First off today, I just want to take a minute and say thank you for your incredibly supportive comments on my Boston Marathon post. You guys blew me away with the words of encouragement, and I really appreciate all of you taking the time to do that.
With the time I would have spent writing a weekend link post yesterday, I chose instead to respond to as many of the comments as I could. I wasn’t able to respond to all 100 or so of them, but I’m trying to make more time for this sort of thing, so please keep it up!
Thanks again. Onto the review, and a giveaway I know you’ll like.
I have a problem
At first, it was just something I tried because it seemed like fun. But it felt good, so I did it again. And again. And now I don’t know if I can stop.
Okay, here we go. This is hard to admit in public, but…
I am addicted to buying brand new shoes and wearing them to races. And I don’t just mean a fresh pair of the shoes I’ve trained in — I mean brand new shoes, models I’ve never even tried before the race.
- On the way up to the Vermont 50 last fall, my friends and I stopped at the Adidas outlet. I had never worn Adidas, but I fell in love with a pair of adiZero trail shoes. Two days later, I ran 30 miles in them before switching to road shoes for the last 20 miles of the race.
- Then a month after that, at the Marine Corps Marathon, I was seduced by the Brooks tent at the expo and walked out with a pair of the Green Silence. The next day, I ran the marathon in them.
- And last week, at the Boston Marathon, I tried out a brand new pair of New Balance Badelley 890’s. I didn’t actually buy this pair; New Balance was nice enough to send me them to review. And even better, one for you to win!
Why, why, why?
Maybe it’s a backlash.
For years, I tread very carefully when it came to marathons — I took every precaution and tested everything beforehand, just to make sure there were no surprises on race day. Oh yeah, and I prayed that nothing went catastrophically awry during the race, when it seemed like even the slightest equipment malfunction could leave me with a something bleeding that you really don’t want bleeding. Or a nutrition mistake that could turn the race into a 26.2-mile Porta Pot tour.
But as you do more and more races, you start to learn that you’re not that fragile. And the more long runs you do, the easier they seem to get, even when you’re not in peak condition.
Maybe that’s a mental thing, maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s both. If you’re new to running, this probably seems hard to imagine, but I bet some others will back me up here.
My wife hates this habit of mine, as well she should. It’s stupid — maybe it’s my very lame attempt at thrill-seeking. But for now, the sky hasn’t fallen as a result of my wearing new shoes to races.
My defense is that this way, I’m assured of maximizing the amount of cushioning left in my shoes. And the shoes I’m reviewing today offered plenty of that.
New Balance Baddeley 890 Review (+ Giveaway)
Over the past two years or so, like a lot of runners I’ve gotten away from heavy, clunky shoes in favor of something more minimalist — even if not to the extent of doing all my runs in Vibram Five Fingers or even completely barefoot.
I’ve settled on the Brooks Green Silence, and been very happy with that compromise between cushioning and feel.
So I was little skeptical about the New Balance 890’s since they do, in fact, fall into the “neutral cushioning” category. And that means a thick sole, especially at the heel, which is exactly what I noticed when I first walked around in them.
The difference, though, is the weight. The 890’s weigh in at only 9.65 ounces (roughly the weight of an apple), thanks to the REVlite material that makes up the midsole. And that makes them the lightest shoe of their kind. (Significantly heavier, though, than racing flat type shoes like the Green Silence.)
New Balance’s aim here was a shoe that’s lightweight, but durable and cushioned enough for everyday training.
I like this description New Balance wrote about the 890’s: “a new experience suited to runners not necessarily in search of something closer to barefoot, or even the podium, but rather a lighter, more invigorating take on the running experience they already love.”
So how did I like them?
I must say I was surprised to really, really like these shoes. It’s been a while since I’ve run in anything this cushioned, and I’m not gonna lie — the cushioning felt good. So did the weight, and so did the upper of the shoe, which softly and seamlessly hugged my foot in a cozier manner than what I’ve grown accustomed to with the Green Silence. And the lacing system is much better.
My one complaint about the 890’s is that the toe box isn’t very big. My toes felt sort of jammed into the shoe, not front-to-back, but laterally. It wasn’t really noticeable once I started running, though I did develop small blisters on the second toe of each foot, which doesn’t happen in shoes with a larger toe box.
By the end of the marathon, my feet still felt great (much better than my quads, after hammering 15 miles of downhill to start the race), and I’ll attribute this to the substantial cushioning, after I’ve been training in less-cushioned shoes for well over a year now.
Oh yeah, and they look pretty sweet.
Will the 890’s become my everyday trainer?
I’m at a crossroads here. One one hand, it was really nice to run with cushioning again. But the barefooters will tell you that’s deceptive — by letting you land hard on your heel without pain, cushioned shoes set you up for injury (they’ll say).
But consider another take on it, from someone with just a tiny bit of credibility — when I got the chance to run with Scott Jurek last weekend, he said something interesting about barefooting that I took note of.
I don’t have an exact quote, but what he said was something to this extent:
Just because you’re not wearing minimalist shoes or running barefoot, doesn’t mean you can’t still be conscious of your form. If you can run with proper form and still lessen the force of your impact with cushioning, you’re getting the best of both worlds. (For the record, Scott does some barefoot training but not every day. He said he likes to run barefoot around the inside of a track after a speed workout, for example.)
With that in mind, I’m happy with the Green Silence as my compromise. But on days when I want something just a little more forgiving of my sometimes-heelstrikes, the New Balance 890’s will be it.
More info, and your chance to win a pair!
You can check out New Balance’s website for some more specs that I’ve left out of this post, or check out the reviews on Amazon (my affiliate link). Also, they’ve got a few promotional videos that are sort of fun, like one where they show how 13 helium balloons can carry the shoe away.
The New Balance 890’s retail for $100, but guess what? If you leave a comment on this post between now and next Monday, May 2, you could win a pair when I select one lucky winner at random!
To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Leave me something good, like an opinion on the whole minimalist vs. cushioned debate, or what you think of the promo videos. Or something else, just not, “I want them and you vegetarians are weird.”
And I’ll tell you what. Since this is a pretty cool prize, you can get a bonus entry if you share this post on Facebook and let me know that you did in your comment. So for those of you who are still staunchly anti-Twitter, this is your time to shine.
Alright, that’s it. Share this post on Facebook, leave a comment, and you’ll have two chances to win a pair of these shoes that I really like.
Thanks to New Balance for sponsoring the review and giveaway.