First Run New Balance Fuel Cell Propel – RunLog 11/9/19

Another first run in a pair of new shoe – the New Balance Fuel Cell Propel.

Short review that says it all – me likey.

I have been searching all year for a pair of daily trainers that I can run longer distances in comfortably on and off for most of the year. The closest shoes have been the New Balance Beacons versions 1 and 2, but they have been just a bit too firm when I get into the double digit range.

Since September I have tried several bands/models, but they all had fatal flaws that made them not work for me.

As usual the other night I was wandering around the internet and had a price alert on a pair of New Balance Propels at almost 50% off on Amazon. I didn’t immediately get them, I did a lot of reading different reviews (all pretty much positive) about the Propel, searched to see if there were better deals and then went back and forth between getting an 8.0 and 8.5.

Finally, after thinking about it arguing with myself about the pros and cons, how much trouble I would get in with the wife and did I really need yet another pair of running shoes. I decided to go ahead and just do it. They came in yesterday afternoon.

This morning I went through my new shoe ritual which means I inspected them closely for flaws, weighed them and wore them around the house for a while to see if they fit and felt like something that I wanted to keep.

They felt great, my size 8.0 fit like most other New Balance size 8.0’s tend to so they are pretty much true to size.

Saturday’s are my longer run day, but it was also pretty chilly out there first thing this morning for Bennie’s wake-up me up walk at 14*F with a light breeze. Luckily for me by the time I got out the door it was almost upta freezing and the the sun was shining.

A photo from Bennie’s 2.0 mile walk before my run

Planned Workout Description: I figured that I would head towards Goodhue and if the Propels began to bother, I could just turn around. Also today’s run was not about running faster, it was about putting longer miles on the legs.

• Day: Saturday

• Type of Workout: Longer Run

• Course: Goodhue Road 7.0 miler

• Distance: 7.0

• Duration: 1:04:18

• Pace: 9:11

• Clothes: Adidas running pants, Reebok compression shorts, Reebok black tech s/s tee, Adidas orange tech l/s tee, Brooks running jacket, Nike running vest, Saucony Beanie, Nike ball cap and running mittens.

Yeah, it was a little overkill, but I was not cold.

• Rating (1-4): 2

• Running Streak Day #: 16

• Weather: Clear/Sunny, 33*F feels like 27*F, humidity 47%, Wind 6 mph SW

Variables that impacted the run: First run new shoes, chilly, left hip and glute tight at first, left instep a bit of a nuisance, but went away

Comments: I ran most of the run comfortably at an easy pace, where if I had been running with someone else I could have maintained a nice conversation. Even though I wanted to push the pace a few times, but pulled back on the reins pretty quickly. I am attempting to be more disciplined on my runs and not overdo the workout.

Today, I was able to do that, whereas in the past I would have tested my new shoes a little differently than a comfortable longer run.

This getting older thing does have some advantages, i.e. I am not quite as impulsive most of the time.

Shoes: Mileage: New Balance Fuel Cell Propel (7.0) – They did quite nicely for a first run and a longer one at that. No hot spots, blisters, soreness caused by the shoes during or after the run. Which is gratifying. The Propels felt nicely cushioned but firm enough that if I wanted to I could pick up the pace pretty easily.

However, the Propels do not feel like a fast shoe, but they are definitely a comfortable shoe. Which is exactly what I am looking for. I have other shoes that I can run faster in or have more snap, but I need/want and maybe found a pair that will not bother my hard to please feet for daily trainer and long run duties.

I am not going to get my hopes too high, but it would be nice to finally have found something that freaking actually works the way I want, especially for longer runs. That running in discomfort or pain stuff, just takes all the joy out of the runs.

The other part is that the outsole is perfect for where I will be doing most of my runs. A nice multipurpose one that will grip in bad weather, light snow, a little slime (mud) or non technical trails.

Very good first impressions.

How did this run move me towards my goal(s)? I have been searching for that elusive daily trainer that is light, cushioned, comfortable, able to run on multiple surfaces and not break the bank, for it seems like forever.

About the only thing I would change is to make the toe box more rounded like the Beacons. It wasn’t an issue, but I could feel my big toe pushing slightly against the toe box at times.

I don’t know if I have found the beast in the New Balance Fuel Cell Propel, but this was the kind of first run that I have been imagining for quite a while.

Cardio Total: 4.22

Weight: 156 A/R

Going Backwards to Move Forward

Okay, sometimes I am an idiot, but really I attempt to do some things to improve my running. Like even when I find a running shoe that works great for me, I still go looking on the other side to see if the next “great” shoe is just a little better.

