Going With the (Pure)Flow

I bought some new running shoes a few days ago. I’m one of those running geeks who loves getting new gear – especially shoes – so this was definitely one of the running-related highlights of my week. Over the last several months, I’ve become a big fan of Brooks running shoes. I like Brooks’ products, I like their focus on running (and happiness), and I like their focus on being green and environmentally sustainable. And very importantly from my individual perspective as a runner, I like the way their running shoes work for me.

While I was out running errands last week, I decided to stop by Hansons Running Shop to check out the new Brooks PureProject line of shoes. I don’t need new shoes yet, but I received a Hansons gift card for my birthday that would cover the cost of a new pair of shoes, so I thought I’d at least check out the PureProject shoes. I wasn’t set on buying a pair when I stopped by Hansons. I just wanted to check them out, and if I liked one of the models I’d buy a pair; otherwise, I’d wait and buy a new pair of Green Silence when it’s time for me to retire my current pair. I think the PureConnect sound great, but I had read and been told that they have a narrower fit than my Green Silence and Launch. So I had the PureFlow in mind when I went to the store, and they had my size (12) in stock. I tried them on and they felt great. Except that I could feel my left big toe against the top of the shoe right near the front…kind of like it was crowded just a little bit or there wasn’t quite enough room for that toe. Ugh! Unfortunately, that toe has been giving me intermittent problems since January or February of this year and I’m very sensitive about giving it enough room in my shoes. My right big toe seemed to have plenty of room, and the size 12s felt perfect other than that little bit of crowded big toe feeling.

Introducing…my new Brooks PureFlow shoes.

Luckily for me, Brooks makes the PureFlow in size 12.5 and Hansons had some in stock. So I tried those on and while they felt a little big, they felt pretty comfortable and I had no crowded big toe feeling with them. I was (and still am) a little nervous about getting shoes in a size other than that which I normally wear – especially with a shoe model I’ve never used before – but I don’t want to run the risk of aggravating my big toe problem. Two of the things I love about the PureFlow are the design and fit – when I was trying them on, I was able to tighten the laces enough so the shoes felt secure while still providing my foot with more than enough room inside the shoe. I think Brooks’ Nav Band that wraps over the instep helps provide this feeling of security without feeling too tight or restrictive on the top of my foot. So after a couple minutes of walking around in them and some (silent) debating with myself, I decided to go with the PureFlow in size 12.5.

Another photo of my new Brooks PureFlow.

The short verdict so far, after running in them three times for a total of almost 19 miles (with the longest of those runs being eight miles) – is that I love them! I’m still a little concerned that they might be just a bit too big. If that ends up being the case, it’d obviously be my fault for going with the wrong size and would have nothing to do with the shoes themselves. But they’ve worked very well for me so far, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the 12.5s will continue to work well for at least a few hundred miles. If they end up being a little big, maybe I can counteract that issue by wearing thicker socks when the weather gets colder. The PureFlow has a Toe Flex feature that splits the big toe from the rest of the foot (visible in the photo below of the bottom of the shoe), which I believe is designed to provide a better toe-off. So far I haven’t noticed the Toe Flex feature at all, so I’m not sure yet how much it helps, if at all.

The bottom of my new Brooks PureFlow. Note the Toe Flex feature that separates the big toe from the rest of the foot.

The PureFlow have a pretty low heel drop of 4 mm; in contrast, the Green Silence have a heel drop of 8 mm and the Launch have a heel drop of 9.5 mm. However, the PureFlow seem to be very well cushioned for a shoe with such a small heel drop. I think part of the appeal of the PureProject collection is that the shoes have a low heel drop and promote a more natural footstrike without sacrificing cushioning and foot protection. I noticed some soreness in my calves after my first couple of runs in the Green Silence when I bought my first pair of those back in June. I believe that soreness was due to transitioning to a shoe with a smaller heel drop and less cushioning than what I had used previously. I had heard that’s normal for many people, so I didn’t worry about it. It went away after a few days and I haven’t experienced it since. I wondered if I might experience it again when transitioning to the PureFlow because of the smaller heel drop, but I haven’t had any calf pain at all after wearing the PureFlow. I’m not sure if the smaller heel drop has promoted more of a midfoot strike for me (based on race photos, I think I’ve been a pretty consistent heel striker in normal cushioned trainers), but I’m more concerned with how the shoes fit and how my feet feel when running in them than whether or not they modify my footstrike.

