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Brooks Launch 8 GTS Review
Review by Matt Klein

Running for 11 years, the Brooks Ravenna somewhat merges with the Launch to become the Brooks Launch 8 GTS. The GTS, long standing with the Brooks Adrenaline series, stands for "Go To Shoe."  Which we think should stand for "Go To Stability" but we are not in charge of naming or marketing for Brooks. The Launch 8 GTS is the go to shoe for light stability in a lightweight trainer package. A smallish category that includes the New Balance Fuelcell Prism (REVIEW), Asics DS Trainer, Skechers Forza 4 (REVIEW), On Cloudflyer (REVIEW) and the Newton Kismet 6 (REVIEW), the Brooks Launch 8 GTS remains a strong member here at a very affordable, albeit with a different name.



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.9 oz / 252 g (men's size 9)  8.0 oz / 227 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 26 mm / 16 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Mild Stability Lightweight Daily Trainer




RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Brooks Launch 8 GTS is for those wanting a lightweight very mild stability performance trainer at a $100 price range for daily training or some mild uptempo work. This is a Brooks Launch 8 with GuideRails. A potential uptempo/workout/ companion for those running in the Adrenaline GTS series or a lighter weight trainer for someone wanting a hint of stability in the rearfoot. The upper fits fairly normal to slightly snug with a stretchable and comfortable mesh. A flexible forefoot makes for a smooth toe off, although the Brooks BioMoGo DNA makes for a slightly uninspiring ride. Best at a little more uptempo paces, this is a great entry level shoe for those new to running or who want a little guidance.



FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

The Brooks Launch 8 GTS fits me true to size in my normal US men's size 10. The fit is fairly normal in the heel and a hair snug in the midfoot to forefoot. The Air Mesh is very breathable, but creates a more performance fit throughout the length of the shoe. The heel is fairly secure and I have not had to lace lock it. There is a fairly rigid heel counter, however the heel collar is well padded so I have not had any issues with my calcani (heel bones). The front half of the tongue is gusseted and secures the whole thing well. The laces stay tied and lock the midfoot down well. However, pulling them too tight will create too much pressure along the dorsum (top) of the foot. They do not need to be laced that tight as the fit is already snug. The upper is very comfortable and can be worn sockless. However I would caution against this as the toeguard, although nice and flexible, can cause a little chaffing since it is placed on the inner side. Overall, the upper is slightly snug and should fit those with medium to narrow feet looking for a performance oriented fit.



PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

The Brooks Launch 8 GTS features a full length BioMoGo DNA midsole, blown rubber on the outsole and deep flex grooves in the forefoot. There is a 10 mm drop that is only somewhat noticeable. The ride overall is slightly soft and feels more responsive when the pace picks up. The slower you run, typically the softer and more "dead" the shoe feels. At training paces the ride feels fairly uninspiring. However picking up the paces provides more pop off the ground. There is a very small heel bevel in the rearfoot. The midsole compression makes that feel somewhat smoother than it normally would be. The heel and midfoot transitions are slightly stiff, but are contrasted by a really nice toe off from deep flex grooves in the forefoot. There is a little toespring and most of the transition comes from the deeper flex grooves. Landing farther forward in the Launch 8 GTS feels much smoother and faster than landing farther back. The durability from the blown rubber is actually really good. I have 36 miles on my pair and see no noticeable wear, so I am expecting this shoe to last above normal for a lightweight trainer (250-400 miles).

Purpose-wise, the Brooks Launch 8 GTS will be an uptempo shoe for those who normally train in moderate stability shoes. This works very well as an uptempo long run shoe, tempo shoe or daily trainer. There is a bit too much shoe for me here to use for faster efforts, but many people used to more shoe will find it perfectly suitable for that purpose. Those used to the Adrenaline may even find that this works as a race day shoe for them if they want something more traditional. For those who want a daily trainer with a touch of stability and a slightly softer ride in at $100, this is a great option.



STABILITY

The Brooks Launch 8 GTS is a very mild stability shoe. Like the Adrenaline 21 (REVIEW), there are GuideRails on both the medial and lateral side of the foot. The lateral GuideRail sits at the heel, while the medial one goes from the heel to the forward midfoot. They are fairly subtle and take a second for me to notice. The GuideRails are not posts and work more to subtly guide the foot. Those coming from other shoes with large shoes will not get that same feeling. The best I can describe these is that if you focus really hard, you will notice some very gently pressure along the medial side of your foot. This works great if you want some gentle guidance to catch you when you fatigue. For me, however, I found the Launch 8 GTS slightly unstable. The narrow midfoot design that is carried over from the Launch does not work for me and I found that area unstable for me. The GuideRails work very well in the heel along with some mild sole flare, make the rearfoot slightly stable. The midsole is softer, so it does compress a bit more, taking away from what could be a perfectly stable heel. The forefoot is much better as the flex grooves make for a nice toe off and the sole flare seems to keep everything centered. This is a shoe that will work better for those who land farther forward or a neutral runner who just wants a touch of stability when they fatigue.




THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

We at Doctors of Running spend a large amount of time talking about the many different ways to add stability to shoes. The most common methods have been posts and heel counters. The challenge is that certain people are going to do well in those IF they want stability, while others may not. Many people still do very well in shoes with medial posts, while others may find those too rigid. They may do better with sidewalls, GuideRails, wider lasted shoes, etc. What can get lost in all these subtleties is whether or not the concept of stability is important.

