About Matt Williams

Thirty something wannabe runner planning on running a long way and for many years to come.

Brooks Pure Drift – Review

I’ve finally got round to having some spare time to write up my thoughts on the Pure Drift shoes I had received the last time I blogged. It’s been a hectic few weeks with a lot of travel for work, mixed with a lovely weekend away in the countryside and a couple of personal situations which have required a fair chunk of time.

I managed to rack up over 30 miles in the Pure Drifts in the week that I had them, not a bad effort considering I’ve been averaging somewhere in the mid 20’s.

  • 8 mile steady run at target Marathon Pace (9:00min/mile)
  • 1.5mile jog with my wife (she’s started running, hoorah!)
  • 13.8miles long slow run over to Gary’s house followed by an awesome roast dinner (9:22min/mile)
  • Another 1.5miler with Becca (she’s getting keen)
  • 6.5miles with Hill Repeats

I also wore the shoes quite a bit around the house and walking out and about, they’re incredibly comfortable and have a slipper-like quality to them when indoors, I nearly forgot I was wearing shoes rather than actual slippers.

Rather than have me list out the blurb and specifications on the shoes, I’ll link to the Brooks Site and make this blog about my own opinions, what worked for me and what didn’t.

Pure Drift vs Road-X 233

Pure Drift vs Road-X 233

What I liked

  • This is a light shoe and putting it on made me feel fast. As you can see in the above picture it weighs a good 53g less than my regular Inov Bare-x 233’s. That’s a nearly 25% reduction in weight.
  • The cushioning, minimal thought it may be, is effective. I’d been having some pain on the bottom of my left foot behind my toes, I think caused my the move to a more midfoot/forefoot landing in less cushioned shoes. It was only when I was on my final run in these, that I’d realised I hadn’t experienced any of that pain at all whilst wearing them. Incidentally I haven’t had any more pain since, so the issue with my foot has either worked it’s way away naturally, or the shoes helped. Either way, the second I put these on, I didn’t have any pain, even after 14miles, and the soles of my feet felt good.
  • No blisters (with one exception, see below). Other shoes have caused hotspots and rubbing on various parts of my feet. I didn’t have any issues at all with them in these shoes. I even ran with existing blisters and they weren’t irritated at all.
  • 4mm heel-toe drop. Even though my Inov8’s are 6mm, I could tell the difference. It became much easier to land on my forefoot and I was able to retain my form a lot more naturally. It didn’t require much thought to correct things if I felt my foot land a little heavy at times.
  • The lacing – I wasn’t sure about the asymmetrical lacing system, but I found once my shoes were tied they stayed tied (this is a good thing as it’s not always the case with me). I also didn’t need to stop or adjust the laces tighter or looser at any point, once they were on my feet and tied, I forgot about them.
  • Flexibility, the modular ‘podded’ sole allows for superb flexibility in all areas of the foot and in all directions. This combined with a flexibly and breathable upper makes for a running shoe you forget you’re wearing
Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

What I didn’t like

  • The anatomical last of the shoe is meant to mirror the shape of the foot, and as such it curves more than most traditional running shoes. What I found and mentioned before was that it felt a bit tight on my left foot and my toes were near the end of the shoe. Whilst it didn’t bother me on my first run, after my long run I found I had blisters across the tip of my second toe. I’m ‘lucky’ enough to be in the 10% of the population to have the condition known as Morton’s Toe, where the second toe is longer than the big toe, and I suspect that the natural shape of the shoe is more inclined to accommodate a foot with a longer big toe as that fits the natural curve better. If I were going to get a pair of these for myself, I’d have to go at least a half size bigger to avoid this happening, which may throw out the perfect fit of the rest of the shoe.
  • The pods on the bottom of the shoe that allow for flexibility did become noticeable towards the end of my longer runs and as I wore the shoe more. I’m not sure if this is a settling down period, but I was able to tell exactly where the pods were located by the feel of my foot landing. This didn’t cause any issues, but was the only thing that stopped me being able to absolutely forget I had the shoes on.
  • I also managed to get a pea-sized stone stuck between 2 of the pods that managed to start working it’s way up into the soft EVA and started digging into my foot.
  • The ‘burrito-style’ upper, where one side of the upper actually becomes the tongue was quite a neat design, but due to the way my feet are shaped, when the laces were tightened it really became bunched up just above the toes (you can see this on the above picture). This didn’t seem to cause any issues whilst running, but would make me concerned for long term usage.
  • EVA soles – There is a lot of exposed EVA on the bottom of the shoes, some of it in areas that I land on regularly, and after a week I could already see it wearing down notably, although the black rubber still looked good.

