By Brian Metzler
There’s nothing better than the feeling of a light and fast performance trainer under your feet when you’re getting in peak shape for a goal race. But it’s also true when you’re just starting to run after a long break and you’re decidedly out of shape. That was me in December when I started running in the new Brooks Hyperion Max, an energetic training shoe with a hyper-responsive midsole. As part of my effort to regain my running fitness, I set out to run 30 days in a row – a modest but surprisingly difficult thing to do. I ran in the Hyperion Max often (when I was able to run on dry roads and bike paths in otherwise wintry Colorado) en route to reaching that goal and I have to give the shoe some of the credit. When I laced it up, I forced myself to run slightly faster paces than I was ready to do, and it made me feel fitter and faster than I actually was. Ultimately, that helped me to log a lot of miles that otherwise would have felt pretty bad and moved the needle on my fitness forward. Now that my streak is at 50 days and counting, I’ve started using the Hyperion Max for its intended purpose — running up-tempo workouts and faster long runs, and I love it even more!
What’s New: While this is a brand-new shoe from Brooks, it’s essentially a modified version of the high-end Brooks Hyperion Elite 3 long-distance racing shoe without a carbon-fiber propulsion plate. It has a similar midsole made from nitrogen-infused, lightweight DNA FLASH cushioning that returns energy (thanks in part to a rockered shape) and adapts to your stride. It also has a similar lightweight, supportive and breathable upper with the same heel-toe offset and similar weights.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because it has all the bells and whistles of a top-tier racing shoe, except for the carbon-fiber plate and lofty price tag. While plated shoes are a smart choice for race day, there are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t be wearing them very often in training. The extremely light Hyperion Max is comfortable and cushy enough to wear for long runs and quick and agile enough for tempo runs, long intervals, fartleks and progressive long runs in which you drop your pace as the miles go by.
Fit-Feel-Ride: The fit of the Hyperion Max is true to size, but it has a low-volume interior without too much wiggle room in the toe box. It fits like a glove! It’s not snug enough that I would go up a half size, but it’s close. (That might just be the wear-test sample I have been running in, so it would be best to try it before you buy it.) The step-in feel is soft, but not overly plush with minimal padding in the tongue and ankle collar. The tongue isn’t gusseted, but it lays down nicely over the top of the foot and thinner edges provide a compact feeling that coincide with the snug feeling of the upper once it is laced up. Once I was out running in it, the shoe felt a bit firm at slower paces as the DNA FLASH midsole didn’t compress very easily. But once I started running at faster paces (let’s say sub-8-minute pace down to about 5:30 pace), it answered the bell and felt extremely resilient. It’s not a bouncy ride, but instead more of a snappy, rolling and responsive ride, ideal for quick-cadence stride turnover.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re training for a half marathon or marathon this year, the Brooks Hyperion Max would be a great training shoe to complement the shoe you use for easy recovery runs. It will help you get through harder, faster workouts and it will ease the fatigue of your long runs. Plus, it’s a shoe with a lot of cushioning, which is always a good combination in my book.
Brooks Hyperion Max
Weights: 6.7 oz. (women’s 8), 7.5 oz. (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm heel-toe drop (34mm in the heel, 26mm in the forefoot)
Pro: The Hyperion Max is a versatile shoe, one you could use for a variety of training runs, but also one that you could race in for a 5K, 10K or half marathon. It’s not as fast or energetic as a carbon-plated racing shoe (and not as cushy either), but if you want to save some money or don’t have the luxury of owning a large quiver of shoes, this one is a good multitasker that offers a lot of bang for the buck. In essence, the slightly firmer foam and rockered geometry provides some of the snappy, propulsiveness that a plate does in a much more expensive racing shoe.
Con: As good as this shoe is, it actually feels average at slower speeds. The configuration of the DNA FLASH is firmer than a lot of midsole compounds (at least as it is in this shoe), and that makes it feel stark at moderate to slower paces, and especially at recovery pace.