Getting Over the One You Loved

UPDATED 12/19/12  –  Brooks has decided to SAVE THE LAUNCH! The power of the internet and desperate cries for help were heard and my favorite shoe has been resurrected. Thank the sweet lord baby everything-running, #runhappy has risen!

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This story has been a long time coming – I apologize for keeping it from you so long. I know a lot of you are or have been in similar shoes*, so I wanted to share.

Relationships fizzle, fade, and sometimes fall straight off the edge of a damn cliff. It’s hard and you don’t know if or how you’ll move on, but you learn to just keep putting one foot in front of the other until you’re moving in the right direction again.

Life is hard, and surely trying at times.

This is one of those times.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

photo 5

Back once upon a time as a green little newbie runner I went into a running store – the Second Sole in Boardman Ohio – ready to buy my first pair of “real” running shoes. To say I was uncomfortable amidst the mens shorty shorts and displays of things I wasn’t sure were meant to be eaten or smeared on your body would be an understatement.

I ended up leaving that day with a pair of Mizunos Wave Rider 9s (they’re on 16 now – it’s like trying to keep track of the “NOW!” albums…) and unknowingly started down the tumultous quest of finding that “perfect” shoe.

After some brand-exploring and model-hopping, I spent a significant amount of time in the Brooks Ghost 3s. I finally stopped losing toenails and getting blisters in them, and loved I could just pull a new pair out of the box without having to break them in.

Instant Team Brooks convert.

021a

went through 3 pairs of the green and 2 of the orange. loved that shoe bad

When the Ghost 4 came out I got shoe upgrade cold feet. If I was being forced out of “my” shoe I guessed it’d be a good time to see what else was out there. I stumbled upon the Launch which appeared to be a lighter, simpler, less-expensive version of the Ghost.

And after a bad run and some random shopping-under-the-influence retail therapy, I wound up with a pair.

photo 3

(Like all things backgrounded with bubbly, it turned out to be a GREAT decision.)

Earlier this summer, well into my third pair of my new found shoe baby love child, Brooks announced they were discontinuing the Launch. I maturely freaked the F out like the world was ending, stockpiled inventory, and cried mourning tears into everything Run Happy.

photo

Totally rational.

Eventually I realized that I was going to have to move on. They weren’t coming back and I’d have to get over my scorned love and find something new. Kicking and screaming or not.

So I started my Launc Replacement search. Even though I had 2.5 fresh pairs waiting in the wings, I didn’t want to be left scrambling and knew I needed time to slowly transition in test pairs.

Contender #1 : Brooks Pure Flow

photo 4

flow

modesty patch to keep attention on the shoes and some dignity intact

Brooks has done a great job marketing their Pure line. They got a fast following of loyal followers and great reviews. The minimalist movement has become really popular and there are lots of studies showing the benefits that running in “less” can have on correcting form and preventing injuries. The Pure line is supposed to offer those minimalist benefits without sacrificing on cushioning or support.

Every shoe rep I talked to urged me to try the Pure Flows. They promised a smooth ride and easy transition from the Launch. The adamant recommendations were hard to ignore and eventually I decided to give them a shot.

They didn’t disappoint – they felt GREAT on. They were light and springy, yet I felt… protected? supported? despite their lightweight build. The platform is wider than standard shoes (IMO) and definitely thicker than other minimalists, so they feel very sturdy on impact. They have that “rolling” transition Brooks are known for making an easy move from landing to push off. The wide toe box and midfoot “nav band” give a secured but not constricting fit, and they have those new bumpy laces that are supposed to keep them from untying.

Unfortunately the 4mm heel drop (meaning there’s 4mm difference between the heel height and toe height) just does not agree with me. I’ve had calf/achilles/shin issues in the past due to low-profile shoes, and sadly I found the same tightness when trying to ramp up mileage in the Flows.

They will stay in rotation for easy and recovery runs, but because my form/gait/body just can’t handle the low heel drop right now, the Flows sadly won’t be my Launch replacement.