We have discussed frequently that pronation is not bad, as it describes a normal motion and many times can actually be protective against impact related injuries (Barnes et al., 2008). However, like any motion, poor strength and control combined with overtraining can certainly be a risk factor for several foot/ankle injuries (See our post on Excessive Pronation as a Movement Impairment). Much of the evidence was mixed on this until a decently done article came out recently in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. Willems et al. (2021) analyzed several Randomized Control Trials (some of the best types of research studies) and found that motion control type shoes can reduce the risk of PRONATION-RELATED PATHOLOGIES, but not pathologies associated with anything else, ie specifically related to Achilles Tendinopathy, stress on the medial structures of the foot (posterior tibialis, etc) and potentially the plantar fascia (Willems et al., 2021). The calf-Achilles complex does assist with inversion and supination of the foot, which makes sense that uncontrolled pronation may stress that tissue if an individual overtrains and overstresses it without allowing appropriate time for recovery or possessing poor stress. The posterior tibialis and other invertors of the foot attempt to provide control during the phases of gait where pronation occurs. If weak or overworked, these certainly are at risk. The plantar fascia is a passive structure that supports the arch, so excessive stress in the area with allowing time for adaptation or recovery could certainly cause injury here.

So in these specific cases, some degree of stability may be beneficial to reduce the stress on these structures. In this population yes, motion control shoes may be beneficial. For other issues not related, of course motion control features are useless. Interventions and components like this can only be used for specific things. Even motion control features in the wrong part of the foot are useless. A great example is someone who needs more structure in the forefoot, but instead you give them a shoe that is posted in the heel. That's not going to work. These things will work for specific pathologies in specific people. No part of the shoe works for all people, which is why you cannot make blanket statements about whether they work or not for everyone.

References

Barnes, A., Wheat, J., & Milner, C. (2008). Association between foot type and tibial stress injuries: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42(2), 93-98.

Willems, T. M., Ley, C., Goetghebeur, E., Theisen, D., & Malisoux, L. (2021). Motion-Control Shoes Reduce the Risk of Pronation-Related Pathologies in Recreational Runners: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 51(3), 135-143.



RECOMMENDATIONS

My major recommendation for the Brooks Launch 8 GTS is to widen the midfoot aspect of the sole. The narrow, centered aspect will not work for those supinate or pronate and the GuideRails are not enough to counteract this. I had the same problem with a previous version of the Launch I reviewed. The midsole is already on the softer side, so I think it would be worthwhile to trade off a bit more sole width in the midfoot for a little less stack height. Just because you add one component that may add stability, doesn't mean you can ignore things that may contribute to instability. Especially in a shoe that is supposed to be at minimum a mild stability shoe.




WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

The Brooks Launch 8 GTS is a Brooks Launch 8 with GuideRails. A slightly snug fit, secure and airy upper sits up top to keep the foot locked in for those with medium to narrow feet. A slightly soft midsole provides protection for mileage and can pick up the pace when necessary. The ride livens up with uptempo paces and is a bit uninspiring at slower paces. However, for those wanting a lightweight package in a shoe to chill out in, the Launch 8 GTS will fit your needs. The forefoot is very smooth thanks to deep flex grooves, but a narrow midfoot adds a bit of instability. The GuideRails are very subtle, so those needing more stability may need to look elsewhere, should slowly transition into this shoe or keep it for uptempo days. A affordable companion to shoes like the Adrenaline at $100, this is a great entry level shoe for the beginning runner looking for a touch of stability or someone who wants a lighter shoe to accompany a more stable trainer.


GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B+ (Comfortable upper, slightly snug throughout with breathable mesh)                     
Performance: B (Cushioning but uninspiring ride at normal paces, better when the pace slightly picks up) 
Stability: B- (Decent in heel and forefoot. Midfoot slightly unstable despite guiderails, which add subtle guidance.) 
DPT/Footwear Science: B- (GuideRails do a decent job of providing subtle guidance, but minus points for very narrow midfoot) 
Personal:  B- (I really want to like these more as I love light stability trainers. However the midfoot ruins this shoe for me. Great shoe for $100, but I find other $100 neutral shoes more stable) 
Overall: B- (A great shoe for those who want a slightly snug uptempo trainer with a touch of stability in the rearfoot. Great for entry level runners or those who want a workout shoe coming from the Adrenaline at a budget price. )            

LAUNCH 8 VS LAUNCH 8 GTS COMPARISON



In this special mini-podcast episode, our team breaks down the differences between the Launch 8 and Launch GTS. We also talk budget shoes and our favorites so far in 2021.

Interested in purchasing the Brooks Launch 8 or 8 GTS? Check out Running Warehouse here. Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

FURTHER READING

Compare with Similar Mild Stability Trainers
On Cloudflyer -
On uses geometry to help this trainer stay on course
Nike Structure 23 - Similar to the Cloudflyer, Nike retools the Structure line to focus on shape
New Balance Fuelcell Prism -
Very mild stability offers runners a versatile option for a large range of distances
Skechers Forza 4 - Combining Hyperburst with stability in an affordable package

Recently at Doctors of Running
On Cloudultra
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Nike ZoomX Invincible Thoughts - Why It Didn't Work for Editor Matt Klein
Asics Metaspeed Sky Review - 
The latest technology in Asics racing, with a focus on "stride"
Science Friday: Pronation and the Changing Stability Industry
Hoka One One Speed Evo R - Track Spike Review -  A beautiful spike from Hoka. David Salas used this shoe to win his recent 3K. Find out why it's worked so well for him
Puma Deviate Elite Nitro - Puma delivers their premium racing option, and it's an instant player
Puma Velocity Nitro - Puma's brand new trainer is light, smooth, and protective
Asics Magic Speed Review - Flytefoam blast meets Guidesole meets Plate


Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Running Warehouse for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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