Another photo of my new Brooks PureFlow.

I’ll be working the PureFlow into my running shoe rotation by using them for most of my medium-length runs and some of my longer runs. I’ll continue to use the Green Silence for shorter runs, speed work, and races, and will keep using the Launch for most of my long runs. Because the PureFlow seems to be a very versatile shoe, I’ll also try them for some of my speed work and tempo runs. I might also try them for a race or two, though the Green Silence definitely remains my primary choice for racing. I’m really looking forward to running more in the PureFlow and putting them through some different types of workouts. Because I bought them during my recovery period following a half marathon, I haven’t had a chance yet to do anything more than fairly easy runs on paved surfaces and flat trails. They have a fair amount of cushioning, so I’m confident they’ll be more than adequate for any of the terrain I normally run on, especially considering that the Green Silence have enough cushioning for all of my training runs and races. I’m sure I’ll post more about the PureFlow as I run in them more over the next several weeks. I’m very happy with them so far, and I can’t wait to log more miles in them!

How many pairs of running shoes are in your current rotation? What brands/models do you use?

Are you loyal to one brand of running shoes, or do you switch between brands depending on needs, prices, or other factors?

Have you bought new running shoes recently? If so, which ones and what influenced your decision to buy them?

Did you train or race over the weekend? If so, how did it go?

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13 Responses to Going With the (Pure)Flow

  1. Ali Mc says:

    thanks for the well wishes :D that’s awesome that you bought the newest brooks. I run in their glycerin 9’s and love them. I picked them b/c of the extra room in the toebox, so maybe that’s common /w brooks?? it’s good that you were able to get a half size bigger – it’s bad to run in small shoes. lol, like I know anything ;)

    I love the review of them. I hope you and your wife enjoy your new shoes. I have 1 pair of shoes in my rotation b/c I am poor. They are also my first pair or real running shoes :D

    • Matt says:

      You’re welcome, Ali. I’ve worn a few different brands of running shoes over the last few years, but I’ve been sticking with Brooks since this past spring when I got their Ghost 3. I’ve heard great things about the Glycerin line. I don’t think all of the Brooks shoes have a wide toebox, but many of them do and I’ve made sure to look for those models…it has made a big difference for me. When I got the Green Silence, I also tried on a couple of their other racing flats including the T7 Racer, and the Green Silence were noticeably wider.

      Thank you – I’m glad you like the review! My wife got the Brooks PureCadence (our local store had a promotional event for the PureProject shoes yesterday) – it’s the stability model in the PureProject line. She has only run a couple of treadmill miles in them, but she likes them a lot so far. I know it can get expensive for even one pair of shoes, let alone multiple pairs. If I didn’t have a gift card, I would’ve waited to get the PureFlow until my Green Silence or Launch started falling apart. Since June, I’ve tried to keep two pairs in my rotation (I used to only have one pair at a time), and I’ll definitely drop back down to two when my Launch wear out. The only reason I’ve used a few different pairs lately is that I’ve been fortunate enough to have discount cards or gift cards to help offset the cost of my last few purchases. I’m glad you love your Glycerins, and it’s great you got a nice pair of running shoes from the beginning.

  2. I dig the shoes–especially the color. New gear is always exciting (and motivating!). I have two shoes I use for running: Puma Faas 300 Women’s Running Shoes for indoor and the Adidas Women’s Marathon 10 Running Shoes for outdoor.

    The Pumas have less protection on the bottom but are incredibly lightweight, which is why I keep them for the treadmill. The Adias shoes are pretty lightweight and great for outdoor running.

    I’m somewhat new to this and not particularly brand-set just yet. But I dig my shoes.

