Brooks Running Shoes: 5 Footwear-Manager Picks to Run Happy

Ever bought a pair of Brooks running shoes?

You might be so excited to open the box, lace up and go, that you don't even notice...

There's a little more in that box than just Brooks running shoes. Take a closer look and you'll see...

  • "We run on science."
  • "The perfect ride for every stride."
  • "With the right shoes, your whole body works smarter not harder."
  • "Now get out there and run happy."
The next time you open a box of Brooks running shoes, take a closer look at the messaging. It's a reminder of how much time and effort Brooks invests in developing every pair of running shoes.

Brooks didn't just make this stuff up to sell running shoes.

There's a lot of work that goes into developing a running shoe.

It actually takes about 18 months to design a shoe, test it, manufacture it, and make it available to runners, says Brooks Running Product Line Manager Brittany Gleaton.

"We love the competitive aspect of running," says Brittany. "You know...the sweat, grit, grind, and showing up for a run. It's definitely an element of the running culture. But there's a lot more to it than that."

"There's the social connection of running, mental health benefits, and so many reasons people run that aren't always tied directly to health and fitness."

Looking for the perfect Brooks running shoe to help you run happy?

We chatted with Brittany for the Rundown about:

  • Brooks running culture
  • the shoe development process
  • Runner feedback
  • the top 5 most popular Brooks running shoes, and more...
Brittany Gleaton is a Brooks Running Product Line Manager. She's been working in the shoe industry for more than a decade.

What's it like to design Brooks running shoes?

Meet Brittany Gleaton.

She's a Brooks Running Product Line Manager, and she's been working in the shoe industry for more than a decade.

But first her running back story...

When Brittany moved away to college, the habit of daily practice and workouts for school sports kind of faded into the background.

That ever happen to you?

"I kind of fell into the typical trap of a lot of college students," says Brittany. "I had some not-so-healthy habits for a while. And I wasn't physically active. When I started gaining weight, I realized I needed to make some changes."

So...

  • She started running. 
  • She got a job working at FITNiche in Florida (now it's a Fleet Feet store)
  • She learned a lot about gait analysis, shoe fitting, shoe design features, and helping runners find the right shoes
  • She made her way to Tracktown USA to work at the Nike Store as a department manager
  • And after a few more miles, she joined the Brooks Running team in Seattle, Wash.

"When I started running and working at a running store in retail, I got to meet a whole community of runners," says Brittany. "I kind of fell in love with the sport, and I've been running ever since. I've ran a variety of races, finished a half and full marathon, and done some triathlons."

Now she's part of the Brooks Running team that takes a shoe through the entire process that includes:

  • Research and development
  • Design
  • Prototype testing
  • Manufacturing, and
  • Marketing
  • Sales
As a Brooks Running product line manager, Brittany helps guide the shoe development process from start to finish.

What's a Brooks Running product line manager do?

"Essentially, we're the voice of the consumer or runner," says Brittany. "We guide the product creation teams through the process of designing shoes and make sure we check all the boxes for runners."

Collect runner feedback

"We do a lot of qualitative and quantitative research to guide our team through the process of creating a shoe," says Brittany. 

"I talk to a lot of runners, visit running stores, and find out what runners want and don't want in a shoe. We're always looking for ways to make our existing shoes better and bring new shoes to market that runners want."

Create a running shoe brief

"The entire process of creating a new running shoe is really consumer focused," says Brittany. "When we're satisfied with all the feedback and research we've collected, it takes about 18 months from start to finish to create a new running shoe."

Once all the R&D and conceptual ideas are completed, Brittany creates a "running shoe brief" that guides the Brooks Running Product Line team through the entire process to help designers, engineers, the manufacturing team, and marketing and sales reps every step of the way.

"The running shoe brief is basically the Bible for every part of the process," says Brittany.

Get shoe-testing feedback from runners

"We recruit runners to test prototypes based on their preferences," says Brittany.

If you're picked to test a prototype of Brooks running shoes, here's what to expect:

  • Run as many miles as you can in a fixed period of time
  • Report your mileage
  • Take 9 to 12 surveys about the shoe during the test period
  • Be available for an interview to share feedback about the prototype

In addition to runners testing shoe prototypes, every shoe also goes through multiple rounds of strenuous biomechanical testing in a lab environment, says Brittany.

The next time you open a box of Brooks running shoes...take a minute to realize what you're about to put on your feet represents 18 months of work and thousands of hours of staff time to help you run happy.

