A Great Midfoot Strike Shoe - Chi Running

A Great Midfoot Strike Shoe

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Tue Aug 11th, 2009, 25 comments

Well, it had to happen. One of the best all-round running shoes has gone the way of the dodo bird. The New Balance 790 is no longer in production. I’ve been touting it’s attributes and urging anyone who would listen, to buy the shoe if they we’re serious about finding a shoe that was truly suited to the midfoot strike. It is without a doubt one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn…period.  It has a low profile. It’s extremely flexible throughout the length of the shoe. Its light weight makes it feel like little more than an extra layer of skin on my feet, yet there’s just enough cushioning to keep me from feeling the worst that any trail has to offer. What can I say, I love these shoes.

Ironically, it has also been one of NB’s most successful models ever, spanning the range of uses from a colorful, casual/style shoe to an all out trail racing flat. There are lots of other great midfoot strike shoes out there, but for whatever reason, this one hit the nail on the head.

I highly suggest that if we’d like to see NB continue producing this shoe, we should make a lot of noise about its “decommissioning” and email them to express our desire to see it continued.  Unfortunately, NB makes it very difficult to give feedback to them directly so I will give you the email address of a friend in their wear test department who is willing to gather your input. Please send your letters to: Ryan.Miller@newbalance.com

I’ll be reviewing other great shoes in future blogs, but I wanted to get the ball rolling on this one first.

BTW, these shoes are still available on most online running shoe sites and they range in price from $49-$79…a great deal.




  • midfoot strike,
  • running shoes,
  • racing flats,
  • trail racing,
  • performance shoes,
  • trail running shoes

25 CommentsLeave a comment below

The NB 790s are a great minimalist trail shoe.  Sad to see them going.  I heard they will be replaced by the NB 100 this Fall.  Maybe the NB 100s will be just as good?  We can hope!

Hi Chris,
I’ve been running on a pair of the T-100’s (the 790 replacement) and they’re a good shoe… slightly lighter than the 790, not as cushy (good or bad depending on who you are), much more breathable, thinner on the bottoms, different soles with slightly more aggressive traction. I’d say they’re even more of a racing flat than the 790’s. They feel flatter…if that’s even possible, and they have a thin but stiff layer of plastic under the forefoot that disperses the impact of landing on pointed rocks. All in all they’re a good shoe. I like them, but be warned that it’s more minimal than the 790.
They should hit the stores within the next few months, but NB needs to hear from wearers about how they like the shoe, or they won’t promote it to their account managers…and it could end up in the same place as the dodo bird.


You may also want to contact Roadrunnersports ceo.  they work with manufacturers to produce classic shoes and sell them on the site.

What about the Karhu Fast Fulcrum Ride?  Or Karhu shoes in general?

I have absolutely no experience with any of the Karhu shoes so I’ll reserve judgement until I can try on a pair…but for $114 I’d rather spend my money on a racing flat for 50-60% of the price of these.

I am seriously bummed about the de-commissioning of the 790, as my feet have finally found happiness after months of pain!  I’ve only been wearing the 790’s since June, but the impact on my pace and my overall running form has been so very positive.  I was almost to the point of ditching running shoes altogether before I bought a pair of 790’s.  I’ve already sent an email to your friend at New Balance and will now go and search for as many pairs of size 8 790’s that I can find!

Hi Danny,
I have been sidelined by a hamstring injury even though I have been running with the Chi method for over a year now.  Anyway, I was looking at getting a better shoe - more of a midfoot strike shoe and was looking at the Newton shoe and saw a link to your website.  I am glad to hear that there are alternatives to the pricey Newton shoe.  My one question on the New Balance shoe is can it accommidate orthotics?  Some of my running pals believe I am still have injury problems because I use my orthotics. Any thoughts on orthotics pros or cons would be appreciated.  Thanks - Chris

The 790 is a trail running shoe. Is there a similar running shoe well-suited to midfoot distance running?

Dear Mr. Dreyer,
do you have any comments about the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. There is a cult like following for these minimalist shoes. I will greatly appreciate your opinion. Thanks, Jawa

Yes, the Vibram FiveFingers are a great shoe, and for me, very comfortable. I even run trails in mine. I hear they’re coming out with a trail version called the Trek. So keep your eyes open for these.

If you run any distance in them I suggest you wear Injinji socks. they’re a perfect match for these great shoes.

Also, be warned! If you’re converting to these shoes, allow yourself LOTS of time to transition into running in them. I have a friend who has taken well over a year to work her way up to a half marathon in hers and she’s injury-free. Take your time getting used to these. Work up your mileage very slowly and you’ll be greatly rewarded for your persistence!


