Clinical Analysis of Running, Running Footwear, and Injury Prevention/Performance. The Doctor(s) of Running, using knowledge of human movement, clinical biomechanics and performance to bring you cutting edge reviews, science and knowledge.

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Shoe Review TIME!!!

Today I am reviewing the Brooks Racer ST5.  This is Brook's supportive racing shoe.  It comes in at 8.6 ounces and has a 12mm drop.  It is a personal favorite of mine.  Read on to find out why.

     Imagine the Brooks Launch, but more responsive, supportive,  and lighter.  And the Launch is an awesome shoe (review on the way).  The ST5 is just more of a racer.  Not to say you couldn't race in the Launch.  It's a similar weight (just a bit lighter), but it is quick.  REALLY quick.  It always throws me off a bit how fast I can run in an almost 9 ounce shoe.  And with that quickness comes a much firmer sole as well.  Whereas the Launch is much softer and not nearly as responsive.  However, the firmness of the Racer ST5 does not deter from the shoe being protective.  It's like a track spike with a 12mm drop and some support via a medial post, called a "Diagonal Roll Bar" or DRB (see the fourth picture).  That coupled with the DRB Accel (see the fifth picture.  It's that black crossing plastic thing in the midfoot) provides a ride that is stable and launches you forward.  Brooks should have called this shoe the "Brooks Launch Racer ST."  Or not because the name is too long.    


     The shoe fits very well.  Think of a the typical racing flat feel where your foot is held down well, but there is good room in the forefoot/toes (no compression).  They are very comfortable (yes I would sleep in them) and the Racer ST5s disappear off your feet.  I might say the heel is a tad wide, so make sure you do the special lace lock/bunny ears lacing technique (whatever you want to call it.  If you don't know what this is, I'll do a post about it.  Or head down to your local run specialty store and ask!).  

     Color wise I chose red... because I saw Ryan Vail wearing that color on a Flotrack video.  That's really why I chose it.  I fully admit that.  If you can wait until February 1st, 2014, Brooks has an awesome new colorway coming out in a crazy blue and nightlife (neon yellow) color.  

Crazy right?

    Unlike almost every racing flat out there, the Brooks Racer ST5 is EXTREMELY durable.  You will get as many miles out of these as typical trainers (if not more because right now I think my Brooks Ghost 6 is going to last 200 miles at max before the sole is totally destroyed).  I have +150 miles on this shoe and there is almost ZERO wear.  The shoe feels like it did when I first got my paws on it (except it's molded to my foot a bit).  I detect almost no midsole breakdown and I check all this every single time I wear them because it blows me away every single time.  You could definitely use these as lightweight trainers.  They have enough protection to do that.  The only reason I don't is that I like being able to step down from a heavier trainer so that my racing shoes feel lighter on race day.  

   The durability is incredible.  I really don't know what to say other than "wow."  That might be the trade off for having a little more weight in the shoe.  I don't know.  I seriously wish more shoes were like this and this is a RACING FLAT.  Flat being a generous term with the 8.6 ounces and +12mm heel drop.  But I have nothing to complain about because this shoe has taken me through my fastest tempo runs and an incredible 71 minute half marathon that I prepared very little for (it was also my first one.  And no I didn't taper.  Why?   I'm an idiot that's why).  
See that red part of the midsole?  That's the DRB.  Never feels intrusive.

    Some people may worry about the shoe's weight being heavy for a flat at 8.6 ounces, but the shoe is VERY fast and feels much lighter.  The weight never gets in the way and as mentioned I can run really fast in this shoe.  I have even run very quick 5ks in them but do prefer the T7s or Mach Spikeless for that distance (if you're into Brooks).  They have quite a bit of pop to them, but not in a jarring way.  I think that helps make them such a responsive and fast shoe.  I use them for all my workouts and longer races (including the 71 minute half marathon I mentioned earlier).    

    And yes, the shoe has a fairly high heel drop for a racing shoe at 12mm (although it actually feels a bit higher).  Once I get going though, it is not noticeable at all.  This shoe is so smooth and fast you will completely forget about what's going on at your feet.  I thought I was going to have a terrible workout the other day being a little sick and not getting enough sleep.  Yet I flew through a 4.2 mile tempo run in about 21:30 on a route that was NOT flat.  Yes.  That's 5:07 pace per mile while sick.  I know it's not just the shoes, but they help.  
Dang, I almost ran my sophomore year college 5k PR in these will doing a tempo run...  

     I think this shoe works best racing longer distances.  This is the shoe I used during my (first) half marathon and I do not regret that decision.  Yes my quads were busted up because I got tired and was heel striking pretty hard.  But my feet were completely fine.  I'm pretty sure I would have destroyed myself if I'd chosen the Brooks T7.  I even ended up running pretty quick, averaging ~5:25 pace for 13.1 miles!  I eventually would like to move to the T7 for half marathons, but right now my body is not ready for them racing that distance.  

   So yeah.  You could say I kinda love these shoes.  They have carried me through some awesome times.  Who knew a year ago that my racing and workout shoe would have support, a 12mm drop and weigh 8.6 ounces?  I was training in shoes that were much lighter and had much lower heel drops than that!

     Do I think they could be improved?  Yes.  I think Brooks could bring the weight down by reducing that heel drop a bit.  I think 8-10mm would be great.  That would probably bring the shoe down to around 8 ounces (I think).  Then it could compete better with the Adidas Adios Boost,  Saucony Fastwitch, Asics DS Racer and the Nike Lunarspeed Lite+.  All of which are lighter.  But lighter does not mean better.  Of those shoes, the Racer ST5 fits the best (with the exception of the Fastwitch 6, which is also very comfortable after a few runs), is the most protective and the most durable based on the wear I've seen from those who race/train in those shoes.

     I think people will shy away from this shoe because of the weight and support.  But please don't let that deter you!  The Racer ST5 may look like it has more "junk in the trunk", but it will not hold you back at all.  Trust me.  The phrase "more cushin' for the pushin'" applies here.  Except it's talking about running speed... not sex.  And the "cushin'" is firmer.  Like it being due to muscle rather than fat..... because strong glutes are important for running fast and injury free..... alright I'll stop now (this is not a good way to end a review but I'm going to anyway).

    I really cannot say enough good things about the Brooks Racer ST5.  As I said they are a personal favorite.  If nothing else take a look and try them on.  They are well worth your time.

Thanks for reading!

These shoes were a personal purchase and as always, my thoughts are my own!

Tack On!!

-Matt Klein, SPT

2/8/14 UPDATE:  I am now using these and the Brooks Purecadence 1s as my training shoes and am doing all workouts in the Brooks T7.  Heading back down the minimal rabbit hole again...

*Pictures obtained from the Brooks Running website.  Go over there and check them out or head over to your local running specialty store!

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