Brittany's picks: Top 5 Brooks running shoes

Looking for a Brooks running shoe to help you go the distance?

Maybe you're new to running. Maybe running a few miles is part of your plan to stay in shape and manage your weight.

Or maybe you've got your sights set on a 5K, 10K, half marathon, 26.2-mile marathon, trail race or ultra.

Wherever you are on your running journey, there's a Brooks running shoe to help you every step of the way.

Here's Brittany's top 5 picks.

1. Brooks Ghost 14
  • Designed for: Road running + everyday training
  • Heel stack height: 36 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 24 mm
  • Drop: 12 mm
  • Price: $140

Brittany: "The Ghost is kind of our bread and butter for a lot of reasons. It offers an experience that appeals to a lot or runners. It's part of our cushioned category. It's the Goldilocks of cushion. It's not too soft. It's not too firm. It's not too heavy or light. It's the perfect shoe for a variety of runs and built on one of the most universal shoe lasts designed to accommodate a lot of different foot types."

Fun fact: The Brooks Ghost 14 comes in 29 different color schemes + special editions are created throughout the year for events like the New York City Marathon, Turkey Trot season, and many others.

2. Brooks Cascadia 16
  • Designed for: Trail running
  • Heel stack height: 32 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 24 mm
  • Drop: 8 mm
  • Price: $160

Brittany: "Historically our most popular trail shoe is going to be the Cascadia. It's been around for 16 editions. But it's gone through a recent update with new innovation, and I know some runners are really excited about it."

Watch the video: Check out ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek running in the Brooks Cascadia 16

3. Brooks Caldera
  • Designed for: Trail running
  • Heel stack height: 39 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 35 mm
  • Drop: 4 mm
  • Price: $140

Brittany: "The Caldera 6 hasn't gone to market yet, but people are really exited for the update. We've had supply chain issues that have caused some delays. But we're expecting this to be released by July 1. It's got the brand new nitro-foam we're using in the Aurora-BL, along with some other updates. The Caldera is a high-stack, max-cushion trail shoe, and that's kind of unique for us."

4. Brooks Hyperion Elite 2
  • Designed for: Road running + racing
  • Heel stack height: 35 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 27 mm
  • Drop: 8 mm
  • Price: $250

Brittany: "The Hyperion Elite came through our Blue Line program, which is quick to market and works on a faster development calendar than our other shoes. The first edition was primarily driven by athlete demand. They wanted a carbon-plated shoe to race in and be more competitive. This shoe is part of our speed collection, and the first release was really successful. This is a great racing shoe for people who want the carbon-fiber advantage."

5. Brooks Launch 9
  • Designed for: Road running, racing + everyday training
  • Heel stack height: 36 mm
  • Forefoot stack height: 26 mm
  • Drop: 10 mm
  • Price: $110

Brittany: "The Launch has a really interesting story. It was a shoe we had actually discontinued at one point. But there was basically an outcry by Hanson's Running and many other runners. Someone even started a Twitter hashtag (#SavetheLaunch). So we brought it back, and there's still a huge following for this shoe. It's a lightweight, fast trainer or racing option for someone on a budget and retails for about $100."

'Now get out there and run happy'

Selling shoes, making a profit, and keeping the machine going at Brooks is part of the plan, says Brittany.

But there's a lot more to Brooks running shoes than that.

"Brooks is a pretty trusted brand," says Brittany. "We've been around a long time. When someone is thinking about buying some running shoes, they'll often ask a running friend, old coach, or online running groups for shoe recommendations. And Brooks usually comes up."

"It's a testament to our design process and the running shoes we create based on our biomechanical rigor, strenuous lab testing, and extensive runner feedback. We don't put a shoe to market unless we're 100 percent sure it's going to provide a positive running experience."

Do you have a favorite Brooks running shoe? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Evan Jensen
Ambassador
SANDY, Oregon

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM-certified personal trainer, and hold the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in Oregon.

Comments

David Moore Thanks for sharing with us Brittany! The Brooks Ghost 10 is still one of my favorite shoes I've ever owned. I have hundreds of miles on them and they are still going strong. I've since upgraded to the 13 as well but there was just something about the 10 that fit me just right.

John Jeren Really good breakdown. I had a pair of the very first Brooks Launch and loved them. Now that I'm older, heavier and slower I have gone to the Ghost a few times for the extra cushioning. Love Brooks shoes as a whole.

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