Is the RealFlex Run 2.0 for you? The Conclusion (Part 3/3)


First an apology that this post is so late. Part 2/3 of this review was published in November 2013 with a promise that the last part would be out in a couple of weeks. Well life and running events caught-up. First Airtel Half in December; then extensive physiotherapy to fix some running injuries during second half of December and first half of January, and finally the Mumbai Full and the several weeks of recovery thereafter dealing with more injuries. Finally have the mental energy & motivation back to conclude this.

The good news is that current mileage on the RealFlex Run 2.0 stands at 270km, which means it’s really been put through the grinder. It has also become a favourite go-to shoe for most of my training runs. I haven’t done any races in these as I kept going back to my Saucony Kinvara 3 which was a tried and tested option. I am looking forward to race in the RealFlex 2.0 at the Budh International F1 track HM in March.

When we talk about shoes and our feature preferences we tend to think in terms of extremes – on cushioning (none to 2 inch springs), on heel drop (zero to 15mm), on flexibility (contortionist “yogi” to rigid planks), on  pronation support (none to big hard wedges) and on uppers (minimalist to extreme padded pillows). And therefore the debate of what shoe is right for a certain person sees some pretty extreme stances being taken.

I personally think the RealFlex 2.0 is a shoe where someone at Reebok has made some really smart design choices and “compromises”, and I don’t use compromises in a negative sense but rather in a sense of saying “maintaining the balance”.

What I mean by this is that the shoe hits the cushioning, heel drop, flexibility, pronation and uppers sweet-spot in a way which will appeal to a wide variety of runners without people having to fight over whether minimalist shoes are good or cushioned shoes are good or whether one needs stability/motion control.

Now that I have said this let’s go back to our runner profiles (if you have read the previous review on the Reebok Cushion you are familiar with this but even if you haven’t don’t worry) and see how things work for each.

Runner Type 1 (used to Cushioned Comfort): If you are a runner who is already running in a highly cushioned shoe. The RealFlex has great cushioning while still being extremely light. I would easily recommend it for people who want cushioned comfort and yet yearn for a lighter, faster shoe.

Runner Type 2 (Heel, mid/fore Foot striker): Two thing stand out for heel strikers, first the heel drop which is 8mm and therefore more than conventional minimalist shoes with 4-6mm drop. Second the extra tough outer rubber in the heel area which gives some extra protection and prolongs the life of the shoe. So a good choice for the heel striker.

And yet the heel drop is much lower than the monsters with 12-15mm drop. The 8mm shoe drop “feels” much lesser and personally I was deceived into thinking the profile was very much like my 4mm heel drop Kinvaras (do read https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/review-of-the-reebok-realflex-run-2-0-a-little-beyond-the-first-run-with-166km-done-and-dusted-part-23/ to understand the significance of this). This coupled with the flexibility of the shoe also makes it a great choice for the mid/fore foot striker.

Runner Type 3 (Newbie): You are a newer runner; are looking at a comfortable running shoe; are going to do most of your running on hard surfaces (tar or cement roads and sidewalks) without a lot of consideration at the moment for speed, form, gait, etc. Your running style is still evolving and you are apprehensive about the impact running may have on your legs or you may already have some issues. Well choose the RealFlex 2.0 with an easy mind, the added benefit a much lighter shoe and if at any point you want to go aggressively minimal well you are already in a great transition shoe.

Runner Type 4 (Body Weight “irrelevant”): If you recall I had recommended the Reebok One Cushion for the “heavier 80kg+” runner. Well the good news is that this shoe will work for them as well. However because it is lighter and flexible it will also work extremely well for the lighter runner without compromising on the response. So you won’t need the weight of your body to elicit a “response” from this shoe.

Runner Type 5 (You are also fast): If you are already on low profile shoes or racing flats and are a forefoot to midfoot striker but yearn for some more protection then again the shoe is a great compromise.  And since it is very light and relatively flexible the responsiveness is super.

Runner Type 6 (High Mileage Road Runner): High mileage on road means a lot of wear and tear of the lower half of the body. Till now this meant having to wear highly cushioned, bulky and heavy shoes. With the RealFlex 2.0 there is now a much lighter and cushier option available.

Finally a category that I said I would not review for – “The Pronators” since I believe most people can actually do pretty well in neutral shoes and since there is research (new and old) to show that inside the shoe (irrespective of type) the foot is still doing what it is doing ! Read this http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/the-myth-of-pronation-and-running-injuries/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 and this http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021929000001160 if you are interested in this topic. Well the RealFlex is interesting since it has dual density midsole which makes the mid-foot area more rigid then the rest of the shoe. I suspect this would be of help to the mild pronator (and assuming that these shoes actually help).

So if you are looking for a minimalist, cushioned, flexible, low heel drop, stable shoe which runs cool (a lot of these adjectives would be normally mutually exclusive for most shoes) then the RealFlex Run 2.0 is for you. I am almost tempted to call it an “every runner’s shoe”.

RunIndiaRun
Sandeep

P.S. Two other shoes have been patiently waiting on the sidelines – the Skechers GoRun2 M and the Puma Mobium Elite. Hope to complete those reviews before end of March. The good news is that the GoRun2 already has about 150km on it

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About Sandeep

Consultant, Mentor, Headhunter & Leadership Evangelist.

