Wearable Story: New Balance Fresh Foam Running Shoes

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I chose a wearable to research that I use every day here at Harvard. I run for the Track team here, and everyday I run in New Balance trainers, specifically the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3’s. From 1906 to 1960, New Balance only made arch supports and other footwear accessories under the name “New Balance Arch Support Company,” but when the original owner sold the company to his daughter and her husband, who then created “The Trackster,” the first running shoe with a “ripple sole.” The evolution of the modern running shoe is traced back to Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, who crafted running shoes in his garage using a waffle iron. These specific shoes I chose are a part of the Fresh Foam family, a project undertaken by New Balance in 2013 with the goal of designing a better fitting and feeling running shoe using empirical data from professional runners to aid in their creation. As the fundamental science behind running economy became clearer and there emerged a consensus opinion on how a distance runner should run, New Balance arguably led the charge (along with Saucony) with their line of Fresh Foam shoes. They allowed for a more efficient midfoot strike, and a wider toe box so that the toes can spread and flex upon impact with the running surface. The NB Fresh Foam Zante v3 has a bootie construction – the mesh upper is attached to the rubber outsole via a no-sew application – minimizing “hot spots” or areas that might induce blisters. The shoe has neutral cushioning with a fairly aggressive 6mm heel-toe drop. This design would be for runners who don’t significantly under or over pronate (a pivoting of the ankle inwards or outwards upon impact of the foot on the ground). The shoes also boast a weight of only 8.8 ounces.

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