Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3

Shoes. Let's talk shoes. I have a little secret. And it's somewhat embarrassing because I like to consider myself low maintenance/no frills type of person. Except that I'm currently rotating 5 pairs of running shoes. Actively. And I have another 2 pairs waiting to swap in. All different. I feel like this is very much excessive. But (a) I love a good deal, and (b) running shoes appear to be a serious vice for me like some ladies with handbags.

The Mizuno Mezamashii Project was floating around blogland last month and while I entered a couple giveaways, I decided I would just go enter my name directly with Mizuno and if it happened, great. They only ask for name, zip code, and email, so I'm pretty certain the blog had nothing to do with it. I don't have enough notoriety for any random Mizuno employee to know who I am by name and zip code. Lo and behold, I got an invite. I sent my extra invite to a non-blog runner friend. So that's pair #6. I also have a pair of the soon-to-be-defunct Brooks Launch sitting in my closet waiting to be taken off the bench. Number 7. WTF.

I think, unless you want to be reading for the next 2 hours about all my shoes, I am going to make this a series and do a short right up on each of the pairs.

Let's start with my what was once my go-to-shoe and now is my "can't wait to hit 300 miles and retire you" shoes. Very sad.

Brooks Ravenna 3

I have run in all three versions of the Ravenna. My first pair were the original Ravennas - I picked them up on whim at the Road Runner Sports HQ clearance backroom. They felt light and hugged my foot nicely. I said, what the heck? $70 is a decent deal for new shoes and a current model. I logged 420 miles on them. Got another pair for $50 at RunningWarehouse, put 320 miles on them. Tried on 4 or 5 shoes and still picked the Ravenna 2 and put 320 miles on those. Ran two marathons in them. I liked the 2nd edition even more than the 1st! I have never been so loyal to a specific shoe in my 19 years of running. I was like a damn Ravenna Evangelist which made me a Brooks enthusiast.

Enter the Ravenna 3.


I tried on about 6-7 different shoes at RRS. None felt "awesome" including the Ravenna 3. But with the track record I had with them, I figured it would probably live up to or come close to it's predecessors. It was a safe bet.

They are light for a stability trainer (approximately 9 ounces) and have good cushioning. They also look pretty good too - not flashy, but not boring either. They have a heel-to-toe ratio of about 9mm. Not too high, not minimalist either.

The first few runs, I was convinced I had made the right choice. No blisters or breaking in period. Nice toe-box room, etc. However, the more I wore them, the more I found myself wishing I was wearing the 2s. I wore them for 2 out of 3 of my Ragnar ltra legs and the last run, I got some gnarly blisters under the toenail of the second toe on both feet. If found myself gripping with my toes because my midfoot wasn't hugged by the shoe.

I laced them up differently so I could tighten the arch/midfoot but leave the forefoot loose. This was better - enough to keep my toes from blistering and my midfoot from feeling like it was moving around laterally. But not enough for me to love them.

Interestingly, I tried to leave a 3-star review (i.e. “average”) on the Brooks website, citing my concerns with the shoe updates from the 1st and 2nd model. It was not accepted/published. A month or so later, I went to RRS, left a 3-star review for the Ravenna 3 there and a 4-star review of the Brooks PureCadence. Not surprisingly, the 3-star review was not posted. But the 4-star was. So, take shoe reviews with a grain of salt because they seem to be mostly biased to the 4 and 5 stars (not exactly objective or a good sampling of opinions). I have to wonder who is doing the filtering – seems like it’s possible the shoe companies.

I have 200 miles on the Ravenna 3s as of today – they have some pretty good wear on the forefoot outsole, so, 300 will definitely be the max for me. Honestly, 100 more miles seems like an eternity to cover. Hopefully it goes fast. I definitely will not be buying another pair of these. When the 4 comes out, I'll certainly give them a chance for redemption. But I am actively seeking out a long run replacement shoe (interestingly, the Mizuno Elixirs I just tried this evening felt like a million bucks... but can't call them my new go-to yet...).


