3.16.2009

Newton Motion Running Shoes

Introduction
I have logged 43.7 miles and 6.37 hours in my Newton Motion running shoes and now feel equipped to write a worthwhile review. These shoes first caught my eye after learning that Craig Alexander, the most recent Ironman World Champion, wore a pair of Newtons to victory. Before this, I had never seen or heard of these shoes. I read all about them online to learn more. Two months later, I owned a pair.
The very shoes I have are the Newton Motion 10.4 oz which fall within the Stability and Trainer categories. Stability adds a firmer insole support for those that have pronated ankles. Trainer adds a slightly thicker and firmer heel support. This added heel support increases the shoe weight by 0.9 ounces. I chose to go with the Trainer because my entire running background is characterized by a solid heel strike. With Newtons, you want to completely eliminate the heel strike. Since I would be transitioning, I figured some added heel support would be a good thing.

The Newton Difference
There are so many running shoes out there, so what makes Newton running shoes unique? Newton running shoes are built upon the philosophy that runners should run off of their forefoot or midfoot , and that striking with the heel first is counterproductive. When you land on your heel and then roll through the foot, you are sending a greater amount of force up the leg, specifically into the knee. Also, such form immediately slows you down as the impact of the heel first acts like a momentary brake. Thirdly, landing on the heel and rolling through the foot tends to create this up and down movement of the upper body which detracts from good form and expends greater energy.
When you land on your forefoot, you press forward in a spring-like action. You utilize the force of gravity and are in this continual state of "falling forward." Stride length should naturally shorten a bit and the number of footstrikes (the number of times your feet touch the ground per minute) will increase. By springing forward, you are lighter on your feet, it reduces the risk of knee injury and you propel forward with greater efficiency. The upper body stabilizes and you achieve greater posture.

Shoe Construction
With that philosophy in mind, the Newton shoe is manufactured. The first noticeable difference between a Newton running shoe and your previous shoe is the presence of lugs underneath the forefoot. These are essentially rubberized cushions that protrude the bottom of the shoe. As you land and spring off of your forefoot, the lugs add greater cushioning. More importantly, however, is the fact that they return much of the energy you expend back into your motion. Once you get accustomed to this new feel, you literally begin to spring forward with lightness and grace like you have never experienced before.
Beyond the lugs, the shoe itself is a marvelous achievement of construction. I can honestly say that I have never tried on a more comfortable piece of footwear. The shoe feels extremely lightweight and seems to mold itself to the exact contours of my foot. The front of the shoe is covered by a mesh liner that allows tremendous"breathability" for the foot. So often I buy shoes and the laces are about a mile long. I find the laces of my Newtons to be the perfect length. On top of all of this, Newton running shoes look like nothing else on the road. They look as wonderful as they feel.

Making the Switch
If you are considering switching to a pair of Newton running shoes and you are historically a heel striker, only make the switch if you are firmly committed to converting to a forefoot strike. When you first pick up your Newtons, you have to slowly break them in. The first run will only be about 20-25 minutes. Continue to wear your old running shoes and slowly spend more time in the Newtons until it feels more comfortable. There are two main reasons for doing so:
  1. You have to learn how to run off of your forefoot.
  2. You have to strengthen muscles and ligaments that are not accustomed to work.
It will naturally feel awkward and foreign to run in Newtons if you previously ran off of your heels. This takes lots of time to adjust to. If you stick with it and are committed, you can make this a natural sensation. Just as important is the fact that new muscles and ligaments are being called upon to work. When you run off of your heel, you are sending lots of force through your shin, knee and quadriceps. When you run in Newtons, you areutilizing the Achilles, calves and hamstrings like you never have before. If you are not careful, you can really damage your Achilles. That is why you must slowly transition into your Newtons, gradually increasing the distance you can go in them.
The first couple of times you run in the Newtons will likely cause tremendous soreness in your calf muscles. This is natural, so don't be too alarmed (that is if it's just soreness you feel). I could hardly walk the day after first running in my Newtons as my calves were so tender. However, I stuck with it and now I'm hardly ever bothered by it.
My Experience
I love my Newtons. It was difficult at first as it takes a lot of mental concentration to learn a new form of running and there is inevitably some physical pain involved. However, 43.7 miles later I feel quite comfortable in them and can say they havedefinitely made me a better runner. I use to suffer from chronic knee pain. Since switching to Newtons, my knee pain has been virtually eliminated. I feel lighter and more efficient on my feet than ever before.

However, it's not all roses. As mentioned, there has been pain. Aside from extreme calf soreness and some pain in my Achilles, the bottoms of my feet on the forefoot have had some blistering and discomfort. Part of this was due to the fact that I was actually running off of my toes at first which is something you never want to do. I have since been adjusting. As I said, it's continually a learning process. My mind does not have to think as hard anymore to make sure I am landing on my forefoot as opposed to my heel.

The longest I have run at one time in my Newtons thus far has been one hour, or around 7 miles. My hope is to be able to run in my Newtons for the Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 Triathlon on June 28, 2009. Speaking of triathlons, I wore my Newtons for the first time in a triathlon this past Saturday, and it was awesome! Moving from the bike to the run in my Newtons was a beautiful feeling. I had way more energy on the run.

Here are some pictures of my Newton Motion 10.4 oz running shoes:
Notice how you can see through the mesh lining to the yellow liner inside the shoe.
The mixed color portion of the inside foot represents the firm support of the Stability line.
The orange on the heel represents the extra heel thickness of the Trainer line.
You can see how the red lugs protrude out and how the toes really curl up.
The name logo doubles as a reflector when running in the dark.

Conclusion
If you are serious about triathlons/running and either currently run off of your forefoot or are looking to switch to that style of running, I strongly recommend buying a pair of Newton running shoes. If you are like me and suffer from pronation, go with a pair from the Stability category. If you are switching from a heel strike method, I recommend also getting something from the Trainer category.

These shoes are definitely not cheap. It's a big investment, but a worthwhile one if you want to elevate your run to the next level. These shoes can be worn for short or long distance runs. As mentioned, Craig Alexander wore these over the course of 26.2 miles in the Ironman World Championship.

My shoes even came with a complimentary DVD that featured one of the founders of Newton running and he explained everything you need to know about transitioning to a pair of Newton running shoes. You can learn way more about the science of Newton running at their website. I love my Newton Motion running shoes and am very happy to have made the switch.

4 comments:

  1. great review, I too have the newtons and this is what i thought of them:

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1525839/review_newton_running_shoes.html?cat=50

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice review

    been running in them now for 3 months my transition was fine only now have it got a bit of soreness in my right calf..

    ReplyDelete
  3. woo I love the color combination of all these running shoes I always love to read about trainers shoes thanks for sharing this awesome post

    ReplyDelete
  4. My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller which i use before and after i run, wow what a difference!! Everyone needs one,night and day difference! http://zzathletics.com/Golf-Ball-Muscle-Roller-Massager-GBMR1.htm

    ReplyDelete