Today's review comes from a new contributor to KleinrunsDPT. Chris Park is a high school student with a very keen interest in footwear and human biomechanics. As a future doctorate, he will continue to share his thoughts as he explores those worlds. Today he provides a review of the New Balance Vazee Pace 2. Read on as we continue to match science with running footwear.
I’ve been an ardent supporter of the New Balance brand for the last couple of years. Although I didn’t have much experience with the brand outside of several versions of the 1400 and Zantes, I was attracted to many of their lines including the Vazee, Boracay, 880, and Hanzo models. Thankfully I was able to try out the Vazee Pace v2s and share my thoughts.
Weight: 8.6 oz (Men's Size 9)
Drop: 6mm (24mm/18mm)
Classification: Lightweight Trainer
The Vazee Pace 2s are marketed as a lightweight, cushioned shoe for tempos and faster workouts.According to Runningwarehouse.com, the Pace v2s weigh 8.6 ounces in a size 9 US and have an offset of 6mm with a stack height of 24mm in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. Although they aren’t the lightest shoes on the market, the REVlite foam contributes to a rather firm, responsive ride while providing enough cushioning for a half marathon.
The New Balance Vazee Pace v2s are listed as a lightweight, cushioned shoe. While they aren’t the “lightest trainers/racers” available, the responsive REVlite midsole, lower drop, and toe spring give the shoe a snappy ride. Despite this responsiveness, however, I found them too heavy to be used as a racing flat or even a fast, lightweight trainer.
REVlite: According to New Balance, REVlite is an “innovative EVA foam compound,” that provides the same responsiveness and durability of most other EVA foams 30% heavier. Unlike Fresh Foam or Nike Lunarlon, REVlite provides a firmer ride creating a stable platform for the foot during speed work. New Balance offers REVlite in many other models; with the Pace v2s, I found that it provided the responsiveness for mile repeats, but also the needed cushioning for anything under 13 miles. The recommended distance with any shoe is unique to every runner, however, I found that anything over 13 miles with the Pace V2s beat up my legs. I would recommend these shoes for those that follow the minimalist trend in regards to heel drop and fit but still want a decent and traditional amount of underfoot cushioning.
Toe Spring: Although it seems minimal, toe spring definitely contributed to the overall snappy, smooth ride. Toe spring is the slight raise of outsole aspect of the toes above the ground. I won't go into too much detail about it, because Dr. Klein has a great post about it (HERE). Simply put, toe spring mimics the forefoot rocker of the foot. This is an important feature, because it assists in maintaining forward momentum during a stride.
I really enjoyed the 6mm heel to toe offset/drop. Personally, I’m not too big on anything over 8mm (hence why I am not a fan of most Nike shoes). The 6mm encourages a midfoot landing and greater toe off. In other words, the lower drop encourages a stronger push off from the toes and therefore faster turnover and power. I believe having a midfoot strike is important because it reduces impact when the foot collides with the ground allowing for a faster turnover rate (Editor's Note: I am not the biggest proponent of focusing exclusively on footstrike as I believe it is one part of a larger chain. I do not think forefoot, midfoot or heel striking is necessarily better than the other as the research simply states that each one loads different structures differently. A midfoot strike does tend to even things out a bit and a balanced/even approach is usually best. However, I urge those reading to focus on your overall strength, flexibility, stability and form rather than only focusing on one area of the body. The foot and ankle are VERY important, but should not be the primary focus when you have far greater force generation potential higher up the chain).
Although I loved the 6mm drop, it contributed to my overall confusion with the purpose of these shoes. The higher drop made the shoes feel like a trainer rather than a “faster tempo shoe.” While I was a fan of the 6mm drop, many other brands- even from New Balance themselves- offer "lighter more responsive" trainers for speed work with a lower drop. I understand that New Balance wanted to cater towards the "fast, lightweight trainer" market, however, I do not think it was executed properly. When looking at their own line, the Zantes offer more versatility while keeping the same weight profile as the Pace v2s. Furthermore, the 1400 line provides a more response responsive, comfortable cushioning in a lighter package.
