My next review on deck is the Motion stability trainers by Newton running. Newton is a well-established and well-respected name in the running world, and I cannot be more excited about presenting this to you today. (I also have a review on Newton’s new introductory shoes, the Energy. You can check that review out HERE)
Also, it is not by coincidence that I start to use these new trainers exactly the same time I’m planning on getting back on the road after my big 10 mile race at the Broad Street Run. The shoes did arrive to several weeks ago, but since using them lends itself to altering your running form (At least my poor running form, heel striking at all) I held off on trying them out until after I completed my training.
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 four lugs that, when you step down, depress onto a highly resilient membrane. When you lift your foot, the membrane 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 (ie, 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.
On a personal note, I am dedicating my efforts this summer to taking all the steps to become a better, stronger, more efficient, and less injury prone runner. (yup, I’m back to talking about my bum knee again) I believe that if these Newtons live up to their billing, they will be playing an integral part in all of this.
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 4 pronounced “lugs”, or raised rectangular pieces of rubber. These lugs sit on top of a very elastic/ responsive layer and then have recessed openings below that. 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 their corresponding “holes” in the sole of the shoe, and as you push off, the elastic layer pushes them back out, giving you an 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 one run totaling exactly one mile thus far, so I have no real basis to provide any performance reviews yet. Like I mentioned in the very beginning of this review, when these shoes arrived I was in the thick of my training for an upcoming race and the mileage was starting to add up, so I did not want to mess around with trying to alter my running form at that time. Now that the race is done and I am looking at getting back on the road again, it’s literally the perfect time to give these shoes the time and attention they deserve. Giving them time is important, since there is a transition period when moving into using these shoes regularly. Since the running form is different, different muscles are being utilized and you have to ease into it. The entire process is advised to take up to 2 or more weeks, so rather than doing too much too fast, and coming back here and tell you that I am in pain from using these shoes, I’m taking my time and doing it the recommended way. So this initial post will be the background info and my initial thoughts, I’ll come back and update on the transition process, and then follow-up with a final review once I have substantially more miles on them. So stay tuned for a few periodic updates, but once it’s all said and done, I think it will show a pretty comprehensive look at these Newton Motion running shoes.
Random Initial Thoughts:
Badass Appearance: Damn, I could not love the look of these more. They are just 100% awesome. Orange shoes with red trim and yellow soles. These are not for the meek and mild or those who just want to blend in. Newton as a company has all of their shoes manufactured in these badass-in your face bright colors. Think yellow, bright blue, red, neon green. YES. (yes, with these orange/red/yellow colors my wife calls them my Ronald McDonald shoes, but for those who aren’t afraid to rock some bright colors they could not be more awesome)
Comfortable: These are insanely comfortable as well, at least kicking around in my house and for my one quick run, 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 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.
Fast: Yes, this is an insanely limited sample size (one run, one mile) but I set a PR on that one mile and ran it in the fastest time ever (for me). Is this coincidence? Possibly, but it’s significant enough to make me mention it. All the reviews and information I have found about these say that these shoes are fast/ help you run faster, but I will reserve full judgement until I have some real experience in these bad boys. Initial impressions however: damn I like them.
“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.
Transition period starts today: I am officially on the clock and in approx 2 weeks I will be back to let you know how things are going. I’m looking forward to this and I am expecting big things. There is a big reputation to live up to and if they deliver, it can be a key tool to keeping me running longer and stronger. “Hello Better”, indeed.
Newton Update #1 : Early June 2013
So I have been going through the “transition period” with my newtons over the past few weeks. I really like them, and there was not nearly as much pain/discomfort/rough going as I anticipated. I’m not saying that I am now a natural running form expert, but I do think there has been some improvement and I feel like if I keep working at it, I’ll get to where I want to be.
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 moreNatural 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://youtu.be/ogZr8MjX4Mc
Some thoughts on the shoes now that I have gotten to take them out a handful of times and have been through most of the transition process:
-These shoes really are fast and light. When you are wearing/ running them, they give me the sensation of being light, responsive, and they just feel fast.
-They are insanely comfortable. Nice and snug, while roomy in the toe box. Super ventilated and good cushioning., I don’t even notice the lugs anymore really. I want to wear these shoes all the time, just based on how comfy they are.
-Even though they are so low profile and streamlined, the cushioning is good.
**Full disclosure: The very first time I wore them for a transition run it felt like I was running on rocks, but that is more of an adjustment to a brand new shoe and in the Newtons defense, the deck was stacked against them. I tried them after my regular weekly run (which I ran in my current shoes- the Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac) there is approx as much midsole cushioning in the Hokas than there is total shoe top to bottom in the Newtons, so it’s not a fair comparison. I decided to use the Newtons first from that point on and this alleviated the issue, and go on Newton-only runs as soon as I got myself up to a little longer distance in them. The morale to this story is give them a chance and bear in mind that if they are dramatically different than your current shoes, an adjustment curve may be present.
I am going to continue to use these shoes throughout the summer, and once I have some substantial miles on them (upwards of 100 miles) I’ll come back and weigh in with a final update on how the shoes (and my form, running experience, and body) have held up.
This first pic is a great one of the lugs on the bottom of the shoes. Please excuse the Tinkerbell movie in the background. My daughter and I were hanging out/ playing at the time and I would estimate that Tink is on the TV 90% of the time in our house. Seriously…she’s reached rockstar status in our house lately…
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.**