When I started working at South Sound Running in August, 2018, New Balance wasn't on my radar. I'd tried on every single other running shoe that touted itself as a "wide toe box" and a "wide fit" whether it came in a designated "wide" or not. I previously loved Pearl Izumi shoes, which were discontinued (the entire running shoe and apparel line was discontinued in favor of focusing on its cycling line) and just had a hard time finding a solid replacement for both road and trail shoes.
When I was fitted as part of my new employee training at South Sound Running, though, the shoe buyer at the time, Lex, fit me into the New Balance 880 and I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn't as familiar with New Balance's running line, I'd tried a few different options at my former running store and wasn't too thrilled with what I'd tried on so I'd written them off for a while.
Every year, shoe companies try to improve upon the previous model. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It'd been a few years since I've consistently run in the 880 due to the changes in the upper design. It's now seamless, lighter, but slightly changed the fit so I moved on to other comparable shoes, always keeping it in my back pocket for my rotation when I inevitably need shoes to introduce into my rotation (i.e. ever-growing collection).
In all honesty, as much as I hate to admit, the color is what sold me on these. I typically choose black shoes or dark colors but I have a pair of shorts with super bright colors and little cats on them that just make me happy so I got them to match those.
Comparing them to older models, the most recent updated shoe feels lighter between the seamless upper and the Fresh Foam in the midsole makes them feel super light, but it doesn't feel like a lightweight trainer (like the New Balance 1400, Vazee Pace, or 890).
My first run in them, I just took them over to Sparks Stadium's rubberized track and did a few miles, just easy in lane 8 (changing directions to minimize the strain on one leg by always turning one direction). This allowed for me to zone out and really focus on how the shoe felt and the run felt effortless. The cushioning was like Baby Bear's bed (just right) with good energy return under foot. The shape of the shoe also lends itself to being stable for a neutral running shoe without the inclusion of a midsole post (the New Balance 860 is the brand's stability shoe).
My second run was an 11-mile long run that was over a variety of terrain around South Hill including asphalt, concrete sidewalks, and some soft shoulders off the side of the road (the left side, of course... always run against traffic if there's no sidewalk). Even with the longer distance and increased time on my feet, the shoes felt great. They were responsive even when I felt fatigued and no blisters or hot spots to speak of (my Feetures socks also played a part in that, too, though).
Sometimes it's hard to go shoe shopping when brands change a shoe model that was so beloved however these changes, while different, are still a solid option for a wide variety of foot shapes much like the previous model years were.
Other models to compare to the New Balance 880's: Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride, Asics Cumulus (all available at South Sound Running!)
Written by ATFS Ambassador A. Reichel