The FIT: Brooks PureConnect
Flexibility meets support meets feather-weight.
by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova
In the NBA world, athletes are subject to physical rigors that most laypeople cannot comprehend. For the elite basketball player, his/her body is his/her literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm (in the so-called real world) also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both NBAers and laypersons to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning—because after all, without having the vital fuel, guidelines and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the uniquely tuned creatures who we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.
Basketball as we all know it is a game of running, and basically, outside of the half-court nature of the game, it’s a game of runs, literally. Basketball shoes as they are constructed are meant for protection of the body because of the game’s dynamic nature and drastic levels of force exerted and absorbed by the body…but the shoes are crucial in running; it’s why the soles of basketball shoes are so important, but regardless of that, the running part of basketball is why a running shoe for basketball players is a relevant topic; as basketball players, our training is based our runs!
By way of Brooks:
Runners are raving about these shoes—and so is Runner’s World! The PureConnect was named “Best Debut” in Runner’s World’s Winter 2012 Shoe Guide in the December issue. The editors said the PureConnect “strikes a balance between barefoot-inspired minimalism and cushioning-required training. It has a lightweight, barely there feel yet is substantive enough to handle long tempo runs.”
You’ll feel your run from head to big toe with the radically lightweight and flexible PureConnect. Neutral runners who crave less shoe and more freedom will love the maximum breathability of an open mesh upper built on a slim and nimble underfoot.
A split toe groove extends through the forefoot allowing the runner to really engage the foot and get a greater sense of connection to the ground. This is a shoe for those who want as little as possible between them and the road.
Just like our core line, we hold PureProject to the industry’s highest weartest and durability standards. Because of their lightweight construction and fewer materials, runners should generally expect shoes from the PureProject line to last approximately 250-300 miles.
It’s true, everything above, specifically in bold, is true of the Brooks PureConnect running shoe. It’s all true. It’s the best balance of a shoe having cut the fat and keeping the lean, healthy tissue that I’ve ever worn and ran in, to use a culinary analogy. It’s an amazing shoe in large part because of its ergonomic nature, but I’ll get to that later. The PureConnect is such a strong shoe for various reasons, it’s hard to identify just one place that makes it special, and with that in mind, I’ll highlight the many reasons for its strong showing in my evaluation.
I’m starting with all of the strengths of the upper, but not without touching upon the technology involved in this genius shoe:
Toe Flex – A toe box split allows the big toe to function independently and engage the runner’s natural balance. Flexible materials empower a more efficient push off during the propulsion phase.
Nav Band – This flexible band wraps over the instep to comfortably secure the foot in place. The dynamic stretch provides just the right amount of reinforcement and conforms to individual foot shape and size.
Ideal Heel – Our signature inverted heel promotes a natural foot strike by landing in a more forward position on the foot. This aligns the runner’s center of gravity and encourages optimal energy return.
BioMoGo DNA – BioMoGo, our earth-friendly midsole technology, is blended with Brooks® patent-pending DNA smart cushioning to create a springy return and custom comfort. This also reduces the use of energy and amount of waste by removing drop-ins.
Anatomical Last – Designed from an anatomical form, the shoe’s shape contours the foot for a glove-like feel and provides support for every part of the foot.
Tuned Density Midsoles – We’ve tuned the density in our midsoles to better correspond with gender and weight categories, delivering a custom balance of cushioning that’s not too soft or stiff.
The PureConnect is wonderfully breathable; the upper is fully ventilated with holes that is covered with a thin mesh sheath to protect the foot that houses the shoe. Along on that mesh upper are support straps that wrap the heel, trace the toebox, and the multi-Strap Nav Band that extends across the midfoot for lightweight support. The heel support from the inside is also exceptional. The IDEAL Heel, as Brooks calls it, is cupped and hard, but gave me superior rearfoot fit. The interior lining is great as well; the collar fits well, and it also fits close and molds to the ankle.
Onto the last…
Excellent foot fit below is a major positive attribute of the PureConnect; it has a very curvy fit, via the Anatomical Last (and no joke, when you place your foot inside of the shoe, it feels like what a really curvy woman looks like—think of that hourglass shape), in that the sole portion of the shoe is very much an ergonomic product, from the cupped portion of the heel, to the mound of the arch to the valley where the toes lie in the forefoot; the arch support is supreme—a little high for my low-arched self, but it is supreme, nonetheless.
The PureConnect is very flexible, too, but without compromising the fascia (the tendon band that extend from the toes to the heel); I mention this because in August 2011, I was evaluating footwear that emphasized a minimalistic feel, but in those testing with the shoe, I developed a bad case of plantar fasciitis that is currently haunting me as I speak. Out of that, I began to grow great interest in how flexibility and support in footwear work together in a finished product, and some products don’t always come together with those attributes excelling, but the PureConnect has managed the negotiation of flexibility with a minimal upper, but has allowed the shoe to maintain its supportive integrity by way of keeping the arch as true to the foot as possible, which is greatly appreciated. Anyway, the flexibility of the PureConnect is also reflected in its minimal medial portion of the combination midsole/outsole and the fact that the strobel is partially exposed, which allows for a lighter weight shoe.
As for the PureConnect’s light weight (a mere 7.2 oz!), it owes that to the combination midsole/outsole, which is extremely comfortable and well-cushioned. The BioMoGo DNA midsole is brilliantly featured here. In general, the PureConnect’s overall ride is a masterpiece. There is a kind of rocking chair feel about it that’s unlike anything that I’ve ever felt, and that feel is characteristic of what the shoe is all about. I had great alignment from my feet to my knees in the shoe, and the PureConnect displayed impressive toe-off (credit due to the Toe Flex), which made landings and the shock distribution therein literally be generated into potential energy, making for a more energetic running experience.
It’s the best minimalistic running shoe I have yet to wear and I hope to get a lot more out of the PureConnect, post-evaluation. If you want to get a workout that will enhance your stamina and build leg strength for your time on the hardwood, look no further than the Brooks PureConnect.
(For additional photos of the Brooks PureConnect, go to Facebook.)
Sandy Dover is a published author, media consultant, and web & print magazine columnist in the world of publishing, while acting as a sports product evaluator and as a wellness & training consultant, advocate, and journalist in the fitness industry (with the two worlds often colliding). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at About Me, Facebook and Twitter.