Brooks Pure Cadence

by John Schrup

By now you are familiar with the Brooks Pure Project line—the lower-profile, lighter, “minimalist” running footwear designed to allow for a more natural running gait.  The Pure Cadence is the last of our reviews, and we will continue to review new shoes in the Rogue way—no rainbows and unicorns, maybe a nip here or there on the hand that feeds us, etc.

The Pure Cadence is the, ahem, “stability” model in the Pure lineup.  It is difficult for me to call it a stability shoe in the traditional sense, but it does have some features that do make for more lateral-medial stability.  I think Brooks is calling it “assurance.”

To begin, by lowering the offset to 4mm, there is an automatic decrease in the lever that can increase overpronation.  Picture a stilletto next to a ballet slipper.  It’s a little dramatic as an example, but it is right on.  The higher you are off the ground, the less inherent stability you have, don’t you?  Brooks has also used an internal roll bar, or post, in the midsole of the shoe, rather than the out-dated medial posts that we are all familiar with.  The midsole is two pieces of the DNA/BioMoGo compound sandwiched together, with a firmer, medially-angled piece underneath to provide the “assurance” against overpronation.  If you’ve seen the Nike Lunarglide adverts for those stability shoes, you’ve essentially seen the Brooks version.  I like the feel of the Brooks product much better.

The Cadence ride is a firmer version of the Flow’s bouncy, responsive feel.  Firmer is the way to go, as far as I’m concerned—it means less time on the ground, greater durability and more inherent stability–and I think Brooks would do well to spread that feel to other models to differentiate themselves from all the other marshmallows.  Soft feels good initially, but it will go away quickly, and more importantly, sugar coating the feel of running shoes, as so many companies have done in the last decade, does no good for the body I am almost completely convinced.  Several years ago, a study out of McGill University in Canada showed that gymnasts landing on softer crash pads had higher rates of injury than those landing on firmer crash pads.  Different sport yes, but same proprioceptive response.

The fit of the Cadence is Flow-like, with a roomier forefoot,  and a comfortably snug midfoot.  The narrowest of feet will not work well in this model, and the NavBand does little (do we see a pattern here) to secure the foot.  On the lateral side of the shoe, the NavBand is anchored externally to the midsole pod under the cuboid bone and is designed to reduce the rate of overpronation.  Does it contribute?  Not that I can tell, and it looks cheap as well.  They really could have designed that insertion point to appear a bit cleaner, but I do understand that they need to call out their technologies.

Interestingly enough, the Cadence is, I’ve been told by the Brooks sales rep, the best selling of the four Pure Project models.  I can believe that, knowing that people want their shoes simpler and lighter, yet are not yet willing to let go of the idea that they “need” stability.  I can’t think of the appropriate example, but perhaps it is like having a tape player in your hybrid car.  You keep the tape player around because that’s what you’ve always had, and you can’t yet believe that an Mp3 is the new paradigm—I mean, you can’t SEE them, right?  Not a great example I know, but you get the idea.

Running in the Cadence feels good.  This is a shoe that, with some tweaks here and there could build into something really long-lasting and impressive.  If you like the bouncy feel of the Pure Project line and are more comfortable with a bit of “assurance” in your running footwear, I’d go with the Pure Cadence if I were you.  Brooks has done a really nice job of creating a line of biomechanically appropriate footwear for the average runner who is looking for a little less shoe than what they’ve traditionally worn.  Brooks doesn’t officially advocate the “less is more” model of shoe design, but it is obvious that they know this is the way to go, even if it is dressed up as something more familiar.


48 thoughts on “Brooks Pure Cadence

  1. very informative! I bought a pair of adidas with a medial post–and without knowing that for someone who supinates with one foot, it only makes it worse. This has led to achilles issues in that foot. I wanted to switch to a less cushiony shoe and run more fore-footed (or mid-footed), and pure cadence seemed like a good switch [without going too spare]. However, is there the same risk of causing added supination? Thanks

    • Very good question! In general, if someone has one foot that supinates and one that is neutral, or that over-pronates, I would put them in a neutral-oriented shoe. My guess (without having seen you run) is that you might be better off with the sibling shoe, the Pure Flow, as it is a more neutral shoe. The Cadence, while certainly not offering a huge amount of stability, does have some stability, and may exacerbate the problem. I hope that helps.

  2. So, per your second to last paragraph, are you implying that most people don’t really need pronation control if they’re mid- or forefoot striking?