On to the next…

Contender #2 : Brooks ST 5

st5

disclaimer : these are “unisex” shoes – don’t let it scare you. ladies just order 1.5 sizes down. and don’t expect them in pink or tiffany blue

The ST5s didn’t come as heavily recommended, presumably because they’re a “racer” instead of a “trainer”, and are a less marketed model. But with the similar profile (~1oz heavier, 12mm vs Launch 10mm) I had to give them a shot.

I have to say, I major dig these shoes. I did all my tempos, speedwork, and hill runs in the ST5s and really like how I can feel the ground under me. They have a stiffer platform, so you don’t get that cushy/pillow feel but there was still a good amount of shock absorption it felt like? I feel like you could put 1000 miles on these shoes and they’d look and feel exactly like they did out of the box. Just a durable, reliable, no-fuss shoe. Like the Chevy Cavaliers every other kid in high school had.

(does that reference even make sense? it’s late…)

Unlike minimalist shoes I’ve run in I didn’t feel myself trying to change my form or stride in the ST5s – I was just more aware of what was going on down below. And surprisingly, the decreased cushion didn’t bother me.

Plus, they make me feel really fast.

These will definitely be kept in rotation, and I can see them potentially as a half marathon shoe, but I’m unsure how they’ll transition to marathons. I’m a bigger girl (5’9″ 145) and think I need that extra cushion for the long-long runs. But who knows, maybe they’ll continue growing on me.

(or I’ll stop growing. or fix my form. or something.)

So that’s where the shoe saga stands. I haven’t found my perfect Launch replacement yet, but I have found two great shoes to add to my weekday rotation. I’m taking comfort in the lasting inventory at brooksrunning.com and that there’s room in the closet for more Launch stockpiling if I take over Brian’s side.

(speaking of Brian, I feel compelled after the slightly misleading intro to say we’re happy and unless I keep spending our life savings on shoes it should stay that way)

((…and also I have some big news regarding him coming next week))

  • Have you broken up with a shoe? Was it ugly or amicable? Does the age-old ‘easiest way to get over an ex is to get under a new one’ apply here? Any Launch wearers find an acceptable substitute??

Sarah OUaL

Brooks provided me with the shoes in return for my honest feedback and review – I was not otherwise compensated for this post

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38 thoughts on “Getting Over the One You Loved

  1. I ran in Asics Cumulus for years. And then this year, they changed them – made them half a size smaller and significantly less cushioned. I need a lot of cushioning and my feet were going numb on runs of 4 miles!! Thus the break-up was a little bitter.

    At the mo I’m running in Nike Vomeros and quite like them, but it’s time to get new shoes and I’m thinking Brooks or Saucony. And Neutral Plus…none of that minimal stuff for me! I like pillows under my feet :)

  2. I loved the frees! And then I had to have foot surgery due to a nasty inflamed nerve. So I had to breakup with the free and change my stride. I went with newtons and really, really love them. They are dang expensive though! I want to try something from the brooks pure line…hopefully I’ll win janaes giveaway :)

  3. I’m so terrified… right now, after a poor, injury-riddled experience with the Adrenalines and the Mizuno Wave Inspires, I love my Brooks Ravenna 2’s, which no longer exist! I have two pairs right now, but I’m scared of what will come when I have to either go to the 3 or try something else.

  4. The Ghost 3 was my convert to Brookism, too! Sadly, I’m now on the same journey of finding a new “perfect” shoe.

    Good luck. I’ve not found *it* yet.

  5. I know you love your Brooks, but have you tried the Saucony Ride 5s? 8mm drop, cushy for the long runs, and quite light. They may not make you feel as fast but they make my legs and feet feel awesome. This is coming from a former Brooks devotee who had to break-up with their Ravennas.

  6. I have bounced back and forth between New Balances and Saucony’s. I loved Saucony’s because of the way they used to cup and hold my foot. However, over the last couple years the ones I have tried on I instantly knew they weren’t right for me. I do like their cushion however, which kept me coming back. New Balances on the other hand hold my foot nicely, but can be narrow with not a lot of cushion. So I was at a crossroads this month…I finally tried some Asics. Holy crap they felt like gloves! I have a larger frame also and need that support in the heel. I did need to buy up a size. But for now Asics Gel-Venture 3 is great! I definitely recommend this shoe for just an all-around trainer!

  7. After I realized that one of my fave bloggers was not IRL divorcing her man (PHEW!) I loved this post :) I have had quite the shoe saga as well, strangely mine started with the wave riders too! I left them after my first pair (which I think were 9’s also!) because I was poor and in grad school and I ran in really cheap saucony’s ($50). Then some more expensive Saucony’s which I liked, then back to the WR’s, where I stayed until they switched it up to the 14’s, I didn’t like the 13’s and heard horrible stuff about the 14’s so I took a rambling road of random shoes – Karhu’s (don’t try these, they have a low profile too), NB 880’s (not enough cushion for me in the forefoot, got a stress fx) and now I’m back in the Wave Rider’s, which I love. I would suggest trying Saucony’s or getting back in the Wave Rider’s! I have really high arches/rigid feet/and I supinate (not pronate like 90% of the population) and I think shoe preference depends BIG TIME on foot mechanics, but another idea would be to enlist the help of a medical professional – orthopedic physician who has knowledge of running would be great to give you advice on what your needs are biomechanically.

  8. I just went through the SAME things with the last of my OLD Nike Moto stockpile. I knew I wanted to try to steer towards Brooks, but I wasn’t sure. I did know it was time for a new shoe fitting. And go figure, I am no long a neutral. Long story short, I ended up in the Brook Ravenna and am liking them so far.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  9. I am currently desperately trying to find a replacement for my beloved Asics GT-2160s (if anyone has a good replacement shoe they love let me know, preferably one that fits flipper-feet in a size 10EE). I bought two pairs when they were being phased out, figuring they would be replaced with something similar, but from what I’ve read there is no direct replacement (the options being the 2170 and 2000). I went back to the Brooks Adrenalines and I guess they’ve made some changes in the last two years and I hate hate hate the 12s. My feet are very sad and feel homeless!

  10. My first ever attempt at running was done in a pair of Asics. I attempted a marathon on WAY to little training and made it 19 miles before I had to stop. After recovering I tried to take them out for a run and I don’t know if it was phantom pains or what, but they just weren’t comfortable at all. I ran in some Nike Shox after that and eventually went to a running store and got fitted for some Saucony’s and I love them! Omni Pro Grid 5s I think. I also run in a pair of the Brooks as well.

  11. I broke up with Saucony a couple of years ago when they changed the pro grid rides. It was a tough breakup but necessary! Those shoes were killing my feet.

    I’m not happy that Brooks changed the Adrenlines in the 12th model but so far they are still working okay for me.

    Finding the right shoe is DIFFICULT. I know WHY shoe companies change their models but seriously they need to realize it causes us runners serious angst!

  12. I love the Brooks ST Racer. I wear it for pretty much everything through marathons. I do rotate with the cadence, connect and launch but just don’t love the others as much. Maybe the ST will grow on you! Also I can’t stand the flows…have you tried the connect or the cadence?

  13. This is causing me so much pain because the launch was my shoe too! Ugh. Still haven’t found a good replacement. I have been running in a pair of New Balance 890s but I think they are similar to the Pure Project shoes. I think I’ll try the ST5s!

  14. OMG yes. My first shoes after being gait analyzed were saucony ride 3’s. LOVE LOVE LOVED them. had three pair….about the buy a 4th, and found that they had moved on to 4. My feet didn’t like 4 :( Was suggested brooks defyance. hated them. moved on to mizuno WR 15’s, they were alright, kinda felt too stiff for me, but they did the job. on a whim, i tried on the Brooks Pure Flow when I was on vacation in hawaii and fell in love. I am on my third pair – love them, but they don’t last long…so I have rotated in Ghost 5 as well. So far, so good.

  15. Finding the right shoe is pretty much an epic quest. I feel like every time I find on I love some injury pops up and I have to find something else. Right now I’m running in the Brooks Addiction (these are super supportive and look similar to boats) and the Mizuno Wave Inspire which I’m really loving they are super light but still really stable!

  16. After being an Asics devotee for years, I switched to Brooks exclusively like a year and a half ago. I loved the Ghost,and fell in love with the Launch within the last year and am HEARTBROKEN it’s going away.

    I really like the Pure Flows (longest workout they’ve been put under was 9 miles on the track, which is good), but I tried out the Pure Flow 2 and did NOT like (toe box is too narrow in the size I typically wear, yet the heel slips off, though the latter may have been a lacing issue), so now I’m really stumped about what to do for my racing shoe. I may have to branch out from Brooks…. but I hate the idea of doing that!

  17. I have had a hell of a time getting over the Brooks Adrenaline 11’s. I have one pair that I save for special runs, but they are impossible to find anymore in my size. The 12’s were a big fat FAIL (you hear that Brooks?! FAIL!!), and I’m too scared to try the 13’s. During my break from Brooks, I switched to the Asics GT-2170s, which I also liked quite a bit, but now they are phasing these out in favor of a redesigned GT-2000?? WTF. So now I’m in Mizuno Wave Inspire 8’s, and they feel pretty good, but I’m not totally sold.

    Ugh. Why can’t they make a shoe forever? Why do they have to change the engineering? Just change the colors!!

  18. Okay, so I’ve been (not really) trying to find a Launch replacement as well and I was leaning towards the Saucony Ride 5s. Have you tried those? I tested them out in the store once and felt like they were almost identical to the Launch. Same drop, same cushion. But I haven’t ‘tested them’ tested them if you know what I’m sayin. Anywho… I think that’ll be my replacement although a friend just snagged me another pair of Launch so I guess I can put off the inevitable for awhile longer. :)

  19. My initial assessment by my LRS put me in Brooks Adrenaline 11 based on some pronation issues and the fact I’m sure that I’m a(n actual) big girl- 5’7′, 235 at the time. I didn’t run consistently in those but I liked them, so got the same pair later that year when I started to take running more seriously. When those were done and I was ready for my next pair just in time to break them in for my 1st half marathon, I HATED the 12s. I don’t know. They were just plastic-y and awful and no. Also- no cool colors. What is with Brooks and the lack of awesome colors? I realize I shouldn’t pick a shoe based on colors, but I was drooling over the color range of the Ascics Kayano 18. Which I ended up getting. Except they were SOOOOOO cushy. They were sorta ok during the break in period. They were just so different I couldn’t tell if they were bad, or just different. During my half marathon, I thought about doing the last couple miles barefoot because my feet were just so annoyed at the shoes. And I couldn’t wear them again after that.

    So I went back to my LRS once the Adrenaline 13s came out to try those and no thank you again. I asked the guy if he ever saw pronators have any luck at all in a more neutral shoe and he put me in a Defyance 5 and it was like coming home again! Just lacing them back up they felt like my old Adrenalines. And running in them has been so easy. I’m not pronating in them (based on the treadmill video)- probably due to my beautiful natural midfoot strike. (Hey- it’s something I’m proud of considering I’m a fat runner with a 13+ minute pace!) He did whisper a rumor about Brooks maybe discontinuing them- apparently Brooks thinks they’re really just like the Ghost (THEY ARE NOT!), but there’s a Defyance 6, and if I ever come into a windfall, I’ll probably stock up on these in case the rumor is true.

  20. Wow we had the same beginnings! I also started with the mizuno wave riders but started having major blister issues whenever I was in them for 8+ miles. And something about the newer versions I just didn’t like as much. We split and I switched to the Brooks Ghost as well, still diggin’ em but sometimes they just feel kinda clunky although I do love the 4’s. I’m ready to try something new and I think I might try the Pure Flow next. I tell yah I think it was easier finding my husband than finding the perfect running shoe! Thanks for the post!

