Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mach 14's - beautiful look, light, minimal but too much bounce

Last week I received a trial pair of Brooks Mach 14's (spikeless).  Let me start by saying they are beautiful to look at :) . . . great looking shoe.  Also, extremely light weight (my pair of 12's weighed in at just 6 oz.), very soft upper and much less toe spring than the previous Mach 12 and 13.  I did a few runs in the Mach 14 but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not a fan of shoe rotation so I won't be doing a ton of running in this shoe but I give it an early passing grade and would likely recommend it for "some" other runners.

For me, the combination of the midsole design and toe spring provide a high level of energy return and take a major burden off the legs and allow you to glide or bounce along, or almost fly by which, on the surface sounds great but there's another side to that.  When shoes provide too much spring for me, it puts pressure on my achilles because it can alter your stride by extending your stride to where you almost feel like your are bouncing along.  That bounce feeling is something I call "un-controlled" form (I know, I have weird terms and descriptions) but I like a very compact controlled stride and there's a fine line between that and bouncing along which can also result in the foot spending too much time on the ground and creating more of a push off (i.e., lower cadence and longer stride).

Anyway, check out the shoe.  I know this is a lame review but I can't spend too much time running in the shoe at the moment.  One red flag for me, and it's a red flag I identify in the vast majority of running shoes including so called minimalist shoes, and that's the design of the sole.  Even the new wave of minimalist shoes are still trying to over design the sole, all in an attempt to differentiate themselves but they generally suck.  Even as the vast majority of these companies move toward "zero drop" they continue to over-design the sole . . . they just can't help themselves :) . . . this is what happens when you turn your company over to engineers.

The problem is all we need is a simple layer of rubber, even if you add some EVA it should be flat and nothing more . . . no special grooves or midsole designs or special attention to certain areas of the foot, etc.  Just a piece of rubber (again, it can be EVA, I don't care) but just flat, flat, flat (no grooves or spikes unless it's a specific shoe for a specific terrain but I'm talking about general everyday running on hard surfaces or easy dirt roads and trails).  But, that wouldn't be sexy and then every shoe would start to look the same and shoe companies can't have that :) although they could differentiate with the design of the upper which is what it should be all about anyway . . . the sole is boring and it should be that way as it should just be a layer of protection for the foot (again, flat and simple).


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