Final Thoughts

I really did like these shoes and could see them becoming a part of my shoe collection and filling in a role as a low-mileage training shoe or even for short distance races (5k etc.). Whilst I didn’t have issues with them on my longer runs, I do have some concerns about the durability of the EVA areas if I were to put high mileage on them, especially with the relatively high price point of £90+. With my plans to do both my first Marathon and first Ultra-Marathon this year, these won’t be the next shoe I buy. I’m more inclined at present to go for a low-drop higher-cushioned shoe like the new Hokas or the Altra Instinct 1.5, simply due to the high mileage I’m going to need to put in, I feel like I’d get much better value for money.

On the plus side, due to how much I did like the shoe we’re considering using the £25 voucher from Brooks and getting a pair from the Pure range for Becca, she wants to do a half-marathon with my sister later in the year and her current running footwear options are horrendous.

Advertisements

Brooks Pure Project – Free Shoes for a week!

Yesterday I went and picked up the Brooks Pure Drift Shoes I’d signed up to test back in January. I’ve got them for one week before I have to return them and give my feedback on them to a Brooks representative. At which time, I’ll get a voucher for £25 off the price of a new pair of Brooks shoes if I so wish (which is unlikely, I just wanted to try them out and rest the Inov8’s for a week).

Brooks Pure Drift

Brooks Pure Drift

Out of the box I was impressed with how light and flexible they are. My Inov8’s are not heavy shoes at all, but these are notably lighter, a lot of this weight saving I think comes from them only putting rubber on the most used areas of the sole (the black sections in the picture), and leaving the white exposed EVA elsewhere.

Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

Once I’d put them on, I was impressed with the fit, although a little nervous that the toes on my left foot were very close to the end of the shoe. The Pure Drift has an anatomical (curvy) shape that looks unusual off the foot, but feels very good when on, and doesn’t look at all weird. After one steady 8 mile run at target marathon pace I’m impressed, the main thing I liked about them was that by the end of the run, I’d forgotten I was wearing and testing new shoes, they just felt right. The fit wasn’t a concern at all, nor were blisters, the ones I had acquired on Tuesday’s run weren’t aggravated at all in them, although I was wearing a new pair of socks, which may have helped with some of the friction.

I’ll write up a more full review next week, after I’ve done a longer run and hopefully some speed work, that’ll allow me to ensure I give the Brooks rep my full and honest feedback when I hand them back.

Long Slow Run – Three words, all important.

The past couple of weeks my long runs have been in a bit of a ‘funk’, they’re just steady, minimal effort time-on-feet workouts. I was starting to get a little bit nervous about the speed I was doing (9:30min/mile) and if this would be good enough to get me over the Marathon distance in under 4hrs, for which I have to average below 9:09min/mile. So this week I decided to do something different on my long run, which has made me appreciate more that in the phrase ‘Long slow run’, all 3 of the words are equally important.

Long Fast RunAs you can see from the run above, I set out to do a 7mile there-and-back route for my long run, which was mistake number 1. Actually, it wouldn’t have been a mistake other than it was compounded by the idea that I wanted to do it with some effort this week. On Saturday, my friend Gary, who I’m running the marathon with did his long run of 12miles at 8:30min/miles. Gary is the one who first bullied me into signing up for the marathon, or to be precise, he twisted my arm gently and I agreed pretty quickly. This inspired me to want to go out and see if I could do the same. Sadly, I forgot Gary lives on the sea front, so did a 12mile run with around 280ft of elevation total throughout. The route I picked, had 3 times as much total elevation, including some pretty long steady climbs, and a couple of very short but very steep routes. Oh, and I also got lost on the way back, which is why there’s a weird loop on the map rather than a nice line going straight out and straight back.

