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New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12:
The Classic Beginner's Shoe
By Contributor Ryan Flugaur

In a time where carbon plates, rockered soles, and fancy foams seem to be dominating the shoe market, the 880v12 returns without all those fancy bells and whistles. Rather it sports a more traditional look and feel like those of the Mizuno Wave Rider, Saucony Ride, and Reebok Floatride Energy. However, this does not discount the 880 from being a good shoe and may just go to show that sometimes less is more.

Price: $134.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.3 oz, 292 g (men's size 9), 8.4 oz, 238 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35mm / 25 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Neutral Daily Training Shoe


The New Balance 880v12 fits within the New Balance shoe lineup as a neutral (more traditional) workhouse daily trainer and a cousin to the more “premium” New Balance 1080. The Fresh Foam X helps create a soft landing yet remains responsive when picking up the pace. Runners that require a small amount of stability will appreciate the wider forefoot and moderately stiff heel counter helping guide the foot forward. Thanks to the more traditional features offered in the 880 v12, it makes it a great shoe for beginner runners as it offers a smooth and responsive ride without being over the top.


The New Balance 880 v12 fits me true to size in my men’s size 9. The toe box is accommodating, even for a slightly wider foot, with the upper constructed using engineered mesh. The mesh of the 880 v12 feels stiff especially compared to the hypoknit material used in other New Balance premium shoes. The heel counter is padded nicely, and I experienced no rubbing or hot spots even during my 10+ mile runs. The shoe tongue is lightly padded with a lace loop to keep the tongue in place. The laces are flat and stay tied nicely over the dorsum of the foot. Overall, the 880 v12 offers a comfortable fit with a toe box that is accommodating even for slightly wider feet.


The 880 is a true workhorse shoe. Recovery runs, daily mileage pace, and tempo runs all feel comfortable. For interval and faster paced days, a lighter training shoe will likely be a better option. The 880v12 also makes for a good walking and work shoe thanks to the soft (but not squishy) Fresh Foam X and comfortable upper. Runners that may be sensitive to forefoot rockers and toe springs will appreciate the more neutral feel of the 880v12. Coming in at 10.5 oz it is not a light shoe. However, it does feel lighter on foot and picking up the pace during a tempo run should be no issue. I wouldn’t rely on the 880 as my weekly workout shoe however as it requires more effort to keep the shoe going fast. At foot strike the 880 v12 feels smooth thanks to the slight heel bevel and the transition to the forefoot feels natural. Traction is good over a variety of surfaces including gravel trail, road, and small amounts of snow and slush. I have around 40 miles on my pair, and they do have a small amount of wear of the posterolateral aspect of the heel (where I land). However, I still anticipate them to last many miles.


The 880 v12 is a true neutral shoe. It does offer mild stability through the heel thanks to the firm counter and heel flair, but this is a shoe best left for those individuals without major stability needs. The flexible forefoot and softer Fresh Foam X make the 10 mm heel drop feel lower (more in the moderate 8-9 realm) and may place increased demand on the calf and ankle musculature. The posterior aspect of the shoe offers a slight heel flair in both the medial and lateral directions helping to provide security to the heel. Last, the firm heel counter adds structure to the back of the shoe providing a secure lockdown guiding the foot forward.


What beginner runners should look for in a shoe and why the New Balance 880 v12 may be a good choice for new runners.  

As a new runner, finding a well-fitting running shoe can be a daunting task as it will vary from person to person. Even Matt Klein, the founder of Doctors of Running, who has run in hundreds of different shoes, states that he has yet to find the perfect pair of shoes for him. Research has yet to really tell us what shoe is best for everyone so currently my best advice is picking a shoe that you find comfortable. If available to you, a running shoe specialty store allows you to try on and test multiple different shoes to help narrow down the options. New runners should look for shoes that are comfortable in the heel and forefoot, provide adequate stability to the foot, and have a secure but not too tight upper. If possible, trying on both stability as well as neutral shoes is a good idea as different individuals will prefer each.  

The New Balance 880 v12 has many characteristics that may make it a good choice for certain beginner runners. The dual density midsole with Fresh Foam X offers a softer ride without feeling squishy or unstable. The amount of softness an individual prefers will vary from person to person and even the feeling of “softness” can be different between people. Typically, a new runner should look for foams that help to cushion a ride without feeling unstable. Another aspect of the shoe that may make it a good choice is its minimally rockered sole. The 880 v12 offers a slight posterolateral heel bevel as well as a slightly rockered forefoot. Due to the flexibility in the forefoot, individuals will rely on their own musculature for toe off. A highly rockered shoe may not be the best choice for a new runner as a poorly placed forefoot rocker can make it feel as if the runner is falling forward too quick thus changing their running mechanics.

The moderately stiff heel counter also makes the 880 a good choice. A poor fitting heel fit can lead to pressure spots, slippage, and heel instability so finding a good heel fit is important. The 880 v12’s heel counter falls somewhere in the middle of flexible and firm. When gripping it with my fingers I can easily compress the side walls, however it bounces back adding structure to the back of the shoe. It is nicely padded making it less likely to cause irritation. The upper is constructed of an engineered mesh that again fits in the middle of not too stretchy or too tight. It is accommodating even for runners that have slightly wider feet but still provides a secure lockdown even for normal width or slightly narrow feet.  

Finding a running shoe as a new runner with previous injuries or other musculoskeletal conditions such as plantar fasciitis or achilles injury can be even more challenging. In this situation, it may be best to find a trained physical therapist that can help point you in the right direction. Remember, comfort is key. There is no magic rule or fancy device that can tell someone what shoe is best for them and it may take multiple tries before finding the shoe that fits your body best.  

My last piece of advice to new runners, you must be fit to run, don’t run to get fit. Before beginning any running program, it is a good idea to participate in a strength or walking program as you prepare your muscles for the high muscular demand necessary while running.


The 880 v12 is a well-designed shoe that caters to a large population of runners. My only recommendation would be to include the hypoknit upper seen in premium New Balance shoes on the 880. I understand that the hypoknit material is likely reserved to separate the 880 from the 1080 but there are many other features that separate the two and a hypoknit upper would make the 880 that much more comfortable.


Overall, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is a daily workhorse shoe reserved for daily mileage but is able to pick up the pace during a mild tempo run. New runners looking for a neutral trainer may want to check out the 880v12 thanks to its more traditional geometry, softer Fresh Foam X, and comfortable yet secure upper. Those individuals looking for a comfortable walking and workhorse should also look at the 880.


Fit: A- (Well-fitting forefoot with accommodating toe box.) 
Performance: B+ (Workhorse shoe best reserved for daily mileage due to its heavier weight. Responsive enough for a tempo run but not my first choice.) 
Stability: B (This is a true neutral shoe with only mild stability components.) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Nothing fancy with the 880 v12 makes it a good choice for new runners, walkers, and work shoes.) 
Personal: A- (As most of my running is performed in non-plated shoes, I appreciate the geometry of more traditional trainers like the 880.)
Overall:  B+ (Overall, the 880 v12 is a well-designed shoe that can cater to a large majority of runners including beginner runners and walkers.)


Price: $134.95 at Running Warehouse

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website 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.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at New Balance for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. 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.

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Reebok Floatride Energy X

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