Brooks PureFlow 4 Running Shoe Review
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Having the opportunity to put the Brooks PureFlow 4 to the test was a truly welcoming sight. Let it be known that I already own 2 PureFlow’s; both the original first ever version in the collection.
First thoughts on the Brooks PureFlow 4
Upon their arrival, I took them out for a few easy 3 – 4 milers just to break them in a bit. I also grabbed my first pair of the original PureFlow’s to take the opportunity for a farewell run so to speak. With 670 miles on them, I think they’ve bagged enough miles to comfortably go into retirement. I have gotten into the habit of logging my miles to see how long I could comfortably push my running shoes. As I have a fair amount of running shoes in my closet, I am able to rotate through them depending on the day, conditions, length, and surface I’ll be taking them out on.
I won’t necessarily be comparing the two, as most of you reading this may never have owned a pair of PureFlow’s or have a newer version. Let it be known that the originals have seen plenty of action, and a lot of improvements have been made over the years. I have seen it said that these are good for training, shorter races up to a half marathon or so, and that you can expect 250-300 miles from them. I obviously do not play by the rules.
There are obviously so many variables that go into that equation that there really is no black and white answer. You know how you run, and you know your form as well as comfort level. Personally, I have used the original PureFlow’s as my main big race shoe. And that includes the marathon distance. Again, each and every individual and their shoes will have varying experiences and results. , but let it be known that these have gone the distance for me.
The PureFlow 4 is still a very lightweight shoe at 8.6 oz. with a minimal 4mm drop with a moderate amount of cushioning .
If you look closer at the top front of the shoe you will first of all see a very visible and reflective brooks logo that literally points the way forward. There’s a subtle toe bump that will hopefully hold up as I am inclined to do a toe stub every now and again. What is lacking are any seams or overlays to keep the feet rather free from any chance of rubbing or containment. As I have a slightly wider front forefoot, I appreciate the ability for my front foot and toes to run freely (and Happy). The single ply breathable mesh provides a little bit of airflow, but feels sturdy enough to withstand 3, 4, 5, even 600+ miles.
Right in the middle of the foot is the very prominent NavBand that stretches from the outer side sole to actually embed into the inside sole. Aside from a flanking band that reach back toward the heel, this is where you’re main support comes from as it stretches right atop of the foot. Because of its stretchy nature this will conform to most feet and the varying paces you put the shoe through. The tongue has been the source for some negative feedback as it has tended to shift. I, however, have not experienced any shifting. Longer runs of 12 miles, 6 mile tempo run, and speed work have not caused any movement of the tongue. I do tend to tighten my laces a bit more (thanks to my soccer background) to provide a secure fit. The tongue’s consistency has a very soft almost velour-like feel to it, and is even plushy. As I tightened my laces, that sponginess molded to my foot to keep the tongue in place and my upper foot quite comfortable throughout my runs.
As we move towards the heel of the shoe, there is quite a bit of cushioning to keep your foot comfortable and in place. I have tested shoes before that had the misfortune of allowing some foot lift to occur causing some rubbing and/or hotspots. The rounded ‘cupping’ effect should prevent that from happening in the Brooks PureFlow 4 all the while aiding in a smoother stride.
The Midsole and Outsole of the Brooks PureFlow 4
This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Let’s start at the very front with the toe split that allows for the toes to spread out nicely providing a strong platform for pushing off with confidence.
Even though the cushioning is a strong element of this shoe, I would still categorize this as a more minimal shoe with its 4mm Heel to Toe Drop and lightweight construction. I have gained plenty of benefits from the minimal trend as it has allowed me to focus on my form allowing me to run smoother, more efficient, faster, and without injuries. That said, I do appreciate a bit of cushioning on these 40+ year old legs to provide some cushioning over those longer distances. Constructed with BioMoGo material and enhanced with Brooks DNA provide for a comfortable, slightly cushioned, and rather responsive ride. As a neutral runner with a foot strike that falls somewhere in between the forefoot and midfoot (depending on if I get lazy or tired at the end of a run) I appreciate the springiness that the cushioning provides. It almost feels like it propels me forward to some degree.
As you can imagine, these Brooks PureFlow 4 shoes have held up quite nicely over my initial testing period. I do joke that a pair of shoes isn’t really broken in until you have a couple of hundred miles in them. I have a pretty good feeling that these will do just fine over the long haul. Maybe when version 8 comes out, I will have a better understanding on the performance of #4.
I am kind of amazed at how cushiony these shoes really are. Especially right out the box. I wore them around for a day, just to get them to start molding to my feet. Follow that up with a few easy 4-5 miles runs, and I think these Brooks PureFlow 4’s were ready for their first real test. As this is week 5 of my marathon training, I took them on my longer-ish run of 14 miles. As I got further into my run, the soft responsive nature allowed me to keep a solid form while finishing with a negative split over the latter half of my run. I have a slightly wider foot, and these fit quite well. No pinching, rubbing, or hot spots.
Two other tests for me are putting them to work during a Tempo Run and through some Speed work. This has always showed me a true test of a shoe. The Brooks PureFlow 4’s will get exposed if they are not up to par. A 6 mile tempo run at a pace where I have to really work hard was on the schedule. Due to weather and road conditions this test had to be done on the treadmill. I set the pace at 6:34, and managed to hang on for the 6 mile ride. Sweating buckets, heavy breathing, and good leg burn were definitely served up. The shoes performed quite admirably. I have done this same test with other shoes, and the treadmill rubber pounding has given me some front foot soreness. The Brooks PureFlow 4 with its cushioning provided enough protection, and the individual pods were responsive enough to give me the necessary speed to keep my cadence and pace up.
Even though these aren’t considered true ‘racing flats’, the ability to go fast with some cushioning will fit the bill for many runners. 6 x 800 repeats were really no problem for the PureFlow 4’s. I was able to complete them in under 3 minutes which for me is pretty good. My leg speed was sufficient, and the cushioning provided some ‘bounce’ for a good push off.
- Pronation: None/Normal
- Arch: Medium, High
- Body Build: Small, Medium, Large
- Platform: Anatomical Platform
- DNA Layout: Biomogo DNA Layout
- Construction Type: Stroebel
- Water-Resistant: No
- Waterproof: No
- Surface: Road/Track
- Weight: 8.6 oz
Final Thoughts of the Brooks PureFlow 4
The Brooks PureFlow 4 is a very comfortable and responsive shoe great for the neutral runner. It may be classified as a trainer, but I give it strong marks all around to be able to handle shorter speed sessions as well as longer distance races. I have put about 40-45 miles on these, and they have held up nicely, and I look forward to getting to at least 500 miles on these kicks. At 8.5 oz. this is pretty lightweight, and the price point is rather reasonable for what you get.