FOREWORD: Sharp-eyed readers will recognise this as an old post. It was originally saved to wordpress as a page and I had a clear-out and wanted it as a regular post, so I had to save it as one. It’s the neat-freak in me. Anyway…
(Originally posted June 2012)
It’s occurred to me that in more than a year’s worth of blogging I’ve not written any product reviews. Obviously, the motive behind changing that now is to get a warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy from the knowledge that I’m helping my fellow runners make informed choices when buying their latest gadget or item of clothing. It’s NOT a cheap and tawdry attempt at getting companies to send me free stuff.
Incidentally, I take a size 10 shoe and I’m partial to biscuits, lego and great big piles of money. But that’s not important right now, I have an informative and incisive review to write.
…well, not really. We all know that despite my noblest intentions, this post will quickly descend into stuff about biscuits, lego and… oh, it has.
With that out of the way then, it’s time I got down to the business of reviewing a cheeky little running shoe that goes by the name of the Brooks Green Silence. Now, I’ve read my fair share of shoe reviews and I’ve noticed that they often get very technical, describing every microscopic detail of the midsole, every stitch of the upper, measuring and comparing the differential and so forth.
Well, my technical knowledge goes about as far as “yup, it’s definitely a shoe”, and not one step further. If you’d like a more detailed review you should probably head over to this fine website.
Still here? Okay then, onto business. The first thing anyone notices about the Green Silence is their (ahem) distinctive look. With their garish design and loud colours, they’re not what you’d call discreet; in fact they should probably come fitted with tiny little loudspeakers than boom out “WARNING! THIS SHOE CONTAINS BRIGHT FLASHING IMAGES!” in an authoritative voice. Look at them.
See? Lovely, but admittedly not to everyone’s taste. Only us cool kids. They’re available in several colours, but I went for this one primarily because it looks very similar to Scooby Doo’s van.
Now, the interesting thing is this. Despite looking like they’re made entirely from E numbers, these are quite possibly the most environmentally friendly running shoes ever made. The list of green credentials includes a biodegradable midsole*, mostly recycled materials and the fact that it consists of roughly half as many component parts as other shoes of its type. On top of all that, for every pair sold, Sting has pledged to donate a Breville 4-slice toaster to the people of the Amazonian rain forest. I made the last one up, although…
Sting, if you’re reading this mate – it wouldn’t hurt would it? Seriously.
Gazing at the shoes’ quirky prettiness and poring over their environment-snuggling credentials is all well and good, but what are they actually like on the feet? Up until now I’ve always opted for shoes with a fair bit of support and cushioning in them (partly to make me a bit taller, partly to stop my knees falling off), so I was slightly nervous at the prospect of trying a shoe that was, by comparison, wafer thin and light as a feather. Since first doing up the slightly-weird asymmetrical laces I’ve now run in the Green Silence a few times on both treadmill and trail, putting them through their paces on tempo runs, intervals and a nice steady 11-miler. Given their lightweightedness (real word) it was a given that they’d be a reasonably quick shoe, but I was slightly dubious about what the lack of cushioning would do to me on a longer run. As it turns out, my concerns were groundless and the miles flew by without so much as a grumble, niggle or any combination of the two (so no numbles or griggles then). Another concern I’d had when the shoes first arrived was the relatively wide toe box. It seemed very roomy, to the point where it almost felt like my feet were the shape of Wile E Coyote’s when he drops an anvil on them, and I had visions of slipping around inside them as I ran. But once again, these magical shoes** took my doubts and cast them aside while throwing their head back and laughing like a handsome swashbuckler. The aforementioned lacing system swaddled my instep, giving gentle but reassuringly firm support so that while my toes had room to splay naturally the rest of my foot stayed exactly where it was supposed to be with zero slippage.
I hadn’t intended to review the shoes’ waterproof qualities, as a quick glance will tell you that they clearly haven’t got any. However, while out for a post-downpour jog around Stanwick Lakes I decided to test the well-known scientific theory of “a puddle can never be more than one centimetre deep” and quickly found myself past my ankles in sogginess. I carried on with the run, and although my feet were soaked, I was mightily impressed by how quickly the shoes dried out. Despite it not being a particularly warm day my feet felt bone dry*** within a couple of minutes, and I enjoyed the remainder of the run without a hint of the rubbing or squelchiness I’d normally expect whenever I put the puddle theory to the test (which, if I’m honest, is every chance I get).
One other thing I found with the Green Silence is that they seem to encourage a more fore- or mid-foot gait. Over the last couple of months I’ve been moving away from heelstriking anyway, and these shoes were keen to hold my hand and help me along on that journey. So another tick in the “happy” box then.
On the subject of hand-holding, one thing that was quickly highlighted by my first dalliance with these lightweight shoes was just how much I’d been mollycoddled by their more cushioned cousins. I overpronate slightly, especially on my right side, and when choosing my last few pairs of shoes I’d always opted for ones that countered this. But with shoes like the Green Silence there’s no such luxury, and I found that I was suddenly much more in tune with the mechanics of my gait (which, for those of you who’ve never seen me run, is comparable to a box full of rusty springs and old telephones being thrown down a flight of stairs). Rather than being a bad thing, I found that I was now paying more attention to my stride and naturally correcting it where needed. It was like I’d suddenly stopped being a passenger and was now in the driving seat.
No review would be complete without some sort of scoring system, so here y’go…
Performance: No idea. It was me wearing them, remember.
Value for money: 10/10
Look a bit like sweets: 9/10
Now for the sad news… I’ve just heard that Brooks are discontinuing these fine shoes. I’ll certainly be buying some more while they’re still around, and praying that Mr Brooks and his team of shoe-boffins replace them with something equally awesome.
Until then, enjoy the Silence.
J* Although I hope they’re not too biodegradable. Do these people know how slow I am? I have visions of finishing my next half-marathon with nothing left on my feet but mulch. ** They’re not actually magic shoes. Yet. *** I’m not allowed to use the term “bone dry” in my house, as my 4-year old is quick to point out that bones are anything but dry, “because they’re all covered in slimy blood and insides, stupid daddy”.