I did manage it, but yesterday wasn’t a fun rest day as my calves, glutes and thighs were all sore from the effort of foolishly sticking to 8:30min/mile pace. I did manage it, but it hurt, both at the time, and afterwards. I’m not stupid enough to think that 8:30min/mile is achievable for the marathon just yet, doing it in under 4hrs is still the goal, and I need to base my training around that, including making my weekend runs longer and slower. Time on feet is the key, not the speed of a training run. You don’t get rewards from a training run.

I’ve managed to shake out most of the kinks from my legs with a nice steady 5mile run today. I even put my Vibram Fivefingers on for the blast, which is the furthest I’ve ever run in them. I’m now suffering from a pretty sore blister, caused by a little debris which I think crept in my shoe before I put them on and rubbed on the ball of my left foot. It was still a good run, and I managed to get some nice intervals and speed work in (I really don’t enjoy speed work!). I even manage to set a couple of segment records on Strava.

My KSO's

 

I still loved the run, even with the blisters, the weather currently is perfect for me, as I get very warm very quick, and running as the sun goes down is nice.

 

This is a truly inspirational read, it always amazes me the different ways in which people cope, but they do.

Run Luau Run

It’s been a rough, tough couple of weeks here.  For those that don’t follow me or Jess on Facebook or Twitter, we received news earlier this week that Brooke has in fact been suffering from brain seizures.  Jess and I were, despite preparing ourselves for the possibility, completely rocked.  The news from the neurologist was followed up just hours later with more difficult news from Brooke’s neuropsych (or as Jess calls him – Dr. Dreamy).  Her verbal IQ had taken a frightening tumble over the last year, dropping her into the bottom one percentile of her peers.

Yeah…Jess and I walked out of there a complete mess.

That was Wednesday night.  Thursday went by in a complete blur.  Jess stayed home to prepare for Brooke’s team meeting at school, while I drove her around to attend to those preparations.  I just wanted to get to the end of the day…

View original post 224 more words

So, I may be a heel striker

So I had a look at the bottom of my running shoes yesterday for any wear and tear (Incidentally, the needlework my mum did last week is still holding strong after nearly 20 more miles in the shoes), and spotted a very interesting pattern of wear on the heels.

Heels of my shoes

Heels of my shoes

If you look a the outside edges of both heels (more noticeable on the left foot – the upper of the 2 in the picture), you can see that the thing green rubber is wearing through and exposing the EVA cushioning below, which won’t be as robust over time.

Now I don’t think I heel strike when running, in fact when I think about my running form I’m mostly happy with it as it feels mostly like I’m landing my whole foot at the same time. Only very occasionally near the end of a longer run or if I get distracted do I actually feel myself land heel first, and in these shoes, I definitely do feel it. The wear on my shoes suggests something completely different. Although it is only on that very outside part of the heel, the rest seems to be holding up well with minimal wear.

I think what’s happening is that I’m not landing on the heel exactly, but it’s not far off. I seem to be sliding the outside of my foot on the group just before the entire foot lands. That’s why I’m not feeling any massive impact, but the abrasive nature of the heel sliding over the ground is akin to me rubbing sandpaper across the bottom of the shoes.

I think I need to do more work on my running form. Get out for some shorter runs in my Fivefingers and really focus on how I’m landing before I completely wear through my heels!

On a plus note, had a successful run yesterday, did a 10k around the area I live in 47:53, that’s 5 mins quicker than I’ve done before, but it could have been quicker if I hadn’t had to avoid all the mothers and parents walking home from school (seriously though, do they ever give up any space on the pavement? Why’s it always me that has to run on the grass/roads whilst they walk 5-abreast). I need to do some more speed-work in preparation for the marathon, but this was encouraging.

Mud and Mum!

This week has been a bit of a slower week. I got out for a 12 mile long run early Sunday morning which felt very easy and comfortable, by the end of the day I’d already recovered from it. I wasn’t able to get out on Tuesday, as I wanted to spend the entire evening with my lovely wife (running is a hobby, I won’t put family behind a hobby). I did manage to get out on Thursday to Manor Farm Country Park, which is a lovely little area of woods and trails a couple of miles from home. The only downside is that I had to pay £2 to park in the car park there! Next time, I may just run there and then round, or park on a street closer and run into the park.

