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Beacon v3, Peanut-Approved

Welcome to our Guide to New Balance footwear! New Balance running is unique in many ways, from their naming system to unique history in the running space. In recent years, they've become not only tremendously popular through their major advances in running, but also a powerhouse professional running brand thanks to a host of incredible athletes that have catapulted American track and road in ways never seen before. In this feature we cover New Balance's history, unique technology, and explore their current running shoe lineup.

Guide to New Balance Running Shoes
Written and Edited by Content Manager Bach Pham

About New Balance

The Fresh Foam X 1080v12
Unusual beginnings. Would you believe me if I told you that New Balance started on the basis of a chicken? An English immigrant named William Riley used his observation of chicken's perfectly balanced three-claw feet and used it to do develop a flexible arch insole in 1905, launching the New Balance Arch Support Company. Standing work being prominent at the time, the arch support aimed to provide additional comfort and support to workers.

A Presence in the Running World. Around the midcentury, New Balance's running line began taking form. New Balance created their first sneaker, the Trackster. One of the unique things about the Trackster and New Balance in general is their commitments to width, almost always offering a range of accommodating fits for runners. The Trackster became their first model to cross a marathon finish line.

Their signature N logo began taking shape on everyday models in the 70s. The 70s also brought the numbered series of shoes they have become known for started to appear, helping categorize their lineup (see the next section to learn more). Of their early numbered shoes, the 320 is a standout for being ranked #1 on Runner's World in the 1970s. Models like the 990 during the 80s became the cornerstone of their running line, and in recent years the 880 has come to take that title.

During the late 2010s, New Balance revamped their running footwear in a major way by introducing the FuelCell midsole to their arsenal and a new line of running footwear that breaks away from their numbered series. Between the classic line featuring Fresh Foam and their new FuelCell line, more than ever New Balance is hitting the mark for a wide range of runners from new to experienced.

Dominating the track and roads: New Balance Athletes. New Balance features world-class runners in both track and field and long distance road racing. On the track side, 400m World Record holder Sydney McLaughlin leads the charge, bringing both Olympic Gold in 2022 along with an incredible 50.68 400m record. 200m runner Gabby Thomas, Dutch 400m record holder Femke Bol, and 60-100m star Trayvon Bromell are among the major stars of the stacked New Balance track team. New Balance continues to dominate when it comes to the middle distance with Elle St. Pierre who holds the American record for the mile.

It is impossible to talk about New Balance athletes without mentioning Emma Coburn, who has helped catapult the US back into the conversation around middle distance hurdles with a second place at the World Championships in Doha in 2019 and bringing the US their first ever medal in the steeplechase at the 2016 games in Rio with a bronze medal finish.

In the long distance running, American women's marathon record holder Emily Sisson is an absolute powerhouse in the 10k to marathon distance.


Technology to Know

The Massively Stacked SuperComp Trainer
Numbers. Numbers! It's the thing that confuses all runners who have never ran in New Balance footwear. This is especially true if you shop New Balance in store and see the breadth of numbers they have 500s to 1000s, with endings from 40 through 90. The numbers simply designate stability, with 40-60 being in the stability range, 80 being their neutral shoe, and some 90s (no longer a running model today) being their speed shoes.

New Balance has really tailored their true running shoe line over the years. We really recommend runners interested in New Balance focus on the 860 (stability), 880 (neutral), and 1080 (neutral) when it comes to numbered running footwear.

Fresh Foam X. New Balance's Fresh Foam X is their signature EVA blend. Fresh Foam shoes contain some consistent design features including a hexagonal, smooth outsole that emphasizes softness on the run along with flex grooves from the forefoot through midfoot.

FuelCell. FuelCell is a nitrogen-infused TPU foam. Used both in their performance line, it is the brand's current signature foam for their racing footwear.

EnergyArc. Newly-introduced in 2022, EnergyArc features a large, hollow channel through some of their racing and performance footwear which exposes a carbon plate. The channel is meant to emphasize energy return. The void does do a significant job at cutting a great deal of midsole weight and provide some guidance.


Breaking Down the New Balance Running Line

The essential 880
We may have taken for granted how big the New Balance line has become in just a few short years. The FuelCell series in particular has opened up a whole secondary running division to the brand, which is both good and for new runners a bit daunting. To learn more about each shoe, click the shoe title to find our review of the latest model.

