Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Review: Pure Connect - Feelings

Ah yes ladies finally a man that wants to talk about his feelings...
When brooks introduced the new PureProject line they used a graph to show the difference between them and the shoes in their traditional range. The graph shows a new scale Float vs Feel.

It highlights the different feeling of running in the pure project shoes. The Pure Project is all about feeling more on your run. Feeling connected with your running environment.

As soon as you start talking about minimal shoes people will raise ground feel, the theory seems to go that good ground feel is crucial to a good minimal shoe. Personally I do some of my runs completely barefoot, some in very minimal shoes, some in the pure Connect, and a lot of miles in traditional trainers. When barefoot you have the most ground feel, and as a result spend a fair amount of your run paying particular attention to the running environment in the next 5-10 meters. In very minimal shoes, small gravel is no longer a concern but larger stones or sticks still require considerable attention to the road ahead. 
In a shoe like the pureConnect with a reasonable amount of cushioning underfoot these concerns about painful objects lying on the path disappear. You do still feel a stone or a stick if you stand on it, but there is no painful jab, and you'll not end up with a bruise if you were distracted by the view. Which brings me to the actual point, with the pureConnect there is enough protection that you can take a good long look at the view, and enjoy the running environment around you. Yet you still receive significantly more feedback about the particular running surface than in a traditional trainer. For me both are equally important elements of feeling connected to my running environment.

In the post about my initial thoughts on the pureConnect I mentioned that wearing them you feel fast. I'm not sure what it is in particular, perhaps a combination of their lightness, how they fit, and how the foot lands but when I run in them I feel like I can run really fast. I feel light on my feet, its almost cat like. I'm not entirely sure that you really would be faster in a race, I have only worn the Connects in one race, and although I did set a new PB I was hoping for a faster time than I ran.

When you put the connect's on you will definitely feel the shoe. The Nav Band has received a lot of comments. In the connects it does a great job of holding the shoe close to your foot, your foot feels like it is cocooned by the shoe. The mid-foot is held up close under the arch, there is little actual support but you do feel the shoe touching your arch. Personally I like that feeling, but it has received mixed reviews in the blogosphare.

After a run in the connect's I definitely feel my legs a lot more. My barefoot running, and my occasional use of minimal shoes meant my calf's don't get particularly sore running in a flatter shoe. What I did notice is the small muscles to either side of the main calf. They were definitely getting more of a workout than previously. I think this can be traced back to the relatively narrow and rounded sole. It makes the shoe sometimes feel a little unstable underfoot. I suspect that the muscles are being activated to stabilize the foot. Initially this mean I was reluctant to run more than about 10k, but after several months of adaption I can Run Happy for 20 km.

The only fault I have with them is that I find them just a tad restrictive in the toe box, I would prefer that the toe box be a bit wider and a little more rounded. Then it would suit my feet better. I would also argue that the hardened re-enforcing around the toe box could be removed. Perhaps something more like the softer overlays used in the green silence would be better, and allow the shoe to have a little more give to accommodate a wider variety of foot shapes.

Overall though my feelings for the PureConnect haven't changed significantly, the initial limmerance has faded, but the connects still have a place in my regular shoe rotation. I will continue to use them as a foot training tool on my short and medium length runs, and occasionally for speed work or short races. The connects do give me a different running feeling to traditional trainers and thats something I really enjoy.

By the way, there are now new color variations available so if that original Evil green color didn't tickle your fancy, or co-ordinate with your running wardrobe, then maybe one of the new ones pictured here might.

Ok, so apologies to the ladies, I know its not what you hopped for from the opening line, but at least it was abouts shoes…. Right….no?

Run Happy

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