    Let me know how the split toe goes. I’m super curious…

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Shauna – I think Brooks did a great job with the design of the four models in the PureProject line, including the colors. The women’s models have some cool colors, too!

      I’ll have to check out the shoes you mentioned; I’m always interested in learning more about shoes and other gear that I’m not familiar with. I agree that new gear is not only exciting, but motivating. When I get a new short or shorts, or a new pair of shoes, I want to go out and run in them immediately! One of the things I really like about my new shoes is that they’re fairly light (and feel even lighter to me than they really are) but have adequate cushioning for my running. It’s great that you found a pair of outdoor shoes that are protective enough for your usage but still lightweight – switching to lighter shoes earlier this year has made a big difference for me. I imagine that putting on the lightweight Pumas for an indoor run can make you feel faster before you even step onto the treadmill!

      One thing I like about running is that there are so many companies making great gear that it results in good competition between brands and constant improvements in their products. I’ll definitely let you know how the split toe works for me. I hope to get in some different workouts this week, and hope to get a better feel for it soon one way or the other.

  3. Brandon says:

    Just found your blog and added it to Google Reader! I also run in Brooks Green Silence and am considering the PureFlow as my next pair, so it was great to see your review. I love the Green Silence though so it’ll be tough to beat them :-)

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Brandon – I appreciate it! I love the Green Silence and will definitely continue running in them. I’ve logged some more miles in the PureFlow this week, including a speed workout, and I still love them. They worked well for me for the speed workout, and I’ll continue using the Green Silence for the majority of my speed work though it’s nice to know that the PureFlow can handle speed work if necessary. I haven’t run more than eight miles at once in the PureFlow yet, but I plan to wear them on a longer run this weekend.

      For me, they’re two different types of shoes, and I plan to keep a pair of each in my rotation because they each meet different needs for me (though I think there’s the potential for a lot of overlap, such as with tempo runs and medium distances). I love the feel of both pairs of shoes, but they’re definitely different. The Green Silence are lighter, and the PureFlow have more cushioning and a more substantial upper (though they feel very light when I’m wearing them). In my opinion, the PureFlow are a very versatile shoe because they’re lighter than most trainers and promote some aspects of minimalist running (like a more natural footstrike), yet they’re cushioned and substantial enough to handle a lot of different types of terrain and I anticipate they’ll be comfortable for long runs as well. But they’re not quite as light and speedy feeling as the Green Silence.

      I’ll continue to use the Green Silence for most races and speed work, as well as for shorter runs and some medium-distance runs. I’ll use the PureFlow for longer runs, occasional short- and medium-distance runs, and runs on rougher terrain. I’ll probably try them in a race or two as well. I know the Green Silence are tough to beat, but I think the PureFlow are very capable shoes and should work well for many runners who need more cushioning than what the Green Silence has. If you do enough different types of runs and have the budget for two pairs of shoes in your regular rotation, I think the PureFlow and Green Silence can complement each other nicely.

      • Brandon says:

        Funny you mention my regular rotation…because right now I rotate three pairs of Green Silence (and one pair of New Balance MT101’s for trail running.)

        The padding in the Green Silence has never been a problem for me, so I wonder if it’s worth even bothering with the PureFlows since the GS seem to fit my needs. Hmmm….. :-)

        • Matt says:

          If the padding in the Green Silence hasn’t been a problem for you and that shoe meets your needs for different distances, types of terrains, etc., then I’d probably stick with it or another model that’s more similar to it. I like to keep a pair of trainers (the lighter, the better) in my rotation though for long runs and some trail runs because I’ve had intermittent toe and arch pain. The pain flares up if I do every run in the Green Silence, so I tend to mix in the trainers for longer and/or rockier runs. Without the toe and arch issues, I’d probably try to wear the Green Silence for every run! The PureFlow have a nice balance between being lightweight and being cushioned enough for most types of runs, so if they continue to do well for me they’ll probably become the new trainer in my rotation (replacing the Launch, which replaced the Ghost 3).

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