Newton is back at it again. In some sort of awesome, surreal, insanely generous universe, the Newton Running Company has provided me another pair of running shoes to use and review for you all. This time up: The all new Newton Energy.
There is a lot of hype around this brand new line of shoes to be added to the already existing line of shoes to be offered by the company. The reason being that this new Energy shoe is being brought in to serve as an introductory shoe, designed to be much more accessible and allow a whole new cross section of runners to work their way into Natural Running.
These are designed specifically to be a Transitionary (is that really a word?) shoe, made to help a wider base of runners take those first steps to make the move towards a more minimalist running shoe/ running form without as much of an abrupt change.
In a business sense, this is brilliant in my opinion. It’s opening doors that were previously closed. The existing Newtons are great, but do require a good bit of a transition period and lot of adjustment to get used to them/ adapt for proper forms.
But admittedly, this is not a business sense review, nor am in a position to weigh in on the business intent or success. What I can offer however, is a look at the shoes themselves and my opinions regarding performance/experience of everything in a shoe & running perspective. And to give you the quick and fast version of everything: I have without question finally found my short run shoes. I absolutely love these Newton Energys.
Ok, so after running in several types of shoes now, I can compare the whole “Newton Energy” experience against competing companies shoes, and I am now also in a position to compare these new Energys against the more traditional Newton running shoes as well. You’ll find that as unique as Newtons are as a whole vs. the standard running shoes out there; the same can almost be said in regards to the Energys vs. the rest of the shoes Newton has available currently. Allow me to elaborate on both accounts.
Newton Energy vs. other company running shoes (Info for those of you out there who are not currently running in Newton shoes)
This shoe was designed specifically with the intention to appeal to those runners out there who are running in some other shoe and are looking to make the move into a more minimal shoe (or also read that as: a shoe that is going to aid in improving their running form to keep themselves going longer, more efficiently, and with less injury)…and in my opinion, that’s where this shoe absolutely shines. So here is the deal: There is no question that the Newton shoes deliver on their intended purpose. They provide positive feedback during a midfoot strike (I’ll explain that further in a minute), which automatically lends itself to improving your form and all the benefits that come along with that. (again…more details forthcoming). I’m not being cryptic on purpose here, just trying to get to my original point that the shoes produced by Newton are purposefully designed to be a pretty big departure from the standard running shoes currently on the market, but done so with a clear goal in mind (and they deliver on that goal), but like I said (and it bears repeating) they are a huge departure from the “standard” running shoes, and as such take a pretty significant transition period to get used to running in them. The company themselves even tell you to very slowly ease into running in them, otherwise you run the risk of injury such as shin splints and some heavy duty pain in your shins/calves. So they help you if you do it right, but the potential to hurt you is there if you don’t properly transition into this dramatically different shoe. This is a huge deterrent to a lot of people. It’s not easy to do, and while beneficial, the transition period and different running style can be too much to change for one extreme to the other. Enter the Newton Energy shoes. Intended to be a stepping stone from one extreme to the other, these shoes bear all the features of the other Newtons while still maintaining multiple aspects of the more traditional running shoes in order to ease the transition from one to the other.
Ok, so let me start from the beginning on this: the main reason I know that people love running in Newtons is due to their very unique design that provides feedback and acts as a tool to assist you in promoting a more natural running form.
I’m blatantly stealing the next section from my previous review of the Newton Motion shoes, (with a few minor teaks of course) because the intent, form and function of these shoes is consistent, no matter what shoes you pick from Newton. The What, Why, and How are always the same, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. (Just copy and paste it…if you want to split hairs here).
I say that using these shoes lends itself to altering your form, but it’s important to draw the distinction that the shoes do not claim to be a form correction tool, nor do they claim to help you correct your running form. What they do however, by virtue of their design is promote what they like to call “Natural running”. The following info is verbatim from the company PR rep:
“There are two distinguishing features with Newton Running shoes that you’ll probably notice first off; 1. A more level platform. Our shoes have a 7 mm or less drop from heel to toe, which places you in a more natural running posture and makes it easier to adapt a shorter stride. If you’re accustomed to shoes with a 20 mm + drop, then you’ll notice some calf soreness when you first start using them. Secondly, as you may know, Newton Running shoes have lugs under the forefoot; this is our Action/Reaction technology, our “dynamic” cushioning system. It’s comprised of five lugs that compress into a highly resilient foam core material** that compresses when you land and expands as your foot leaves the ground again, providing a form of positive reinforcement that you are landing with a midfoot strike as well as When you lift your foot, the lugs rebounds, which helps propel you forward.