    • Thank you for asking.
      For most people who mid- or forefoot strike, pronation control is much less of a concern. I’ll go even further and say that for most people who heel strike, pronation control is still less of a concern. That doesn’t mean that nobody needs pronation control, rather that for many, we have found that pronation control is over-prescribed. Thanks again!

  3. I am a believer that less is better, and te solution to pronation control, is correcting your running, not your footwear. however, buying less and less shoe in an effort to get away from the overly structured industry standard running shoe, yet trying to put on more miles at the same time, I thought the extra cushion would be a nice change, so I bought a pair of the PuerFlow. My experience however was, having the cushion without the support, my shoes finally collapsed into a position of overpronated, (I run on streets that are pretty bankend and that’s how they broke in) so to me, the Cadence seems like the obvious solution, having a little less cushion, yet more structure. would I be wrong? what’s your opinion?

    • Thanks for the question, Will. I too, believe that footwear isn’t always the answer to pronation control. My belief is that, for most people, make the body strong enough and over-pronation becomes negligible. The Flow is pretty soft, and even with a reduced offset, it is going to compress a bit quicker than a firmer shoe. The Cadence is firmer, for sure, and does have some features that are designed to reduce the rate of over-pronation. It might be worth a shot. Best of luck to you!

  4. I am interested in the pure cadence, after running my whole life in very structured shoes like the nike zoom structure triax. My only concern is the fact that i have no arch in my foot, and a history of injury. Most people have convinced me to increase the support in my shoes with all these injuries, however that approach has not seemed to help. Do you think these shoes would be a good option? – i run with a midfoot to forefoot strike.

    • That’s a really good question. In the past, it was believed that a low arch meant a weak foot. Now we know that a flat foot can be a strong foot. Without knowing more about your injury history, it would be hard to say if shoes have played a role in that. We do know that too much stability can be just as troublesome as not enough, perhaps even more so. If you run midfoot to forefoot, it might be that you don’t need as much stability anyway, since your foot isn’t going through the entire heel-to-toe cycle. The Cadence is a nice blend of low-profile, light weight with moderate stability, and might be what you’re looking for as you transition away from over-corrective shoes.

  5. I recently went to a running store to have them check out my gait and found out I run duck-footed and I over-pronate. The guy also said my stride was too long and I bounce a lot when I run. I am REALLY interested in the pure cadence but the guy in the store wasn’t impressed. So, I am looking for a second opinion, but am willing to take other advice also. I have a flat foot from a prior foot surgery (extra bone in my foot) and am currently having Achilles tendonitis issues in the same foot, so I am not running right now. I wore the New Balance 1012s until I injured myself and am curious if the fact that I tend to duck run and over pronate contributed to developing this Achilles problem because of the 1012 tanks I was wearing? I am going to a podiatrist to work on the Achilles issue but any advice you have to see if this shoe is appropriate would be SO appreciated!

  6. Thank you for the question. Yours is an interesting situation!
    First thing’s first: I’d make sure the Achilles tendonitis is taken care of before you begin to ramp back up. It may very well be related to your previous issue. When you go to the podiatrist, make sure he or she is a runner so that you won’t be over-corrected. Perhaps you can also begin to do some deep tissue massage on your calves and feet to release some of the tissue there, which may take relieve some of the issues with the tendonitis. Trigger Point makes some good products for that. A lacrosse ball or tennis ball will work in a pinch as well.
    When you are healthy, and return to running, it may help if you try to shorten your stride a hair–really just a millimeter or two. At first it will feel awkward, but it can help. Run as tall as you can, as if you are peeking over the top of a fence. By holding yourself tall, you will naturally run with a shorter stride.
    As for the shoes, the Cadence has a lower differential, which would add a greater load to the calf and Achilles. So it if you decide on those once you are healthy, you would be wise to be very conservative when you transition to them. It’s a good shoe, but you’ll need to find out if it is a good shoe for you. When you try it on again, the shoe should almost disappear on your foot. You’ll know intuitively. Don’t over-think it. If you are anywhere near a Rogue, please come in and we would be happy to help you out.
    Buona fortuna!

