Sunday night after my 10k PR, I had the opportunity to attend a Brooks clothing and shoe education night for employees at the running store I work at, put on by Brooks.
[Full disclosure: while I was given the clothing to try out for free as a part of our employee event with Brooks, I was not asked to review the products on my blog nor am I being compensated in any way. All opinions, as always, are my own.]
Basically, Brooks likes to come out and talk to the running specialty stores that sell their clothing and get the employees in the clothing, running it in, and then have an open forum to get feedback to improve their product for future iterations. (Points which I will highlight below when I review the products.)
Then we talk about selling points – different features of the products, and why things cost what they do — what I learned at the end of the day? The majority of the cost is the fabric, technology and R&D — there is very little that is actually made on a product. For example, on a $100 pair of shoes? The store selling it makes about $10, and Brooks doesn’t make much more (if more at all). Talk about a small profit margin. It makes me feel better about buying slightly pricier clothes and shoes that are of a higher quality.
But enough about that…onto the good stuff — the clothes!
For our 5k run, I got to try out (and keep) the Brooks Infinity Capris III and the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip. I was a little hesitant to wear capris and just a fairly thin long sleeve since it was pretty cold out (I did wear a tank underneath it, for full disclosure), but the Brooks reps assured me I would be fine.
Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip
Brooks Infinity Caril III
We went out on our run, and low and behold, my temperature was pretty spot on. While it would’ve been nice to be in tights at first, after about a mile or so I did warm up (though someday I do want these – I mean, how cute are they?!).
My overall reviews of the Infinity Caprisl III? I loved the wide waistband (and the color scheme on this pair!) It was cute and flattering. I also loved that they weren’t black, since I have like 4 pairs of black capris. I also really liked the rubber at the bottom of the capri to hold to the capri in place so it wouldn’t ride up, as well as the stripes on the side of the leg made of 3M ScotchBrite to make a runner more visible to cars.
3M ScotchBrite strips and rubber at the base of the capris
What I didn’t love? I have to take my iPhone out of its case (and I have a fairly small one – and the iPhone 5 – in order for it to fit in the pocket in the back of the pants (which, btw, is water resistant!), and as a woman who runs alone a lot, I don’t like to leave home without my phone for emergencies. If you have a bigger phone, it definitely wouldn’t fit.
And the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip? The pink color was great – but for those who don’t like pink, it comes in a wide variety of colors. I also liked the fit a lot – it wasn’t too tight or too lose. I also liked the positioning of the ScothBrite on the top as well – its on the arms and back at key points of movement to make you more visible while running on the street. It also has a nice pocket on the back (I ❤ pockets). Oh, and its nice and long, and doesn’t ride up when you run.
Back of the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip
What I didn’t love? After wearing it one night, for one easy 3.1 mile run where I didn’t sweat that much, it smelled absolutely horrible (I really don’t sweat very much ever, especially when its cold out and usually don’t smell that much after a run either – maybe I’m used to it, but no one has ever told me that I do). I wish there was something in the fabric that would help with the odor and to mitigate the smell, because that’s the only thing that’s keeping me from being 100% in love with it (luckily 1/3-1/2 cup baking soda added to the wash will take the smell right away).
I was also given another piece to try on a cool run (which I did on Monday night) – the Brooks Equilibrium Base Layer LS. Its supposed to be perfect for temperatures between 40-65 degrees (according to the Brooks’ website).
I’m not going to lie – the shirt looks weird, and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. My first reaction to it in the store was definitely that this had to be a mistake – it looked like it was either straight from the 80s, Vegas, or a strip club.
However, now that I have it and ran in it (7.8 miles in 42-45 degree weather with a fair amount of wind at night), I am in love with this top. It is so innovative and light and useful. I don’t know which R&D individual at Brooks who created it, but I would love to meet them and figure out how they came up with this.
I don’t know how to better explain it than how the Brooks’ website does:
Like a second, smarter skin, this amazing baselayer helps maintain optimal conditions in both heat and cold. When teamed with a top layer, it works like insulation–blocking outside elements and improving your natural temperature regulation by keeping you incredibly dry and breaking up surface tension with air pockets.
(Source & see more here
It was surprisingly amazing. I was never too cold (save for my hands, but that’s because I didn’t wear gloves) or too hot. I wore it with a short sleeve technical shirt over it, and loved that my arms were warm but could breathe, and that even though it was pretty cold out I didn’t have to wear super thick layers that after three miles I wanted to peel off because I was overheating. I couldn’t believe it. (FYI: If you get this top, I – and the others who tested it – found it best to tuck it into your bottoms, otherwise I found that the shirt rode up as I ran – but once I tucked it in I didn’t even notice it.)
And now I am a believer – and its really comfortable. So weird, but so good. (FYI: they’re also coming out with a short sleeve version of it this spring.) And I liked the Infinity Capris III enough to wear them on another run.
The final part of our Brooks event night, was seeing and talking about the shoes — and the one that I enjoyed hearing about the most was the Transcendence, which is coming out in February 2014 to replace the Trance.
While I don’t have all the details, its basically a considered a high cushion, light stability shoe. It’s light, with a fairly straight shoe last, and has these ‘rails’ on both sides that are activated only when needed — meaning it only gives you stability when you need it. And it can act with as much stability as an Adrenaline. Haven’t tried it out yet, but it sounds pretty intriguing to me!
The other thing about it that sounded appealing to me was that neutral runners can run in it, supposedly, without too much problem. One of their engineers/test runners ran in it for three months (and she is a neutral runner) and she had no problems. Also, if you’re running a long race as a neutral runner, and your form starts to deteriorate in a long run/race, it can give you the stability when you need it – and only when you need it. Seriously, fascinating. And now I’m 100% intrigued.
Definitely look for the Transcendence in February, 2014. I know I’m going to at least try running on it for a while in the store — I am intrigued beyond belief and definitely impressed by Brooks in a way I didn’t think I could be. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given to test these products and hear all about the time, research, and thought that Brooks puts into each one of their products overall. An experience I won’t forget, for sure.
What do you look for in your running clothes? What features are must haves or deal breakers?