“It’s good for anything up to a half marathon or so.”
When I asked the Brooks sales reps at the Marine Corps Marathon about the Green Silence, that’s what they told me. Light, fast, and minimal—just not meant for long distances.
I didn’t let it deter me. I had fallen in love with the Green Silence when I learned about it this summer: Not only is it all of the above, and in my opinion a perfect minimalist alternative to barefoot-style shoes for road running, but it looks awesomely-weird and is eco-friendly. More on that later.
Good for a marathon and (way) more
Long story short, I wore them in the marathon the next day. If people can run a marathon barefoot, there’s no reason I can’t do it with a pair of flimsy shoes, I figured. And in this case, I was right. No problems other than the (unrelated) IT band issues I expected, and even those could have been far worse.
But get this—after I got home, I found a card in the shoebox listing some of the features of the Green Silence, including the fact that Scott Jurek (everyone’s favorite vegan ultrarunner) wore them at the 2010 AU 24-Hour World Championships. But he didn’t do much there—he only ran over 165 miles and set a new American 24-hour record.
Let me repeat that. 24 hours, 165 miles. And yet the Brooks people told me the Green Silence isn’t really for anything more than a half marathon! Now, I realize Scott Jurek is superhuman—but that doesn’t mean his feet don’t hurt like yours and mine. And it’s not like he’s a huge barefoot guy, either. So why Brooks sells the Green Silence as a short-distance shoe, I have no idea.
CD’s, Tires, and Bottles…Oh My!
I knew the Green Silence was eco-friendly, but I didn’t know how or why when I bought them. Here are just a few of the remarkable “green” features they boast:
- The laces, meshes, and webbings are made from recycled plastic bottles.
- The heel counters (the plastic pieces that reinforce the back of the shoe) are made from recycled CDs.
- The outsoles are made from 30% used tire material.
- The sockliner foam is fully biodegradable.
- The packaging is 100% recycled material, with chlorine-free tissue, water-based inks and adhesives, no silica packs, and only minimal stuffing.
- Brooks uses 50% less material to make the Green Silence than is used in standard shoe manufacturing.
Pretty neat, huh? I don’t consider myself much of an environmentalist, but even I found this all pretty awesome. A nice bonus for a shoe I’d probably wear anyway.
Where the rubber meets the road
So all of this greenness is great. But it doesn’t matter much if the shoes are terrible. Fortunately, they’re not. Here’s my personal experience with the Green Silence.
The first thing I noticed about the Green Silence (other than the funky look) was the weight. They weigh 5.9 ounces, only about 20% more than Vibram Fivefingers. The upper of the Green Silence is really flimsy—nothing like the stiff material that most shoes are made of, so there’s really no breaking-in to be done to these.
The sole is shorter than that of most running shoes, and the heel isn’t built up much higher than the front of the sole. These two things were important to me—I wanted a shoe that was a lot like barefoot running or running Vibram Fivefingers, but with just slightly more cushioning, since I find road running in Vibrams to be uncomfortable after a while. I want these shoes to be my everyday road shoes.
When I put on the Green Silence for the first time to test them out, I noticed that I ran differently. I naturally landed on my midfoot rather than on my heel, something that I’m still not convinced I even do in my Vibrams. (I have no idea why the Green Silence should encourage midfoot running any more than the VFF’s, but for me, that’s how it is.) I could definitely feel the lack of cushioning though, even walking around the expo—if you want a soft feel when you hit the ground like most fancy running shoes give you, the Green Silence are not for you.
My only complaint about the shoes is the lacing. Rather than running straight up and down the top of the shoe, the laces curve along the top of the foot. I’ve found I have to tie the laces pretty tight, due either to this curvature or the flimsiness of the shoe, and by the end of a long run the tops of my feet hurt from the tightness. I also found that my toes hit the front of the shoe a lot, leaving me with a not-so-pretty nail situation after the marathon. (Maybe getting a larger size shoe would have prevented this.)
So that’s my take. Anyone else run in the Green Silence yet? I’d love to hear if your thoughts are the same as mine.
All I know is this is the first time I’ve been excited about a shoe in a good while (especially one that doesn’t have individual toes on it!). If you decide to buy a pair from Amazon using this link, I’ll get a cut and we’ll all be winners.
Looking forward to hearing what the barefoot crowd, the racing flat crowd, and the environmentalists think of these babies. I know you’re out there, so chime in.