  7. The Brooks Pure cadence is my favorite shoe of all time. It’s much better than the Flow. You are right where the marshmallow feel is like a girl with make up on…You get down to the nitty gritty of it and its not great, But man was it nice the first time you met. The Cadence is unbelievable…I actually dont have the words to explain…

    * I run over 100 miles a week
    * 3 olympic Trials qualifications
    * 28 10k

  8. Is there a similar shoe that would accommodate a narrow foot better? I tried these on today, but they felt too wide for me midfoot and in the heel. I have a very narrow foot but pretty severe bunions. I’m looking for some sort of transition shoe (lighter and more flexible). My feet are flat and my arches collapse when I run. So I’ve been using Lynco flat foot sport arches for the last few years with the Mizuno Inspire line. Those shoes are hard as a rock and can feel like lead weights on the trail though. I love the idea of the PureCadence, particularly since they offer a little protection against pronation (it’ll take time to fully change my stride), but there doesn’t seem to be a narrow version. I could easily fold that center elastic piece when I tried them on.

    • Thanks for the question, Jen! It might be that the Cadence is just too wide. One of the things I think is important to remember is that there are a lot of options out there. One of them will be right for you. If your first feel was that the shoe was just too roomy, then I’d put that aside until you’ve spent some more time looking at similar options.
      I agree that the Inspire is just too bulky. And with a supplementary arch support, you’ve got a pretty beefed up shoe. Since that is what you are used to, at least in recent history, it would be wise to be conservative in your transition to something lower and more flexible. Perhaps find a shoe with less stability, but retain your insole while your body adapts to the new shoe. Saucony has a comparable model that might be worth trying. Take the time to look at other shoes, for sure.
      Thanks again!

  9. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
    again. Anyways, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  10. I am a big fan for the Brooks pure project. Without much knowledge with regards to considerations with regards to pronations, I picked up a Pure Cadence few months ago. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have picked up running and started to train for longer runs. As I trying to understand running better, I start to look into the shoes I am running with. I have neutral feet but after a few long runs on the Pure Cadence, which I understand is more for over-pronators, seems to forces me to under-pronate (with regards to the structure of the-mid sole) thus putting more impacts on the on the outer edge of my feet. (The wear on the whole outer edge of the shoes are more intense.)

    Should I stop running in the Pure Cadence and switch in the more neutral feet friendly Pure Flow or it isn’t significant enough that I need to stop running in my Pure Cadence.

    Thanks a bunch in taking the time to answer my concerns.

    • Thanks for the question, Will.
      We agree. The Pure Project quartet, after the exit of the Launch, the best of the Brooks lineup. For your specific case, the Cadence might be more than you need. Overpronation is in most instances less of an issue than one might think. The shoe is a very mild guidance shoe, so I don’t know that it would really push you out that much, but it is certainly possible. The neutral model in the Pure line is the Flow, which might be worth checking out. Whether you need a new shoe would be difficult to say without having the opportunity to watch you run and have you go through some routine observation. Ultimately, if there is no real discomfort, and the shoe doesn’t bother you during the run, then I’d wait for those to expire and then try the Flow.

  11. I have been wearing the New Balance MT20v1 minimus trail shoes for the past several months. I mostly run on pavement or on an indoor track. I was having joint pain, knees and elbows. I went to the doctor and even though I didn’t think it was related to my running (i think it’s from lifting), she suggested I get a gait test analysis. I did, and I was recommended to use a stability shoe. I agree with the whole philosophy of barefoot running, or running with minimalist shoes. But I thought maybe it wouldn’t hurt trying a stability shoe, but one that is also somewhat minimal. I would still run in my new balances, but I would work in the purecadence shoes into my workout as well. What do you think? Do you have any recommendations? Could using a stability shoe, even one like the purecadence be counterproductive to any progress I may have made by wearing a minimalist shoe thus far? I believe since wearing the new balance shoes, I may have actually become a bit less flat footed. But I”m not entirely certain about that. It’s just the whole minimalist approach makes sense to me. But if my overpronation is causing knee pain, I would consider exploring the possibility of running in a shoe with a little support. Suggestions?

    • Thank you for the question, Thomas.
      The Pure Cadence fits in line with that, for sure. So does the Saucony Mirage. Same kinda thing. Over-pronation is not a death knell. You can run injury free and still over-pronate. While a mild stability shoe like the Cadence can mitigate some of the immediate discomfort, if you want to make the over-pronation a non issue, you need to make the body stronger.
      Foot drills, exercises for posterior tibialis, traveling lunges, squats and hip lifts are all good for making the body stronger and more resistant to injury. Make sure your hips and core are very strong and flexible. Many times over-pronation is rooted in an instability of the hips or in the tilt of the pelvis. It is a process; it does take time, but you will be much, much happier and healthier in the long term.
      By running in flatter shoes, you can benefit in many ways, but there is an adaptation period and it is wise to approach from the conservative side. It helps too to shorten your stride by about 1/4 inch. That really helps.
      Do a couple exercises each day. Change it up. But do something every day so that it becomes part of your routine. Soon you will notice that you feel better and get fitter because you don’t have to take time off for injury. Good luck.