It often gets me in trouble.

This week my right foot has been giving me issues in all the road shoes I have been running in since my injury while walking or running. Except for the pair of old running shoes that I had “retired” to being lawn shoes. Well I mowed the lawn and the frontage along the road in those old lawn shoes again this week and guess what…they didn’t bother my right foot.

Mmmm Houston what is going on?

Getting back to today’s run. This morning I drove into Waterville to do a little longer run planning to wear my current primary road shoe. I brought along my lawn shoes to put on after the run, that old gotta change out of the hot, sweaty mess I become after a hot July run. However, just driving the 20 minutes to the Planet Fitness parking lot my right foot was not comfortable.

I got out of the truck frigged around with my socks, but each time the foot didn’t feel right. At that point I wasn’t going to run 7.0 or so miles knowing that my right foot was already feeling discomfort from the shoes.

Yep, just a bit frustrated!!!

I was getting back in the truck and was going to bag the workout and go home to sulk. When I remembered that I had my old lawn shoes with me. They looked like crap, from mowing the lawn several times in them, but hey they couldn’t feel any worse than the other shoes did.

I put on my old New Balance Beacon v1 with over 300 miles on them.

Yeah, the Beacons.

It was almost as though when I put them on my foot relaxed and began to loosen up. The first mile was a bit tough, they do have a different gait than my Salomon’s, but after that I figured things out. Once I did the foot was happy and didn’t complain the rest of the run!!!

My pacing without really pushing the effort level was sub-9:00’s even with the temps at Fred’s Coffee saying it was 83*F in the sun, while when I was able to find shade, it was much nicer with a good breeze.

I did have to pit stop at the Colby Fieldhouse and while in there got a drink of water, which helped a lot on how the body was feeling.

The only thing that I didn’t like was at about 4.0 miles there was this sound like someone was coming up from behind me. I had just finished coming up the hill from Colby heading towards McDonalds, so I figured that it was one of the Colby students getting ready to fly by. I may have picked up the speed a little to hold them off.

It was really strange though because whoever it was was holding steady right behind me or so I thought. So at that point I looked back and no one was there???? WTFO is going on here???

I stopped for a second to look around and no one was there. A bit creepy to say the least!!!

I started running again and after about 10 steps the sound like someone was behind me again. I stopped and looked back and no one was there. Really creepy.

I began again and kept running and the sound was back. At that point I figured it was something in the waist pouch I was wearing bouncing around and stopped worrying about it. It kept up all the way to the Lincoln Street Hill, where I stopped because it was bugging the hell out of me and took the belt off to see in the world was bouncing around like that.

The running belt was in my hand and I took a step and the sound happened when stepped off again. It was the outsole of the shoes making a suction cup kind of sound when I would take a step.

Weird as hell!!!

The Beacons did this the rest of the way to the finish, it was annoying, but with how great my feet were feeling, I am not going to complain about something as minor as an annoying sound being made during my run. However, the old body by the time I got back down on First Rangeway was getting tired and even though I know that it has more of hill than you think, I slowed down pretty good on it.

Yeah, the heat and first time back to this distance kind of got me towards the end.

However, my right foot by the end of the run was very happy and not complaining about being uncomfortable or hurting from having to run through discomfort to finish a run. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Beacons will stay unretired for a while.

All I know is that it felt damned good to be able to run without discomfort or pain in that right foot for the first time in over a month. I didn’t bother to change shoes, the hot, sweaty mess on my feet was more comfortable than putting back on the other shoes.

Good run and yeah, sometimes you gotta go backwards to move forward.

I have a feeling that a pair of Beacon 2s will show up next week as a birthday present from Bennie, now to figure out if the old Beacons will last until August 6th. I think they have another 100 or so miles left in them. If not…well we will see. 😉

New Balance Beacon – 50 Mile Review

At some point after all the hype and hoopla dies down about a new pair of running shoes, I finally get around to getting a pair to see what all the hootin and hollering was about.

Last summer I heard a lot about how great the New Balance Beacons were from a variety of sources, but unfortunately New Balance running shoes have historically not been a match made in heaven for me and I was skeptical that the Beacons would be any different.

However, all the reviews of the Beacons indicated that these were not your usual New Balance running shoes and so when I figured out that I needed a shoe with a little more forefoot cushioning and Running Warehouse had a closeout sale on exactly the Beacon colorway that I wanted – I bought them. Which definitely means that all the comments made in this post are my own and not influenced by any commercial interests.

