Ok, here is my review of the much anticipated Brooks PureProject running shoes!
Let me start by saying that I bought these shoes with my own money, I was not sponsored by Brooks when I started wearing these shoes or wrote this review or the updates, and I was not given anything for this review. :) I am doing this review because I am excited about these new shoes and very impressed with them.
My running shoe history - (if you don't care, skip on down to the review part) :) Shortly after I first started running (April 2009) and I knew I was going to be sticking with this running thing long term, I went to a running shoe store and got evaluated and fitted for real running shoes. I was told that I overpronated, a stability trainer was recommended, and I was given several pairs to put on and run around in to try out. I liked the Brooks Adrenaline the best, and that was my first pair of running shoes. (I was also sold extra insoles which I ran with for awhile and then, suspecting I didn't really need them, I ditched them and never went back).
I ran in the Adrenaline's for a while, then switched to the Brooks Trance, and those are the shoes I trained for and ran my first marathon in (Vegas RnR, Dec. 2010). After Vegas I decided to give the Brooks Ravenna's a try (Brooks calls them "guidance" shoes, and they offer mild stability). They are lighter than the Trance's and Adrenaline's which I like and since I am naturally a midfoot runner, I knew I likely didn't need a lot of support (and follow up evals at running stores confirmed I am a mid/forefoot striker and only overpronate mildly). Once and a while I tried other running shoes and I have never felt as good in any other brand as I do in my Brooks.
The Ravenna's were awesome for me! I ran the Disney marathon in them, and then when I really upped my training in miles and in intensity (adding in speedwork, etc.) for the Salt Lake City Marathon I stayed injury free... never even lost a toenail. I got the Ravenna 2's when they came out, and wore those for Ragnar, my half marathon in July, all my training this summer and both marathons I ran in September. I ran over 1,800 miles in Brooks Ravenna's this year with happy feet and legs and zero complaints.
Some would say then, "Why fix what isn't broken?", and I do acknowledge that changing things up when you are running 55-65 miles a week without injury may not be the wisest thing...
But, for some time I have wanted to find a lighter weight, more minimal shoe. Not necessarily because I think those shoes are right for everyone, but because I think they would be right for me. (Just as I suspected I didn't need the extra insoles, and that the Ravenna's would be better for me than the Trance's). However, since I do overpronate a little and since I run lots and lots of miles, I was afraid to try a neutral/purely minimal shoe.
A few times when we were in running stores I would try on various racing flats and other minimal shoes and was tempted, but luckily Brooks has been teasing us with their PureProject for months so I knew that these were coming, and I really thought that they would be a good fit for me. So I resisted trying anything else.
Info on PureProject- Here is the link to more info on Brooks PureProject. Brooks has left their (very popular!) core line of running shoes alone, and has added this new line for people who want lighter, more responsive running shoes. The best part to me is that they have four different shoes for all different types of runners. They have a very minimal shoe (The PureConnect), a lightweight shoe with some cushioning and guidance features (the PureFlow), a lightweight shoe for people who need more support (the PureCadence), and a lightweight trail shoe (the PureGrit).
They have this handy little chart to help you decide which PureProject shoe is right for you (based on what other Brooks shoes you have been wearing).
My review - Without trying the shoes on I wasn't sure if the PureCadence or PureFlow would be a better fit, so I preordered a pair of each to try out (knowing I could/would send one back). My shoes finally came last week on Wednesday and right away (after a little bit of squealing) I went down on the treadmill to play. I did a half mile or so in each pair, then switched back and forth a couple of times and even ran a little with one of each shoe on. Right away the PureFlow just felt better to me. Technically they are about an ounce lighter than the PureCadence and I couldn't necessarily feel that, but they just felt better on my feet and my legs felt better when I was running in the PureFlow. (I think maybe the PureCadence has more support than I need/want, but am not sure).
Walking in the PureFlow I could feel the lack of "big heel" (this shoe has a 4mm heel to toe drop) compared to the Ravenna (which has a 10mm heel to toe drop). While I did notice the difference walking around, I did not notice the difference much once I started running (probably because I am not a heel striker at all when I run).
The next morning I had a 10 mile marathon pace run planned, so I decided to take the PureFlow on a real test run. It was love at first stride!
Right away the PureFlow felt LIGHT, responsive, and fast. I loved that. Yet I also noticed right away that they felt cushioned and I felt bouncy in them (in a good way). I was worried that a lighter, more minimal shoe wouldn't feel as comfortable as my Ravenna's, but these were just as comfortable to run in if not more so. They have a very glove-like fit and yet aren't too squishy on the toes or anywhere else.
After the mile warm-up I cranked up the pace, and it felt GREAT to run fast in these shoes. That light, responsive, fast and bouncy feeling was there when I was running 7 minute miles and during the slower warm-up and cool down. And yet after 10 miles (with eight miles of hard running) my legs and feet felt great.
After that first run I was REALLY happy and really impressed.
On Friday and Saturday I had two slow and easy six milers, and I wore my Brooks PureFlows again. At the start of each run my first thoughts were again about how light, responsive, fast and bouncy the shoes felt. And then I really didn't think about them again and just cruised along on my runs.
I went back and forth about wearing the PureFlow's for my 20-miler on Sunday. I didn't want to do anything stupid that would injure me this close to the NYC Marathon, but I also really felt confident that these shoes were working for me and wanted to take them on a long run well before NYC. Also, since I was already a midfoot striker and running in the PureFlow's did not change my running style or form significantly, I thought chances were good I would be fine in these. (And, I planned a route that took me past my house half way through the run so I could change shoes if I needed to).
I have to say that it was the easiest 20 miler I have ever run. My feet and legs felt great the whole run, and while they were of course tired by the end, they were less so than after my other 20 mile runs. I felt great afterwards too... no pains or strains. I am definitely convinced that these are the perfect shoes for me.
So now (after today's run) I have run 50 miles in my Brooks PureFlow's in five days. I have done speed work, a long run, and some easy runs. I love these shoes!
Weighing in at 7.5 ounces (women's), these shoes are LIGHT. I asked Brooks if they would hold up to lots of miles and they said to expect to get 300 miles out of them (instead of 350 or so out of the Ravenna's). At $90 they are not cheap, but are on the cheaper end of running shoes. They feel great on my feet, and are the perfect combination of being light, responsive and fast, and at the same time cushioned and having just the right amount of support for me. They seem like they are going to work great for me for speed work, long runs, and everything in between. I will post again in a month or so and let you know how they are holding up and if I do indeed get 300 miles out of them.
Finding the right running shoes is a challenge for most runners. Some swear by barefoot running and some swear by their motion-control trainers. I think most of us are somewhere in the middle. If you are like me and want a lighter, more minimal shoe and yet still want/need a little bit of support and cushioning, the PureFlow (or one of the other PureProject shoes) may be just what you want. They also could be a good transition shoe for someone wanting to transition to barefoot running.
I plan on sticking with the PureFlow's long term. They definitely make me "Run Happy"! :)
Hope this review is helpful to someone.
****UPDATED on Oct. 7th - I now have 85 miles on my PureFlows. They are holding up super well and I have not worn another pair of shoes since my first run in these. Today I ran 7 miles in inches of fresh snow and the PureFlows handled the wet, snow and slush perfectly.
*****Updated on Dec. 13, 2011 - I am now on my third pair of PureFlows and I am getting about 300 miles out of each pair. These are now the only shoes I run in and they work beautifully for me for speed work, long runs, intervals, tempo runs, races, and every kind of run I do. They have been great on the treadmill and outside. LOVE THESE SHOES.
For all of the details on the Brooks PureProject line of shoes you can check out this link.