Though we might forget about them in the intervals between shoe launches, running shoe innovation teams are continuously striving to create products that further the sport we love, and meeting with some of the key players behind those technological advances can be quite a treat. Last week I sat down with multiple members of the New Balance Innovation Studio to get an inside look at how their team is researching and developing some of the next big advances in running technology. Put simply, this group makes cool shoes happen.
Through the course of our conversations I came to appreciate just how unwilling the New Balance team is to remain stagnant in their pursuit of the best possible product, and while this is a sentiment shared by many, if not all, running shoe designers, the level of commitment displayed by the New Balance team is of note. As an example, a number of the elite New Balance distance runners at the USATF National Championships last month were wearing a not-yet-released model of the popular LD5000 spike. What many, including myself, didn’t know is that the LD5000 updates are designed with input from those same elite athletes, meaning that the spike is being specifically engineered to aid those seeking to run as fast as humanly possible. While this arrangement makes logical sense, not all brands take advantage of the valuable feedback that athletes can generate.
And the pursuit of excellence doesn’t end there, as designers at New Balance went so far as to create a unique upper specifically for Emma Coburn, the national champion in the Women’s 3000m Steeple Chase. Attention to detail can give an athlete the edge that they need, and this team is meticulous in all the right ways. The benefit for the rest of us is highly specialized footwear that can help any individual seeking their peak performance.
Furthermore, the team’s never-settle mentality extends to all of their products, not just those that are used by elite athletes. During the tour I got a sneak peak at several completely new shoe models as well as a few of the new technologies that the studio is developing. The highlights of these upcoming technologies include a new style of upper as well as a unique take on the supportive midsole. I am only allowed to say so much, and there’s still a lot I don’t know. So, like you, I eagerly await further developments from this inventive team.
Will has been running competitively since high school and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.