Running, not just the domain of elite athletes over excruciating distances but an integral part of everyday training to be embraced rather than avoided. Sprints or stamina, players need to go the distance so time spent training pays dividends come match day.
While we could simply go on about the performance of a particular product by spieling off the technical aspects, our new series of blogs, aptly titled ‘Field Test’, puts us in action to actually put them through their paces and see how true the marketing blurbs really are.
With pre-season well upon us and the new season fast approaching, what better time than to lace up the New Balance Fresh Foam Running Shoe – the Science of Soft according to the Boston based brand. Lovell Rugby’s very own running man, Jon Pressling (experienced local club runner and triathlete coach), laced them up and set off running…..
When choosing a running shoe, much like a rugby boot, decisions should be based on comfort, performance and support to suit your exact demands but the reality is that we are often swayed by design and the latest look. The Fresh Foam achieves the latter and from opening the box, first inspection results in a shoe that means business and is ready to be put through its paces. Admittedly the Fresh Foam applies to the technical aspects but equally could also apply to the aesthetics as you can’t help but admire the whole look.
Quite simply, your running shoes need to be the right fit and if that means going up an extra size then do it. As a regular size 11 wearer, I found myself increasing to an 11.5 for a wider fit and immediately feeling all the better for it. Not every brand offers 1/2 size increments so this is a major tick in the box for New Balance who clearly understand the demands of their athletes. As a fan of padding for extra support around the heel and ankle then the Fresh Foam continues to excel while an overall lightweight feel with air mesh material allowed for a cooling sensation right from the start.
Roads and grass, hills and flats, the Fresh Foam was treated to a variety of courses and over varying distance to test its credentials. As with any running shoe the key is to build up gradually and let your feet become accustomed to their new fit and so just a few miles to break them in gently and start to assess their performance. While no running shoe is going to immediately knock minutes or even seconds off my time, it can act as a building block towards your overall goal and any improvement is always welcome.
There is certainly no denying the key feature of these trainers as the whole design is based around the Fresh Foam – an innovative midsole created from a single piece of foam that provides a lower, more natural underfoot feel. A new concept found in running shoes as many feature so many material pieces that you often become lost in a world of technical jargon that puts you off. Less is more and well done to New Balance for acknowledging this as runners don’t like to be slowed down by an overindulgence of so called ‘performance features’.
Covering distances from 100m track reps up to 1/2 marathon distance (13.1 miles for those not aware), the Fresh Foam remained constant in its performance but it should be noted that these are best suited to road surfaces as the sole doesn’t lend itself to uneven rough terrains. Not a criticism in any way but the reality so stick to the hardened paths and roads to prolong their life and experience them as they were intended. Having produced one of my quickest 10k times on only their second wear, this is certainly a good sign and testament to their performance even at a purely amateur level.
Although not a quantum leap in terms of technology, nonetheless the Fresh Foam is incredibly innovative and the science really does work as from my experience I certainly felt a more natural underfoot feel. Possibly not quite as soft a ride as I was expecting but at my level and the vast majority of others, this is just the right balance as I glided through effortless miles.
Athletes at any level of their sport appreciate recognition and while not always courting the limelight, the odd award here and there is always welcome. Launched to critical acclaim, the New Balance Fresh Foam has already received numerous positive reviews and accolades including:
Awarded “Best Ride” in Competitor Magazine Spring Shoe Guide (March 2014)
Awarded “Best Neutral Running Shoe” by Running Network (March 2014)
Featured in Prevention Magazine’s “2014 Awards, Sneaker Buying Guide” (April 2014)
Hopefully our Field Test has inspired you to get running so check out our collection of running shoes to go the distance in.