Brooks Glycerin 17 – Flexible cushioning

Over the years I’ve heard good things about the Brooks Glycerin and since I like neutral cushioned shoes, I had to try them out for myself. Especially since I was looking for my next marathon shoe and thought the Glycerin 17 might be right for me. The 17th edition of the Glycerin has a 10 mm drop with a 22 mm forefoot stack and a 32 mm heel stack and it’s a neutral road running shoe which comes in at 260 grams for the women’s model. 

This is not my first pair of Brooks, but it is my first pair of Glycerin. I’ve previously tested their Levitate 2, which has Brooks’ DNA AMP, which is known for its energy return. The Glycerin has the DNA LOFT midsole material, which is soft and plush. Exactly the way I like my running shoes to be. 

Upper

The upper is made out of a double layer of jacquard mesh. There are some hexagon shaped overlays on either side of the shoe, which I assume are referring to DNA and thus referring to the midsole material.

The tongue has some medium padding, while the heel collar has medium to plush padding. There is no stitching directly along the heel collar, because the fabric of the heel collar runs over the edge to prevent any hotspots. I really like this, because I’ve also encountered running shoes where the fabric of the heel collar stops right on top and that is where I’ve often experienced hotspots due to the seam that ran along the collar.

Midsole

The midsole of the Glycerin 17 is completely made up of Brooks’ DNA LOFT material which is a mixture of rubber, EVA foam and air. DNA LOFT is the softest midsole material that Brooks has. You do sink into the midsole a little bit. It if soft, but it still has a decent energy return.

Outsole

Most of the outsole is covered in rubber which provides pretty good traction on most surfaces. I’ve done over 50 miles in these shoes and the outsole has started to wear a little bit underneath the forefoot. The seven flex grooves make the shoe really flexible. 

I’m just not entirely sure why there is an uncovered EVA part on the lateral side of the midfoot. I’m not convinced it really serves a purpose, maybe it is more for esthetic reasons to make the outsole more recognizable. 

Fit

I had some trouble with the width of this shoe, which surprised me since I didn’t have any problems with the width of the Ghost 12 and the Levitate 2, which I all three own in my regular running shoe size. 

The problem wasn’t really the toe box or the heel, but I found the midfoot to be too narrow. So, I decided to order the shoe in a wider size. That did give me more fabric in the upper, which made it a bit more difficult to get the right lock down, but the platform still didn’t feel right. Which made me realize my problem was with the OrthoLite sockliner rather than with the upper or the platform itself. Once I switched out the sockliner for another, I was definitely more comfortable in the shoe and I could run in the regular width. 

Performance

I have tested out this shoe in several training runs and also did a 10 mile race in them which went fine, although I did learn that I had to tie them a bit differently to get the right fit. It took me a few tries to figure out the best way to tie them. In the end I did decided to run the marathon in them and until halfway it was fine, but after that I started to feel pain in my hips and my feet started to hurt. 

Sure, some pain is normal, but this was not the type of pain I was used to experiencing during the marathon. I think in the end the shoe just didn’t absorb enough of the impact for me, maybe that’s because I’m a heel striker and although this shoe is cushioned, it might not be the most ideal shoe for heel strikers, but I did finish the marathon with all my toenails intact and no blisters which is pretty impressive.

Conclusion

Yes, the Glycerin is a nicely cushioned shoe. It’s soft, it’s plush and it was enough room in the toe box. And the flex grooves make for a pretty effortless heel to toe transition. I didn’t experience any hotspots, however the fit wasn’t effortless. I had to change the way I laced them several times and I had to switch out the sockliner. 

Even though the shoe is nicely cushioned, I found it didn’t absorb enough impact on very long runs, but it’s a great shoe for medium to long runs.

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