First impressions of Asics Novablast 3
The moment I held the Asics Novablast 3 – the third generation of Asics cushioning trainer – I knew I had a winner in my hands. At around only 250g (size depending), the running shoes felt lighter than most (or should I say, all the other) sports shoes I have worn.
Let’s talk aesthetics and fit
After all, the distinctive ombre colour gradation, thick soles and long, sturdy laces ticked many boxes of what a pair of sports shoes should have for me. Drawing inspiration from geometric origami for the upper and midsole, the base is wider than usual. As someone with big feet (compared to my height), the broader base offers excellent stability. When I first put it on, my feet felt incredibly comfortable and well-protected at the same time. In addition, the shoes are true to size without the need to size up or down.
Some sports shoes I tried tended to have thin uppers or soles. A personal preference for sure, but whatever it takes to protect my knees to last me through my old age, right? Moreover, the jacquard mesh upper felt comfortable and had enough fabric to keep the feet cool without trapping too much heat. I could feel the Novablast 3 calling me to bring it for a run.
With design evolution and the latest technology, this new generation offers an even bouncier running experience and better support. The bouncy running experience of the Novablast 3 will certainly keep you motivated in achieving a sound mind in a sound body through exercise.Hisanori Fujita, Manager, Performance Footwear, Design department at Asics
Asics Media Preview in Ho Chi Minh City
According to Asics, this pair of running shoes is “Designed for road runs, built with off-road traction.” Widely touted as the ‘shoe of the year’ by reviewers, I was eager to put the shoes to the test. The perfect opportunity came on 16 February 2023 when Asics held a Media Preview for the newly launched Gel-Nimbus 25, the Actibreeze activewear, and the sportstyle Awake X NY collab at Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). We participated in the run at Sala Park, HCMC, and a Cooper Test (more on that below) with 50-plus athletes, ambassadors and media from Southeast Asia. Attendees wore different running shoes from Asics to test our mettle, and I could not wait to try out the Novablast 3.
Let’s put the Novablast 3 to the test!
According to Asics, “With an extra millimeter added to the heel and forefoot, this new cushioning material is designed to offer a bouncy running experience, providing a more energized rebound in each step. In addition, the Novablast 3 shoe is now approximately 22g lighter* than its predecessor Novablast 2 shoe, making it the lightweight shoe to keep up with an active lifestyle.”
The FF Blast Plus cushioning certainly lives up to its promise, providing lightweight impact absorption and a responsive rebound on the underfoot. This was especially appreciated during turns along the busy roads in HCMC. In addition, the heel stabilizer also helps spread the weight around the foot, creating a more balanced stride and responsive bounce back.
A feature I appreciate about the Novablast 3 is its gusseted tongue wing fit system. The notch on the upper allows it to cradle the foot for an even distribution of potential pressure points and reduced tongue movement. As a result, runners can embrace runs with none of the tongue sliding. Moreover, thanks to this feature, you get away with tying and untying your shoelaces with every wear. It's a slip-and-go shoe.
Even though I barely had a chance to break in the shoes before the run, I experienced neither blisters nor any discomfort during the run. It was ready from the get-go. The shoes stayed in place, even without looping in the lace to the final shoelace hole, which runners refer to as the "racer's loop", "lace-lock", or "heel lock" – a simple hack used by seasoned runners to prevent blisters. I even wore it while roaming around HCMC, exploring its café culture, and I'm glad to report that I have no complaints about the Novablast 3. The comfort of the running shoe matched my walking shoes. And for the sake of investigative journalism, I deliberately stepped on a tiny puddle and walked on wet manholes, and the shoe's traction held up. As a result, I could walk confidently even when the roads were slightly wet.
Thanks to its shock absorption ability, the Novablast 3 would also do well with other high-impact activities such as marathons, CrossFit, HIIT or Bounce. No wonder it's one of Natalie Dau, Asics ambassador and ultra-marathoner's running shoe of choice, "The Novablast 3 has fast become my favourite training shoe. It’s cushioned enough for my long runs with FF Blast PLUS but also super responsive when I need to pick up the pace at any given time. It’s one of the most comfortable shoes I have run in, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get the most out of a running shoe." The athlete runs 100km competitions and trains six times a week rain or shine. She will be participating in the upcoming Tokyo Marathon on 5 March.
Eco-warriors would appreciate that at least 75% of the shoe's primary upper material uses recycled materials. In addition, the sock liner is produced with the solution dyeing process that reduces water usage by approximately 33% and carbon emissions by around 45% compared to the conventional dyeing technology.
A great all-rounder, the Asics Novablast 3 truly lives up to its name as ‘shoe of the year’. It is a winner in terms of looks, comfort and performance. Fans have highlighted the ten-dollar increase in price from the Novablast 2, but hey, inflation has hit us in all aspects of our lives. For me, as long as a product delivers, a ten-dollar increase may be what a manufacturer needs to keep up the quality and research necessary to bring us trustworthy, durable shoes. This pair of shoes will definitely be joining me on my next overseas trip!
About the Cooper Test
Professor Brendon Stubbs, physiotherapist and acclaimed mental health researcher from King's College London, was also on hand at the run and media preview to share the "transformative impact that exercise can have on our lives". We have always heard that working out is good for the brain, and Prof Stubbs has proven that with his extensive research and experiments on thousands of participants. "Exercise [does] improve cognitive function regardless of fitness level". Participants, myself included, took up a live experiment called the Cooper Test – a 12-minute run followed by a round of push-ups where the individual pushes him or herself to the limit. On top of that, a mind game called the Tower of Hanoi, where tiny blocks were rearranged via an optimal number of steps. By undergoing the same tests at different periods, participants will be able to see for ourselves the physical and mental progression with regular exercise. Discover more here.
The Asics Novablast 3 is now selling in-store and online.