If you're new to running the chances are you're looking to invest in one pair of trainers. However, as your training journey develops, you may find this 'free' sport becomes a little more expensive. Many runners will rotate their trainers, with at least two pairs to choose from. T3's best running shoe and best women's running shoe guides covers a wide range of trainers, all for different types of running, for this very reason.
However, trusted brand Brooks Running has cleverly come up with two 2021 launches that together cover most of your training miles, from longer weekend runs to your summer 5K race day. The Brooks Glycerin 19 features impressive cushioning for longer miles (head to our Brooks Glycerin 19 review for an in-depth look at that one), whereas the Brooks Launch 8 is firmer, and more stripped back for speed. In this article, I'll compare the two, to help you choose the best one for your running goals.
Brooks Glycerin 19 vs Brooks Launch 8: the tech
Many brands will offer separate models for a neutral or support runner. The new Glycerin 19, which has a long heritage of being a successful cushioned shoe, cleverly has options for both types through utilizing Brooks' GuideRails technology. This means whatever type of runner you are, if you are looking for maximum cushioning, and a softer ride (perhaps you have had niggles or injuries in the past and you want that extra support and cushioning between you and the ground to prevent this recurring) you can choose this shoe and walk (or run) away with what Brooks' is claiming is its softest shoe ever.
If you are looking for a premium cushioned shoe, that feels plush in the upper, has great grip and still feels responsive, this is your shoe. It really is a brilliant shoe for beginners, or for heavier runners. With all that cushioning you aren't going to feel like you are speeding along though; this is a soft ride, delivering first class comfort rather than a snappy, fast transition as your foot hits the ground. The DNA LOFT midsole now extends through the whole length of the midsole. For any easy-paced run this is your shoe.
If you want to invest in a more speedy shoe, what does the Launch 8 offer? It's nearly 2oz lighter than the Glycerin and feels a lot faster. The Launch also features GTS and GuideRails for stability, so this shoe is going to suit runners who need support. The midsole is different to the Glycerin, with an BioMoGo DNA foam that feels firmer, and gives more energy return, so you'll feel the shoe is much more springy. The Launch also feels flexible under your forefoot, making toe-off feel easy.
Brooks Glycerin 19 vs Brooks Launch 8: performance
When it comes to protecting your legs on longer runs the Glycerin's performance is superior. If you're using this model for what it's designed for, longer, easy runs, they perform beyond your expectations, due to the incredible detail in the upper and the soft, airy cushioned midsole. The blown rubber outsole also performs brilliantly in all conditions. The Launch, too can't be faulted on how it performs. It's more stripped back with a firmer midsole, meaning you feel propelled forward and the outsole is as impressive as the Glycerin, if not even better.
Brooks Glycerin 19 vs Brooks Launch 8: ergonomics
The heel collar of the Glycerin feels soft and plush due to padding, with a firm heel counter that holds your foot firmly in place. The Launch has an elf ear heel and lower heel collar so offers less support around your ankle. The upper feel of both is very contrasted, with your feet being surrounded by luxurious padding giving an all-in-one sock-like fit with the Launch being much less luxurious and with a thinner tongue. This is what you'd expect in a shoe designed for more speed though. The upper on the Launch is also slightly less stretchy.
Brooks Glycerin 19 vs Brooks Launch 8: aesthetics
If you take a quick glance at both models in the Ice Flow colour, they look similar. Look a little longer and you notice the Glycerin has a slightly tidier, more stylish design, due to neon pink flashes, with the Launch colours a little less exciting. Neither shoe is going to blow you away, neither looks awful either.
Brooks Glycerin 19 vs Brooks Launch 8: verdict
'Run Happy' is Brooks' motto, and we think with these two shoes in your running armoury you're going to be doing just that. You've now got all your aspects of training covered, from your early week recovery miles, your long run, to your tempo and VO2 max session. Your marathon shoes just got ticked off with the Glycerin 19, and if you're planning on trying out for a 5 or 10K PB this summer the Launch 8 are going to do their best to get you there. At RRP the Glycerin is £140, making it £40 more than the Launch. It's also worth noting that while you wouldn't want to do a speed session in the Glycerin, you could do your longer and easier runs in the Launch. On this occasion, the cheaper model is probably more versatile.
How to choose the right running shoes
There are thousands of running shoes to choose from, which can be bewildering, even for experienced runners and shoe geeks. There are pairs for longer miles and recovery days, usually with more cushioning making this type of shoe kinder on your joints as you run longer. There are others for faster sessions and race day, usually lighter with less cushioning, giving a greater feeling of being in contact with the ground. Some runners will have other training shoes in their repertoire, including trail running shoes for off-road terrain, plus a super lightweight, carbon-fibre plated race day shoe.
However, it's worth saying you don't have to have multiple shoes to choose from when you are a runner. If you've just started running, are returning, or have a lower budget, one good pair of trainers that have been fitted to your personal running gait is enough. Taking the time to visit a specialist running shop to have a qualified assistant observe your running style, and fit shoes according to whether you pronate (your ankle rolls in when you hit the ground), you supinate (your foot rolls out), or are neutral (you do neither), will help ensure your shoes are right for you.
There are also easier ways to find out which shoes will work best for you, such as through tech you can purchase and use at home, such as MYMO. This uses a sensor you place in a sock before running to work out what your foot is doing, then recommends through its app exactly the right model and brand of shoe for your needs.