Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: Brooks Glycerin 9 - How Far is Too Far?

My Brooks Test Package included a shoe that Id not run in before. The Brooks Glycerin, currently in its ninth version.

The Glycerin 9 is the Rolls Royce in the Brooks neutral category... built for comfort. The extra cushioning is immediately obvious. The whole shoe just feels plush when you put it on. From the thick foam around the collar, to the extra thick tongue, even the material in the toe-box feels thicker than what you get in a Ghost. Walking around in them the shoe feels soft, luxurious and just a little bit squishy underfoot.

When I first put them on I just knew that id be able to stand up, head out the door, and run a decent distance in them without any issues. The shoes just felt really good on my feet, I had no points that were pinching or were too tight. I know a lot of reviewers think they have unusual feet. I guess that is normal, few of us have feet that exactly match the shoe makers last. Ive been cursed or blessed with a rather long 4th toe (the one beside the pinky) which means that I often have to go up a size in shoes to get the required width across the tips of my toes. The Glycerin 9 doesn't have a high scuff protector overlay so my toes have plenty of room to spread, making them ideal for me.

It had been wet and windy all day Saturday so it was especially inviting to wake up Sunday morning to clear skies, some residual fog, and cool temperatures around 4°c Conditions that just scream at the runner that they should be outside taking advantage of the moment. The perfect opportunity to christen a new pair of shoes.

I started off with my usual slow warm up jog, to the meeting point. The extra cushioning was nice under foot, definitely a lot softer than my ghosts. The group run started off at a pace of 5:45/km. We ran along a bike path beside the canal. The Glycerin's easily handling the crushed gravel path. still  comfortably soft but not too soft. After some 6km the only Lady in the group peeled off because she only wanted to run it was just the lads left.... lads being lads from then on the pace slowly crept up as the kilometers got ticked off over a mix of gravel and asphalt.

What surprised me was that as the pace kept climbing the Glycerins also seemed to get firmer under foot. Still not as firm as the ghosts, but nothing like the soft cushy 'walk on clouds' feeling you get when your walking in them. I Guess the DNA does what it says it does and firms up the midsole as the impact increases. We wound the pace down to around 4:50/km the glycerins took it all in their stride. My first run in the Glycerin 9's turned out to be just over 21km.

The Glycerin 9 has a substantial overlay package around the mid-foot and heel, This provides plenty of support and ensures that shoe doesn't move around on your foot. The segmented out-sole under the forefoot allows for a very smooth transition through to toe-off. The heel is very forgiving for a heel striker, or should your form deteriorate over time.

Personally i wouldn't pick these shoes for short fast racing, there are other shoes in the Brooks lineup that might be more appropriate, however if your looking for extra cushioning, want to feel super comfortable or are planning on raking up some high millage then you cant really go wrong with them.

Going Far

It was that High Millage point that really piqued my Interest. Id decided to attempt my first Ultra as a reward for an outstanding run in the Münster Marathon. The Röntgenlauf a 63km race in Remscheid over a mix of mostly non technical bike paths and asphalt seemed like the ideal candidate. The Glycerin 9 like a good shoe choice. All that i needed to do was make sure that they, and I, would be up to the challenge.

Two weeks out i put us both to the test. On Saturday I ran the teutoberglauf, in the Ghosts that had served me well in Münster. Sunday it was time for the Glycerins to step up to the plate with a longer training run. I headed for the Halterner Haard, 47km later it was getting dark, and my legs were shot. My feet on the other hand were just fine, wrapped in infinity socks and the Glycerin 9's.

Here's a short video I took of me unveiling my feet after that run through the Haard. Im speaking (murdering) German in the Video btw.
After that, the decision was easy, id use that exact same combination for the Röntgenlauf.

My experience at the Röntgenlauf was fantastic. Yes it was hard, the hills were tough, and my legs were feeling it towards the end, but i achieved a great result for my debut. I must give some credit for that to the shoes, my feet posed me no problems during the race. The combination of the thick Infinity Socks and Glycerin 9 protected them from the pounding I gave them over the 63km course. In the final 10km's it was just a battle between my will, and my legs. My feet were fine, i didn't have any blisters or hot spots, nothing to make those last 10k harder than they were.

Ive done my best to find the Distance Limit for the Glycerin, but it has me beat as the guys at activegearreview say 'you’ll quit long before they do'. For comfort, for high millage the Glycerin 9 is a fantastic shoe. My pair is going to see some pretty hard usage this winter, especially on my long runs, as I build up for Boston. I know that they can handle it.

Run Happy

1 comment:

  1. This was my first pair of Brooks shoes - women's Glycerin 9's. Before this pair, I mostly wore Asics and Saucony both for running and walking, and I never had a problem with them falling apart. But only four months into this Brooks pair (and about 100 miles), the treads began to pull off the bottom of the right shoe. I did not run in them and only wore them casually a few hours a day a few days a week to run errands. They still looked brand new, including the treads with minimal treadwear, when the first tread began to tear off.

    I contacted Brooks, and first they said these shoes are for running and not walking. Then they said they're only supposed to last 300-500 miles or 4-6 months. I filed a claim for defective item, and they said the shoes had run their course and it was time for a new pair. From now on I'll stick with Asics or Saucony, both of which I wore for over a year with minimal treadwear.