I felt like I was back in school again when I attended the New Balance Asia Pacific Tech Summit in Hong Kong, last March 1 & 2, 2010. But, this time, we spent two full days on my favorite topic: RUNNING GEAR. New Balance apparel and shoes, to be exact.
NEW BALANCE: THE COMPANY
New Balance is the No. 2 overall athletic footwear in the US. It is No. 3 running brand in the US. It’s actually the only athletic company still making shoes in the US.
MORE THAN JUST MOISTURE-WICKING
Shane Downey from New Balance U.S. gave us a background on the apparel of New Balance. Apparently, the New Balance apparel system varies from fabrication, construction and technology. Finally, I understood the meaning behind the various hangtags attached to NB apparel, such as X-static, Cocona, Icefil, and Lightning Dry, to name a few.
I used to think that one should just make sure that apparel was moisture-wicking, but it’s good to check if your tops and bottoms are also: thermodynamic (keeps you cool when it’s hot and keeps you warm when it’s cold), hydrophobic (moisture-managing), anti-wind, anti-odor, UV-protection, and more. (Told you I learned a lot!)
SHOES AND FEET 101
Kellie Pidgeon, the regional tech representative from New Balance Australia, who is also a podiatrist, discussed the Total Fit concept of New Balance. She taught us how to measure our feet using the Brannock device and determine the perfect shoe fit for a runner. (Coming soon: a post on all my learnings about shoes)
Using me as an example, she also demonstrated how to do gait analysis using their software and also elaborated on the five common injuries for runners (a topic I was very familiar with!)
This session was an eye-opener. It educated me not just on the importance of choosing the right model, but also how to ensure that it’s the perfect fit. A half size too loose or too tight can spell blisters, dead toe nails, or worse injury during a long run. In running, where we take hundreds or thousands of steps per session, the role of the shoe in our performance is key!
NEW BALANCE COMPRESSION+
New Balance’s Compression +, NB’s new compression gear which can be comparable to the technology behind Skins and other leading brands for compression tights was also introduced. This will be available in Manila. Price TBA.
As a believer in compression tights, I am very familiar with other popular brands. I noticed that NB compression tights is thinner and lighter than CW-X; material is as stretchable as 2XU. Colors so far are black with red lining and beige. We were told that based on NB scientific research, the effectiveness of NB compression+ is similar, if not better, than Skins, considered to be the market leader.
Here’s John, a cyclist and runner (a Comrades Marathon finisher), from NB South Africa who tested the NB Compression+ during the HK Marathon the day before. Beside him is Kelly…
NB’S TOTAL FIT
Shane, an obvious NB shoe and apparel expert, got all technical and discussed NB running shoes in more detail.
Despite the variety of models, he emphasized one thing: NB offers runners “Total Fit”, which means:
Proper size (NB like all other brands offers different shoe lengths)
Proper width (NB provides various widths: 2A, B, D, 2E, 4E, 6E etc)
Appropriate last (the foundation of the shoe which gives it volume and shape)
= TOTAL FIT.
NEW NB SHOES TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- New Balance 760 – Go To Stability (moderate stability). Thinner, softer materials. Welding instead of seams. Better heel to toe transition. New toe cap which has been rounded off.
- New Balance 1064 – High End Neutral cushioning shoe. Modernized upper and improved fit.
- New Balance 1012 – The Master of Control. Very stable, maximum support.
- New Balance 740 – Good priced stability shoe. Little brother of the NB 760.
- New Balance 759 – Go to Neutral shoe. New toe cap. Softer materials, softer rubber bottom.
- New Balance 1226 – Premium Stability. More stable than 1225. Excellent heel cushioning.
- New Balance 870 (Q4 2010) – Lightweight Stability. Small medial post provides a little bit of guidance. Low to the ground.
* Thank you to Anton Gonzales and Bing Buenaventura of New Balance/ Planet Sports for sponsoring the HK trip.