Road Testing the New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Running Shoes

NewBalance-Fresh-Foam-Box

I am so excited to finally be able to share the details about my new running shoes.

A few weeks ago, the folks at New Balance surprised me with a pair of their latest and greatest: the Fresh Foam 980. The timing couldn’t have been better. I was just starting to train for April’s Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and my mileage was going up for the first time since the Rock ‘N Roll half marathon last year. With an on-again-off-again bum left knee, any long distance training makes me nervous about aggravating the injury, so I’m always looking for the right pair of shoes to help lessen the impact on my joints.

newbalance-fresh-foam-snow

So I tied those puppies on and took them for a short test run. Sure, they’re pretty and have snazzy colors, but if they don’t perform on the pavement – end of story. 

First impression: they felt like slippers on my feet. I hadn’t even left the apartment yet and was already oohing and ahhhing over how soft they felt. I took my sweet time getting out the door just to savor the squish. Heck, if they were terrible running shoes, I’d at least keep them around as a pretty solid pair of house shoes.

NewBalance-Fresh-Foam-Bottom

But it gets better, because my run was pretty fantastic. The shoes were as light as clouds and felt like cotton balls under my feet. Cotton. Freaking. Balls. I’m not sure it gets any better by running shoe standards, people. Then again, I don’t work in a running store. I’m not a professional running shoe tester. I don’t know the ins and outs of what makes a pair of sneaks great. Heck, I had a hard time understanding the Fresh Foam press release New Balance sent because I honestly have zero clue what a “4 mm natural drop last” is. Not a clue.

But I have covered my fair share of miles in the past decade or so of being a runner. I’ve loved shoes and hated shoes. I’ve gotten superstitious and clung to the same make and model for years at a time. I’ve purchased shoes based on color, brand, what the girl who beat me was wearing, and price. Who am I kidding, mostly price.

These pups run $110, which is on par with what I typically spend on a new pair at the running store. Mine were generously gifted by New Balance, but this review is based entirely on my honest to goodness experience with them. I will buy them again when these begin to get raggedy.

NewBalance-Fresh-Foam-legs

Because nothing is perfect, I also want to share with you the few little things I didn’t love about the new Fresh Foams: 

  • The shoe laces are really slick and I’ve had issues with them staying tied during runs. I double knot, but perhaps there’s another secret method I need to learn.
  • Like any shoe, I had to fiddle around with the lacing a bit when I first tested them out. This isn’t really a nit pick, just know that you may need to experiment with them to find a fit that works best for you. I needed to adjust for more room in the bridge area and more support up toward the ankle.
  • The shoes are very well ventilated. This will be great in the summer, but isn’t my favorite thing in the winter when it’s negative six and snowing. Fix: wear wool socks.

NewBalance-Fresh-Foam-training

And that’s my review! I’m enjoying them so much I’ve taken to using them as trainers at the gym. I know, I know, total fitness faux pas and I need to go out and buy a new pair of proper trainers. But in the meantime, I truly can’t resist the siren call of these floaty, foamy, fantastically soft running shoes. So I’m breaking the rules. #sorrynotsorry

If you try a pair, let me know what you think! I’m all ears and would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks again to New Balance for setting me up with Fresh Foams to try. I was not otherwise compensated for this review – they were just that awesome and I wanted to let you all know about the latest loves of my running life.

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What factors do you consider when purchasing new running shoes?

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11 Comments

    • DC Fit Crasher February 11, 2014 / 10:54 am

      They’re so fantastic Meaghan – if you can test em out, I highly recommend it! The most swoon-worthy fit since I tried Newtons a few years ago. Hope your training is going well!

  1. Lex @ Flecks of Lex February 12, 2014 / 4:01 pm

    These sound so awesome! I love lightweight shoes for running. Ankle support is super important to me, since I’m so clumsy and awkward and they like to roll all over the place. Are they cut really low? Is that why they didn’t have the support you needed?

  2. Brandon Lemke March 10, 2014 / 10:47 pm

    I bought a pair today, and went for a three miler. I love the feel of the shoes. I did notice my forefeet got a little fatigued at times, but it went away over time. Tomorrow is a 5 miler, so that will give me a better feel.

    • DC Fit Crasher March 11, 2014 / 8:41 pm

      So glad to hear you enjoyed them! I’m still loving mine. Put them one once and never looked back : ) Hope you had a great 5 miles!

  3. Mr. Beattie March 13, 2014 / 12:58 am

    Many people don’t tie their shoes in a true square not, see this: http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/02/26/weekend-diversion-i-finally-le/

    Additionally you can add an extra wrap of the loop ala the surgeon’s knot, essentially a combination bow/square with the extra surgeons wrap for friction:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surgeon's_knot

    Grog’s animated knots is a good place to start for more tutorials:
    http://www.animatedknots.com/essential.php

  4. Melodee March 30, 2014 / 4:46 pm

    I just got a pair two days ago and I’m going to try them out today 🙂

  5. Loreliz May 3, 2014 / 10:57 pm

    Could you tell me how the fit is? I’m a size 8 on the 890 v4 but a size 7.5 on the 890 v3. Thanks!

    • DC Fit Crasher May 4, 2014 / 4:43 pm

      I wish I could help but this is my first pair of New Balance in years, so I went with my usual running shoe size. I haven’t had the chance to compare the v4 and v3. I’m typically a 7 in running shoes (Mizuno, New Balance, etc.) and these seem to fit TTS.

  6. Suntoro June 3, 2014 / 7:36 pm

    Bought the shoes blue/orange/yellow last Friday, and tried them in the evening for a run of 8km (first time again in 12 years). All I can say they are really nice, light and feel very comfy. Last time I did run (12 years ago) on my Adidas shoes was terrible, and gave me blisters on my feet.

    Also the New Balance M980’s look great. The shoes are not very populair in the Netherlands, which is strange. Other New Balance models are more populair, but maybe it is because they are technical a bit different. And runners don’t want to try, but I really really like them. Today I did again a 8km run. Normally I do ride my mountainbike or road bike to be sporty, but now I can enjoy running as well… 😉

    With double knot the shoes stays on my feet.

    • DC Fit Crasher June 3, 2014 / 8:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment – glad you like them! Happy running : )

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