I hate running.
I suck, at running.
CrossFit seems to be the fitness program people that hate running gravitate towards because our cardio is really just lifting weights faster. Sometimes you’ll see some gymanstic movements thrown in there, some kettlebells, maybe some rowing and hell, maybe even some short runs; but nothing really long enough to warrant the use running shoes. Except one workout, that is more like a CrossFit holiday than a normal holiday, that happens every Memorial Day. You guessed it – “Murph”, if you’re not quite sure what the workout is, then you’ve never done it before. It consists of 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squat, finished by another mile run (with a weight vest). While that doesn’t sound like a ton of running, to Crossfitters it is; especially ones that suck at running.
Typically, I do my running in training shoes that just have a little bit more cushion and flexibility. My current favorites being the Strike-Movement Intervals, Skechers Go-Train Endurance, and Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s. I caught on to the barefoot thing early on and while I don’t consider myself a great runner but I do my best to run with mid-foot strike, and avoid heel striking, though I over-supinate a little. It wasn’t until maybe a couple years ago when the Reebok Cushion 3.0’s came out, that I bought into another pair of actual running shoes. They were what I did “Murph” in last year and they were okay, but I thought they lacked a little bit of structure (I’ve heard of durability issues as well). This year, I decided to set out to find a good pair of running shoes to make my workout more, “comfortable”. I could definitely do the workout in training shoes like most people do, but this gives me a good excuse to buy another pair of shoes. Luckily for me, Reebok had just dropped the Harmony Road, a shoe that was designed to cement Reebok as a legitimate contender in the running shoe world.
Running shoes will look like running shoes and the Harmony Road are no different. There are luxury “running” shoes out there that are more style than substance, but they don’t count if you’re not going to actually run in them. The bulbous looks of the HR’s are not going to win any style contests but that’s not really the aim of the shoe. The current selection of colorways go from meh-fine, to hell no. I initially went with the alloy/wild orange, but when I got them I knew immediately I’d never wear them so I held off a bit until they released the slightly more palatable solid grey/solar yellow. To be fair, most running shoes just aren’t very pretty shoes in general. At least the reflective bits serve a purpose in upping your visibility at night so drivers won’t hit you.
Where the Harmony Road lack in looks, they make up in comfort and build quality. The Smoothfuse seamless synthetic mesh upper feels robust and gently envelops your foot. I haven’t tried it, but you could probably go running in these shoes without socks on without tearing your feet up. Other than their CrossFit line of products, some of the shoes that Reebok makes can sometimes have lower quality materials. The Harmony Road does not fall victim to this and I would say that this might be one of the best built shoes they make, period. There’s no loose glue, the stitching is perfect, and the materials seem like they’re meant to take a beating. I didn’t try the OSR Sweet Road, but I think it’s safe to say that these are Reebok’s flagship running product.
Typically, I wear a size 10 in Reebok CrossFit Nano’s, but I’d say my normal shoe size is more of a 9.5, which is what I got my Harmony Road’s in. The fit is dead on with about a thumbs distance from the front of the shoe to my toes; plenty of room for my toes to splay without touching the front. There’s plenty of width in the toe-box and not much of the way of contouring inside the shoe so these shoes should suit a number of different shaped feet. It’s really easy to get a nice locked down fit with the simple lacing system but there is also the option to lace lock if you needed a little bit more security for your heel; though I never had any issues with heel slip. These shoes run true to size and I would recommend sizing them as you would your normal running shoes, or half down from your Nano’s. Here are my sizes for reference:
- Nano – 10
- Metcon – 9.5
- Speed TR – 9
- NMD/Ultraboost – 10
- New Balance – 9.5
- Inov-8 – 10
Here’s where you can take my advice with a grain of salt if you’re a runner, but if you’re a Crossfitter, you might take some of this to heart.
The key feature of the Harmony Road is their tri-zone midsole with “Kooshride”, in which it basically absorbs shock through it’s three layered zones. If you look under the shoe, you can actually see the “Kooshride” layer, that looks like those beads kids used to iron designs with. Another thing to notice is just how much heel cushioning there is, that combined with a 10mm offset really make these shoes look like they’re geared towards heel striking. Coming from running in training shoes, the Harmony Road’s are like heaven on my feet, even with a mid-foot strike. They provide excellent cushioning and energy return, but still feel like there’s structure and stability to the shoe. It actually didn’t take me a ton of effort to adjust from wearing trainers with a flatter drop to the much larger one of the Harmony Road.
I started running a 5k every Sunday for the last month in preparation for Murph, and while I’m still not a great runner, I can at least go the whole 3 miles without stopping, which is a pretty big accomplishment to me. The ride in the Harmony Road’s is smooth and feels consistent with each step. The best way I can make the analogy is that running in the Harmony Roads feels like driving a Honda Accord: reliable, designed to be driven at normal speeds, but has excellent response and handling with superb comfort. I did notice is that the size of the heel and drop can actually drive you to heel strike if you get lazy, but you get much better propulsion running off your mid-foot, which almost feels rewarding when you’re tired. It’s almost like having a built in form check.
Some people have said the “Kooshride” feels like Adidas’ Boost, but I don’t actually think so; it’s much more stable and less squishy feeling. Stable enough so that I got through the 300 squats in Murph without being annoyed that my feet didn’t feel planted, which is one of my pet peeves in shoes. While there isn’t a ton of lateral stability since they’re a bit tall and the drop is gigantic, I still feel like I could do most metcons in the Harmony Road’s. I wouldn’t go as far as to do any kind of Olympic or power lifts, but they should be fine for swinging kettlebells, jumping on boxes or doing burpees. Traction seems best on asphalt, which is befits the name. I tried the HR’s on a tightly packed dirt trail and they didn’t seem to “catch” as well as they did on the sidewalk, making me have to expend a little more energy.
I weighed the shoes at 11.08 oz per a men’s 9.5, which sounds heavy for a running shoe, but is pretty normal coming from training shoe. The shoes even have a heavy look about them because they just look like there’s a lot of material on the shoe. These shoes aren’t designed to be racing shoes, though they do make a version for that, which I had initially tried, but they were too narrow and the quality seemed sub-par. Since they are running shoes, I shouldn’t have to say they’re extremely flexible, but just in case you were wondering, they are! The flexibility makes the Harmony Road feel a lot less lighter and less clunky than they actually are.
The Harmony Road’s go for the pretty standard performance shoe rate of $120, which is around what I was ready to spend. I know a lot of people are still shocked to see Reebok shoes that aren’t CrossFit shoes go for over a Benjamin, but these shoes are ones that are actually worth it. The build quality is among the best in the shoe world and the performance has far exceeded any running shoe that I’ve used (to be fair, not many). Though I still think that they’re in need of some MUCH better colorways, the Harmony Road’s fit comfortably, are built like tanks, and are the best performing running shoe I’ve had the chance to wear. Maybe I’m getting better at running because I kind of look forward to it now. Hell, maybe I’ll run an actual marathon.
If you’ve been following the 2017 Regionals, these are the shoes that most of the Reebok athletes have been wearing for the variation of Murph. They’re probably better athletes than me, and out of all the shoes they have access to, they picked the Harmony Road; so I must not be the only one that’s impressed. Oh and back to “Murph”, I PR’d my time at 46:28 from somewhere around an hour, granted I did it partitioned with a weight vest versus straight up without. The thing I’m really proud of is not stopping during my runs. I’m not dropping CrossFit for running any time soon, but having a great pair of shoes to run in makes me hate running a lot less. If you’re looking to improve your running game, give the Harmony Road’s a shot, you might end up wanting to run more often too.