Brooks Pure Flow 3

this is the second year I have been fortunate to take part in the Try It On promotion by Brooks where they let you have a pair of shoes to trial for a week.

I am a big fan of Brooks shoes. Most of my running shoes are Brooks.  I have been running in the Pure range of shoes pretty much since they were launched.

20140205-202148.jpgMy favourite Pure Project shoe remains the original Pure Grit trail shoe.  Despite the fact the grip on the sole wasn’t great, as a shoe, for fit,  feel and comfort it was pretty much perfect.

Last year’s update to version 2 of the Pure shoes didn’t work so well for me. I bought a pair of Pure Cadence 2 but they just didn’t feel as good as the version 1 shoes.  I tried the Pure Flow 2 as part of Brooks’ Try It On promotion and just couldn’t love them. They were too big, too soft and the upper rubbed my little toe. I blogged about them here.

I have been running in a pair of Pure Flow 3 for the past week as part of this year’s Brooks Try it On Promotion.

This year’s model feels much improved. These shoes are immediately comfortable and you can run in them straight out the box.

The ride feels lower and while there is plenty of cushioning,  it is a very responsive shoe.   There is plenty of cushioning to support my heavier frame. The shoe feels very well balanced. It nudges you towards a midfoot/forefoot strike rather than pushes you.  The shoe is very flexible,  allowing you to run fast, but still manages to feel substantial enough to protect you from the pavement.

It doesn’t feel too dissimilar to my beloved Racer ST5’s which are my preferred marathon race shoe.  After only a week’s running in them I am pretty confident that I could happily run a marathon in these shoes and be happy wearing them.

The fit is comfortable. The toe box is wide enough for my wide feet, without feeling too large. There isn’t too much excess volume on the top of the shoe. The fabric is soft and comfortable and hugs your foot very nicely. The heel is comfortably snug and doesnt rub. The asymmetric lacing has changed shape and is much more comfotable. The previous version tended to put pressure on the top of my foot (I have high arches) whereas the different shape is very comfortable. The tongue is stitched in place on the inside which again helps to keep the foot secure and in place.

I am still not convinced that either the Nav Band or the split toe add much to the shoe, but then again the shoe works very well so who am I to argue.

All in all there is very little more to say about these shoes. They are probably the best shoe I have tried for a long time and a shoe which I would be confident wearing for long distances and which are a significant improvement on the Pure Flow 2.

I will almost certainly part with my hard earned cash to buy a pair as I can see them becoming my workhorse marathon training shoe.




WHW Race Kit List

It is getting to that time when I have to make some decisions about what kit I will wear on the West Highland Way Race. After much trial and error, I am just about settled on my kit list. So barring exceptional weather I shall be wearing some combination of the following:

OMM Kamleika Smock  I love my OMM jacket. It keeps me dry in all sorts of weather, pulls down over my hands and has a good hood. Nice and light so can be carried “just in case”. Hope I don’t need it.

OMM Kamleika trousers Hopefully I wont need to wear these but they are a fantastic over trouser. Easy to slip on and off, keep the wind and rain out, and are articulated so you can actually run comfortably in them.

Swiss Alpine Marathon Race Jacket – this is a lightweight rip-stop nylon zip jacket, keeps the wind off and weighs nothing at all so really handy for keeping the chill off on a dry day. This was a freebie at the 25th Anniversary race.

Buff Everyone needs a buff. Multipurpose, keeps you warm, keeps the sun off, stops the sweat dripping into your eyes.

OMM Vector Tee   Long sleeved shirt, this is a really great base layer which really keeps you warm, but at the same time works well in the warm. Expecting this to be my night time wear and potentially my all day wear too if the weather is iffy.

Ronhill Trail zipped shirt A good compromise for a warm day. I really like the long zip which is a great way to cool down. This shirt comes with a zip pocket on the back as well as two elasticated hip pockets. To be honest I have never used these as I don’t like things bouncing around on my back, and if I have stuff to carry then I prefer my belt or rucksack.

X Bionic boxer shorts I did think Helen was being a wee bit cheeky when I received these as a gift but they actually are very good. They stay dry and provide a wee bit of support.  They also help avoid nasty chaffing in the upper thigh/groin

Hoko 3/4 compression tights Discovered these in Spain at the Barcelona marathon. Heavy duty compression, but comfortable with it. Expecting to pull these on at some point after Rannoch moor to try to keep my legs moving in something approaching the right direction.

2XU compression shorts I don’t really like wearing these but they do help. Expecting to wear them over the first half

Ronhill Cargo Trail shorts these are comfortable very lightweight shorts with a huge array of pockets and gel holders. None of which I use except for the secure zipped pocket on the waist. These will get an outing if it is a warm day if I decide that I don’t want to wear my 2XU compression shorts.

CEP Calf Sleeves I am a recent convert to Calf Sleeves. Having suffered some calf troubles earlier in the year I now wear these regularly when racing. These give great support, and help keep you warm. Funky colours as well.

Injinji Trail socks The latest fad. I have to admit I was very sceptical about these as socks with toes are just downright unnatural, verging on pervy. However I am a convert. Since wearing these I have had very few blisters and they are extremely comfortable. They are however a pig to get on and off especially if like me you have funny shaped toes. Fortunately on race day I fully expect someone else to do any foot care which is required (thanks support crew) as my chance of having either the flexibility to reach my feet or the coordination to remove socks successfully is slim to none.

Drymax Trail socks Again another item which is becoming increasingly popular with the ultra community. I have yet to learn to love these, but think I will wear them as a second pair on top of my injinjis just to give additional cushioning.

