Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brooks Glycerin 8: The First 300 Miles...

My Uncle Steve — a hot rod builder and car salesman since my earliest memories — has always said, "There's a butt for every seat." What this means, of course, is that my ideal ride might not be yours might not be your friend's grandma's. And so it goes with running shoes... finding the right one is a matter of test drives. With that in mind, here's my (300 mile) trip around the block with the Brooks Glycerin 8.

Let it be known that my baseline for this review is a "well-loved" pair of Asics, retired with 1,100 miles on the odometer. Advantage, new shoes. Also, it's well-documented that I'm suffering from False Rockstar Syndrome after acceptance to the Brooks I.D. program. Advantage, new shoes.

Disclosures having been disclosed...

I love these kicks! Just look at 'em. Right outta the box, fresh and clean and smelling... y'know, new! First impressions were entirely visual, and this is a good looking shoe (in my opinion, much better in the black/yellow colorway than its alternate blue/white version). Plus, yellow is fast. Everyone knows that. And while the tribal tattoo-ish details might not be for everyone, they've grown on me.

I started to examine the Glycerin's build and first noticed its short tongue. Many running kicks have a big, fluffy tongue that rises well above the laces when the shoe's tied. Spoiler alert! That extra pillow flopping over your rabbit-ears isn't doing anything! The next build feature that struck me was the Glycerin's "rolled" toe. The front of the shoe seemed to turn decidedly upward and forward. I quickly grabbed my Brooks Cascadia 4's for a comparison. Yep.

Ok, let's get out on the road! The very first time I laced up, my gut impression was, wait for it... ventilation! Ahhhhhhhh. The airflow through these shoes was (and continues to be) remarkable — appreciated on warm days and essential on long runs. Next was cushioning (I think I told my wife it was like running on clouds) and stability (the platform on the Glycerins is considerably wider than my Asics', but it has never felt clunky). Next was the effect of the rolled toe. Call it placebo, but I could feel myself being propelled forward.

300 miles in...

At this point, some runners are already thinking about their next pair of shoes. I say we're just getting to know each other! So, where do the Glycerins stand after daily lunch runs in the rain, weekend 20-milers... and the indignity of being stuffed into a messenger backpack alongside sweaty bike gear?

300 miles in, the Glycerins appear no worse for the wear. Save for some expected tread loss and residual cow poop (thanks, Montana), the shoes are as-new. No stitching has loosened, nothing has come unglued. The forward roll is a booster on long runs, and even seems to have helped "train" those biomechanics when I switch to racing flats. And that low tongue? I'm happy to report that there's has been no pinching or other discomfort. In fact, I've found it easier to dial-in lace tightness without the extra fluff. Wherever I set the knot, there it stays.

I've traveled with these shoes twice. In Montana, we kicked through 10 miles of icy dirt road (and splashed home through mud after the morning thaw). Traction was never an issue. In Reno, we explored 50 miles of unknown asphalt, trails, and red rock. Though the Glycerins are certainly not a trail shoe, they're definitely stable enough for short off-road jaunts.

In grand and glorious summary...

In my time with the Glycerins, I've found no gripes. They are good looking, comfortable, and confidence-inspiring on any surface. For me at least, the fit is so natural that I often forget the shoes are even there... and that's perhaps the ultimate testament. So, if you're a neutral striker looking for a stable trainer, I say put your butt in this seat for a test drive!

Have you run in the Glycerins? I'd love to hear your impressions in the comments.

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