Monday, April 21, 2014

New Balance Fresh Foam Show Review

When I got on the plane to fly from Washington to Florida, and after I had paid a silly amount of money to connect to the Internet from 35,00 in the sky, I received an email from Online Shoes asking if I would like to try and review the New Balance W980 Fresh Foam running shoe. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I gladly accepted without even looking up anything about the shoe. About six weeks ago, I received the shoes on my doorstep, unpacked the box like a kid on Christmas, and kind of...grimaced.

The first time I saw these shoes, I thought they looked a little gaudy. Not quite Hoka/Vibram level obnoxious, but definitely too bright and clunky-looking for my personal tastes.

As of today, the color combination no longer shocks me every time I open my closet door, and I actually quite like the brightness. However, I would certainly not recommend them for anyone in search of running shoes to blend in. On that note, what happened to boring running shoes? Are they all neon now?

Obligatory leg/shoe shot. AKA "the thigh gap angle"

Colors aside, which really mean nothing and should probably never influence a running shoe decision, I still wasn't crazy about these "maximalist" shoes. Primarily because there is only a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, which is pretty minimal for me. I've been running for the past few months in shoes with 11mm heel-to-toe, which feels drastically different. I felt pretty comfortable in them for shorter runs (<5 miles at a time), but I didn't try them for anything longer. That's due to two factors: I'm not actually running long distances at all right now, and I don't particularly want to transition to a more minimal drop. I know that switching from a supportive shoe to a more minimal drop requires a slot transition and the use of different muscles, and that is not something I care to do at this time. Of course, that's my opinion, and every runner feels differently. I am firmly in the "if it's not broken, don't fix it," camp.  I'm not injured, so I'm not changing the way I run!

Unfortunately, I did feel like there were some drawbacks that weren't particularly subjective. First, the outsoles of the shoe have a hexagonal print, but there doesn't feel like there is a lot of traction. I noticed when I wore them in the rain that I constantly felt like I was going to fall on the wet sidewalks. I didn't, but I certainly felt uneasy. Additionally, the toe box of the Fresh Foam shoes was narrow. I do have wider feet, so this is a common issue for me, but I wouldn't recommend it for someone who also has wide feet.

So... the main points that you need to know:

• The New Balance Fresh Foam running shoes have a minimalist heel-to-toe drop of 4mm
• Padded, "maximalist" design
• Potentially slippery soles
• Narrow fit
•  Felt firm - lots of support, but not much cushion
• Lightweight at under 8 ounces for the woman's shoe
• BOLD colors (along with the blue/orange I was sent, there are gray/yellow and purple options)

• Price point around $110

Personally, I wouldn't purchase these shoes for myself in the future. However, I would definitely view them as alternatives to more expensive maximalist shoes. If I ever wanted to transition to this type of shoe, I would (and will!) keep the Fresh Foam in mind.

I received the New Balance W980 Fresh Foam free of charge from, but this is my take on the shoes. I wasn't compensated in any other way, and this is 100% my opinion.

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