Neutral New Balance Running Shoes
Fresh Foam X 880v13 (daily trainer) - The 880 is New Balance's classic everyday running shoe. It delivers an accommodating fit and traditional, no frills ride.
Fresh Foam X 1080v12 (moderately high cushion daily trainer) - The 1080v12 is a highly rockered, very flexible moderately high cushioned shoe for everyday training.
Fresh Foam X More v4 (maximum cushioned daily trainer) - The More series is New Balance's most maximal cushioned Fresh Foam model suited for everyday training. One of our favorite stable neutral shoes right now.
Fresh Foam X Tempo v2 (low profile daily trainer) - The Tempo v2 is currently New Balance's most low profile training model for those who prefer a shoe with more ground contact.
Fresh Foam Beacon v3 (moderate cushioned trainer) - Now discontinued, per our Senior Contributor Andrea Myers: the greatest shoe of all-time. It features a minimal outsole, lightweight ride for everyday training. New Balance: for Andrea, please bring the Beacon back.
FuelCell Rebel v3 (performance trainer) - A lightweight performance trainer that uses a healthy amount of FuelCell underfoot to provide a comfortable, but responsive ride for workouts and for some a potential non-plated race day shoe.
FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 (super maximum cushioned trainer) - New Balance's SuperComp Trainer provides all the technology - plate, Energy Arc, fuelcell - packed into a super tall training model that can do a bit of everything.
FuelCell SuperComp Pacer (5k, 10k up to half marathon racing) - The Pacer is the brand's 5k-10k oriented racing shoe. Featuring a middle of the road level of midsole cushioning, it offers a light, fast option for those looking for a New Balance racing shoe.
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 (marathon distance racing shoe) - The signature marathon racing shoe for the brand, providing 39mm of stack height and all the technology for race day.
FuelCell MD-X (middle distance track shoe) - Using their top end FuelCell foam, the MD-X is an extremely aggressive racing shoe built for middle distance racers.

Stability Shoes from New Balance Running
Fresh Foam X 860v13 (moderate cushioned stability trainer) - The brand's classic medial posted stability shoe, it features a moderate amount of cushioning underfoot for everyday training.
Fresh Foam X Vongo v5 (maximum cushioned stability trainer) - The more cushioned, more advanced medial posted stability shoe for New Balance, the Vongo uses a unique gradient posting system that is slightly less intrusive than the 860. The Vongo is the most cushioned stability offering in the New Balance line.
FuelCell Prism v2 (lightweight stability trainer) - The Prism offers a smaller medial post for stability runners with mild needs. It blends a firmer, but versatile FuelCell foam that provides stability users a faster, lighter everyday training option.

Trail Shoes from New Balance Running
Fresh Foam X More Trail (maximum cushioned daily trainer) - A very high stacked trail offering that provides a very protective ride for longer distances
Hierro v7 (everyday trail and hiking) - A moderate stack height trail runner that also doubles for comfortable hiking.


One of our Favorites, the Fresh Foam More v4
Our New Balance Recommendations to Try

Best High Cushion, Highly Stable, Non-Stability Shoe: Fresh Foam X More v4
(An excellent, well-fitting design provides a stable base for all the Fresh Foam X foam underneath)

Best Beginner Trainer: 880v13

(One of the staple beginner running shoes not just for New Balance, but for the industry with it's friendly fit and no-frills ride)

Best Workout Trainer: FuelCell Rebel v3
(Light, soft, and versatile is the name of the game with the Rebel, one of favorite nonplated shoes in the entire running market for workouts)

Best Long Run (I want to try all the technology): FuelCell SC Elite v3
(A comfortable design that has great long running comfort for a super shoe)


Have questions? Send us an email at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!


More Shoe Brand Guides

Beginner's Guide to Running Shoes: Are you a brand new runner and unsure where to start? Visit this guide first to get started.
Stability Shoe Resource Page: Our comprehensive guide to stability shoes and alternatives for neutral runners as well
Carbon Fiber Plated Shoes Resource Page: Want to go as fast as possible for race day? Visit this page for all of our super shoe reviews
Guide to Walking Shoes: Featuring some science behind walking and the best running shoes for walking based on our everyday testing and clinical experience working with patients.
Getting the Right Fit: Unsure if your shoe fits? Visit this page to help you determine how to find the right shoe for your feet. Comfort is one of the most important things we emphasize at Doctors of Running before you get out the door and on the road. Sometimes the right shoe for you is not what works for many others. That is why it is important to try different shoes when you can to get a better understanding of works best for your needs.
Beginner's Guide to Nutrition/Hydration: Guest writer Jennifer Giles (Registered Dietitan/Nutritionist) helps bring a new guide for fueling to Doctors of Running as part of our summer hydration series.
Ultimate Guide to Hydration Products for Runners: We review 10+ hydration products that may help you on your running adventure.
Best Affordable Running Shoes: We compiled a list of the most affordable options you can find in the market today. Updated monthly.


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