Why an Olympic Runner Keeps 6 Pairs of These Versatile New Balance Shoes in Her Closet

Photo: New Balance
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When you notice the same running shoe popping up all over your social media feeds, and on the feet of several runners in your community, you gotta figure they're offering something pretty great. Recently, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 seemed to be nearly everywhere I looked, with pretty unanimous love coming from all kinds of runners. Personally, I’d previously tried last year’s model and honestly didn't love them. They were full of cushion, sure, but to me, it felt like strapping pillows to my feet; I just sunk into them with each step, with almost no bounce. But when I saw so many people singing the praises of the newest version, I decided to check them out for myself.

When I reached out to New Balance, they told me it’s not just everyday, amateur runners who love this shoe. Gabby Thomas, a 26-year-old runner sponsored by New Balance who won bronze in the 200 meters and silver as part of the women's 4×100 meter relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is also a major fan. So I hopped on a call with her to find out why.

“I tell people: 'If there's one shoe in your closet, this should be the one,'” Thomas tells me. That’s because of how versatile it is, she explains. So much so that she keeps six pairs in different colors in her closet. She wears them for her daily walks with her dog, Rico, and to keep her feet comfy on long travel days. She also straps them on to head out on easy runs or for warmups before her track workouts, and even for the longer tempo runs she does during her training for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 — $165.00

Colors: 6
Sizes: W 5-13/M 7-16
Widths: narrow, standard, wide, extra Wide
Heel-to-toe drop: 6 mm
Weight: 7.3 oz


  • Lightweight cushion with great bounce
  • Versatile enough for many kinds of runs and walking
  • Offered in four widths


  • All that cushioning comes in a very thick sole

Why this shoe?

“The soft cushioning I think is a really special and unique part of it,” Thomas says, pointing out that the Fresh Foam midsole is both soft and lightweight while still offering great energy return. “So I can do my longer runs more comfortably, and it has a forefoot stiffness that adds a stability piece.”

Having also worn previous versions of the Fresh Foam X 1080, she points out that this latest model has added stability and structure in the forefoot, offering “a good ratio of softness and stiffness.”

I’ve now taken my pair of the 1080v13s for multiple test runs over the last month, and have noticed the mix of cushion and bounce is really well-balanced—there’s no sinking feeling. They're plush for sure, but my feet just feel light, and lightly supported in them. And they have exactly what I was missing in the last version: a nice kick that propels me into the next step.

Maybe most impressively, they're super comfy at a range of speeds. Their soft support makes them an obvious choice for easy runs, but they have enough energy return to perform well when I want to pick up the pace, too. And for just walking around the neighborhood, they feel so natural on my feet I barely notice they're there.

I’ve recently been fighting off some plantar fasciitis, and while I've noticed that certain running shoes make it flare up, I never have a problem with these. A friend with shin splints who wears the 180v13s for her walking commutes around New York City tells me they also keep her shins from aching when she's racking up miles on the sidewalk.

Thomas mentions that because of her high arches and narrow feet, she usually needs to wear insoles in most running shoes, but she gets by just fine in these without adding one in. It helps that these come in four different widths so you can get a snug fit no matter your foot shape.

I ask Thomas who exactly she’d recommend these shoes to. “They're for anybody at any level, [no matter] what distance you run, what pace, how often you run, it doesn't matter,” she says. While some running shoes have a specific purpose, these sneaks are great for just about anything you’re looking for.

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