From a physical fitness standpoint, few things (if any) offer as many health benefits crammed into a single package as running. Running burns calories, increases endurance, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the heart… and the list goes on.
Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of running. When I was younger I ran about 3 miles a day, 4-5 days a week. Now that I’m a little older and my body needs a little more work to stay fit, I’ve actually upped my distance to the 5 mile mark. My wife, being the fantastic motivator she is, has also pushed me to compete in numerous half marathons and a few marathons with her. So when it comes to running, I would consider myself to be fairly well versed.
But as great as running is, the benefits do come at a price. Running is a relatively high impact exercise, and if you’re not careful, it can cause significant wear-and-tear on your body.
It’s a lesson I learned when I hit my 30’s.
When I was younger, I didn’t even think about running. I woke up, threw on whatever running shoes or cross trainers I had laying around, and went for a run. But as I got older, my body started giving me signs it was unhappy. Knee pain, in particular, started plaguing me, until eventually it got to the point I had to take days off to let my knees recover. I realized that I needed to start assessing my runs, and figure out exactly what was leading to the uncomfort I was experiencing in my knees.
At the suggestion of my wife, I went to a local shoe store that offered a free running analysis, and found that I over pronate slightly when I step (in other words, I strike more on the outside of my foot). Worse, however, was that my current running shoes were compounding the problem, as they favored those with under pronation (which placed even more strain on my outer leg).
The salesman recommended I switch to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12. I did, and the chronic knee pain I had been experiencing on my runs disappeared virtually overnight. I was so impressed with the analysis and the Brooks that I convinced my wife to have an analysis of her gait performed as well. She did, and subsequently picked up a pair of Brooks Ghost 5. You’ll here from her shortly, but in a nutshell, she says they’re the most comfortable running shoes she’s ever worn.
Here’s a look at both the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 and Brooks Ghost 5, why we love them, and why if you’re serious about running, Brooks needs to be at the top of your list.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 ($110, men’s and women’s)
The 12 in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 name isn’t just a random number, it’s the twelfth revision of Brooks’ popular Adrenaline series. Brooks has been creating the Adrenaline series for quite a while, and it’s clear when you’re wearing the Adrenaline GTS 12’s they know exactly what they’re doing. Simply put, the Adrenaline GTS 12’s are incredibly, incredibly comfortable.
How do they do it? It all begins in the sole.
Turn the Adrenaline GTS 12’s over, and the first thing you’ll notice in the heel area is what Brooks calls the caterpillar crash pad. It’s a segmented rubber pad that provides tremendous cushioning for heel strikers, but because it’s segmented, it still manages to offer a smooth transition into the midfoot.
Another vital piece of comfort that’s built into the sole is what Brooks calls DNA, located both in the heel and the forefoot. Getting geeky for a second, DNA is engineered from what’s called a non-Newtonian liquid, a special substance capable of transforming itself depending on what you need it to do. At slow speeds, like when you’re walking, DNA takes a break and provides maximum cushioning. But as your pace quickens, DNA goes to work and intelligently starts dispersing the pressure, resulting in a still comfortable but firmer sole. You need cushioning, but you need support as well.
And speaking of support, the Adrenaline GTS 12 offers plenty. One of the key ways it does so is with what Brooks calls a Progressive Diagonal roll bar, located in the midsole. According to Brooks, their tri-density PDRB midsoles are biomechanically engineered to allow for progressive pronation control and to create smoother transitions from the midstance phase into the propulsion phase. I don’t know how it works, but after learning of my over pronation and subsequently logging 100+ miles on my GTS 12’s, I can tell it works. Knee pain and shin pain are completely gone, and I’m feeling a comfort level when running I’ve never felt before. They’re just awesome.
Up top, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12’s note a super flexible, supremely breathable mesh upper that looks great. While not ideal in wet conditions, they’re fantastic for everything else thanks to their excellent cooling and moisture management properties.
From a fit standpoint, the core of the upper’s design is a lacing system with four stretch points. The idea is that regardless of your foot shape, the GTS 12’s can adapt to your foot and lock it in closer to the midsole. Another element of the Adrenaline’s that I love is that in the heel area, Brooks has added a split collar lining that significantly reduces friction (and in turn, reduces the chance of heel blisters). For me, all of this adds up to a fit that borders on perfection. They’re supportive, perfectly snug, and have ample room in the toe box.
Do I love my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12’s? Absolutely. Do I recommend them to everyone? No, because as I came to learn, you need to pick a shoe based on your specific gait. But for anyone that suffers from moderate pronation, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12’s are absolutely fantastic. They’ve completely eliminated all the unnecessary pain I’d been enduring by running with the wrong shoes, and I haven’t looked back since.
For those of you that either are neutral footed, have more pronation or under pronate, fret not. Brooks has a fantastic tool (which you can try here) that analyzes your gait from the comfort of your own computer. Take the test, and you’ll see precisely what shoes they recommend. Best of all, they have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if they get it wrong, you can trade them in for a different pair.
To learn more about the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12, head over to the official Brooks website for more details and ordering info. And if you’re unsure of sizing, be sure to check out the “What’s My Size” tool on the Adrenaline GTS 12’s product page, which is an incredibly accurate way to get the perfect size without trying on the shoes first.
Brooks Ghost 5 ($110, men’s and women’s)
Whereas I’m a proud owner of the Adrenaline GTS 12’s, my wife owns the Brooks Ghost 5 – an ideal fit for neutral gaits. Rather than attempt to review the shoe for her, I’ll let her take it from here.
I’ve tried countless pairs of running shoes from all different brands, and pretty much all of them end in blisters. It’s so bad I’ve actually accepted the fact that blisters are a requirement of running. Or so I thought. After witnessing my husband’s new love of running thanks to his Brooks, mixed with some gentle prodding on his part, he convinced me to try the running test as well. They told me I was a neutral gait, but that the blisters I was experiencing were due to my wider than normal feet (which, by the way, isn’t exactly something women like to hear).
They recommended the Brooks Ghost 5 in a wide fit. Like my husband, it was my first pair of Brooks, so I wasn’t sure of what to expect. But after my first run in them, I officially became a Brooks convert. For the first time in recent memory I’ve been able to run blister free. I really can’t say I how happy I am with them and how much better my feet feel.
Some of the things I love about the Brooks Ghost 5: number one, the comfort. For me, they offer the perfect level of comfort, especially during my longer runs. The caterpillar crash pad extends through the length of the shoe, so there’s a really nice level of cushioning and flexibility throughout my stride. There’s also Brooks DNA incorporated into the sole, which provides me more cushioning at slower speeds but gets firmer as my speed increases.
Another thing I love about the Ghost 5’s is the fit. They’re snug and supportive, but there’s plenty of room in the toebox for my feet, which is something that’s very difficult for me to find in a shoe.
Lastly, I love the look of the Ghost 5’s. I personally like the purple because of the bright colors, and was surprised at how much detail has been incorporated into the design. They look great – so great, in fact, that a few of my friends purchased pairs of their own, one of them for running and two of them for the style.
The Brooks Ghost 5 is really a great shoe if you’re a neutral runner, and if you’re prone to blisters, there’s a really good chance it will alleviate any problems you’re currently experiencing. I’m finally pain free when running, and because of this, I’m a Brooks convert. I recommend them to everyone I know, and I recommend them to you.
To learn more about the Brooks Ghost 5, head over to the official Brooks website for more details and ordering info. And to ensure the right size without ever leaving your computer, be sure to check out the “What’s My Size” tool on the Ghost 5’s product page.