Posted on February 12, 2014, in Running General, Shoe Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Good Sandeep !!!
    I’d love if you can add, with the past of the time, some comparison in terms of “durability”… what happen with all these shoes: RealFlex, Nike Free, Kinvara…. after 1000, 2000 km ? 🙂 . For me, it will also be a point…

    • Thanks Alfredo and good suggestion on the mileage and wear & tear status of the shoes. I already have some of this info in the blogs and also in the Running Gear section – https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/running-gear-what-i-use-and-some-advise.
      But I’ll add this as a permanent section under the Running Gear section of the blog. Upfront, I’ll tell you though that I don’t usually retire a shoe till it has crossed the 1600-1700km mark and the sole is showing significant wear. After that I mostly move the shoe to the “walking” or “casual wear” category and finally give it away 🙂

  2. Hi Sandeep; I am planning to run the Airtel Half Marathon this time and needed some advice from u about the shoe to buy. I am a newbie runner and have not run more than 4-5 km till now and seem to have a mild pain in the ankle after that. It is an interesting blog and I was wondering if I should go for Real Felx or if something new has come up lately. Any idea how is the Lunar Glide from Nike? Thanks in advance

    • Sikhar,
      My first comment, from a newbie to a half marathon in 2 months is a very-very big step. In fact TMTS (to much too soon) is a recipe for all sorts of injuries. Now getting to your shoe question, the lunar glide is a stability shoe (it has a medial post which is supposed to prevent over-pronation). I generally recommend to people to forget about stability shoes and buy neutral running shoes instead. Don’t buy a very low heel drop shoe yet. A neutral, decently cushioned, ~225-250gm shoe with a 8-12mm toe-to-heel drop would be best. Any shoe which says it will make you run faster is generally avoidable at this stage of your running evolution.
      Here are some recommendations – I am not sure which of these are available in India.
      Nike – Zoom Pegasus 31, Flynit Lunar2, Zoom Vomero (on the heavier side)
      Adidas – Energy Boost 2, Supernova Glide2 (on the heavier side)
      Skechers – Go Run Ultra (use it with the optional insole to add to the heel-to-toe drop). I have used the Go Run2 and loved it ! This one has more cushioning and should also be more durable.
      Asics – Gel Excel33, Gel Cumulus (on the heavier side)
      Reebok – RealFlex Run 2.0, Reebok One Cushion (on the heavier side)
      Puma – Faas 600 (without the S=Stability), Maybe the Faas 500 as well but the heel to toe drop is only 4mm, might cause calf issues at this stage of your running
      If you put a gun to my head and asked me to choose one for you (newbie, building mileage aggressively, road running, etc), it would be the Reebok RealFlex Run 2.0 (you’ve already read the review) or the Skechers Go Run Ultra (light weight, neutral, promotes mid-foot strike, nicely cushioned, etc).

      Hope this helps. Good luck for your training.
      Maybe we will bump into each other (not literally!) at ADHM in November.

      Sandeep

  3. Thanks a lot Sandeep, as always, your reply was thorough 🙂 No way I could have got that much of info by myself. See you in the DHM 🙂

  4. Hi Sandeep, Thanks a lot for your guidance. I completed the ADHM in 2:36 minutes and thought will share the news. You and your blog has been an inspiration

    • Great news Sikhar, congratulations the first one is always special. You deserve all the credit since you did the hard work 🙂
      You now have a tremendous opportunity to continue with this fantastic sport of running all year around and to target a great new personal best timing in 2015. So don’t sit on your laurels and keep running and training consistently.
      Best
      Sandeep

  5. Hi Sandeep
    Thanks for the Super review. Are there more than one version of these shoes?….like Realflex run 2 Tempo, Realfex run 2 Speed ??. If so, to which of these does this review apply??
    Thanks.

    • Shekhar,

      Glad you liked the review.

      When the review was done there was only one model available called the “RealFlex Run 2.0” (the box which I still have also says this). I too now notice some variants like the Run 2.0 Speed and Tempo. I don’t have the other shoes so I looked closely at all the pictures available on the net. The heel counter for both these shoes are different from the original Run 2.0, they seem to have a lower profile. Also the Speed seems to have a curved last (the shoe curves more aggressively inwards when viewed from the bottom) versus a semi-curved for the original Run 2.0 and the Tempo. I also notice a different layout for the nodes on the sole of the Speed. The Speed is definitely meant for shorter distances or doing speed workouts in and should also be marginally lighter than the other two models. The Tempo is probably in-between and visually looks closer to the original Run 2.0 except for the heel counter. The Tempo as named would be used for tempo runs.

      If you are looking for a full marathon running shoe I would stick with the original Run 2.0, I would avoid the Speed unless you are a super efficient runner. If you run only up to 10k, then choose between the Tempo & Speed models. A good option is to buy the original Run 2.0 as your long and easy run shoe and the Tempo for the faster workouts and races.

      Hope this makes sense. If not just write in again.

      Cheers
      Sandeep

      • Shekhar Deshpande

        Hi Sandeep.
        Wish you a fantastic 2015. I am extremely grateful for your in-depth analysis that’s so to the point and that too done on a year end when peering over a computer screen is the last thing one wants to do !. Thanks again for that. No, I am not an efficient runner. Basically, hovering around 2 hrs for a half marathon. Been an ardent user of Reeboks with the Premier Road supreme 2 being my go-to shoe. since Reebok changed their entire approach to shoe design, i shifted to Nike (Lunar eclipse & lunar glide) but found these shoes to degenerate prematurely. Am not too much of a mid foot runner, but lately seem to shift to mid foot running when i get tired. After reading your detailed analysis of Realflex Run 2, I am convinced, that’s the shoe that’s right for me. I just hope its still available. Will let you know when i get a pair. Thanks again.
        Regards
        Shekhar.

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