Now that I’m a member of the Brooks I.D. sponsored runner program for 2010, I’ve slowly been building up my collection of Brooks running shoes. I’m a huge fan of the Brooks Launch (you can read my review of the Brooks Launch here), which I rode to an 8:00 PR at the Disney Marathon in January, but was in the market for a lightweight racing shoe that I could use for speedwork and shorter races. Despite my membership in Brooks I.D. and my comittment to the brand, I’ll demonstrate that I can write an unbiased review by telling you that my first attempt at running in a Brooks racing flat was the Brooks T6 Racer. While I liked the feel of the T6 (and I really like the new red color scheme), they repeatedly chewed up one of my heels and I wound up having to send them back. Therefore, it was with some excitement that I awaited the release of the Brooks Green Silence, which is a new model for Brooks in 2010. The Green Silence is a lightweight racing flat that also happens to be one of the most environmentally friendly shoes ever made. Here’s the description of the Green Silence from Brooks:
“Make an eco-statement with the Green Silence racing flat. Each and every part in this fast, groundbreaking shoe has a sustainable element, including soy-based inks and recycled materials. And in this case, “green” goes hand-in-hand with the great performance you expect from Brooks. The Green Silence helps you take responsibility, and first place—with good karma to spare. Weight: 6.9 oz.“
At this point I’ve only run about 20 miles in the Green Silence, but so far I’ve been very impressed. Here are my initial thoughts.
Appearance: The first thing you’ll notice about the Brooks Green Silence is that they’re asymmetrical, with a red sole on the right foot with a mostly yellow upper, whereas the left foot sports a yellow sole and mostly red upper – this unique pattern just barely flies under my OCD threshold (normally, symmetry = good for me). However, I like running shoes that are loudly colored (one of my reasons for loving the Launch), and these are about as loud a pair of shoes as you’ll find. I’ve heard them referred to as Ronald McDonald shoes, and my wife thinks they look ridiculous, but I have to admit that I really like the asymmetrical design and clown colors (and I fear clowns). These shoes will stand out in any setting, and I anticipate lots of questions and comments once I start wearing them in races. Also unsual is the tongue, or rather the lack thereof. Instead, the upper overlaps from one side to the other to cover the top of your foot, and the laces are slightly off-center. This made lacing a bit tricky at first, but I think I now have the hang of it.
Fit: The Green Silence are unlike most other racing flats that I’ve worn because they have a very roomy toebox (forefoot). I’ve had instep blister problems in the past with flats like the Nike Lunaracer due to the narrowness of the toebox, but the Green Silence fit my foot like a glove – no blisters like I had with the T6 Racer, not even a single hot spot. I’d compare the fit very favorably to that of the Launch – extremely comfortable.
Another unusual feature of the Green Silence when compared to most other shoes is that it has a low heel. The drop from heel-to-toe is only 8mm, vs. 12-13mm in most other Brooks shoes (and most other shoes in general). From a practical standpoint, this makes the Green Silence a good choice for someone looking to try and transition to a more mid-foot/forefoot gait. When I first put my pair on, I noticed a distinctly Newton-like feel to them, and this is likely due to the low heel and lower heel-toe drop. They lack the flexibility of something like the Nike Free 3.0 or Vibram Fivefingers, but they are by no means stiff and have a much more minimalist feel than most shoes out there. Cushioning is not quite a cushy as the Launch, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use these for a long run. Finally, the Green Silence are really light – weighing in at just over 7oz each they fit squarely within my preferred weight range for running shoes.
Performance: Although I’ve only run about 20 miles in the Green Silence so far, I’ve used them for an easy run, and interval workout, and a fartlek. The shoes performed marvelously in all three situations. They’re light enough to feel really fast for speed workouts (most of my interval reps were at sub-6:00 pace), yet cushioned enough to handle longer runs. Although the initial plan is to use them for shorter races, I suspect that they would hold up well even in a marathon – they’re that comfortable. As with the Launch, I have a sense that I’m landing further forward on my heel (almost on the mid-foot) in the Green Silence – I plan to shoot a slow-motion gait video (like these) soon to confirm this. I really have nothing but good things to say performance wise – I’m loving these shoes.
Summary: Lightweight, low heel, flashy design, and eco-friendly – as an environmentally conscious runner who tends toward more minimalist shoes, what more could I ask for. The Green Silence has already earned itself a firm place in my running shoe rotation, and I will definitely be wearing it in my next race (either a 4-miler or a 5K). I applaud Brooks for putting in the effort to design a “green” shoe like this, and hopefully this will be the first of many in their lineup – I also hope that the other shoe manufacturers follow Brooks’ lead. The production of this shoe makes me proud to represent Brooks as a member of the Inspire Daily program, and the fact that it performs as well on the road as it will biodegrade in a landfill is an added bonus that’s hard to beat.
Update 4/13/2010: In terms of the capability of the Green Silence for a marathon, I’d give it a definite thumbs up. I ran 28.5 miles last Friday in a Relay for Life event, and 20+ were in the Green Silence. Granted, the miles were not continuous, but I have zero blisters, and my legs are feeling great just a few days later. I wouldn’t hesistate to wear these in a marathon at this point – they’re incredibly comfortable.
Below is a rundown of the “green” elements found in the Green Silence (via Brooksrunning.com):
- BioMoGo, the world’s first-ever biodegradable midsole for running shoes.
- 75% of the shoe’s materials are post-consumer recycled.
- Biodegradable insole and collar foams.
- Laces, gillies, and reinforced webbing are 100% post-consumer recycled.
- Water-based adhesives are used throughout.
- All dyes and colorants are non-toxic.
- Packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled.
Below is an overview of the Green Silence from Runner’s World: