Conventional advertising wisdom says this: ‘find a famous athlete, get him or her to use your product, and people will buy that product, hoping for greater athleticism themselves.’ It’s not the best advertising idea, honestly. If a company really wanted to get people’s attention, they wouldn’t trot out the most successful athletes, but the least – not those naturally blessed with speed, stamina, and strength, but those who struggle, wheeze, and grow weary.
After all, a great athlete will stay in the game regardless of his or her equipment. But a bad athlete? If he or she is still competing, you have a much greater reason to trust the equipment, and not just the competitor. That seems to us to be a much better advertising idea. Today, we’re reviewing a running shoe – and we’re trotting out every injured, flat-footed, weary, hurt, and wounded user we can find, and tallying their responses to the Brooks Beast running shoe.
The true test of a product, after all, is how much it actually helps people. The Brooks Beast, on nearly all accounts, is a beloved running shoe, especially by those who suffer in their legs and feet. It’s corrective, comfortable, and stable, and goes a long way to helping relieve pain for the injured, as well as increase performance for the foot-healthy athlete.
It’s also not perfect, and the new versions of the Brooks Beast are heavily criticized for low production standards. We’ll explain which ones to avoid, which ones to pick, and what to consider when choosing. First, though, we should explain why you should trust us at all.
Brooks Beast, Brooks Bias
The common belief about online reviews is this: ‘someone is being paid to write this, so you shouldn’t trust his or her glowing review.’ Yes, and no – almost every reviewer is hoping to be paid, to be sure, but not by Brooks. Fact is, it’s much easier to write a review of how bad something is rather than how good it is. Just look at music reviews – you can make a decent living writing about how absolutely nothing is good anymore. Many people do.
Our reviews are a combination of our own experience and the experiences of dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of others, all of whom have vented their frustrations and given their praises online. One happy review, or angry denunciation, isn’t enough to make our list of pros and cons, but if something appears multiple times, with both happy and unsatisfied customers, it makes our list. Consider an example: the Brooks Beast, like many running shoe lines, fits tighter than most people’s standard shoe size.
In other words, if you’re ordering a pair, we recommend ordering a ½ size larger than your shoe size now. We know this not just because we’ve seen it in other lines and other companies, but because that particular criticism appears in multiple forums, from multiple runners. It appears in reviews that praise the Brooks Beast, as well as those that hate it. And because it’s that prominent, we include it in our list of pros and cons.
Ultimately, the only review you should be concerned about is your own – but it’s important to make that review count. To that end, we recommend starting with a few kernels of advice.
Shopping for Brooks: What to Do First
There are hundreds of shoe types, and while we’re focusing on the Brooks Beast, we’d be doing you no service if we didn’t help you pick the shoe that’s right for you.
To that end, we have a few simple rules:
1. Try Them On First, and Trust Yourself
If you can, buy your Brooks Beast from an actual, physical location – rather than online. Try the shoes on, walk around, and make sure you feel comfortable in them. What others love might not be for you, and what feels great for you might not work for others.
Most people order online, of course, in which case, try the Beasts on as soon as they arrive – indoors so they don’t get dirty. If they’re even a tad uncomfortable, return them immediately.
That rule, in fact, deserves its own subsection.
Maybe I Just Need to Break Them In?
No, you don’t.
Shoes that are stiff because they’re new won’t feel so much uncomfortable as odd, and walking around in them for a day should get rid of that.
If it takes longer than a day, return them. If you feel uncomfortable immediately, return them. A slight discomfort now will probably turn to incredible discomfort later. These things are going to be on your feet for hundreds of thousands of steps, and anything wrong now will only get worse.
Trust your body. It knows what works, and what doesn’t, and there are more than enough shoe designs out there to make settling for something a ridiculous idea.
2. Wear Them Down Before the Return Window Closes
A common complaint about nearly every type of running shoe, no matter how expensive, is this: ‘they started breaking down within just a few weeks.’
It’s not great, but it happens, and it happens enough that it’s made our pro and con list, and for several different types of shoes.
You don’t want to be caught with a pair that’s falling apart at the seams after a month of running. To avoid it, we recommend an unconventional first few weeks – wear the Brooks Beasts everywhere, and be as hard on them as you can.
We’re not suggesting physically ripping them apart, of course, but don’t be gentle. If your shoes are going to fall apart in a few weeks, you need to know before the window for returning them is gone.
Speaking of which, the ‘window for returning shoes’ merits its own subsection:
Do I Have a Return Policy, and is it Still Good?
The answer is ‘yes,’ and ‘yes.’ Always make sure you actually have a return policy, and make sure you’ll be well within the allowed window before you order a new pair of shoes.
There you have it – try the Beasts on first, and make sure you have broken them in before you can no longer return them.
Those rules, of course, presume that you’ve already ordered the Beasts.
But why should you?
Brooks Beast Running Shoes: Everything We Love
This section is, ironically, filled with injuries and chronic pain.
We love the Brooks Beast because it’s hyper-engineered, and the care put into building it has helped a lot of people with a lot of problems. Yes, it’s great as a running shoe, but the true test of a product, as we said at the start, is how it helps those who really need help, not how it helps those whom God and genetics have blessed with superhuman ability.
In short, it doesn’t matter if Usain Bolt is faster in Brooks Beasts – it matters if the guy with two knee surgeries is faster.
