Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shoe Review - Brooks Pure Project PureGrit

Who doesn't get excited when seeing this little blue box?!

And who doesn't love free stuff?!  All of this came with my new shoes!

I should preface this review with the disclaimer that I am NOT a professional runner.  I am NOT a professional product reviewer.  Any opinions I state here are purely my uneducated experience I have had with this shoe. 

I have been running in Brooks almost my entire running career, a short career of 5 years.  I had a brief stint with Asics when I first began, switched to Brooks Adrenaline shortly thereafter, and after a hip stress fracture, I realized that I was running in the wrong shoe and had too much structure to my shoes.  While running trails, I have ALWAYS run in the Brooks Cascadia which is a neutral trail shoe. It should be said that I LOVE my Cascadias. What was interesting to me I could not understand why I needed so much support in road running, but seemed to need less on the dirt.  Running in the neutral Cascadia gave me the confidence I needed to switch to the Glycerine last year and I have felt very, very comfortable in my neutral road shoes.

I did read Born to Run and while I can appreciate the minimalist approach to running, I don't think it is a good fit for me, at this point.  I am always interested in a lighter shoe with trends toward the "less is more" approach.

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of winning a gift card to Luke's Locker at the Casa 5K.  With that in hand, I headed to Luke's to see about some shoes.  I have been watching and waiting for the launch of the new Brooks Line of shoes, Pure Project since early this summer.  A few reviews had come across my path and though I am not a "minimalist" runner, I was intrigued by this new, lightweight, but not necessarily minimalist style shoe. 

I tried on a few others that have had my eye as well. Specifically, the NB Minimus and the Merrell Trail Glove.  While both of these shoes appeal to my sense of "less is more" and at first glance were very comfortable, a few steps on the treadmill and I knew that there is no way I was ready for them.  They are very minimal in nature and I am just not there in my gait yet.

I then asked about the PureGrit.  What I knew is that the heel drop was 4mm, so not quite at the same level as the other two shoes I had tried on, but certainly a shift from the 12 mm heel drop that I currently have on my Cascadias.  The shoe jock brought them out and I gave them a whirl.  They felt great going on and I took a spin in them on the tread mill.  I could feel a difference in the heel, but I knew that I would experience this from the outset.

I was ready to take the new treads home only to find out that they could not be sold till the next day, October 1st.  I was heartbroken.  Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love new shoes, especially new running shoes.  Knowing I would have to wait to come back and purchase them was Pure alright, pure torture.

I left the store, dismayed and deflated, but I did return to pick them up on October 2nd, exercising my patience muscle.    Probably the best part about buying these shoes was the final out of pocket expense for me.  With my gift card and running club member discount, these beauties cost me 16.00!

I knew I was going to have to wait a day to try them out since I had already run on Sunday morning.  I also knew that I would not be able to tolerate a long run in them as I needed to get acclimated to them over what I figured would be a few runs.

Last evening was the moment I had been waiting for.  I took the new babies out of their box and slipped them on.  First thing I noticed when putting them on was how very, very light they were.  7.6 ounces vs the Cascadia 10.4 ounces makes a huge difference.

I also loved the wide elastic strap across the nicely padded tongue of the shoe.  This made for a comfortably snug fit without the necessity of having to tie the laces too tightly.  I love a snug shoe, but I have found that if I tie the laces as tightly as I'd like, I end up with numbness in my foot.  This is not an issue with the Grit.  Very nice feature.

The shoes truly feel like as if they could be your favorite house slipper.  Comfortable, cushioning the boney areas of my feet, under the ball of the foot.  They were springy and yet, I could feel the ground beneath me.
The sole of the shoe has a one piece construction and seems very durable with rugged tread needed for the dirt.  There is a small split between the Great toe and the others and I believe this helps with the flexibility of the shoe and therefore the foot while traversing the rocks and such.

I headed out to the trail to run a short while before Yoga class.  I have been experiencing some Achilles Tendon pain in the right foot the last week or so and hoped that this would not be an issue.  The trail I ran had a nice flat, compact dirt aspect with a few rocks and sticks scattered about.  I could "feel" the trail much more effectively than in any other shoe I have run in.  Right away, I noticed the heel drop.  While running in the store, it didn't seem too significant of a change, but within 15 mins, I knew I was going to have to ease into these shoes.

My feet felt very comfortable.  My toes had plenty of room, and the legs felt much lighter than normal.  I run a few inclines and interestingly enough, felt like my legs were doing a bit more work than usual.
I even noticed my pace was up quite a bit, but that was short-lived.

By mile 1.5, both legs were feeling the effects of the lower heel drop and the calves were burning.  I took several walk breaks of a short duration to ease up the unpleasant feeling I was experiencing.  That feeling coupled with the Achilles issue on the right foot, gave me reason to stop at mile 3.   I figured out very quickly that the next two weeks should not be about trying out new shoes.  I have a 100 coming up and that needs to be my focus.

I also realized that though my running gait has changed quite a bit, I am still quite the heel striker.  I am definitely not striking the heels as hard as I used to, but I am not by any stretch of the imagination a mid to fore-foot runner, yet.

If I had to offer any negatives about the shoe thus far, my suggestion would be color.  I always feel drawn to the colors of the mens shoes.  I wish shoe folks would get that women don't always need "girly" colors.  I prefer power colors like red, orange, black, neon green, etc.  I love my bright yellow and bright green Cascadias.  Getting them dirty is a badge of honor and seemingly a right of passage for any trail runner.  Somehow, brown trail shoes seem somewhat anti-climactic.  How can I possibly get these things dirty?

I really, really like the PureGrit.  And I look forward to getting home from this race and taking them out for a few miles.  I will need to keep the runs shorter at first until I feel that my gait has acclimated to the change.  I am not willing to risk an injury at this point or really at any point just for a shoe.   


  1. Nice review! I have been eyeing the ads for these as I desperately need some trail shoes. I have been running exclusively in the Kinvaras since January, so I am used to the 4mm heel-toe drop and these might be nice to try out!

    Thanks for the review and enjoy the shoes!

  2. Nice review, you sure you don't do this for a living?! LOL

    I'm going grab a pair of Pure Flows in the next few weeks and hope they run and feel as awesome as they look!

  3. Great review! Just got my pair of Grits yesterday and love them already.

  4. I was just wondering if you purchased the same size as your normal Brooks shoes. I wear Brooks normally and would like to try out the Flows, but I usually buy my running shoes quite a bit larger than my normal shoe size since I am usually running long distances. How do you think these shoes run?

  5. Hey Kristine,
    I wear an 8 or 8.5 regular shoe. I wear a size 9.5 running shoe and this shoe stayed true to that for me. I bought the 9.5 and it seems to be a good fit.

  6. Great Review. I just bought them today and am looking forward to running in them. I currently run in the Cascadia's but they are much too heavy for OCR especially when they're covered in muck or going for a swim. I'm looking forward to the lighter weight and drainage for my next one. Happy Trails!