Manor Farm Country Park

The above is an image not taken by myself on the day, I can tell because it isn’t covered in mud, glorious mud. There was so much mud on the trails on Thursday that running just over 6 miles through it was way more effort than the 12 miles road running I did on Sunday. Two days later and I can still feel the burning in my calves. All that said, despite it being ridiculously muddy, and hilly, and cold, and wet, I loved it! Every last second was enjoyable, even the twice I slipped I was able to just laugh off and get back with it as it was wonderful being out in nature and see sights like the below.

View from the trail

The only time in the entire run I had a bad moment was coming down a slippery slope just after hopping through a stile when I slipped on a branch hidden under 3 inches of mud and rolled my ankle. The fraction of a second between doing it and needing to put weight back on that leg was a moment of extreme panic “How hurt am I?” “Will I be able to finish running today?” “Have I injured myself and put myself out of the marathon?”. Luckily, it was only tender for about 30 seconds and by the end of the run, I’d forgotten about it.

The only other time I’ve rolled my ankle like that running was on the road a few weeks ago, there was no hidden branch under the mud, so I have no excuses, I simply misjudged when running across the road and hopping up onto the pavement. It wasn’t as big a panic moment as Thursday, but at the end of the run I had a look at the side of my shoe where I’d felt it impact the floor/kerb and seen that the friction had caused a small hole in the outer fabric on the shoe. As I’d only just got these for Christmas from Becca, I was far from impressed and have kept an eye on it to see if the hole was growing or fraying more. I’m pretty sure my imagination had increased the hole to something the size of a meteor crater over the subsequent couple of weeks (looking back I don’t think it had changed much), so I decided I was going to use my non-existing sewing knowledge to put some stitches across the gap to keep the edges together. Luckily, Becca convinced me that as we were going to visit my parents this weekend, it’d be better to let my mum have a look at it instead. The results from her stitching today are below.

Before and After

     Before                                         After

What a good job she did! Not only am I lucky enough to have a mother who is willing and able to stitch over a hole in my shoes, but I have a wife with enough wisdom to curb my impulsive nature to ‘fix’ things myself. I’m a lucky man.

I’m hoping the stitches hold through tomorrow’s 12 mile run. Not sure what I’ll do next, I may need some Shoe Goo.

Getting longer, getting stronger!

The last week has been a busy working week. I live on the south coast in Southampton and was in London on Monday (automobile), Belfast on Tuesday (plane), Liverpool on Wednesday (train), London again yesterday (train). A very varied an travel orientated-week, but it’s nearly done now, and the weekend is looming. I haven’t been able to get out and do my normal Tues/Thursday running sessions, but I have still manged to get some time out on the roads, or on a treamill (urgh).

Saturday was my longest run so far, I did just over 10miles in 1hr34mins, going at a nice and easy pace. That’s 8 minutes faster than I managed the Great South Run last year over the same distance, and I was running well within myself. It was nice to get some variation into where I’d be running for this one, my very understanding wife suggested that she could drop me off 10miles away somewhere and I could run home. It worked really well, the first mile and a bit was alongside a river on a tarmac covered part of the beautiful Itchen Way trail and it was nice to get away from road running for a bit before hitting the road for 8 miles. It’d be interesting to see how much more of that Trail I could run along in future, the whole thing is 31miles long. Could be a fun challenge post-marathon.

Ran home from Winchester

Ran home from Winchester

I followed the long run up on Monday at work with a 4.5mile run on the treadmill. I’d rather do 10miles on the road over 3 on a treadmill, I really struggle with it, and it’s clearly a mental thing. Not seeing any progress other than a ticking number is mindless. It doesn’t help that, as with all gyms, there are mirrors everywhere, and looking at me is not a pretty sight!

Instead of doing a 7mile run on Thursday I split it into a fast 5k on Weds and a steady 3mile on Friday. The 5k went well despite some stomach issues and nausea, and I did it in just under 23mins. I think I can improve on this a lot and build up my speed base on shorter runs whilst building up my stamina with long runs at the weekend. It’s weird to think that shorter quick runs help build up long distance pace, but it does work!

Speaking of which, I have to get up early to do a 12mile run first thing tomorrow, so I need to sleep.