Product Review: New Balance MT10v1 and WT10v1
By Josh Kudo, Century Fitness Trainer and Wellness Advisor
It’s back! After scouring the internet for years to find the few remaining original New Balance minimal trail running shoes, the Men’s Trail version 1 was rebooted this last Spring. I have been a super-fan of this shoe since the first time I saw them and had a pair in rotation for close to seven years. So, what makes them so special for me as an athlete and trainer? I’m going to break it all down for you in this Century Fitness product review.
Firstly, this is a minimalist shoe. Shoes of this kind were very popular some years ago, mostly made famous then infamous by Vibram Five Fingers. What this means is, this shoe does not give you any kind of support when you run because it puts the onus of shock attenuation and support back on your own system. The philosophy is that your foot and ankle are already perfect for running and all you really need is a layer of rubber between your soft sole and any stray acorns or rocks. As far as I know, the MT10/WT10 (“W” for Women’s) was New Balance’s first iteration of their Minimus line several years ago.
Next, this shoe is just plain designed well. From a biomechanical standpoint it offers everything you could want in a trail shoe. The sole is knobby enough to dig into any kind of terrain. The toe box is nice and wide and allows for your forefoot to splay out when you contact the ground. Weight is controlled by limiting structural supports to the bare minimum throughout the upper; a metatarsal bridge to prevent metatarsal head injury through and a heel cup that prevents the shoe from sucking off your foot should you step in mud. There is a raised lip in the middle border of the shoe’s sole designed to help your big toe clear when you’re swing leg is in mid-swing over the ground. Everything on this shoe is double stitched and high-quality material. Finally, and this is a big one, the tongue is secured right up to the top of the shoes. This means that when your run the tongue won’t slide over and create pressure points anywhere on the top of your foot.
From a biomechanical standpoint, I have not seen a shoe better designed for minimal style running. The design also makes it the best looking minimal shoe I’ve seen. From a trainer stand point, I would be careful to recommend this shoe to any runner who is not experienced in midfoot or forefoot strike running. One of the big things that turned the minimalist shoe “fad” around was that people were injuring themselves when they thought they could go about running like business as usual. These kinds of shoes require a different set of running techniques and a slow building up of the muscles around the foot and ankle. I would really like to caution you here. If you want to use them for lifting, go for it, they are great in the squat rack. If you want to use them as an intro to barefoot running, great, just ease yourself into it.