an initial successful run, I was keen to set off on a 15k to see how they hold up. Unfortunately, by the 5k mark I could feel some rubbing on the top of my big toe. By 10k I knew it was going to be bad but I soldiered on to 15k. I wasn’t expecting this after my first run so was a little disappointed. The only mitigating factor was that I had worn older, thinner running socks. Perhaps this was the difference? I have since done another 35k in them on varying terrain and was pleased to find that there was no rubbing and no discomfort. This pair will definitely become my go to pair and with each run have become a little more comfortable.
So the key question is, are they worth the money? Well, if you’re in the game for a £135ish pair of running trainers, then they are definitely worth trying. I’m not 100% sold on them and would certainly have a look at other brands in this price bracket but these should be in the mix. The final choice, I think, would come down to personal preference for style.