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.
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.
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 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.
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?