  21. I feel like I’ve been pimping my feet out for years, but always go back to Saucony’s! In high school I had cheap Nike’s from the department store, After college when I got back into running at local races, I got Nike Shox which were fine, then went to Saucony for my first half-marathon, and they were perfect. Then went to Reebox Zigs because, why not, and they felt awesome when I first put them on, ran half marathons in them, and I loved them except when I started hitting trails and stones got stuck in them. I tried adidas at some point and they are not made for my feet, not really a running brand should’ve clued me in! I tried the Brooks Pureflow at a local running store and liked them, but ended up in Saucony Mirages that I ran my first marathon in, and they were awesome, then I jumped on the 4mm band wagon and got Kirvana’s and now I cannot get rid of my shin splints…so I’ve ordered a pair of Saucony Gruide 5 that are enroute to my house right now!! #shoeboner

    You’re welcome for the pointless rambling of a comment, no refunds on those 5minutes!

  22. Started in the Asics 2170 (though were called something else at the time) and loved them. Then the heel box started wear thin on each pair and the blisters were non-stop. I have very sharp heels (weird I know) which makes finding the right shoes impossible. Both in the running and non-running world – I actually can’t where flats. So bizarre. Anywho, switched to the Nike Frees but never really loved them just dealt with them. I am a recent convert to Brooks Glycerin and initially I thought they were a game changer but they seem to stretch quite a bit and my shins don’t love them (though my heels do). Plus $140 pricetag is intense so the search continues. The Ghost might be next on my list.

    • Oh, the Glycerin. I had the glycerin 9 and put more than 700 miles on them. They were the cadillac of running shoes for sure! Then I bought the glycerin10 and HATED them. The sizing was different, so I sent back my normal size and got the next half size and it was too big!, the heel felt wrong, they felt heavy and stiff (and I was having foot issues at the time anyway). Sold them on eBay and got about half what I paid for them. I tried the Launch in between the two versions of the Glycerin, they felt great at first but that is when my foot issues developed.

      • Thank god it’s not just me who saw the difference! I went and tried the 10’s this weekend and the heel and weight felt all wrong immediately. I tried some Mizuno WaveRider and few others but couldn’t find one that felt like the Glycerin 9’s. I went home and ran in my 9’s (which are hanging on by a very thin thread at this point). Immediately finished my run and ordered two pairs of the 9’s on clearance. This is my short term fix! So annoying – why do they have to change a perfectly good shoe.

  23. Oh, man. Shoes.
    I started in the Nike Pegasus 25s (a neutral), which were (and are) fine for anything under 4 miles. Upwards of that, though, and it’s a big nope. I was put into the Brooks Adrenalines 12s, and LOVED them. I like the support, and they fixed an IT band issue I’d been having. Got injured at the end of a half training cycle, and blamed the shoes (it wasn’t the shoes [well, they needed to be replaced], it was me going too far, too fast).

    Because I can’t be normal and go with what works, once I ran through the Adrenalines, I wanted to try something new. Something minimal (because, oh man, it looks cool! and fixes form! and makes your eggs+toast!). Sigh. The entire Brooks Pure line is not for me. The pods on the Cadences almost gave me a stress fracture. The Pure Grit, which were the only other ones that felt good on, were too narrow to run farther than 2 miles in. Booo.

    I tried Mizuno Wave – well, a few different ones. Nope. The wave plate aggravated that area that the Pure Cadene pod did. I have ‘princess and the pea’ feet, apparently. Saucony, Asics, Nike, Newton, etc. – tried them on, they all felt wrong.

    Ended up in a pair of Adrenaline 13s. Should have known better than to mess with what works.