Please note that we don’t claim that Newton Running shoes improve your form, rather, they are designed to make it easier for you to modify your running form to a style that is more natural (i.e., lower impact). “ So in layman’s terms, these shoes are specifically designed to give you positive feedback and reward you with an added spring to your step when you are “doing it right”. So although they are not officially shoes that improve your form, they are specifically designed to very easily show you the difference between good form and otherwise. It is this aspect of the shoes that has me drawn to them and so interested.
**this has been altered, in the Newton Motion shoes, the lugs press into a cavity in the sole through a highly resilient membrane. These new Energy shoes have a new construction style, the sole is solid, no more cavities, and the lugs are no longer solid rubber, they are now comprised of a resilient foam core. So now it’s the lugs themselves that are compressing, not the solid lugs pressing into the shoe…if that makes any sense
As always, I have done a lot of homework on these shoes to see what exactly they are doing to live up to their tagline “Hello Better”. After considerable amounts of time the most prevalent features that I have found are: Lightweight, Minimal Drop, and far and away the feature that makes the Newtons unique, the forefoot “Lugs” on the sole of the shoe that is the key to their “Action/Reaction Technology”.
Lightweight- -These shoes are super light, literally just a matter of ounces. There has been careful attention paid to all aspects of the shoe, including materials used to ensure that there is nothing extra or unnecessary to add needless weight. The idea behind this is to provide a cushioned shoe that behaves like a barefoot or minimal shoe. This way you are inclined to not feel them on your feet once you get moving, so your focus can be applied to running and your form, without the distractions of the shoe on your feet.
Minimal Drop- -Minimal Drop. What “drop” refers to in running shoes is the difference in height between the heel and the toes of the shoe. A lot of shoes have a much higher built up heel, since that is where the majority of runners hit first. Makes sense to put the bulk of the cushioning there, right? There is a large school of thought out there that hitting with your heel first, or “heel striking” is where a lot of the impact comes from when running, and by becoming more a “midfoot striker” reduces the stress on your body (and even more specifically, your knees- which is why I am so interested in this) and help distribute the impact throughout your muscles and entire leg/body. This midfoot striking is also commonly referred to as “natural running”. The very small drop in these shoes makes it easy to hit on the middle of your foot as opposed to the heel, thus promoting Natural Running.
The “Lugs”- -On the bottom of the shoe, directly under your forefoot (right under the balls of your feet) there are 5 pronounced “lugs”, or raised pieces of rubber. These lugs sit on top of the sole of the shoe and produce an extremely unconventional look WAY different than any other running shoes you have ever seen. The way these lugs do their thing is that while you are running and your foot comes down onto the ground (ideally on midfoot so the lugs are hitting first), and your body weight compresses the lugs into a foam base layer in the midsole, you can feel it and this added feel provides positive feedback that you are maintaining proper form; and as you push off, the foam pushes them back to the regular position, giving you a little added spring in your step. This is the fundamental idea behind what Newton calls their “Action/Reaction Technology” Of course, they explain it a lot better than I can on their website, but that gives you the basic idea. It also bears mentioning that the website is AWESOME. Tons of information and videos regarding everything about the various available shoes, shoe construction, info on proper form, basically everything you could need to know about the Newton shoes and the natural running they help promote.
So basically all this technical sounding jargon boils down to some basic information that may make sense to my core audience here. These shoes, by virtue of design and positive feedback are going to help you develop a proper running form. Developing good form is relevant to you for 2 reasons. (3 really) 1. It can help prevent injury. As I mentioned before, when you are heel striking during your runs it sends considerably more impact to your joints. More impact= More potential for injury. And Let me tell you, while all injuries are different, they pretty much all involve one common aspect in the recovery process, and that is rest. There is not much more frustrating than having to sit on a day that you actually want to be out there moving. Simply maddening. 2. Proper form is more efficient. Efficiency = speed= more endurance= better results for the effort you are going to be putting out. If I am going to be busting my ass out there, I want to see the best possible results from it. No Brainer. And 3*. (Yes, with an asterisk) This is less an aspect of the good form itself but is still somewhat related and bears mentioning anyway: When you first start out, you can run any way you want to and you are in the position to develop good habits right from the start. This is important because if you make the same (foolish) mistake that I did and develop poor form, It’s going to be that much more challenging to first break the existing bad habits and then rebuild them correctly. Which is what I am dealing with right now. I’d rather skip the pain the ass process and just do it right from the start. Learn from my stupid mistakes. Please.