      • Can I just say that I really love how you reply in such a thoughtful and elaborate manner to each and every question… This stuff is so helpful, and is going directly to my Evernote “running” folder 🙂 !

  12. Great review and I’m interested in your thoughts at the marathon distance. I’m a 5’8 150lb normal arch, mid-foot striker who averages 40 miles per week and running NYC in 5 weeks. My current rotation is the Launch, Flows and Mizuno Precision 13s. I’m looking to narrow my choice (or add my choice) for NYC and order it soon so I can break it in/test it over a few long runs. All three of my rotation shoes fit well and none have bothered me up to 20 miles.

    The Launch is the middle ground/get out of your way shoe. Not to light, not too heavy, not too fast but does the job. The Mizuno precision is an interesting shoe. It has a bigger heel stack and a drop of 12-14mm depending on who is doing the measuring, but because of the lightness, breathable upper, and wave plate, all combine to make me feel much faster and lighter. I ran a half marathon PR in them last weekend. My concern about the precision is going to 26 miles is the heel height going to get in the way as I get more tired and cause me to strike there more? I sometimes feel myself scraping it on long runs and have to think more to land midfoot (though I do still do it). The flip side to that is maybe it’s Nice to have some heel back there in case I start getting tired and striking there. The Brooks Flow is as you’ve already stated very soft. I don’t feel any firmness in the shoe at all and nothing propels me forward. I sometimes feel like I have to work a little harder to get going in it. HOWEVER, I’ve never had a problem with the fit and they feel great after 20 miles. I also always land midfoot and can hardly hear them (or think about them) which is nice. My only concern is over 26 miles if I slip up and start landing on my heel will these shred me in that last 10K?

    This bring me to YOUR review and the Cadence (if you’ve read this far!) I tried it on in the store today on a whim and it fits as good (if not better) than the Flow. My question is do you think the Cadence is the marathon shoe (if there is one) in the Pure lineup becuase of the mild stability? I’ve only run in neutral shoes before, but as a normal arch and high mileage runner (and now marathon distance races) maybe I should add some stability to the rotation if it doesn’t add much weight. My thought was the Cadence might give me the firmness of the Precision, but the fit and some midfoot cushioning of the Flow. Still concerned about the heel support if I get lazy. The Cadence looks like it adds harder rubber to the lateral heel, but wondering if that is BETTER should you land there or is it worse (and there just to make it last longer).

    THANKS and sorry so long!

    • Thanks for the question.

      You make many observant points. Really, you could make the argument for each of the shoes mentioned, if you’re talking about a marathon shoe. But we like to take all that information–all valid information, by the way–and then sift through it until we get to the fundamentals.

      I have similar conversations with people I coach every year as we get closer to the end of the training block. What shoes to wear for the marathon? You could easily spend most of your idle hours making spreadsheets with the pros and cons of each shoe. But the goal here is to simplify things so that you don’t have to worry about it any longer once the race begins. The fewer things you have to think about on race day the more opportunity you have to focus on staying as relaxed as possible as long as possible.

      Ask yourself this: Of each shoe, which one disappears most on your foot. Which one is intuitively more natural to you? Which one do you notice least? That is not thinking about the heel heights or offsets or weights of this shoe v. that shoe. Once you can answer that question (without overthinking it), you’ve got your shoe.

      It might not be the lightest, it might not be the sexiest or most minimal or whatever, but it will be YOUR race day shoe.

  13. Hello, I have 2 pairs of pure cadence that I run in. I have had to add in lateral heel wedges to help my knees after 4 knee surgeries,yet Im still having knee pain and I’m not quite sure if this is the shoe for me or not. I land heel to toe, and over-pronate w/ high arches. This combination has made it difficult to pin point the right pair of running shoes. If you have any suggestions on a shoe, or if maybe I need a nuetral shoe with use of these insoles it would be so greatly appreciated.
    Thanks again

    • Thank you Danelle,

      Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to offer any specific help without knowing more about your situation. Where on your knees is the pain? What types of surgeries have you had? If there is any other information you have that you think would be helpful, please let me know.
      Best of luck.


