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Test driving the Brooks Transcend running shoe

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published April 18, 2014

I’ve been testing a new shoe lately, a bright pink number that’s been getting lots of buzz in the running world since it came out in February.

Think of the Transcend, made by Brooks Running, as the anti-minimalist shoe.

Three or four years ago, all we heard about was barefoot running and minimalist shoes. Shoe companies told us that all the artificial padding in our running shoes was working against us - that if we ran like nature intended, we’d strengthen the muscles in our feet. Minimalist shoes would correct our form, because without all the cushioning of support running shoes, it would hurt to run incorrectly.

Problem was, some people ripped off their shoes and started running barefoot without easing into it. Some got injured. Even minimalist shoes, which are designed to mimic barefoot running yet still protect the foot, were too much - or too little - for some people.

Minimalist shoes are still around, and work for some people. But the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

The Transcend is the perfect example. It’s all about cushioning and comfort. Brooks notes that the shoe has “pressure zones” designed to evenly distribute pressure throughout the foot, and a rounded heel to encourage a more natural and easy foot strike. It says the shoe helps you “float” through your run.

Running has never felt like floating to me, so I was eager to lace up a pair.

When I did, I was surprised to find out how stiff the Transcend felt, almost like a hard-cover book attached to the bottom of my foot. (That must be the support part of the shoe.)

I’ve been running with them, but not every run. My go-to shoe right now is a Mizuno, and this feels entirely different.

I’m not sure yet, but I think I need a little more flex than the Transcend provides.

What’s your favorite running shoe?