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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Running Shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 980

I thought I was a set Adidas runner for life ........ until I walked past the New Balance store in my neighbourhood mall a couple of nights ago.  They were hawking this new shoe called Fresh Foam 980 and when I saw it, two things immediately struck me - first, that it featured an awesome revolutionary cushion ideal for midsole runners (like me) and heel strikers, and second, the hexagonal outsole combined with the garish colours made them the gaudiest runners I've ever seen in my life.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980

I tried on a pair of the purple and pink version.  It was hideous but, holy crap, it felt sooo goooood: plush, snug yet paradoxically roomy.  As someone who has extremely wide feet, the D width fit me just right.  I'm also blessed/cursed with Morton's toes - second toes that are longer than the others - a freakish peculiarity which have caused me several under-the-nail blood clots in past runs.  A marathon runner acquaintance had advised me to always wear shoes a half size bigger than my usual, so I tried on the 8 1/2 (US size) but it still wasn't long enough for my lanky second toe.  The size 9 also made my feet look clownish (the purple/pink only heightened the illusion) but when I slipped on another 8 1/2 in a different colour (the grey/red/yellow one in the above photo) - voila, I had my Cinderella moment. 

I went for a run with them this evening and truly, they felt heavenly.  I was initially apprehensive that all that state-of-the-art cushion was going to sink me down like quicksand and reduce my strides to a leisurely slo-mo stroll, but that didn't happen.  The foam was light and springy, and gave me extra boost with each rebound.  My toes weren't squinched together and due to the clever welded overlays, there were no unnecessary internal stitching to irritate and chafe my feet.  And for the very first time, I wasn't constantly aware of my shoes and feet during the run which is a very good thing.  I'm sure there are plenty of runners out there who like to feel the road below their feet as they gobble up the miles but I don't count myself in that pile.  And after my last half-marathon in Cebu, I now appreciate every single nano-bit of comfort and technology afforded by these shoe companies for all my future runs.

So would I recommend these shoes? Definitely, especially to heel and midsole strikers who are doing short to middle distances on the road.  And yes also to amateurs who are just starting out such as moi.  But to fashionistas out there, you might need to wait till they come up with less violent clashes of colour combos before whipping out your plat Amex.  Or better yet, do as I do and keep your eyes off your technicolour feet and just focus on the horizon ahead.

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