Matt’s Guest Blog: Trying to Make Sock Reviews Exciting

It took 3 weeks, but I’ve successfully finished my first full week of scheduled runs (sidelined a day week 1 for a head cold and week 2 with a leg strain). I’ll be copying Kathleen and Mike’s front-loaded week 4 schedule (Mon-Tues-Wed-Fri runs), so I’ll probably be drained come next Saturday. Next week, we step up our weekly mileage by 6 total miles, or ~1 more hour of running. It’s going to be a tough 3-5 weeks as we start to eclipse our PR’s in single and weekly distances. Our training will become pretty challenging very soon.

Until two weeks ago, I had only purchased running socks at pre-race expos. On top of that, I had only purchased Brooks brand – mainly because they were cheap and looked “good enough”. They worked out fine in the winter and spring, but once training started 4 days a week and the DC summer set in, I was using needing socks way faster than they were getting washed. On top of that, my feet overheat more than normal so I figured it was time to reassess my running sock situation.

I know – this is gripping!

I went to Pacers Running Store a) refusing to spend more than $15 on a pair of socks, and b) intent on not getting Brooks. I grabbed a pair of Feetures! and Balega socks made for ventilation and hot weather running.


Left to Right: Brooks Essential, Brooks Essential Lite, Feetures! High Performance Ultra, Balega Ultra Light

Brooks Essential Low Tab (oldest pair),default,pd.html?start=5&cgid=mens-apparel-socks
I’ve been running in these since last summer, but had to pull them out of my rotation around May due to their thickness. These hands down have the most cushioning which creates pros and cons. I run in sneakers with a very breathable mesh and these are great for winter running with the cold/wind. Conversely, it turns into a sauna in the summer.

Brooks Essential Low Cut Tab Lite,default,pd.html?start=11&cgid=mens-apparel-socks
These socks have pretty limited cushioning that resembles a standard cotton sock. That said, it definitely has more than the Feetures! and Balegas. After a year of consistent use, these socks have held up great to both running wear and trips through the washer. I try to hang these socks to dry, however they have ended up in the dryer a lot and it hasn’t impacted their fit or size.

Feetures! High Performance Ultra Light Low Cut
These are one of the new socks and I’m pretty happy with them. On my first run, I did “feel” the socks and the fabric on the pad of my foot which was a little uncomfortable toward the end of the run. I didn’t have the same issue on my two following runs, so I suspect it either needed to be washed or I hadn’t yet adjusted to the 85% polyester fabric. They’re more snug than either of my Brooks socks and they have two strips of wide stitching to allow for air movement. It works great.


Wide stitching on Feetures! Performance Ultra Lights

Balega Ultra Light No Show
I’ve been really impressed with the Balega Ultra Lights. These are hands-down the thinnest and probably tightest socks I have. When I put them on for the first time, I didn’t like the feel at all – way too tight. They are designed to stretch and apply compression-like forces across the entire foot, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that the toe box of the sock was extremely tight. Once I laced up my shoes, I didn’t feel the socks again. Interestingly, these socks have a left and right sock. I’m not sure what to make of that but I just noticed it, so if I wore them wrong before tonight, nothing catastrophic happened.


I’ll roll the dice and switch them someday

For summer running, the Balega’s Ultra Lights win.

On an unrelated note, I started listening to podcasts rather than music on my morning runs. Due to the slower running speed, I feel like I don’t need music to keep me going. My plan for the marathon is to make a playlist that combines music, podcasts and maybe the audio from an episode of It’s Always Sunny or Arrested Development. I honestly don’t think I could have run in the pre-mp3 player days. I’d probably be bored out of my mind and never make it more than 3 miles. Congratulations to marathoners of the ‘90s and earlier!


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