Inov-8 Gaiters handy for keeping the debris out of your shoes and socks

Brooks Pure Grit shoes Love my Grits, they give great flexibility and contact with the ground. Hoping to wear them through the first half of the race. Unfortunately as luck (or bad planning) would  have it, I wore them today and came to the conclusion that my current pair really have reached the end of their life. Eek! only 10 days to find and break in another pair. Fortunately they don’t need any breaking in, they are comfortable straight from the box.

Brooks Cascadia shoes these are a new addition to my shoe cupboard, but I expect to wear these over the second half of the race which is much more stoney under foot and where the stability and support will be more use to me than my speedy Grits.

Salomon XA 20 backpack does the job nicely. maybe a little large but  it carries all my stuff and is comfortable with handy pockets on the waist belt.

Inov-8 Race Elite belt expect to alternate this with my backpack, just to give me a change of posture. Will use this on the shorter sections. Has great roomy pockets without being too big.

Petzl Tikkina Headtorch. Probably frowned on by those who have big expensive head torches, but I have run plenty miles with this one in the winter so expect that it will be adequate. However bought a second bigger torch just in case. Will probably wear this one on my wrist to help give additional light where I need it.

Jazooli Q5 160 Lumens Cree headtorch Cheap and cheerful. Only cost £12 and has a massive beam. If it only does me the WHW Race then it will be worth the money.

On top of all of these I have various items as options for extreme weather, including woolly hats, goretex gloves, goretex shell, etc, etc etc

Having organised all of these variations and options you just know that I am going to wear the same few things from start to finish! And they say that running is a simple sport because all you need are some shoes……..  🙂

Brooks Pure Flow 2

Update – for a review of the much improved Brooks Pure Flow 3 see here

I got the chance to try out a pair of Brooks Pure Flow 2 as part of a Brooks promotion. A great offer – wear the shoes for a week, take them back and get a £25 voucher to be used against a pair of Brooks Pure Project shoes. The Brooks marketing machine is pretty slick and even the box proclaims that this is more than just a shoe

Run Happy
Run Happy

I am a big fan of Brooks shoes. Firstly they fit my feet and secondly they have some nice technologies in their shoes.  I have previously worn two different Pure Project shoes, the Cadence and the Pure Grit. The Cadence is a very nice shoe, extremely comfortable and so far has done me for more than 400 miles. The Pure Grit is an equally comfortable shoe, and is a shoe I would willingly wear for many many miles. I was keen to try the Pure Flow because I was looking for a shoe for my next marathon, I am comfortable in the lower heel drop shoes and had read many good reports of the Flow. The chance to get  a pair to try was too good to pass up.

My initial impression of these shoes was one of disappointment. When I put them on, after the carpet slipper like sensation of the Cadence, they just didnt feel right. They pinched my right foot and my little toe pressed against the slightly hard edge of the toe box. My first run in these was on the treadmill and again slighlty disappointing. My toes went a bit numb, I got a hot spot on the ball of my foot and the heel cup felt hard and stiff as did the toe box.  Oh and I didn’t think they were very pretty!

pure project

grooves in sole allow flexibility

I was prepared to give them a chance, so wore them for a fast 10 mile run at the weekend. Again, I just couldnt feel the love for them. The still pinched my right foot, and they felt like they were wearing long, so that there was an extra unused bit of shoe like a flipper at the front of the toe. They weren’t so bad, but I wasn’t impressed. I also felt like the sole of the shoe was very wide compared to the upper and so were a bit like clown shoes. This was accentuated by the bright green rubber of the midsole.

For my next run, I decided to lace them differently,  using the loop lace technique to hold my foot in the heel. This was an improvement. On balance I don’t think I am a fan of the asymmetric laces. I find that the top inside eyelet creates a pressure point on the inside of my arch ( I have quite high arches). The same thing happens with a pair of Green Silence that I own.


On the verge of giving up, I remembered reading something on either or RunningShoesGuru about the thickness of the insole causing a problem. Following their tip I removed the Pure insole and replaced it with the much thinner insole from my Brooks ST5 shoes.

Flow and St5 insoles
Flow and St5 insoles

The difference was instant. My foot splayed correctly across the full width of the shoe and the extra few millimetres volume in the toe box made them much more comfortable. I took them for a steady 3 mile run and they were like a different shoe. They didn’t have the slightly spongy feel they had had previously. Instead they felt quite responsive, but with enough cushioning to feel comfortable. Had this been my day 1 experience I would have been saying this is a nice shoe!

The fabric is a slightly more robust fabric than that used in the Cadence which will probably make them more water resistant at the expense of that luxuriant feeling. The big Brooks flash on the front of the shoe doesn’t look very good, but it is a super effective reflector which makes you really visible to oncoming traffic in the dark. The other Pure features – the Navband and the split toe don’t seem to have any significant effect as far as I can see, though the Navband does seem tighter and more effective than in the first models.

I was really surprised that I was struggling with these shoes, but a little bit of research uncovered quite a few similar reviews with runners finding the new Flow 2 a little narrow and long, so maybe its not just me!

Overall, I am not sure they are the shoe for me. They are nice and flexible though a little soft under foot for my taste, but for runners who like a lot of cushioning they would be ideal. By changing the insoles I could use them as a long distance road shoe and be quite happy with them. I might wear them for long runs instead of my Ghosts which are well cushioned but a little stiff. Overall, if the shoe fits your foot this is probably a very good shoe, but for me I was just a wee bit disappointed that it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.