I use my 790’s for everything from track workouts to road marathons…and everything in between, including trails. I can’t say enough about them…except that you should email NB and tell them to get them back into the running shoe stores where they belong!


Hi Chris,
I’m not a doctor, but I will say this. There are times when orthotics work well to help someone heal from an injury, but I don’t believe that once the injury is fixed that you should continue to run with the orthotics. That being said, it is CRUCIAL that you work to correct the reason why your injury was caused in the first place. Because if you don’t fix the cause, you run the risk of repeating your injury. I have a difficult time believing that an orthotic will get rid of the cause of an injury…that’s up to you. So, you have a choice. You can work on your running technique to the point where the injury doesn’t recur, in which case you’ll eventually be able to toss your crutches, or you can wear orthotics for the rest of your running days. Either way works.

Thanks for the update, Danny.  When you finish your review of the best midfoot strike shoes, can you post a summary blog and your views on which are best?  If indeed the NB790’s go away, I would like to find the next best thing and your opinion is most valuable.

Hi Danny, I’ve read your book twice and applied the Chi running method successfully for nearly two years (and LOVE it).  Did my first marathon two months ago with no injuries.  First distance run one month after marathon left me with what I believe is illiotibial problems causing left knee pain 20 mins into runs.  This has curtailed my training for the first time.  Any suggestions?

Be sure that your feet are not landing in front of your hips or that your left foot is not splaying when it lands. I would also go back to the book and reread the section on pelvic rotation, which I have see to have very positive results on the IT band knee issues.

I promise you all I will definitely do a comprehensive review of all the new midfoot shoes coming out.


Mr. Dreyer,

How does the sizing of the NB 100’s compare to the 790’s?  I found that the 790’s ran a bit small for me and had to go up a half-size.  Since none of the local stores here stock the 100’s I can’t try them on, so before I order a pair online I’d like a sense of whether or not I need to go a half-size up. 

Thanks for any info you can provide.

Jay Johnston Oct 18th, 2009 08:31am

This is not a comment per se.  I want to know why either with Chi running or heel toe, running never seems easy for me as opposed to other runners I see.  Is there a runner body type?  Are there just some people who are built for easy running?  It’s frustrating, and I now I’m not alone.

I know you’re not alone with this. If there were such a thing as a “runner’s body type” I would probably say that it would be a BMI of under 30. I would also say that if your running doesn’t feel as easy as you think it should, you can always shorten your stride. This is the biggest thing I see runners doing that are struggling to make it feel easy.

HI Daniel,
the T100’s have uppers that are made of an open mesh design that feels much looser around my feet. It gives the sensation of being a larger shoe than it is. The shoe overall has a loose feeling but I wouldn’t buy a different size than I wear in the 790’s if I were you.


Many thanks for the info on the NB 100s.


Henri Havinga Jan 21st, 2010 05:03am

Hi Danny,
I live in the netherlands and have good experience with chi running. I am trying to buy the NB 790 or 100 MT. In Europe I cannot find them. The USA sites I found donot deliver to Europe. Do you know a solution?

I bought 4 pairs of these from Nordstrom Rack all on separate occasions (roughly $35). Does any one know of road training flats equivalent to these?

I would like to add a further comment on orthotics.  I had suffered with plantar fascitis for 6 months when I saw a foot doctor who recognized my problem as “forefoot valgus”, which means the structure of my foot causes the inside of my foot to contact the ground first and I underpronate, so the shock that is supposed to be absorbed through pronation is transmitted to the plantar facia.  I had just got my first pair of NB 826’s (another shoe recommended on this site that has been discontinued), and the foot doctor had me use othotics in them that corrected the problem, which is worked very well.  I am on my fourth pair of NB 826’s, using the same orthotics, and now need to find another shoe to transfer them.  So I think there are cases when orthotics should be used long term.

Hi Paul,
I’m happy to hear that you’ve had great success with your orthotics. In some cases they can be a great intermediary step to healing injuries. In the long term though, I’m always looking at: What is the biomechanical cause of the problem with the foot and what can I do to either realign, strengthen, loosen, or change my biomechanics to arrive at a cure for the problem. Working from this angle will eventually rid you of the cause and then you’ll be able to run without being dependent on contrivances. If you’re under-pronating it usually means that the medial muscles and tendons in your lower leg are very weak and need to be strengthened to be able to support your plantar fascia to do its job effectively. As long as you wear orthotics, your leg muscles will not be required to become stronger and you’ll have to wear them for the rest of your running career. One way makes the symptom go away and the other way makes the cause and the symptom to go away (But, it takes time, practice and mindfulness).

Your choice,

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