Choosing a good quality shoe need not be expensive. The 681 from New Balance in an entry level running shoe that not only looks good, it also performs well.
Forefoot and rearfoot ABZORB® to soften the impact of road running
Compression-molded EVA for superior midsole cushioning and flexibility.
- Stability Web
Optimal arch support that’s both rigid and lightweight while preventing midfoot flex.
At first glance the 681 looks good and upon closer inspection you’ll notice the Abzorb cushioning is also placed in the forefoot area. The shape of its sole is also unique that it seems to aide forward movement especially for forefoot strike runners. You can’t really tell that it is an entry-level shoe until you’re reminded when you see the insole.
I tested this first walking a few kilometers to and from a nearby running specialty store and it passed with flying colors. The shoe fits well and it very comfortable. Cushioning was sufficient and is breathable enough. Things changed when I finally tested it for a seven kilometer test run—you immediately feel the slightly narrower front as you feel your fingers rub on its sides. Coming from Asics Kayano I can feel the difference with the cushioning which was sufficient although I wouldn’t recommend it for runs longer than 10K or exceeding an hour. It’s also not as bendable as other running shoes but it’s very negligible. On the good side though the slightly concaved shape of the front sole really aide runners with forefoot strike.
New Balance 681 is a very comfortable shoe that looks good and fits well. It provides good cushioning not just in the heel but also in the forefoot and it sole is shaped to aide forefoot runners. The narrow front may be its biggest fault making it unsuitable for long runs, but for casual use or easy runs it fits well. Overall this is a good shoe for those 5K or even 10K runs, or simply for just walking around. This shoe may have been designed for those who just started running and didn’t want to risk spending a huge sum, or those looking for some affordable everyday good trainers.