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  15. I LOVE Brooks Pure Cadence. I’ve worn them for the past year and completed a 1/2 marathon with them last spring, but now I’ve developed achilles tendonitis in my left heel area. I tried to switch back to my old sneakers (Mizuno Wave Alchemy) but they are so clunky and i feel like I’m throwing everything off. Last time I tried to run a mile, about a month ago, the Mizuno’s really bothered my knees too. I am currently just walking, stretching, doing PT and seeing chiropractor for Ultrasound. Last weekend I walked in my Mizuno’s and it felt like I was walking on blocks. Do you think I have to give up my Pure Cadence in order for my achilles to heal? I’m getting mixed advice! My PT and Running Store Guy says stay with Pure Cadence. Kinesiologist says to give up Cadence for a while. What is your opinion? or Is there another sneaker that you can reco for an overpronator that loves the feel of Pure Cadence, but without such a heel drop?

    Once you go to Pure Cadence, it’s hard to wear anything else! 😦

    Thanks for your advice!

    • Hi! That’s a really good question. That’s gotta be frustrating.

      I’d stay with the Cadence. Here’s why: Your body will adapt to almost anything you ask it to, given enough time. And while I believe that switching shoes can be a contributor to your injury, I think your issue might be less about the switch from the Alchemy to the Cadence, and more that your connective tissues just need to be stronger.

      Ask your PT for specific exercises to strengthen the lower leg kinetic chain. Massage and ART can be of great benefit too. Continue with a lower volume and intensity approach to your training until you are confident that things are better. Be conservative in your approach, but be proactive. If you make your body strong enough, the shoe will make less of a difference anyway.

      Best of luck.

      • hmmm, conservative…..does that mean that I shouldn’t have signed up for the Nike Women’s 1/2 marathon in DC at the end of April?? yikes! (not sure whether to put a frowny face or smiley face after that! haha!) Thanks for your help!

  16. Thanks for the good writeup. It if truth be told was a enjoyment
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  17. Great blog! I’m a 3 year VFF veteran – running up to a few half marathon’s a month in my VFF see-ya’s. I figured I would try a pair if “regular shoes” (as my wife puts it), so the kind folks at the running store fit me into a pair of purecadence2’s. My first run was treacherous – calf, knee and shin pain! I’m guessing that it has something to do with all the padding? Any advice, other than to wear them in?

    • Really good question. In the same way that someone who has been running in traditional running shoes might have to take the time to adapt to wearing VFF, it may very well be that you will need some time to adapt to “regular shoes.” The Pure Cadence are a really nice shoe, but Brooks also make the Pure Drift, which are a cushioned shoe with a zero offset–when the insole is removed–and that might be more to your liking. Mizuno and New Balance also make a couple of nice zero drop options as well.

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  20. Wonderful blog. How is the Pure Cadence 2 different from the first one? I can’t find the earlier one in my size anymore but it felt great.

  21. Thank you!
    The PC2 are different in the upper; the midsole/outsold remain the same. Brooks are using in many of their models an asymmetric lacing design that we first saw in the Green Silence (RIP). It works for some people, others have mentioned that it feels a bit awkward. Really, the only negative comments I’ve heard that are really worth noting are that some feel it runs a bit to the narrow side. It feels fine to me, but I’ve got a narrowish foot. In the Pure line, I’ve run most in the Flow, but I prefer the firmness of the Cadence–much more responsive, which I like. Brooks are no fools: They’re not going to make big changes to models that do well, and here they have made really only subtle changes.
    Good luck. Enjoy.

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  25. Hi John
    I just purchased a pair of Nike Pegasus 29 womens running shoes while simultaneously annihilating my birthday money. I found that when I run with them, my left foot seems fine but my right foot seems to have a mind of its own and constantly pushes out to the right as though it doesnt want to follow the shoe. This is very irritating and has oddly hurt my left knee not my right. I suspect that I might be slightly overpronating on my right foot but not on my left. I did not know this as previously I was using the brooks glycerin 9 and mizuno waverider 15, both which provide more stability (not a lot) than the nike pegasus. I dont know what to do now 😦 since there’s no way I could blow all my money on another shoe that will hurt my feet. I was wondering if i should give the brooks pure cadence 2 a try? A running store near my house has a sale and their price is not too bad. Will it be alright with my feet? I know you cant analyse my running style since you cant see me haha but would just appreciate some advice, thanks!

    • Hi. I am an overpronator and I have very high arches.. I wore Nike Pegasus throughout college. I’m looking for a shoe that gives me enough cushion and support in the front. I run on my toes. Is the pure cadence a good fit for me?

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