Speaking of which, to reinforce this fact, I often get asked questions like “if you could go back and change one thing you did when you started running” or “What is one lesson you’ve learned during this process”, I always find myself using this as one of my go-to answers. Proper form. It’s worth the extra time to look into it and even if you are not completely hardcore about it, at least keep it in mind while you are starting out. God knows it was challenging enough just getting myself active again, but I wish I paid more attention to that. Possibly I might not be dealing with as severe a situation of a crappy knee issues if I did. (but then again, maybe I would…you never really know) I have worn these shoes around the house while cross training (doing my stretch and strength exercises) and for several runs totaling exactly 20 Miles thus far, so I have no real basis to provide any long term performance reviews yet. That being said, all of those runs have been shorter (1 and 2 milers primarily, as I “transitioned into the shoes”), so although the total miles have not racked up yet, the number of runs is enough to give me a good feel for how these shoes are going to feel/ react/ perform on a regular basis.
Random Initial Thoughts:
Badass Appearance: Damn, I could not love the look of these more. They are just 100% awesome. Black shoes with Grey soles and Electric Blue trim. They are awesome, even if they are a little departure from the “typical in-your-face” barrage of bright color that Newton is known for. I do like these a little more based on the “shelf life” of the shoes. I know that once I put a few hundred “running only” miles on these it will be time to replace them, but once that happens I can totally see these becoming a pair of “kicking around” shoes that I can wear in real life. The Yellow Soled/ Orange Upper with Red Trim Newton Motions that I also have…not so much.
Comfortable: My goodness, these shoes are insanely comfortable. With my sample thus far being kicking around in my house and for my handful of quick runs, I just want some more. The upper material is SUPER ventilated and soft. They have a decent amount of cushioning and are also very light. The sole has a solid rubber “plate” in between the lugs and the heel area, providing a very tangible “solid” feel to them and giving a great overall impression/ feeling. The last thing I really like is that the toe box inside the shoe is nice and roomy, nothing feels crammed and between the ample room and the super ventilation, they are just comfy. If I had not already designated them as my new running-only shoes, I’d be wearing them right now.
“Real” runner shoes/ Take things seriously: Like I mentioned before, Newton is a very well known and highly respected brand in the running world. I have always looked at them (and the runners who wear them) with a little bit of awe and some substantial respect, because these are “real deal running shoes”, worn by runners who take this sport of ours seriously. The thought that I am now in the position to at least look at these and decide if they are for me kind of puts me into that category, and that is AWESOME. I am grateful to be in the position to try these out, not only for myself, but also for the chance to check them out and share my opinions with all of you. This way I can help myself and hopefully give you a look at things at the same time.
Lastly, I have spent a substantial amount of time on Newton’s Website and on YouTube educating myself on all types of information regarding natural running, proper form, the transition process to running in their shoes, and the Newton’s running technique of: Land / Lever / Lift The deal with Land Lever Lift is pretty simply their way to explain the process to get yourself to run with a more Natural Running/Midfoot Strike (or to say it another way- to mimic the way you run barefoot). The three aspects in a little more detail is:
Land- when your foot hits the ground, emphasis is on coming down with the midfoot, or balls of your feet come down first. This forces you to come down much more level and parallel to the ground. This also, not coincidentally is where the lugs are located specifically on the bottom of the shoes to provide feedback that you are doing it right.
Lever- this is referring to the process of once your foot comes down level, the leaning or levering of your body forward to promote the running motion and forward progress. This is not leaning forward at the waist, this is more of. Total body forward lean. It’s almost a feeling like you are falling forward. (But not quite)
Lift- the third and most obvious of the steps. The final action of picking that foot back up and continuing to move forward.
