New Balance sent the Believe in the Run Team two shoe models to review. The 880 v3 is the first shoe we are reviewing, up next is the Minimus 10 v2.
Thomas: The shoe fits very well and was great right out of the box for a run. This is a durable shoe that you can wrack up the miles on. The traction of the ample blown rubber on the outsole is grippy and will protect the bottom of the shoe for the long hall. For a more traditional looking trainer I really liked the way the 880 v3 looks. New Balance did a nice job with the styling. I haven’t run in a trainer like this in a long time so the novelty of running in the 880 provided some fun runs. The cushioning is pretty sweet, you feel like your foot is being pampered without the sloppiness of too much pillow. The shoes are responsive and give good road/terrain feedback. The 880 has a smooth heel/mid-foot to toe off transition. The shoe stayed comfortable on runs over 10 miles.
Meaghan: I just started training for my next marathon so I was looking forward to trying out the 880v3 (the latest neutral training shoe from New Balance) on some of my longer runs. My first impression was they fit well. They’re snug, without being uncomfortable, even considering my wide feet. The more miles I logged, the more the 880’s seemed to stretch and mold to the shape of my foot. The upper is made of a seamless mesh which helps keep the shoe flexible and also increases breathability. Built on a 12mm drop, the shoe has lot more stack and absorption than a typical minimalist shoe (that I’ve become accustomed to). The balance of cushioning and firmness was pretty perfect. The added support was great for big mileage and I felt the foam padding was soft, yet responsive. The shoe didn’t require any break-in; I never had any issues with hot spots or irritation. I took these out on runs ranging from 7 – 17 miles and they felt comfortable and supportive the whole time.
Stein: Soft and cushy. Stability/control technology, if you’re into that. The stability control did what is was supposed to: it controlled my foot strike and stride. The 12 mm heal-toe drop protected and encouraged heal striking.
Jenny: Last month I was able to tour the New Balance facility in Lawrence, MA and got a sneak peek of the new 880v3. This (with the 890 coming in a close second) is the shoe that they were most enthusiastic about, as far as improvements go. Holding the older version alongside the new, it was easy to see what they were so excited over. I’ve tried on the older version (not ran in it) and it is markedly lighter. They’ve used new and improved materials, cutting down on the weight and the upper is now seamless. With the seamless upper came a more refined fit. The toebox didn’t feel sloppy but had an appropriate amount of room to splay. Despite its bulk it gave me some added cush on tired feet for recovery runs. I like what they’ve done to the outsole, too. The new almost honeycomb pattern is said to give the shoe dimensional stability and a smoother ride. I have to say that I noticed the more natural toe-off instead of “slap” of the shoe. This isn’t the only company to adopt such technology and it seems to be a continuing trend.
Jenny: My only negative comments would be from personal preference. This is a lot of shoe…way more than I’m used to training in and way more than I prefer. It’s not necessarily the weight, it’s the bulk. It certainly gives the foot ample protection from pounding but with it’s 12mm drop, I need something lower (such as their 1400 or 890). Would I suggest it to new runners or those who don’t care about a measly 2-3oz? Absolutely.
Meaghan: I was a little apprehensive when I first took these shoes out of the box. They’re quite a bit heavier than I’m used to; almost double in weight, actually (11.3 oz vs. 5 to 7oz) which seemed to slow me down. Along those same lines, the shoes looked and felt big. I think there are a couple areas (such as the highly padded tongue) where a little less material would go a long way.
Thomas: 12mm drop, it is like wearing high heels. I prefer 0-4mm drop. I believe it interfered with my natural foot strike enough to start giving me shin splints. I land mid-foot and I could feel the heel of the shoe hitting the pavement first and throwing the breaks on. Between the heel drop and the weight 11.3 oz. the shoe felt slower. The drop of the shoe is more a of a mechanical issue. If you are a heel striker you may love the extra plush mid-sole. The weight of the shoe is the price you pay for the durability and cushioning.
Stein: Heavy. Not flexible, especially in the mid-foot. The tongue slipped out of proper position a couple times over 30 miles and the 12 mm drop encouraged heal striking. While you would think that a plush shoe would help your legs to survive a long run, I found the opposite to be true. I felt clunky. Due to leg fatigue, I cut a eight-mile run short, then I found myself putting on calf sleeves for the first time in months; maybe it was just a bad day but I suspect the shoe. I was so annoyed by this experience that the next day, just to validate my beliefs, I ran five miles in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers with absolutely no fatigue or other problems.
Thomas: My conclusion is more about my preferences than the shoe itself. The 880 v3 is a solid trainer with a well fitting upper, cushy mid-sole, and a durable grippy out-sole. If my running mechanics were different, I would have probably loved these shoes. They are too much shoe for me at this point. If they lowered the heel drop to 8mm or under and found a way to shave a couple more ounces off the shoe, I would really like the shoe. I would recommend this shoe to a runner that heel strikes, enjoys solid cushioning, and values durability.
Meaghan: The New Balance 880v3 is not a fast shoe, but it’s a comfortable, supportive one. They didn’t win me over immediately, but the more miles I logged, the more I grew to like them. I’ve put over 70 miles on these shoes and they show little to no wear. They’re a good option for someone looking for a training shoe to do some leisurely long distance running.
Jenny: Until working in run speciality, my impression of New Balance was a lot like that of SNL’s skit. There’s a whole lot more to the company and I consider them one of the leaders in running shoe technology. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new 890’s but this improved 880v3 is a great neutral distance trainer for those who need a little more cushion and maybe don’t care about that extra couple ounces that brings. The improvements from the last model are well worth checking out and are a win in my opinion.
Stein: My personal preference is for a lighter, more flexible shoe. However if you’re looking for a “traditional” neutral trainer these shoes are worth checking out. If you lean towards a more minimal experience you should look at some of the other offerings from New Balance.