I’ve been running in Newton Running Gravity shoes since October 2010, so I have a good 6 months of experience in running in them. Bottom line, I really like the shoes. I’ve been looking for a mid to forefoot running shoe for about two years, and have finally settled on the Newton brand. I tried the Nike Frees and Vibram FiveFingers, but they just didn’t hit the mark on what I was looking for. The Nike Frees just didn’t fit my foot right, and although I ran in them for about a year, they were too narrow up and I would get blisters in certain areas during my long runs. The Vibrams were an interesting experiment, but my achilles tendon would get injured any time I would run in them for any period of time. I even tried just using them as trainers for some slow easy short runs, but inevitably, my achilles would begin bothering me. I know a lot of people rave about the Vibrams, but for me, it was just too minimal for what my body was willing to adapt to. Shoes are highly personalized, so I’m not saying the Newton shoe is best for everyone, but they have seemed to work for me. Here’s why I like them…although they are still not perfect (see cautions below).
Mid to Forefoot Running – After reading the book “Born to Run” I became fascinated with the mid to forefoot running theory that would minimize your injuries. After working many months to change to a mid to forefoot runner, I am convinced that becoming a mid to forefoot runner does in fact drastically reduce the impact to your body and your susceptibility to injury. Since I’ve become more of a mid-foot runner, my knee and IT band problems went completely away. However, I wish I would have bought the Newton shoes when I was first making the transition because I know it would have almost instantly made me a mid-foot runner without the months of making the adjustment. The shoes are designed to force you to land on your mid foot with minimal effort required.
Increases Running Efficiency – I have found that the shoes do make you run more efficiently and my speed has increased as a result. The design of the shoes almost give you a spring to your step and when you get into a rhythm, the running becomes somewhat effortless.
Durable and Light – The shoes I’ve bought have been of high quality and durable. After putting a significant number of miles on my first pair (now I’m on to my second) they are still in great shape. They are also made of mesh material, which makes them lighter and breathe better than your average running shoe.
However, there are a couple cautions that I want to point out before trying these shoes.
Calves and Achilles – You need to work into these shoes, don’t expect to take them out of the box and begin your normal training. I would suggest you use them for your easy short distance days first because the shoes are going to work your calves and achilles and if you are not already a mid or forefoot runner, there is a high probability of injury to this area without easing in to them. Before I even tried the shoes, I thought I was already a mid foot runner and just started running my normal routine in them, and had to pull back a little because I began experiencing achilles tendon pain. However, after about a month running in them, my muscles and tendons adjusted and strengthened, and the shoes feel as natural as any other running shoe.
Sizes – I would highly recommend you visit a running store to get fitted for these shoes. I bought them online from Road Runner Sports and they recommended I buy a half size larger than my normal shoe size, which I did. They were still too small, although I did run in them for 4 months and developed some interesting callouses and blisters when running in them. So even though there are probably another 4 months of life in my first pair, I decided I needed to buy another pair a half size larger. It really made a world of difference, no more blisters and the shoe is much more comfortable to run in. However, I had to go a whole size bigger to find my right size.
Expensive – Newton shoes are not cheap. They retail for close to $180, but I was able to buy my last pair for about $140 from Road Runner Sports. However, keep in mind these shoes come with a lot of patented technology and because of the quality of the shoe, will have more life to them. So I find the benefits these shoes provide – injury prevention and more efficient running form – well worth the extra money.
Again, shoes are highly personalized, so what works for me may not work for you. My opinion on these shoes are based solely on my personal experience. If you are interested in learning more about the shoe, I would recommend you visit the Newton Running site at http://www.newtonrunning.com.