Check out the video explaining it much better than I can here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogZr8MjX4Mc
**Full disclosure: I have decided that I like these shoes so much I am making them my go-to shoes for shorter runs. I would say anything 5-6 miles or less I’ll go with the Newtons. For my long runs, I am sticking with my “other” running shoes, the Hoka One One brand. (my review for them can be found HERE), but I am doing that based on my very specific circumstance of having arthritis in my knee and wanting all that extra cushioning to counteract the lengthy pounding on my knee the longer distances entail.
And last but certainly not least, I wanted to provide a quick comparison for those experienced Newton Runners out there who may be curious to see how these shoes stack up against all of the current Newton shoe Lines (Motion, Distance, Sir Issac/ Lady Issac, etc.)
Newton Energy vs. Newton Motion running shoes (Info for those of you out there who are already running in Newtons)
(in a convenient and easy to read bulleted list format)
- More pronounced (at least for Newton) heel toe drop of 6mm.This is less abrupt of a change and is closer to traditional running shoes. (my old Nike Pegasus are a 13mm drop) A much more stable feeling, and downright comfy shoe.
- More traditional Newtons have much more pronounced lugs, where these are lower profile, spread wider across your foot, and more numerous. 5 low wide rounded vs. 4 high straight rectangular I love the upper, a refined mesh that is more substantial than the super aerated mesh of the motions.
- The lugs themselves are different. In addition to being configured differently, they are constructed differently as well. Traditional Newtons are all built the same way in terms of the lugs. 4 lugs made of solid rubber sitting on top of a highly elastic membrane and when your foot lands, the lugs “press into” cavities in the shoe’s midsole that line up directly below them. This is not so with the Energy Shoes. The lugs themselves are still solid rubber but are now compressing into a solid piece of a highly resilient foam core, so they are sitting on a solid midsole instead of one with cavities below them. So it’s the lugs themselves that are now compressing into a more pliable, responsive (but still solid) base, not simply pushing in to the holes below them.
- In the middle of the outsole on these new Energys is a new “plate” made of rubber with traction on it. This is in place of the area on the other Newtons that would “suck in” and not otherwise be in touch with the ground. I really feel like the combo of this plus the fact that there are no more cavities in the sole for the lugs to compress into add up to a VERY solid and consistent feeling shoe. I love the feeling of these shoes. In my opinion, they are much better than anything else I’ve worn.
- The look is fantastic. The shoes I was provided are black with neon blue trim, but they look like I could wear them as kicking around shoes, which is awesome. Badass looking kicks. Sure, they are not in your face orange, red, and yellow, but still super sweet nonetheless.
So what does all this boil down to? In short: I love these Newton Energy shoes. In a world of seemingly limitless choices and as I find myself getting more and more
picky refined in what I like and don’t like to use, I have found my new short to mid distance running shoe. They are comfortable, cushioned, relatively affordable, and give me what I’m looking for. I can’t ask for too much more than that.
Newton Motion (Orange) vs. Energy (Black) side by side comparison pics:
I am approaching this review from my standard viewpoint of what I believe the core interest of this blog really gets at: that is to say I am presenting my review by looking at this product from the perspective of a person who is relatively new to the running world, has some weight to lose and wants go about losing the weight by starting to incorporate a more active lifestyle and want to know how sift through the volumes of available gear/ equipment out there.
One of the great benefits to running a blog like this one is that it puts me in a position from time to time to receive various products to use and review for you. Oftentimes, these items are provided to me free of charge. This is the only type of compensation I have ever received, and my acceptance of these items in no way constitutes any obligation to provide an unwarranted positive review. My opinions on the products are unfiltered and 100% my own.
**This product was provided to me free of charge, but again, this does not influence my review or views on the product in any way**
Also please note that these are the personal opinions and experiences of one individual (me) on my personal blog, and intended to be taken as such. I personally, and The Running My Ass Off Blog do not accept any liability from the purchase or use of any products reviewed on this blog.
**Sorry, just have to cover my ass here. These are unbiased reviews, intended only to help. I’m not going to try and sell you anything, nor do I want you to take my opinions as the final word on any product. Let me help you figure out what you should check out, and then check the stuff out for yourself to see if you like it.**