  1. I've been running in the Ravena 3s also, I think I have just over 200 miles on them. I would probably right the same review. For the first few runs everything seemed perfect. The more I run in them though, the more things seem to be off. I've been getting big blisters on my big toe, like shredded skin and such.

    I've also noticed that I've had some foot and knee pain. Now I don't KNOW that any of these things are attributed to the Ravenas since that's the only shoe I've been running in since I got them. I'd like to change it up though, I just don't know where to start.

  2. Like you I can't pass up a deal and I love trying new shoes. I can't wait to read about all 7 pairs!

    I love Brooks connects. Seriously, love them. Problem is I am afraid of taking them on runs longer than 13 miles. They do not last long so the further I go in them the quicker they wear out. Booooo.

  3. I have 4 shoes in my rotation
    Ravenna 2 and 3, Ghost 4 and now Mizunos Wave Rider.
    The Ravenna have been my favorite for a while now
    just perfect balance I think
    I do like the 2 better than the 3
    and I think the Ghost 4 are more similar to the 2 and I do like those as well...of course now that I like the Ghost 4 they had to come out with the 5!
    I think they changed the Ravenna too much...from 2 to 3. I agree though the 3 are good looking shoes!

  4. How are you keeping track of all your shoe mileage? When I had just one pair, it was easy. Now I have three pairs I'm rotating for running and one for trail (my other trail shoes have no cushion so I figure I don't need to count the miles on those). I honestly have zero idea how many miles are on two of the pairs, and I've only had one run in the newest pair. I'm feeling all kinds of disorganized.

  5. I have a shoe problem too. Last year I was exclusively in Nike Frees and rotated between 2 pairs of those. Then the newer version started bothering my feet/legs so I started the hunt for a new shoe. I bought 6 different pairs of shoes last year and finally settled on the Kinvaras. Then I had my injury issues earlier this year so I bought a couple more pairs of shoes. I feel bad because I have all these pairs of shoes but running in them bothers my calves, except for the kinvaras. It's tough explaining to my husband that I actually need to order more shoes...

  6. I'm thoroughly enjoying your reviews and can't wait for the rest. I've had a couple spots where I'm rotating an embarassing number of shoes, too. I think it's more common than any of us care to admit. ;)

    My current "keepers" are the Flows and Cadence. I asked the shoe lady, at our local running store, if I could just buy one of each. It was a no-go...

  7. Wow, I feel I could have written this blog as well! I am not a woman who has any sort of addicition like purses, jeans, etc but just within the last month, I have purchased 3 pairs of running shoes! I have been fighting/managing injury after injury and I am on a quest to find the perfect model. Saucony worked initially but they do not hold up for me more than about 150 miles. Then i discovered brooks and fell in love. It all started with the Ghost 4 but after a few miles, my achilles was bothering so I added in the Ravenna 3. perfect except the narrow toe box was doing the exact same thing to me! Blisters on my second toes and toenails trying to come off!! So, I bought a pair of Pure Cadence 2s. LOVE them so far but I can tell they are more of a minimal shoe. My legs are more tired and sore after I run in them. I couldn't pass up a sale, so I got a pair of Pure Connects and Pure Flows for just daily wear. I am wondering if the new Ravenna 4 has a wider toe box? If so, I will have to give them a shot.

  8. So glad I found this post. I too have run in the Ravenna 2 and 3 as well as the Pure Cadence. For my last marathon I ran in the Asics GT 2170, which worked well, but sadly it's no longer in production. I have a history of IT band stuff, posterior tib tendonitis, and low-drop shoes don't work too well for me. I can deal with the PureCadence for shorter runs or the track, as long as it's under 5 miles. Pretty much all shoes give me black toenails on my Morton's toe (long second toe). Anyway! I'm thinking of trying the Ravenna 4 and wondering if you have tried that one yet?

  9. I am a big fan of the Ravenna 2's and decided to try the 3s and I just don't enjoy them that much. I feel like they are too much shoe, and the Ravenna 2's covered my foot with less material it seems. I think I want to return the R3s...

  10. I have been wearing Ravenna 3's for two years, and i love them. This is my fourth pair and i can not get off of them. I am 5'2 and have kinda flat wide feet. This shoe is perfect.


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