The first section of our pros and cons list, therefore, is pain and injury.
Pain, Post-Op, Plantar, Pronation
More than enough foot and knee injuries exist to occupy every orthopedic surgeon on the planet for the rest of his or her life. Preventing those injuries, or helping them heal, is a big deal, especially if it means avoiding a first or second surgery.
Consider it a moment – small problems in your feet and knees can lead to large problems later in life, and some of those will require surgery. Surgery is expensive. Shoes are not nearly as expensive. The proper shoe, early enough, can prevent the surgery later. It’s a financial no-brainer.
What can a shoe help you fix, however? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
3. Pronation – Eventually, it Means ‘Pain’
‘Pronation’ simply refers to the tendency of a foot and ankle to lean inward or outward with each step. If you pronate inward, which is most common, you’re ‘flat-footed’ – you squish the arch of your foot as you step. It puts undue pressure on your big toe, and makes it harder for your heel to stabilize your body weight.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal. After several thousand steps, however, it’s absolutely a big deal. Little discrepancies add up.
The Brooks Beast is engineered to correct this. Simplified, the shoes use foam to prop up the arch of your foot, encouraging it to correct its stride, which stabilizes your toes and the ball of your feet – which, of course, makes later injury unlikely, and eases the burden on any current injury.
Oversimplified? You’re running wrong, and it will hurt you in the long run. The Brooks Beast can correct it. It’s much less expensive than surgery.
4. Plantar Fasciitis
This is far more common than any other type of foot pain. Plantar fasciitis is nothing more than the inflammation of a connecting band of tissue, one that connects your heel to the ball of your foot. Once inflamed, even the action of walking is nearly impossible. It can’t be cured, or operated upon – if you have it, you’re managing it, rather than curing it.
The Brooks Beast is good management. Proper foot support can almost completely eliminate plantar fasciitis pain. There’s more than a few testimonials to this, but our advice is simply this: try them. Fasciitis pain is most pronounced in the early morning, so put your Beasts on early, and give walking a try. If you’re pain-free, you’ve found your new pair of shoes.
Pain relief, however, isn’t the only reason to try the Brooks Beast.
Science, Springs, and Ethics
If you’re an average and healthy runner, there are still great reasons for trying the Brooks Beast. The first is, quite literally, something out of science fiction.
5. Flubber – Yes, a Movie, but Also a Shoe
About 10 years ago, Brooks developed a substance that they put into the soles of nearly every shoe they manufacture.
It’s hard to describe, and frankly, the science is wild. Your best bet is to just watch the informational video.
(If you didn’t watch it, you missed someone running across an engineered liquid. He sinks if he stops, and he’s supported if he runs. Seriously, give it a view.)
In a nutshell, Brooks DNA is a liquid that bounces back when it’s hit hard, and gives way when it’s hit softly. If you’re walking, you’ll be cushioned. If you’re running, you’ll be given energy. It’s in nearly every Brooks shoe, and it’s an absolutely legal and bona fide performance enhancer.
6. Ethical Conduct
We’ll keep this short – it’s way more satisfying to buy from a company that helps others than it is to buy from a conventional company.
Brooks invented a biodegradable insole about 10 years ago. Most shoe insoles take roughly 1,000 years to decompose. We’re not joking.
The Brooks BioMeGo takes about 20 years. And the best part? It’s not patented. Brooks shared the formula with the rest of the world, forsaking money for environmental stewardship.
If you don’t need shoes, don’t buy them. If you do, Brooks deserves your support for its ethical conduct.
By now, you’re probably wondering if we think the Brooks Beast is perfect. We don’t. Consistent problems with the shoes appeared in multiple states with multiple customers.
This, of course, brings us to the ‘cons’ list.
Brooks Beast: Everything We Hate
We touched upon both of these criticisms earlier.
1. Things Fall Apart
It’s a problem for many an expensive running shoe, and for the Brooks Beast as well – the mesh atop the toes sometimes frays and develops holes in just a matter of weeks.
Some users reported decau almost immediately, and some reported no decay after several marathons. We can’t guarantee which one you’ll be, which is why we opened with the advice we did – try the shoes on first, and try to wear them out early.
2. Narrow Fit – Fat vs. Wide
We touched on this criticism earlier, too – the Brooks Beast should be ordered an ½ size larger than your normal shoe size, because the shoes themselves run small.
We’ve frankly no idea why this is, but it’s a common problem among top-tier running shoes. If you order your regular shoe size, there’s a good chance your Brooks Beasts simply won’t fit. Be warned, and order accordingly.
3. Laces – Get New Ones
This part is simple – the Brooks Beast usually comes with terrible shoelaces. They don’t secure well, and they’re cheap. Order better ones, and your top-dollar shoes will fit the way they’re supposed to.
Brooks Beast: Everything in Summation
The Brooks Beast series is excellent for anyone with chronic foot pain, plantar fasciitis, knee or leg pain due to overpronation, or those facing the stresses of knee surgery recovery.
It’s not as great for some healthy runners who want a durable shoe, and find themselves disappointed. We therefore recommend rigorous initial testing, and a dedication to staying inside a seller’s return window.
All in all, however, we concede this: engineering a shoe that heals people, and acting ethically to do so, is a quality that simply can’t be replaced or replicated.
The Brooks Beast is worth your consideration. Give it a try.
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