Pearl Izumi EM/H3 v1 – 60 Mile Review

I was really torn whether to do this review after 50 miles or wait until I get 100 miles on the Pearl Izumi EM/H3 v1’s that I got from Sierra Trading Post on close-out last month. Things are kind of slow this evening and to be honest, I have run in the H3’s and other Pearl Izumi models enough that I have a really good idea of how they work for me.

We all have our vices and mine is that I have a running shoe problem and love to write about my running and running shoes.

However, after several years of bouncing around from brand-to-brand and style-to-style, it seems as though I have finally figured out what works for me and as much as I like the trying out and writing about the newest and greatest running shoes, at some point I have to start using what actually works the best for me.

I have finally reached that point.

Is that a concession to getting older? 

Yeah, in my case I really think it is.

I am finding that my body at 58, does not recover as well or quickly from hard workouts or long runs, especially when I am using running shoes that don’t fit right, don’t feel comfortable or hurt my feet.

Then like the stubborn old ass that I can be, keep running in questionable running shoes, all because I had to get them to at least 50 miles so I could do a damn shoe review.

Yep, running shoes can be part of the problem and cause aches and pains that I could easily avoid by simply not running in those shoes.

Why the H3 v1?

Honestly, this has been a very frustrating year for me running shoe wise. I have run in over 20 different shoes and nothing seemed to really work for me long-term. The shoes all seemed to have “something” that didn’t work, even after I might have initially thought they were really great and gushed great things about them in my blog posts, because I wanted to believe that they were the answer to my running shoe “problems”.

In October, I sort of remembered how well I ran in the Pearl’s in 2014 and when I went back to re-read my blog post from when I was running primarily in Pearl Izumi’s, I “rediscovered” how well they worked for me and how much I enjoyed running in them.

What I read impressed me enough that I dug out my old N2’s to run in again.

Yeah, they felt right.

Because of what I read in my old blog posts, how well the N2’s performed and no little thing – being able to get the H3 v1’s for less than $50, I decided to take a chance and get the H3’s – in other words, low risk to see if a “new” pair of PI’s would work for me.

I am finding this choice has been one of my better decisions when it comes to running shoes this year.

You can read more about my thoughts on moving back to Pearl Izumi here.


Which comes to the Pearl Izumi EM/H3 v1’s review.

This review is more a conversation with myself about how they are doing for me and some of the reasons why they are working, rather than the usual running shoe review that I used to do.

It ain’t like I am reviewing the most recent version of the H3’s. My H3 v1’s are closeout shoes and pretty soon will not be available or pretty difficult to find, So this review is of limited value to other runners, but it is valuable to me because moving to the H3’s was a HUGE change of direction for me in style and will remind me of where I was, why I got them and how they are working for me to this point.

Motion Control

For the past 3-4 years I have been running in light-weight trainers (7-9 ounce range) as my primary running shoes. You know the lightweight neutral trainers, that have been popularized by many in the running community as the “right” and “only” running shoe needed for most runners. I bought into the hoopla hook, line and sinker and while I have had some good running while running in that style of running shoe.

Unfortunately, also during this time I struggled with finding the shoes that I could actually comfortably run in. Also, it seemed as though my legs were always feeling tired or beat up and I have had more than my share of aches, pains, nicks and a few injuries that may or may not have been related to the shoes I was running in. Which took time away from running or hasn’t let me run comfortably.

The H3’s are Pearl Izumi’s motion control shoes in the EM line-up and for a long time, I would have scoffed at anyone suggesting that I needed to run in “those” damned motion control shoes, but my experience with the Nike Lunar Glide 5’s made me re-think what I need to run in.

Maybe the good news is that running in a motion control style running shoe, especially when I am running longer or recovery runs, is something that works better for the way that I actually run. Not the way that I want to believe that I run. Although I have done an easy speed work session in the H3’s and they did just fine — although I wouldn’t want to race in them, they are a bit on the heavy side.


The H3’s supposedly come in at around 10.5 to 11.0 ounces, which is heavier than anything I have run in a while. When I first started running in them I could tell the difference, but now I don’t really notice the added weight, unless I am attempting to run faster or longer distances and wouldn’t want them to be any heavier.

However, since I started running in the H3’s my legs don’t feel as beat-up and “knock on wood”, no injuries that are new or worse. So that is all good news and makes me feel confident about running in the H3’s at any distance, even though they are “heavier motion control” running shoes.



What more can I ask for. From the first run to my latest run, great fit no hot spots, no problems with my Tailor’s Bunionette on my right foot, several long runs without any issues with my feet.

I can’t really say anything more or better about the H3’s other than they fit my feet the way I want them too and well they are…



There is a little more tread on the H3’s than on the N2’s (v1) and I could tell the difference on the dirt road when running down there in the rain, so the grip is decent.

There is plenty of midsole material between you and the road, to protect your feet on most surfaces, but not enough grip that I would use them on technical trails – after all they are road shoes and do well for what they are designed for. However, if you are looking for road feel there ain’t none – or very little.

Also they are firm, but surprisingly they feel more cushioned (not Hoka Clifton cushioned, they are still firm) than the N2’s and all of the whining and complaining that I did about N1’s and N2’s in 2014 about them being too firm and inflexible…well it wouldn’t have been as big an issue if I had started with the H3’s. I find it is interesting that the motion control shoes feel to me more cushioned and comfortable than the lighter neutral road shoes, just an observation.

The lack of flexibility is still something that sort of bothers me when I pick them up and try to bend the H3’s or even the N2’s – they ain’t flexible in the hands. However, since I ain’t running on my hands and when I actually run in them I do not notice the lack of flexibility. There is something about Pearl Izumi’s Dynamic Offset design that just works great for me and the way I run.

Another big thing that I know about running in Pearl Izumi’s EM line is that all of their EM models I have run in, have been very quiet. Hell, even PI’s EM trail shoes when running on the roads are quieter than most of the shoes I have run in this year and the heel-to-toe transition for all of them has been smooth as hell, which is important since I do land on my heels (yes I have finally accepted that I do). Both of which are an indication that they are letting me run efficiently. None of that slap, slap, slap sound and feeling like I am working hard to run in them.

So yeah, the H3’s are a smooth running shoe for me.

The reality is that

I like the H3’s — a lot.

Okay, so the Pearl Izumi H3 v1’s work great for me (so far), which is a great thing. However, until they get over 200 miles on them and if I am still gushing about how great they are, I will wait on anointing them as my next great running shoes.

They have become my go-to running shoes for recovery and longer runs and have not disappointed me yet on any run.

Now I have to figure out what comes next.

When these get to the “worn out” stage, which I hope and believe that they will — do I go ahead and attempt to find one more pair of the H3 v1’s or will I have to take a chance on the updated H3 V2 which according to most sources seem to have gained quite a bit of weight (which is not what I wanted to hear).

Probably if I was smart, I would snap up that last pair of 8.5’s at Sierra Trading Post, put them in the closet and have them ready to go next spring. Unfortunately, the budget and the wife ain’t gonna let me do that right now, so we will see what happens down the road and what is available. Who knows with all the focus being on everyone running in neutral running shoes that there will be a few pairs of H3 v1’s still out there at great prices or hope against all hope that the V2 works as well as the V1 does.

Right now it is enough that they are part of my regular running shoe rotation.

  • Pearl Izumi N2 Roads v1
  • Pearl Izumi H3 Roads v1
  • Pearl Izumi N1 Trails v1

Kind of heavy on the Pearl Izumi…ain’t it.

This post originally appeared on One Foot In Reality if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission, please go to my site to see the original post.

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