Finding the perfect pair of running shoes isn’t easy. Most runners will go through multiple brands and a plethora of shoes before finding the perfect match. And once you’ve found a pair of shoes that you love, you’ll probably stick with them, replacing them with the same pair, or the newer version from the same manufacturer.
For the past three years or so, I’ve been running in Asics shoes – as each pair wore out, I replaced them with another pair of Asics shoes with the same characteristics. As an overpronator my choices are limited, and finding a shoe that’s both comfortable and supportive enough isn’t easy – hence sticking with the devil I know.
So when I was asked if I’d like to try a pair of New Balance shoes I was a little hesitant – not because I didn’t rate New Balance shoes, but more because it had taken me a good while to find shoes that I was happy with. But since I was just about to retire the pair of Asics shoes I was using, it seemed like as good a time as any to break the mould.
I’m not the easiest of customers when it comes to running shoes – after decades of martial arts training, my knees and ankles aren’t in the best shape and my overpronation can lead to nasty shin and ankle problems if I don’t get enough support. Oh, and let’s not forget that if the arch support is too hard I end up with blisters on the edges of my feet. Like I said, not an easy customer.
I explained all this to New Balance in the hope that the supplied shoes would tick all the right boxes. What I received was a pair of New Balance 1260v6 running shoes, which purported to offer stability and motion control specifically for overpronators – so far, so good.
The first thing I noticed about the 1260v6 shoes was how light they felt compared to my old Asics – in reality there’s only about 8g difference, but they feel much lighter when running. I also found the Asics standard width to be slightly too narrow, and had to go with the extra wide 2E fitting. These 1260v6 shoes are standard D fitting, yet feel comfortably snug, but not in any way tight or restrictive.
I run in Hilly Twin-Skin socks, which help to avoid blisters on my archers due to the extra support in the shoes, and even with these relatively thick socks the fit remains comfortable. It is worth noting, however, that I was advised to go with half a size larger than I normally would – 8 ½ instead of 8 in my case – which turned out to be spot on.
First impressions after lacing these babies up was that the arch support felt far softer than I’m used to – this raised alarm bells. Although this made the 1260v6s feel even more comfortable when standing or strolling around, things could be very different 5k or 10k down the road. I therefore set off on my first run with a degree of trepidation.
Surprisingly I completed that first run and everything felt fine – there wasn’t even any sign of “new shoe syndrome” whereby it sometimes takes a few runs to break in a new pair of shoes. I’m not sure how New Balance has done it, but despite the softer, more compliant feel to the support in this shoe, stability and control doesn’t appear to have been compromised in any way.
I’ve completed about a dozen runs in these shoes now ranging from 5k to around 12k – nothing major, but more than enough to tell me that the support and comfort levels are exemplary.
I’ve also run on a variety of surfaces, from road and pavement to gravel fire roads and forest trails, and the level of grip and consequent confidence they deliver is very impressive. The cushioning – especially when running on trails, given that these are not trail specific shoes – is extremely good. My feet are well protected from sharp stones and gnarly tree roots when I’m unable to avoid landing on them, too.
So are these shoes perfect? Well to answer that question you first need to accept that something as subjective as running shoes can only be considered perfect for the person evaluating them – even if I thought they were perfect, they’d only be perfect for me.
And are they perfect for me? It’s too soon to tell, but things are looking good for the 1260v6s so far. If there’s one slight annoyance, it’s that the laces are a tad short; but then it’s a very fine line between too short and too long when it comes to laces.
For now I’m enjoying my runs with these new shoes, and assuming no niggles, aches or pains develop over time, I could well stick with New Balance when I eventually retire them.