  24. my shoes are the nike structure triax 14…they are the “two-years-ago” model and i can’t bear to break up with them so, like you, i have stockpiled like a hoarder. i tried out the 15’s only to find out they feel like they have a lower profile (which doesn’t jive with my form and feet) and subsequently ended up with some oh-so-good feeling shin splints until it dawned on me what the actual problem was. i’m wary to try out the new 16’s for 2013 in fear the same thing will happen, but i can’t live in denial and pretty soon the 14’s will be out of stock :( good luck finding your new “launch” shoes!

  25. I’m nearing a similar situation, but have so far been able to hold off. Oh, Saucony Hurricane 13’s, you are my one true love shoe. But the 14’s have a 4mm drop (instead of 12), which, while I haven’t tried, I don’t want! The worst part is, I feel like Saucony suddenly changed ALL of their shoes to the low drop, and even before I was in the Hurricane’s I loved the ProGrids. I’m pretty loyal to the brand and don’t want to have to switch!

    Like you, I panicked and stockpiled, and fortunately still have 1 or 2 pairs hanging out in my closet untouched. I haven’t started the search for new ones yet, though. I just don’t know if I’m ready yet… (sniff sniff) … to let go.

  26. Hmmm…I’m in that very same boat right now and need to find my replacement. I run with Asics Phoenix 3 right now….yes, very outdated but I think I’ve purchased the last pair I can find online :( For me, I need to run in a stability shoe because of many, many issues. They have the Duomax (looks like red portion on the ST5). I have found issues with any shoe that doesn’t have the mesh top toebox. I emailed Asics to ask if they would ever go back and they said…”No”. Friends have told me to try the Brooks line and I’ve been hesitant. For me, I’ve always run in the Asics and am nervous about switching. I may need some liquid or retail therapy soon.

  27. I used to run in the Ghost also and whenthey switched to the 4 I struggled with which shoe to wear to. After trying on every shoe at my friend’s store I found that the Saucony Kinvara worked well, wore two pairs of those, but then tried the Brooks PureFlow. I’m on my second pair of them, but they’re not quite right. They wear out super quick. Like you I am 5’9/150 so I like shoes that are sturdy and can handle trail runs to. I’m thinking of trying the new Ghost again. Maybe the new one will be better this time. It sounds like I should give the ST5 a chance perhaps. I hope you find the perfect shoe!

  28. Ahhh I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve had pretty much the same shoe “path” as you. I started with the Ghosts and switched to the Launch…once I got used to the Launch, I fell in love!! My injuries basically went away – it was the first shoe I really loved! (hahah sounds funny) So sad they discontinued it. I’m not ready (or financially prepared) to go through that whole cycle of shoe searching again. Sigh! People keep recommending different brands so I might have to branch out. Scary…haha. Good luck to you!

  29. I have a similar story, starting off with the Ghost 3 as my first real running shoe. I eventually added the Launch and Green Silence into my weekly rotation and the Launch quickly came my workhorse shoe, relegating the Ghost to my long runs. I am on my 2nd pair of Launches now, and have a 3rd brand new pair waiting in the wings.

    I am still working on finding the PERFECT Launch replacement, but my most recent addition to the shoe family might be close. It is the Mizuno Wave Precision 13. It is very similar in weight to the Launch, but has a 12mm drop instead of the 10mm drop. I can’t say that I really notice the 12mm drop “getting in the way” on my runs, and this shoe definitely makes me want to run fast. Ironically, it still works well for slow recovery runs too.

    I plan to check out the Saucony Ride 5 also, but when I bought the Mizunos, they didn’t have my size of the Rides in stock. I think the Ride might be closer to launch spec wise; and I have a friend who uses them as his workhorse and loves them. I’m glad to hear about your experiences with the ST5, as I was also considering them as one of my possible “Launch replacers.”

  30. Haha, love this post! :) I can totally relate, though I’m not much of a long distance runner. I have IT band issues that have never seemed to be able to go away on longer runs. Even so, finding the “right” workout shoe is always a chore. My current shoe woe is that my heels slip in every shoe I try on. Not sure what the deal is with that. So, like you, my quest for a new workout shoe continues… ;)

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