Are New Balance Fresh Foam Shoes Good for Running?

New Balance is one of the most popular athletic shoe brands, known for their wide range of footwear catered to different types of activities. Their Fresh Foam line has become quite popular in recent years as a comfortable and responsive cushioning system designed for running and training.

But how well does the Fresh Foam technology actually perform for runners? This article will dive into the key features of Fresh Foam shoes and look at the pros and cons to help you decide if they are a good option for your running needs.

What is Fresh Foam?

Fresh Foam is New Balance’s patented cushioning technology that was designed to deliver plush, durable comfort without the bulk. It uses varying foam densities and geometries to provide soft cushioning underfoot that also returns energy back to the runner.

The Fresh Foam midsole is made up of a single piece of foam that is precision-shaped into different zones where your foot needs more or less support. It aims to provide a smooth, stable ride for runners.

Some key features and benefits of Fresh Foam include:

  • Lightweight cushioning – Fresh Foam midsoles are lighter than traditional EVA foam midsoles, helping keep the overall shoe weight down.
  • Plush softness – The precise shaping allows for ultra-plush cushioning under the foot for all-day wear comfort.
  • Responsiveness – Strategically-shaped lugs and grooves in the foam provide flexibility and bounce-back.
  • Supportive feel – Varying foam densities offer soft yet stable cushioning.
  • Durable cushioning – Fresh Foam retains its cushioning properties better over time versus standard EVA foam.
  • Breathable – Laser-drilled holes in the foam promote airflow to keep feet cool and dry.

Which New Balance Running Shoes Feature Fresh Foam?

Many of New Balance’s performance running shoes across the stability, neutral-cushioning, and trail categories now feature Fresh Foam midsoles. Some popular models include:

  • Fresh Foam 1080 – A premium neutral cushioning shoe ideal for long runs.
  • Fresh Foam 880 – A durable, versatile daily trainer.
  • Fresh Foam Roav – A lightweight, flexible option built for speed.
  • Fresh Foam Cruz – A cushy shoe designed for walking and lifestyle wear.
  • Fresh Foam Hierro – A well-cushioned trail runner.
  • Fresh Foam Vongo – A stability shoe for mild to moderate overpronators.

Fresh Foam Running Shoe Pros

There are many benefits that make Fresh Foam running shoes attractive options:

  • Plush Cushioning – The precisely engineered Fresh Foam midsole provides soft, smooth cushioning without feeling overly squishy. The cushioning feels consistent across the length of the shoe.
  • Lightweight – Fresh Foam midsoles are lighter than traditional EVA while still providing ample cushioning, keeping the shoes comfortable but minimizing bulk.
  • Flexible feel – Grooves in the midsole enhance flexibility to promote a smooth, natural stride from heel strike through toe-off.
  • Breathability – Laser-drilled and cut-out holes allow airflow to keep feet cooler and drier than solid foam.
  • Soft landings – The Fresh Foam cushioning absorbs impact to reduce shock on feet and joints.
  • Smooth transitions – The cushioning and flexibility enables smooth heel-to-toe transitions.
  • Versatile use – Many Fresh Foam models can be used for multiple types of runs from speedwork to long distances.
  • Durable cushioning – Runners report the Fresh Foam retains its responsive properties and cushioning even over several hundred miles.
  • Ample support – Varying foam densities prevent excessive compression for a stable, supported feel.

Fresh Foam Running Shoe Cons

However, there are a few potential drawbacks of Fresh Foam running shoes to consider:

  • Narrow fit – Some find Fresh Foam models run narrow, especially in the toe box, which can pinch wide feet. Trying them on is recommended.
  • Lack of responsiveness – While adequate for training runs, some find Fresh Foam to not be as responsive or snappy as other midsole materials for faster paces.
  • Firmness – A few runners think the Fresh Foam feels too firm, hard, and rigid rather than providing soft cushioning.
  • Lack of motion control – For severe overpronators, the neutral or mild stability of Fresh Foam may not provide enough pronation control.
  • Durability concerns – There have been some isolated reports of the Fresh Foam losing its cushioning and responsiveness prematurely in certain models.
  • Heavy for racing – Most Fresh Foam shoes are better suited to daily training rather than racing due to the weight.

Who Are Fresh Foam Running Shoes Best Suited For?

In general, Fresh Foam running shoes are ideal for:

  • Neutral runners looking for soft, low-impact cushioning over long distances.
  • Heel and midfoot strikers who want plush landings.
  • Runners seeking versatile shoes that can go from easy jogs to tempo runs.
  • Heavy runners needing durable cushioning that won’t compress excessively or lose bounce.
  • Walkers and runners needing comfort for arthritis, plantar fasciitis or aching feet and joints.
  • Active people needing an everyday shoe with superior cushioning for casual wear.

Tips for Finding the Right Fresh Foam Running Shoe

If considering purchasing Fresh Foam running shoes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get properly fitted at a specialty running store to find the right size and model for your foot type and running needs.
  • Try on shoes at the end of the day when feet are most swollen. Feet swell on runs so you want a comfortable end-of-day fit.
  • Take shoes for a test run; most stores have treadmills. Pay attention to fit, cushioning, and responsiveness.
  • Start with neutral cushioned models like the 1080v10 or 880v10 if you don’t overpronate. Try stability models if you do overpronate.
  • For walking and casual use, cushioned lifestyle models like the Cruz or Hierro are great options.
  • Don’t overlook trail models like the Hierro if running on softer surfaces. The lugged outsole provides traction.
  • Consider going up half a size if you wear orthotics or prefer roomier toe boxes.
  • Check the mileage limits – some Fresh Foam models are good for 400-500 miles. Plan to replace heavier-mileage shoes more often.
  • Give them a test period. It can take several runs to adjust to new technologies like Fresh Foam.

FAQs on Fresh Foam Running Shoes

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Fresh Foam running shoes:

Do Fresh Foam shoes have arch support?

Most Fresh Foam models have a moderate arch shape built into the midsole for neutral support. Some models like the Vongo also have medial posts for more arch support. Using orthotics can further customize the arch height and feel.

How long do Fresh Foam shoes last?

Mileage life varies by model but typically ranges from 300 to 500 miles. Heavier runners or those running primarily on paved roads may get less mileage than lighter runners on softer surfaces.

Are Fresh Foam shoes good for walking?

Yes, cushioned Fresh Foam models like the Hierro, Cruz and 880 provide excellent shock absorption for walkers. The plush cushioning protects joints and softens every step.

Can you use Fresh Foam shoes for CrossFit or HIIT workouts?

While not specifically designed for these applications, Fresh Foam models with flatter outsoles can provide the needed versatility for short runs, plyometrics and floor exercises involved in CrossFit and HIIT. The Hierro, 880 and 1080 are good options.

Do Fresh Foam shoes run small?

Some runners find certain models like the 1080 and 880 run around a half size small. Trying shoes on or ordering a half size up is recommended if sizing down.


New Balance Fresh Foam running shoes can provide a soft, springy and comfortable ride for neutral runners focused on daily training rather than speedwork.

Their precise plush cushioning protects joints while still providing support and responsiveness for a smooth heel-to-toe transition. Considering fit, intended use, and personal preferences will help determine if a Fresh Foam model is the right match for your running needs. Stopping by a specialty running store for a proper fitting is recommended when considering your first pair.

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