New Balance, please keep this! The upper consists of a smooth, soft textile with overlays for support. I did not experience any blisters or hotspots during my runs. Similar to the Zantes, they incorporate a bootie construction for better mid foot lockdown and overall comfort. The fit around the achilles/heel was soft and did not cause any discomfort. Despite the smooth interior, I would not recommend wearing these sockless unless you are experienced with that.
New Balance offers the Pave v2s in a standard (D) and wide fit. Therefore, if you have a wider foot, I would suggest trying both versions. The toe box is a little wider than most of the other shoes from New Balance which helps with toe splay.
Photo from YShu et al., (2015)
Toe Splay is the natural spread of the toes. Most shoes change the foot shape and impede some of the foot's natural ability for stabilization and propulsion. Most commonly, the big toe falls out of line with its corresponding metatarsal bone. Shoes that facilitate a proper toe splay may influence an pain and injuries including plantar fasciitis, bunions, and even metatarsalgia.
Editor's Thoughts as a DPT:
Chris brings up a good point and this is something I tend to hammer with the companies I consult for (as many of them find out quickly). A wide overall shoe fit is not usually necessary but allowing neutral greattoe alignment is very important. Bunions are not genetic. They have many sources that usually arise from limited motion or mobility somewhere. For those with stiff calves or hallux (first toe) joints, the body cannot progress over the forefoot well. So instead it usually pivots the foot outward (abducts and everts) to roll off the medial aspect of the first toe. This throws many things out of alignment all the way up to the pelvis (and occasionally up to the cervical spine as I found with one of my patients recently), but the body needs to get over that forefoot somehow. The continued abnormal loading of the medial side of the big toe joint eventually causes the bone to grow in response to the repeated stress. This further contributes to the big toe being pushed laterally (hallux valgus) and overstretching of the abductor hallucis. The abductor hallucis is a very important intrinsic stabilizer of the arch, so this can also contribute to collapsed arches as the body compensates further with excessive abduction and eversion of the midfoot. So great toe (hallux) alignment is very important, especially for foot and ankle stabilization. Not everyone has the mobility in the joint as often happens in the older population, which is where something like toe-spring may help to create that natural forefoot rocker. For everyone else, make sure that joint stays mobile and get shoes that properly fit the foot.
The main factor that contributed to my confusion with the shoes was the weight. The Vazee Pace v2s are listed at 8.6 ounces in a size 9 (US). As I mentioned before, New Balance themselves offer other models (I.e. Zante, 1400 line) that are the same weight or lighter. Furthermore, they are just as, if not more versatile.
After 60 miles of rough concreteI was a fan of the grippy, durable outsole rubber. The mix of carbon and blown rubber contributed to their overall grip. Considering I have put around 60 miles in these, the Pace v2s are an extremely durable shoe and I expect them to last well over 300 miles.
I want to make it clear that I thoroughly enjoyed the shoes. However, I did not find them to be the “greatest” lightweight, responsive racer available. Personally, I couldn't really place them into a niche. Were they a racer or a trainer?
Conclusion and Room for Improvement:
While this is a great shoe for those that prefer more ground feedback/feel, I would like to see a lighter model in the future. Whether they shave a couple ounces off the outsole or thin down the midsole, these would be a great daily, lightweight trainer. As I mentioned before, at 8.6 ounces, many other brands (including New Balance) offer the same snappy, responsive ride in a lighter package, so I would recommend taking a look at all the options before making a purchase.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!
Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this blog belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.
Currently Chris has 60 miles on his pair of New Balance Vazee Pace v2. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.
Dr. Matthew Klein, PT DPT and Chris Park
***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full US retail price. We put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats. Currently Chris has 60 miles on them.
Neumann, D. (2012). Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation - Second Edition. St. Louis, MI: Mosby Elsevier
Noakes, T. (2003). Lore of Running - Fourth Edition. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics
Perry, J. (1992). Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function. Thorafare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.
Shu, Y., Mei, Q., Fernandez, J., Li, Z., Feng, N., Gu, Y. (2015). Foot Morphological Difference between Habitually Shod and Unshod Runners. PLos One: 10(7): e0131385. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131385
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