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First impressions are important and there aren’t many running shoes that impress from the off like the Brooks Glycerin 16. The plushly-padded upper cosies up to the foot and the ample cushioning bolsters your foot from the first stride you take. Heck, even the laces are ridiculously plump.
This is the raison d’etre of Brooks’ Glycerin line – to provide an unparalleled soft ride. The 16th iteration of the shoe aims to outperform previous versions in this regard with its new DNA LOFT midsole.
Having loved running in the Glycerin 15 on easy runs, I wasn’t really sure how the 16 could get any softer and to my mind, it hasn’t. It felt similar to the 15 on that front, but that’s not really a criticism. It’s still a superbly comfortable shoe, and where it has improved considerably is how it performs when you up the pace.
The Glycerin 15 looked and felt a little tank-like on the foot, but the profile of the 16 is slicker, and even though it weighs about the same as the 15 it feels lighter when running. It’s not especially responsive – thanks to all that cushioning – but it’s not lifeless, and the transition from heel to toe is smooth when you do increase your speed.
Along with a whole lot of easy running, I tried a couple of faster runs in the Glycerin 16 and it rose to the occasion reasonably well. It’s not a shoe I expect committed runners to reach for when setting off for a parkrun, but heavier runners and those focused on comfort over pace will definitely find it a great half marathon and marathon running shoe.
One thing to be wary of, however, is that the Glycerin 16’s plentiful padding does not play well with the wet. If you run in the rain, expect a decent chunk of weight to be added to the shoe as it absorbs water. I feared the upper, with its internal bootie, might become hot and overbearing when the sun shone, but this was never the case. It stretches with the foot and is breathable enough that no overheating occurred even over longer runs.
There are few running shoes that put as much focus on comfort as the Glycerin 16, and even of those that do, none matches the plush feel of Brooks’s king of cushioning. If you’re an experienced runner fully focused on shaving seconds off PBs then it might not pique your interest unless you want a dedicated shoe for easy days. But new runners and especially those training for their first half or full marathon might well find that the smooth, soft ride of the Glycerin is exactly what they want from a running shoe.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.