UPDATE: I have added a new, wear tested review of the Pure Connect with some serious revelations. In other words, it just didn't work out. Please see the link HERE.
***CLICK HERE to read my all new detailed post about the Pure Connect and the Pure Project Line...in hand pics and review!***
As most of my readers (all 8,000+ of you according to my stat trackers!) know, I have been working on a project to reduce my stride length, wear shoes that interfere less and less with my natural stride (which incidentally was always sort of mid-foot), and run safely and efficiently using a "barefoot" gait. This change has been overwhelmingly positive for me, along with my decision to commit more fully to a plant-based diet and cut the clutter from our lives. These changes have resulted in a runner that enjoys running more, enjoys running longer, and enjoys running faster. In other words, I'm still working on it, but early results signal that I am better able to cope with my training and life in general after these positive changes in technique, diet, and lifestyle. Read about my "less is more" odyssey HERE.
The only hitch with this transition is that I have been a part of the Brooks Inspire Daily (ID) program (until the end of 2010) and am now a part of the Brooks Fanatics program. Brooks Fanatics is less intense than the ID program in that it did not require any sort of formal exclusivity agreement, there is less free swag, and the program is as much about sharing and enjoying common experiences as it is about working hard to evangelize the brand. Of course, singing the many praises of Brooks is easy for me, and I almost always wear Brooks gear from the ankles up nearly exclusively (but I have been experimenting with a few other shoe brands...more on that in a minute). I have ten pairs of Brooks shorts, for instance. And 12 shirts. And many, many socks. Oh, and hats...and jackets and vests and, and, and....
Brooks is hand's down the best in the business, in my opinion, for their commitment to the environment and their compassionate care for the runner (not to mention their generous support of grassroots running, helping out guys like me). The problem comes in here: Brooks doesn't offer any shoes that I classify as truly minimalist at this time. They do have a lot of reduced options (mostly racing flats and cross country shoes) but they don't have anything with the very low heel-toe ramp angle, flat insole without arch support, wide anatomical fit, and flexibility I have come to enjoy in my more recent shoe buys.
I have worn Brooks Cascadias for trail runs, mostly on recovery days, and I wear them everywhere casually. However, I take out the insoles. All of the more conventional shoes feel like they interfere with my stride now. I know this because of real-world testing with some of my more conventional (albeit excellent) road shoes. I get aches and pains and struggle to land softly and with the quick rhythm I have developed while barefoot running and running in minimal shoes.
All that is about to change. Recently, Brooks announced that they are releasing an all-new line of what they call "feel" shoes to complement the traditional "float" shoes they are known for. The "feel" shoes are all of those things I have been asking for in a shoe lately, and with the typical Brooks Running flair, quality, and innovation. See them all HERE. I can't wait. The will have three road versions which will vary from the very stripped down to slightly more robust (but still wide and flat-ish). They will also offer a shoe called the Pure Grit....a trail shoe that, on paper, is a direct rival to the New Balance Minimus Trail.
Here are the two I will
|The trail-specific Pure Grit|
|The most minimal shoe in the line, the Pure Connect|
Some people in the hardcore barefooter and minimal running community take this stuff very seriously. There has even been criticism that Brooks has taken a controversial path to "minimalism" by working with a renowned marketing firm to help determine what runners want in a minimal shoe. I don't agree that there is an issue there. Honestly, while I believe strongly that a barefooter/minimal approach could help many, many (most?) runners, I am not going to vilify anyone for producing running shoes of many kinds, at least for now. In the near future, with additional research, maybe all running shoes will go minimal. Maybe extreme pronation-control shoes will be fully exposed as causing as many injuries as they prevent. Maybe not. The science is getting more and more compelling, but it is by no means 100% conclusive yet (no matter how strongly I personally feel about it!) The thing is, Rome was not built in a day. Look at American car companies that are now producing awesome fuel efficient cars that easily compete with the foreign counterparts. Not built in a day.
All I really care about is that Brooks is making a great new line of minimalist running shoes that I am thrilled about, and they did it like any business would...researching the potential customer. In fact, they say they talked to a lot of beginning runners and got much of the information about what the Pure Project would offer in that way. Isn't that a good thing for many in my boat? Ask and ye shall receive! I wish all companies would respond to the customer this way. In my mind, if conventional running shoes were forced on us by the running shoe company behemoths, minimal shoes are being developed by the companies as a result of a real swell of support from the grass roots. Power to the runners.