On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My weak defense of why I *need* those Brooks

Ed (22 Jan 2012): I'm getting quite a few hits to my blog from people googling the Brooks Ravenna 3. What follows is a relatively boring post about how the Ravenna 3 seems to encourage a midfoot strike - for me - as compared to the motion control shoe I wear for longer runs (Saucony Omni). Personally, I love the Ravenna 3. I find it different from the Ravenna 2 (and this is completely non-scientific, and I no longer have the Ravenna 2 to compare side-by-side) in that the Ravenna 3 seems to have a slightly less prominent heel. It also seems quite durable - again, ymmv. I've put ~200m on mine at this point and the shoes feel springy and new still.

Fwiw, I like the PureCadence quite a bit, too.

I have basically talked myself into getting the Brooks PureProject PureCadence. You know, the ones that yesterday I said I was in love with.

Hear me out, hear me out!

I'm a heel striker, I know this. And I've never truly experimented with minimalist shoes/barefoot running (unless you count wearing Nike Frees and Saucony Hattoris for casual wear as experimentation, but I call that "fashion"). When I briefly switched to the Nike LunarGlide, I got shin splints. Those shin splints didn't go away until I got rid of every shoe that was not the Saucony Omni.

Until... I got the Brooks Ravenna 3, and I fell in love with it. They call it a "guidance" shoe. I call it "slightly lighter weight, super squishy, and much more fun to run in."

The other day when I was putting the Ravennas on, I noticed a wear pattern that looked slightly unusual to my eye. Bear with me while I geek out for a few paragraphs here. I compared two shoes: one, the Ravenna 3, and the other, the Saucony Omni. Both shoes have almost exactly 150 miles on them (I usually get around 300 miles on a pair of shoes). Forgive me, as I realized too late that the photos would have been MUCH better had I used a better camera, in better lighting.

I'm used to a predictable wear pattern on my shoes. Specifically, the outer edge of the back of the sole of the shoe wears down noticeably on my shoes, as you can see on the Saucony:

The Brooks, on the other hand, are not worn down like the Saucony:

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the heels of the two shoes:

The heel of the Brooks (above in this photo) is barely worn - in sharp contrast with the Saucony (on the bottom), which shows nearly no wear. Where the Brooks are most obviously worn is in the midfoot:

The Saucony is worn in the midfoot, too but not nearly as badly. The Brooks is really just flattened completely.

What does it all mean? Probably it has more to do with the construction of the shoe and with my mild overpronation than anything else. However, I'm using it as rationale for why it's okay for me to get a minimalist shoe that markets itself as a guidance shoe. (Come to me, PureCadence!).


  1. No question, then. You MUST get them.

  2. You most definitely MUST get these shoes. And you should buy them from that nice guy who talked to you about them for 100 years at the shop last night. And when you buy them, I will be standing beside you buying that purple running shirt.

  3. I think you need them! I talked to the Brooks guy this weekend in Philly and he explained why they were so amazing, but I couldn't explain it if my life depended on it, so I just say yes, you need them.

  4. I run in the Ravennas as well and absolutely LOVE them. You WILL feel a noticeable difference when you switch to the PureCadence, though. If you have anything that even resembles a heel strike, you'll feel it immediately. However, since it looks like you're already heading away from that, the PureCadence are the way to go since they'll train you out of it.

    That said - ease into them. I wear tested them which meant I jumped right into running 20-30 miles a week with them right away, and that... kind of hurt. They do have much more support than a traditional minimalist shoe, so you don't need to be quite as conservative about it, but I'd make sure you're super comfortable with them (and not sore the next day) on short runs before taking them out on something longer.

    Plus, they ARE super spiffy looking. You totally deserve some pretty new shoes.