The Brooks Glycerin 18, which has focused on being as soft as possible, is cushioned, reliable, and a worthwhile pick for the weekly recovery run
Photos by Samantha Ong
I have a healthy obsession with the latest Volvo S90. I could gush over the car but suffice it to say, the tail lights remind me of the TIE Advanced x1 piloted by Darth Vader in “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.”
The fresh-in-the-Philippines Brooks Glycerin 18’s somehow remind me of the same spaceship—but in a cushion-y parallel universe.
Obviously, I think the Glycerin 18 look great
While the gray/black/red model specifically provides the said intergalactic vibe, the rigid almond-shaped band of extra padding at the heel counter of the shoe resembles the outline of Darth Vader’s favored ship across the board of available colorways. The little flecks of red around the double-jacquard mesh of the predominantly gray shoe add sparkles of sexy to what would otherwise look like another training shoe at the running group meet.
In the same way that Volvos aren’t often described as hot or feisty, the shoe is quietly attractive.
The Glycerin 18 is a soft shoe
The website motions us to consider the Glycerin 18s as the “Mama Bear” of running shoes. I suppose “mama bears” would be both incredibly compassionate and snuggly because the shoes certainly are. Packed with thick bands of padding around the heel and tongue, the shoe fits like a glove around the top and back of your foot.
Brooks DNA Loft cushioning, the softest in their lineup, was used for the shoe’s midsole, giving it a stack-height of 32mm at the heel and 22mm at the forefoot, and a soft, chewy feeling underfoot. Some runners may feel that all the cushioning pumped into the shoe leaves it a bit heavy at 283.5 grams for a men’s size 9, but for runners looking to head on comfortable recovery runs, the extra weight shouldn’t be a problem.
At a moderate pace, I feel less that the rubber on my feet is slapping the concrete, and more that the gum under my foot is holding my foot steady as I roll across the pavement.
And it has the shape for rolling
At the forefoot, Brooks seems to favor arching their shoes upwards rather than creating deep slits in the rubber. This helps with the rolling mentioned above, which in this shoe begins at the midsole and works its way to the front of the foot.
The shoe has a heel drop (difference between the height of heel and forefoot) of 10mm, which is a bit smaller than that of the Adrenaline GTS 20 stability shoes (12mm), and a bit larger than that of the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit injury-prevention shoes (9mm). Typically, a higher drop has me striking closer to my heel, which helps relax my calves and aid my recovery while doing so.
The Glycerin 18s are the middle ground of the GTS 20s and React Infinity Flyknits as they are a bit lighter than the former and a bit more structured and supportive than the latter.
Great for recovering but perhaps not for racing
With that being said, I find that I typically run on my toes in the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknits—a symptom of a smaller heel drop. This gives that real “slapping the pavement” sound and leaves you feeling pretty fast. In the same manner though, the wonderfully cushy midsole of the Glycerin 18s doesn’t have a piece of plastic or a chunk of carbon fiber in it blasting you off with each footswitch. Neither of these shoes will likely satisfy the racers among us on our fastest days.
What the Glycerin 18s will however do is provide recovering runners a well-supported ride and a gentle session for our equally tired calves. Given the higher heel drop, and what is a far more cushioned tongue, I’d argue this shoe encourages recovery a bit more readily than the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknits.
If a verdict were offered: It’s a worthwhile recovery rotation shoe and a beginner’s shoe
This shoe does have a place in a runner’s rotation under the recovery shoe category, and it would be my Christmas gift to that one niece or nephew I’d like to get into running. It’s the sort of shoe that oozes softness and cushioning—that doesn’t propel you forward as your feet strike the pavement like lightning, but that does leave you feeling great after a run.
They are a great running experience.
As a shoe to get into the sport, they are a fantastic place to start—hence, the avuncular Christmas gift idea. But, in a more competitive runner’s repertoire, they will likely be that one shoe that’ll force you to recover—something I simply don’t feel in the racy React Infinity Flyknits.
On their website, the shoes are marketed at a cool P7,395, which sounds a little steep, but they will effectively keep new runners in the sport and keep avid runners running.
In my little repertoire, I call them the Volvos—not the raciest but certainly cushioned, reliable, and a TIE Advanced X1 kind of sexy.