I’m not sure exactly when the trend of in-your-face neon shoes rolled onto the scene, but I LIKE it! These babies immediately caught my attention and I quickly determined I wanted one in each color (I know, I know – never pick a running shoe based on color, BUT did you see how pretty they are?!?)
Luckily, after hearing all there was to hear about the PureProject line, I was still very interested in the shoes (though I was a teensy bit sad the pink one I had my eyes on didn’t fit my needs) and still couldn’t wait to try one of them out when I got home.
The PureProject line is Brooks’ version of minimalist shoes. The terms “barefoot running” and “minimalist” are BIG buzzwords in the running world right now, but – to be truthful – I didn’t know much about either until I met with Brooks. I’ve read some articles on the new trends, but not much. I knew that running barefoot forced heel strikers to become toe strikers, which could potentially help out with knee problems or IT band issues. I also knew that barefoot running was something you had to eventually work yourself up to, or risk injury. What I didn’t know was why.
When we start out as runners, our bodies learn to naturally adapt to running a certain way. Whether it be striking the ground with our heels, the middle of our foot, or the toes first; the muscles and tendons that run all the way from our hips to our feet work together to make the strike happen. If we change the position of our strike – and thus change the position of our form – our body has to realign itself to process in a way that doesn’t feel natural to it. The body may revolt, which leads to injury. This is why new barefoot runners who are now striking on their toes instead of their heels are instructed to start out slow and work their way up. This allows their bodies a chance to adapt and trains the muscles to anticipate the new way of striking. This could take anywhere from a few months, to over a year to accomplish.
When Brooks took a hard look at barefoot running, it wasn’t the forced toe striking that caught their attention – the risk of injury was too great for that. Instead, they were inspired by the natural motion of the foot in barefoot running and the experience attached with feeling the ground. When developing the PureProject line, their objective was to promote the natural motion on a softer surface, so the body could still hit in its natural way.
Minimalist shoes are all about activating the feet to create balance and to experience the “nitty-gritty” portions of the run. The PureProject line does not change your footfall pattern, which allows your feet and muscles to activate in a safe and natural way. The shoes are bio-mechanicanally the same with how your foot would hit in any other shoes, it’s just a preference of experience.
Basically, the PureProject line is about as close as you can get to barefoot running in the terms of feeling the ground without needing to change your strike or, you know, run barefoot. “Feel more with less” is the tagline.
Within the PureProject line, there are four “pure” shoes.
Built for trail runners who want to feel the trail under their feet. The light shoe allows the foot to control the run. The concave shape and the pivot center of the shoe allows for a more active experience.
The PureCadence offers a little more stability with mild to moderate support, which makes it the perfect minimalist shoe for the overpronator. The PureCadence is typically recommended for the Adrenaline shoe runners.
A neutral minimalist shoe that is favorited by Ghost runners. Very lightweight with mild support that allows for an engaged running experience.
The lightest and most flexible shoe of the PureProject series, the PureConnect allows runners to feel the most connected to the ground. This shoe is as minimalist as the PureProject line gets.
When first looking at the shoes, I was all set to put my money on the Pure Cadence – what? the pink sold me! – but I quickly discovered the PureCadence was not the shoe for me. Since I am not an overpronator, I had no need for the additional support. Darn.
Instead I decided to test out the PureConnect. Seeing as the connect allows you to “connect” most with the ground, I figured it was better to go big or go home with this one.
Yes, the neon green is just as bright and crazy in person. I love it.
The shoe itself is light as a feather and feels like nothing when you pick it up or put it on your feet. The secret to the light weight is the open mesh material. The material also allows your foot to breathe, which is a HUGE plus in the Florida summer heat.
The shoe also fits like a glove thanks to the nav band, which runs across the top of your foot width wise.
The first time I put the shoes on I was surprised how unstable I felt in the shoe. The bottom almost gave a cleet-like feeling. The grooves and natural crevices are meant to mimic foot anatomy, creating balance. Running felt right with the crevices, but just standing on my tile in the kitchen felt off – it took a minute to get used to it.
I took the PureConnects on their first run yesterday morning. We did a 4 mile straight and back, all on sidewalk.
My initial impression was how incredibly light these babies were. I really did feel like I was wearing nothing on my feet and it was just me and the road. I thought I would feel every rock or bump on the run, but that wasn’t the case. No rocks, no bumps, and no pounding of the legs. There weren’t any changes in my stride, or where my feet struck the ground. It felt normal, only my feet/legs were working a tad harder to grip the ground.I got that feeling that I was “connected” to the run, and it was awesome.
I thought they were fun. It was definitely a different experience compared to my cushiony Glycerins (which are like little pillows on my feet), but not in a bad way – just a different way.
Minimalist shoes are not meant to be a racing shoe. They are all about activating the feet to create balance, while in a race you want a shoe to create efficiency in terms of speed (i.e. let the shoe do the work while you run). The PureProject line is not about speed, it’s about experience. They’re there for when a runner wants to have a little fun or to break up everyday running.
They’re so light, I wouldn’t mind making the PureConnects my go-to traveling running shoe. I also think it’s just fun to mix it up every once in a while. It’s always a good idea for runners to have a toolbox of running shoes. Being open to the idea of choice keeps it fun and exciting. There are no right or wrong answers – it’s just about what you’re in the mood for and what works for you. 🙂
Brooks Running PureProject Giveaway
Alright, now that I’ve told you almost everything you need to know about the PureProject line (well, not really, I could probably fill up a few more blog posts on this line of shoes!) here’s your chance to win a pair and check them out for yourself!
One lucky Meals and Miles reader will win a pair of Brooks PureProject shoes of whatever they’d like. Simply leave a comment below with which shoe you would choose and why. Comments will be accepted until 8:00am on Thursday, July 19th. I will then announce the winner in that morning’s post.
This contest is open to US residents only.
I received a free pair of the Brooks PureConnects to review as part of my Brooks Ambassadorship. All opinions are my own.