Let’s get this out of the way:
I haven’t owned a pair of “running” shoes in about 4 years.
By running shoes, I mean shoes that have cushioning in them. When I started training, I ditched anything that had padding in it for “barefoot” shoes after I read things about them being bad for your feet. That over time, cushioning changed the way people run/walk, made your legs muscles weaker, and your knees bad. When I started doing CrossFit, all I wore were New Balance Minimus, Vibrams, and Inov-8’s. Changing over to Nano’s felt like walking on clouds to me at this point. Years later, I still prefer minimal shoes, but ironically, my knees aren’t quite what they used to be and running in anything, still sucks. I just need help with my running, I suck at it.
It was time to look for some “running” shoes.
I had always known about the Reebok One series running shoes, but to hell if I was going to spend money on a shoe I couldn’t squat in; old habits die hard. Before I caught wind about the new Reebok One X CrossFit Cushion 3.0 (referred to as Cushion 3.0 from here on out), I purchased a pair of Nike Flyknit 3.0’s. They looked great, they were comfortable, still minimal, but I just wasn’t fond of running in them. My previous choice for a running shoe prior were the Strike Movement Intervals; they just felt the best on my feet while I ran. I do like the way sprinting feels in the Compete 6:14 , but they’re really tight and get uncomfortable after some time in them; also there’s virtually no cushioning so your feet will hurt given the surface you’re running on. All shoes, geared at training and not necessarily running. When I received my pair of Cushion 3.0’s, I nearly foot-gasm’d when I took my first steps; It was like a wearing heaven on my feet.
The fact that the shoes have the “CrossFit” branding on them made them a little more palatable for me. In reality, they’re the same as the normal Reebok One Cushion 3.0’s, from what I can tell. At the time of writing, either of the shoes aren’t really even for sale. Comparing pictures of the two shoes, there’s virtually no difference other than the “CrossFit” logo. Let this be known right now, these are not shoes for functional fitness. Remember why you had to switch your shoes up to something minimal? Yeah, that spongy insole/outsole, is definitely present in the Cushion 3.0’s. At best, they’ll handle some light cleans or air squats; mainly body weight metcons. No signs of the RopePro or Kevlar here, I wouldn’t try thrashing these shoes like a pair of Nano’s. That’s not why we bought these shoes though, we bought them to run in.
The Cushion 3.0’s have three zones of support (from rear to forefoot): C43 cushioning for shock impact, T48 for smooth transitioning, and R52 foam for responsive toe-off. If you’ve run in Nano’s, you know they’re a bit clunky to run in, Nike Metcon’s are the same way. Over the years, I’ve developed a mid-foot strike, so having to make myself heel strike to test the C43 felt initially uncomfortable. If that’s your thing, you should feel right at home in the Cushion 3.0’s. The C43 coupled with the TPU heel piece make for a stable landing. The bottom’s of the shoes are littered with zoned “piston tech lugs”, CRTek heel pads in the rear for durability, and BRTek “lugs” in the front for propulsion. Honestly, I don’t really get how all of these things help you run, but for me, the ride feels great. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had cushioned shoes in forever, but wearing these shoes make me actually want to run.
Construction of the Cushion 3.0’s is top notch, like you’d find on any “CrossFit” branded shoe, except this isn’t necessarily one since I’m pretty sure they’re the same as the normal Cushion 3.0’s. The shoe is fairly lightweight, probably a bit heavier than Nano’s are, and also a bit taller due to the cushioned nature of the shoe. The Nanoweave/Smoothfuse upper is nice and flexible, there are no hot-spots that rub your feet inside and can probably be worn without socks just fine if thats your thing; in fact, the sockliner actually feels comfortable against your barefoot. The lacing system in the mid area of the shoe keeps you locked in, but is easily undone at the top so you can get your foot in and out. I got the shoes in a size 9.5, and it has a bit of room in the toe box, but is comfortable. I would recommend sizing these shoes as you would Nano’s, unless your Nano’s are big, then maybe I’d go half a size down. By looking at pictures, the only difference I could find between the normal Cushion 3.0’s and the CrossFit variants is in the mid-foot area mesh (aside from branding). It seems like the CrossFit ones have a ballistic nylon while the normal ones have the same kind of material found in the forefoot.
If I had anything to say about running in these shoes, is that they’re forgiving. Like I said before, I’m not the best runner out there. It takes me forever to find my stride, it’s hard for me to brace myself for anything other than sprinting, and I just always feel uncomfortable. With the Cushion 3.0’s, running feels natural. I feel like my strides are longer and more powerful, when usually they’re short and choppy. Could be due to the BRTek propulsion plates but I think it’s largely due to the amount of support that the cushioning provides. I don’t have to worry about how hard my feet hit the ground, so I can focus on running instead of my knees hurting. My right foot under-pronates and I don’t have to really worry about that when I run in the Cushion 3.0’s. From a stability standpoint, I still think sprinting and cutting in minimal trainers is better, but I’d happily give up some of that for the comfort of the Cushion 3.0’s.
Running in the Cushion 3.0’s is great, but how about training? All the things that make it a good running shoe, make it not so good for training. The amount of cushioning keep it from being the most stable shoe. It’s fine for warm-up weight, air squats, box jumps, and double unders, but I would stay away from them for any heavy lifts. Also unlike typical running shoes, the Cushion 3.0’s seem to be a fairly neutral shoe. I don’t have any calipers to measure the heel to toe drop, but I would say that it’s somewhere close to 4mm. If you’re looking for a one size fits all shoe, this is probably not going to be your best bet. Don’t expect anything like the Reebok’s Sprint TR, which is basically a narrower version of the Nano.
With a price tag of $120, it’s hard to justify them as a specific pair for running, unless that’s all you’re planning on doing with them. If you’ve got money to burn and you want a pair of running shoes to go along with your trainers, the Reebok One X CrossFit Cushion 3.0’s are a solid choice if you’re looking for something that has a bit more support to switch it up from the harsh nature of trainers. In typical Reebok One fashion, there will also be a “Guide” model to go along with the “Cushion” model. I don’t have exact specifications but it looks like there’s quite a bit more outsole to that shoe; it’s available now for $125.
I’m looking forward to seeing which events the athletes will use the Cushion 3.0’s for at this years CrossFit Games.