By Jason Lee

The 880v4 is the latest update to the popular neutral running shoe from New Balance. This shoe can accommodate all types of runners, from the first-timer to the seasoned pro looking for a durable cushioned ride. Although there are not many changes in this update from the 880v3, there are some key changes that will warrant both the novice and the serious runner taking a closer look.

Some of the key features include a 12mm drop, blown rubber outsole and breathable air mesh. New Balance further enhanced the cushioning by adding two layers of midsole foam, ABZORB cushioning closest to the ground and plush ACTEVA LITE against the foot. The dual midsole design will increase cushioning while keeping the weight down to a minimum. New Balance has also added the T-BEAM technology in the mid-foot to provide lightweight support for the mid-foot while the FantomFit upper allows the foot to sit in the shoe without feeling any sewn overlays. One of the minor changes is a redesigned circular outsole for a more flexible, responsive ride. Also, the bottom of the tongue has a neoprene base, which makes adjusting the tongue easier.

Neutral runners will appreciate the 880v4 best on hard pavement, light trails and the treadmill. For the beginner walker/runner, the 880v4 is perfect for both daily training and race day. With its lightweight construction and full 12mm drop, any runner looking for a solid neutral trainer will be very pleased with the 880v4s. All the new updates for 2014 will continue to make the 880v4 the dominating neutral workhorse in the New Balance line-up.

More aggressive trail runners might want to opt for the new 980 Fresh Foam Trail shoes with a tighter weave upper and a more aggressive outsole. For the more advanced runner, I recommend either the Fresh Foam or the 1600. Both have a lower heel-to-toe drop; and, in the case of the 1600, the shoe is noticeably lighter as well.

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Jason Lee has been the general manager of New Balance Charlotte for 11 years and has 14 years of combined athletic retail management experience. His certifications include ProCare Fit Specialist, Master Fit Specialist, ProFit Specialist and Fit Tech Specialist.