Shoe Review: Fila Flow K4
Can't Afford Them Nikes
The 2005 Pegasus was my shoe of choice but at RM340, I found myself priced out. My secondary choice was the 2004 model which was a very well received version, soft and cushy albeit a little tadpole like in the looks department but the RM202 offer was no longer available.
How Now Brown Cow?
My choices then were narrowed down to a handful of NB models but I was apprehensive of their durability in the heel strike area. The new models seem to be poor in that area despite the Ndurance carbon rubber material used. Mizunos on the other hand are workhorses in nature. You can literally run them to the ground but they're just overpriced.
An Obscure Brand?
While not a household name for running shoes - their expertise being in tennis - Fila has been producing excellent racers and performance trainers for some years. At the elite end, many top Kenyans are in their stable while locally this brand is well received by the triathletes. Azwar himself loves the K4 Racer.
I found myself in a Fila shop for the 4th time recently in Penang and was glad that their sale was still on. I had trouble finding my size for the Flow K4 performance trainer in KL. The Isetan salesgirl told me several weeks back that this model is currently being phased out (probably for the arrival of the K6) and the popular size 9 and my usual 9.5 are no longer available. But they're available plenty here in Penang. Although the running websites tend to feature the grey/black version, I chose the red/white one as they don't look as dull. 1st try of 9.5 is too small, which show that the Fila fit and last was snugger. Size 10 was perfect.
The extensive use of mesh is just great and the removable sockliners are also vented. The shoe is slip lasted with 2 large vents in the middle of the last to allow the warm air to escape. Also a moisture draining feature I think especially useful for triathletes who may choose this model as their footwear of choice.
One Cool Shoe
The Flow technology apparently focuses on keeping the feet dry and cool by channeling air into the midsole through strategically positioned vents and air channels in the midsole. Upon closer scrutiny, I saw where these vents are. Beside the ones in the last, there are 4 small holes on the lower medial and lateral sides of the shoe. You can see them clearly in the middle photo of the 2nd column. The toeboxes are vented further with 4 holes placed vertically.
Large reflective strips are placed at the front as well as the heel counter area. Nice.
For a 10.5oz shoe, this model certainly pack plenty of support features. The decoupled heel works together with the small medial post to slow down the rate of pronation. This is useful support feature in the later stages of a long run/race. Meanwhile a transparent midfoot shank provides rigidity much like asics' Trusstic System and NB's Stability Web.
As mentioned earlier, the 9 was just too snug for me but the 10 was perfect. They're snug around the midfoot and you can even feel the arch support (some may not like this) but offers plenty of breathing space on the forefoot with a nice toebox, essential to accomodate the swelling of the feet in the course of a distance race.
The feel of the shoe was really really smooth - smoother than the Pegs and Maverick. The fluid heel to toe transition just has to be experienced. The ride is responsive and I felt that the 3Action rear cushioning is even better than the Precision. The 3Action material is supposed to provide a blend of stability, cushioning and responsiveness. The forefoot outsole is made of dimpled blown rubber with plenty of flex grooves for flexibility while the heel wear areas are made of EverGrind, a proprietary rubber and metal flake compound that's supposedly 10% lighter, cushier, flexible yet more durable. I hope it's as lasting as Mizuno's X10 material.
The medial posting was hardly noticeable, being very small but I think towards the later part of the race, the support will be felt more substantially. The smooth and responsive ride was there too. Whether or not this shoe will be in my Singapore Marathon packing list remains to be seen. I'll need to test them out over a series of longer and slower runs. I find that I perform as well in responsive shoes these days so I'm optimistic that this pair, bought at RM203 after a 40% discount, will be suitable for me.
I'll be wearing the K4 for the Putrajaya Half next week, so I'll be acquainted more with it pretty soon!