Brooks is out with their new minimalist lineup branded as the “Brooks Pure Project.” I have been a supporter of Brooks for a while as they were one of the leaders in the forefoot running shoe categories. In fact, the Brooks Mach has been my go-to shoe for a while (probably putting over the 500 suggested miles on them by now). The Pure Project is of course a bit of a branding effort by the company, however there are some great shoes in the lineup.
So how does a shoe gain admission into the Pure Project? It takes a lightweight shoe with a flexible sole and of course a low-rise profile. Those are all no-brainers for a forefoot running shoe. So the real innovation here is in the new outsole called BioMoGo DNA. It solves the classic dilemma in minimalist running shoes of having too little cushion. This technology provides great connection to the running surface while still providing adequate cushioning for longer runs. If that doesn’t sell you enough, the BioMoGo is completley biodegradable, decomposing 50 times faster than rubber based running shoes. For a full explanation of the technologies in these shoes, check out the PureProject on the Brooks website.
So let’s get into the shoes…
PureDrift is the most minimalist of them all. It has the lowest heel height of 1mm and it is the lightest weight at only 6oz. This shoe is perfect for runners who are used to minimal shoes but are looking for a bit more support than a racing flat.
PureConnect is a bit heavier than the PureDrift, weighing in at 8oz. It has essentially the same features PureDrift with just more of a substantial upper. This is still an extremely lightweight shoe however.
PureFlow provides even more cushioning but remains a great minimalist shoe with a toe to heal offset of only 4mm. This would be ideal for a runner still transitioning into a forefoot strike or for longer runs.
PureGrit is the specialized shoe in the collection designed primarily for trail running. The outsole sets this shoe apart providing better traction, durability and more surface area to tackle the demanding terrain.
All these shoes are in their second generation and from the looks of it are doing really well. As I always suggest, take a look a the previous generation for the same shoe at a great price.
New Balance is making it clearer than ever that they listen to their customers. Inspired by feedback from their hardcore running base (including me), New Balance has released a whole new line just for forefoot running. As many of you know, the end of my favorite shoe of all time was hard on me, however it appears New Balance has replaced it with something even more impressive. Their goal is to combine the best shoe technology with the newest barefoot running innovations. Of course, the best source of barefoot running technology is Vibram. Taking a similar path as the Merrell shoe featured recently, the Minimus line features soles made by Vibram. This provides a light-weight base and provides a great feel underfoot.
The Minimus line is growing quickly with new models. You can select between the road or trail version with the latter providing the extra traction to get you through the dirt. I suggest starting out with MT20 (for men)/WT20 (for women) line. These have cut the drop from heel to forefoot to only 4mm. For those who have a bit more experience with forefoot running, you may want to wait until March 2012 for the Minimus Zero to be released. This will be even lighter and feature zero drop from heel to forefoot.
Whether you decide to try these shoes or not, we can at least sit back and appreciate the fact that these companies are listening to their customers.
Check them out:
New Balance – Minimus MO10BK (Black/Blue) – Footwear
Since this website tends to focus on all of the new developments in forefoot running, I wanted to take a step back and highlight a shoe that pioneered the minimalist shoe movement. Saucony has always been a company for runners and has developed many innovations over the years for forefoot runners. The Bullet was developed in 1985 specifically for field and track athletes. Today, Saucony is producing a replica of this original shoe for casual wear and light athletic activity. This is one shoe I have featured that might favor form over function, however it remains a great minimalist shoe. What it might lack in new technology, it makes up for in style. So would I suggest these shoes for your next half marathon? No. But I’m pretty sure you’re not running all the time and these would make a great shoe for everyday activities. I’m told retro never goes out of style. Check these out on Zappos:
The shoe options for forefoot runners has truly exploded over the past couple of years and today we are seeing the most innovative products for our running style. Merrell, known for their great trail running shoes have teamed up with Vibram, famous for their Five Finger barefoot running shoes to make the Trail Glove. This is one of the most unique shoes featured on this site and will surely encourage copycats to follow. The partnership between Merrell and Vibram combines the knowledge of both companies to create a lightweight, but supportive shoe for a unique trail-running experience. However, this shoe is not only for trails and can be used as an everyday trainer. Other forefoot runners have commented on the durability of the shoe. This is due to the reinforced forefoot sole that not only protects your feet but also increases the durability. Read the other great reviews at Zappos:
A common problem among many forefoot runners is trying to find a light-weight shoe that accommodates a wide foot. The racing flats featured on this site offer a great option however they often feature narrow forefoot areas. Further, many newly converted forefoot runners find that their foot actually widens as they transform their running style. These people might find it more comfortable to run in wider shoes until their foot stabilizes.
Luckily, New Balance has always been a company to provide options for runners with wider feet. The RX507 is available in medium width or wide width (size EE) which is quite unusual for racing flats. The shoe itself is perfect for forefoot running. It has a low profile, is light weight and has a reinforced forefoot area. Because it was designed for cross country athletes, durability is emphasized with a great rubber sole. Also the competitive version of the shoe comes with spikes so be sure you’re getting the spikeless version if you’re mostly doing road running.
And perhaps the best feature, this shoe retails for under $50. Check them out here:New Balance RX507RG Cross Country Running Spike
As many forefoot strike runners know, Newton Running is the most famous running shoe brand in this category. They got this reputation by being a leader and daring to construct an entire company around forefoot running. Whether you like their shoes or not, you have to respect their innovation and ability to challenge the big running shoe companies.
The shoe itself is quite an experience and I would recommend all forefoot runners to at least try them on. They are unique because the cushioning usually placed on the heals of running shoes are moved directly under the forefoot. It feels as if your forefoot is above your heel. This is a very different feeling than you get from some of the other racing flats featured on this site since racing flats lack this extra forefoot cushioning. The benefit of the Newton design for beginners is that it forces you into forefoot striking because landing on your heels feels very odd in this shoe. Beginners should definitely look at the Sir Issac model, although it is appropriate for all levels. If you have tried racing flats and like that style, Newton makes a light weight racer called the Distancia that mimics the feel of these racers with a bit more cushioning. They have continued to add to the variety of their offerings and now even include wide models for a more spacious forefoot area. Check out their website for all the models: Newton Running Shoes
Because of their fame, Newton Running has attracted both critics and supporters in recent years. For me, the price tag was always a bit of a deterrent and I have become accustomed to the minimalist cushioning provided by racing flats. Everyone runs differently however, and many forefoot runners will use nothing but Newtons. It’s at least worth a try.
Visit Newton Running to learn more about how to improve your running.