newton shoes review

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I currently run mainly in the near-perfect Asics DS Trainer 11. The problem is 1) the 2007 (12) model was a faux pas and Asics knows it, and the promised improved version won’t be out until Jan 2008. 2) I found that I can only get about 150 miles out of them and after that I can’t run more than about six miles before it starts to hurt. The cushion in the forefoot has just broken down, the insole is tissue-paper thin at the ball of my foot and at $100 per pair, it isn’t really a good value. I can still run in them for shorter runs, but I needed a replacement long run shoe and nothing on the market suited my needs.

I had been aware of the Newton shoes for a long while now, but didn’t consider buying because it was relatively untried in the market and the trainer version costs $175. But after much consideration I actually rationalized the purchase of the $155 racer model as a smart financial move, even though (and trust me on this) I can’t afford them. If I’m able to get 300 miles comfortably out of them, I’ll be happy.

Newton Running is a brand new shoe company with basically only two shoes, the trainer and the racer — they come in men’s/women’s and cushioned/stability. Their philosophy is based on the various schools of running technique which emphasize forefoot running. They built a great flash demo of what this looks like in practice here: http://www.newtonrunning.com/run_better.php. If you’ve ever heard of pose or chi running styles, this is what they are all about. I got my technique from Evolution Running in a book called The Triathlete’s Guide to Run Training by Ken Mierke.

The Newton’s main feature is the prominent lugs which are located at the forefoot. The heel is actually lower than the forefoot. It has been said that they feel a bit like walking in cycling shoes, which sounds awkward, but once you break into a run it all makes sense.

My initial impression of the shoe was that it was not quite as refined as the Asics, which of course it isn’t since this is the first model they’ve offered. The racers are quite light, only 9.5 ounces for the men’s and when you see the shoe you can see how they did it. There is essentially no outsole. Most road running shoes have high carbon rubber at key wear points on the sole which protects it from scuffs. Newton just skips this step and figures that they shoe will wear from the “outside in” rather than the other way around. This actually makes sense if you think about it. The midsole is what wears out in most shoes first, but you still have another thousand miles worth of wear available on the outsole, which is wasted weight and material. Still it is strange to see the back outside corner of the heels starting to wear after your very first run. But of course, we aren’t supposed to be running on our heels and the lugs themselves seem like they’ll last fairly well.

My only complaints are a) the price obviously b) somewhat decreased road feel, but in this case I’m willing to trade it away for comfort.

It takes some time just to get used to the feeling of these, but once you do, everything starts to click and I suspect that nearly everyone that runs in these will start to more efficiently and probably faster too.

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