Short Version

I love the Beacons.

They have performed well and were comfortable on all the runs that I have done in them.

As can be seen I have primarily used them for the exact reason I got them – the treadmill. I have done quarter mile repeats at sub 7:00 paces, shorter tempo/race pace runs, fast strides – sub 6:30, an outside 10K and a 10.5 mile long run outside.

I cannot ask any more of a pair of shoes and know that I will be using them for more than just treadmill miles going forward, especially after feeling great for that 10+ miler.

Which does mean that I will be buying another pair of Beacons for my rotation when these do wear out – I cannot give a pair of shoe any higher recommendation than that.

Long Version.

Okay, you know that I like the Beacons – a lot.

So what did New Balance do this time that was so impressive to me.

Instead of attempting to add unnecessary bells, whistles, technologies and features – New Balance focused on keeping the Beacons simple and from where I sit focused on being shoes that are no fuss, no muss and are fun to run in.

It does help that the Beacons came in at 6.9 ounces for my men’s size 8.0, have 26/20 stack heights for plenty of cushioning, used a Fresh Foam derivative innovatively and designed a simple “looking”, but comfortable upper that doesn’t get in the way when you are running.

From my first run to my most recent one, the Beacons have been a put them on, tie them up, go run and focus on the run, not how the shoes are doing, except that after the run is over, you think about how great they felt during the run.

The Bad

When I am running at a sub 6:30 (yeah I can still do it for a short ways) pace, they don’t feel quite firm enough and I would prefer the Adios 3s, if I could maintain that pace for a race. Since I don’t run that fast for any kind of distance at this point, I prefer the protection that the Beacons provide for most everything else. Not really a bad thing for me, but for some faster runners it might be a consideration.

When the temps are below 20*F I noticed that the midsole is definitely firmer than when it is warmer. Not quite rock hard, but the cold does affect the midsole’s cushioning properties.

The Good

The Beacons are comfortable. I have had zero issues with blisters, hot spots, them bothering my balky Tailor’s Bunionette or finicky Plantar Fascia (which has historically been a problem with New Balance running shoes and my left foot).

Almost Ninja quiet (they compare to the GoRun Ride 2s in this respect). I can usually tell when a shoe is working with how I run by the amount of slap or heel drag that occurs. No issues with the Beacon here.

Outsole wear has been next to none after more than 50 miles, which surprised me, since there is very little material besides the midsole there. Most of my miles have been on the treadmill, which usually tears up shoes for me, but the Beacons have done well. Although I will be interested in seeing how the wear is on the dirt road down-back after mud season is over and things dry up.

The upper on the Beacons is understated (which I like), with just the New Balance “N”s as overlays. All the extras and other nonsense that New Balance and other brands tend put on too many of their shoes just isn’t there on the Beacons and is in my opinion addition by subtraction.

The cushioning on this edition of Fresh Foam is just right – firm enough to want to run fast in them, but soft enough that running long is not an issue either. I wanted a shoe for the treadmill that had low weight and higher forefoot stack height. In this regard they do as others have said remind me a little of the original Hoka Clifton, but with a more refined feel to them and definitely a more comfortable fit for me, especially in the forefoot.

The reality is that

I may have found my Cinderella shoes.

As usual I am behind the popularity curve and most everyone has moved on to the next great thing in running shoes. The Beacons had their moment in the sun and there was a good reason for it – they are a great running shoe.

What is the Beacon best at? It depends on what kind of runner you are and the kinds of paces you typically run. For a younger and/or faster runner they are a great long tempo, easy run shoe. For the slower and older (like me), they could be a 5K or longer race day shoe, that does well on faster training runs or even just using them for daily easy runs.

I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t want to do too many trail runs in them or head outside in crappy weather, there just isn’t enough outsole there to provide good grip, although they pleasantly surprised me in wet, slushy conditions at about 20*F with how well they did.

Honestly, I when I got the Beacons I was not expecting them to “Wow” me as much as they have. I was extremely happy with my adidas Tempo 9s and didn’t think any shoe was going to supplant them anytime soon as my favorite rotation shoes. However, I when I look at my running log since I got the Beacons I don’t see too many other shoes being worn and I look forward to running in them.

Like I said, when these wear out I will be buying another pair, I like them that much and I can’t give any pair of running shoes any higher rating.

New Balance, you done good and finally provided me a pair of running shoes that I love.