Thursday, 15 December 2011

Review: Brooks Ghost 4 - An Allrounder

I recently obtained a pair of Brooks Ghost 4’s, this time not as part of my test packet. I have done the bulk of my training in several pairs of an earlier version, the Ghost 2. So I was really looking forward to this shoe. The first steps in the new Ghosts are comfortable, however…. I notice that the toe box feels a little restrictive. My toes were still a little swollen from the Röntgenlauf and the tip of the 4th toe was touching the end of the toe box… I decided to take the shoes off and put them on the shelf until I was fully recovered.

A week later when I next put them on, I got that ‘If I want I could go run 20km right now’ feel that I have come to expect from Brook’s shoes. With the swelling gone down my toes were no longer touching the toe box, although the 4th toe is still pretty close. The Shoe feels comfortably springy under foot. The heel seems quite soft when walking on it. I also notice that the tongue and heel cup seem to have a bit more padding than the Ghost 2. The shoe, or more likely the sock liner also appears to have lost a little height under that arch, something that you notice in the Ghost 2.

The Ghost 4 has the Brooks DNA material in the heel and forefoot, so I knew I could expect the shoe to feel firmer when I started running. My first run was the previously mentioned 20km. The Shoe does indeed firm up once you’re running but retainins its flexibility. Personally I try to avoid over striding and coming down hard on my heel, but in a shoe like the Ghost I do still land on my heel, especially after about 10-15km, the shoe transitions really nicely from the heel onto the toe. 

The first run went well, as did the next few runs in the Ghost 4’s. However I cannot help comparing them to the ghost 2’s that Id been using previously, and unfortunately there are a couple of points where in my opinion they are not an improvement.

Firstly there is the weight issue. The Ghost was originally considered a light or at least a lighter trainer. My Ghost 2 weighs in at 306g in a US 9. The Ghost 4 is now up to 320g not really a lot ill agree but in my US13’s the difference is noticeable. The Ghost appears to be bucking the trend of shoes getting lighter. It has consistently put on weight with each new release. I guess the definition of light has also changed and now the Brooks Launch with its 260g better fills the Light Neutral Trainer slot. 
Next is the overlays around the toe box. For me they come up a little too high which then causes that closeness to my 4th toe. In the ghost 2 the overlay is lower and allows the material in the toe box to spread just a little more.

However there are a number of areas where I do think they are better.

The outsole is a big improvement. In the Ghost 2 the forefoot is loosely divided into 3 sections in the Ghost 4 its 4 sections. With a deeper ‘Omega Groove’ cut into the midsole material. This provides even greater flexibility in the forefoot. The heel with its caterpillar crash pads help absorb and isolate the impact during a heel landing better. Although I am a little concerned at the relatively small amount of carbon rubber back there.

The Ghost4 has a good set of reflectors on the heel and another on the toe that the Ghost2 is missing. Anything that improves the safety of running in the dark or at dusk gets a big thumb’s up from me.

The Ghost 4 is an excellent all rounder, It is light and flexible enough to use during faster workouts, whilst robust and stable enough to cater for any amount of long training runs. This versatility has helped the Ghost 4 to a repeat 'Editors Choice' award from Runners World magazine. If you only have one pair of shoes in your closet then the Ghost 4 would be an excellent choice.

The ultimate question in any review is, Knowing what I know now about the shoe, would I go out and buy it again? Unfortunately for the Ghost 4 my answer at the moment is 'no'. The problem for me is that for what I would use the Ghost 4 for there is a slightly better big brother in the Glycerin 9, Ill explain my reasoning in an upcoming post. However that doesn't mean I don't recommend this shoe. For anyone looking for a Neutral Trainer you should consider the Ghost 4. After all, the little points that sway me in favor of the Glycerin 9 might just be the negatives that sway you towards the Ghost 4. 

Run Happy 

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