Newton Running Distance

, October 25, 2011

Since 2007, Boulder-based Newton Running have changed the way we think about footwear. ‘Action/Reaction‘ technology principle has been around for a few years now and has been part of the increasing shift towards barefoot and forefoot-striking running. The key idea is that by promoting a more forward weighting during the stride, there is a reduction in the jarring forces that can occur if a runner lands heavily on their heels. Newton call this the ‘Land-Lever-Lift‘ philosophy.

Being a natural forefoot striker, I was keen to test the claims made by Newton about their Distance model. It is their top neutral racer and as such features the full complement of their run-aiding technology.

Newton are at pains to point out that there is an ‘adjustment period’ when transitioning to their shoes from conventional running shoes. While the Distance was markedly different in sensation from a typical shoe, I found the recommended break-in from the website to be overly cautious. I’m not sure if this is because I had minimal heel strike in the first place, but the main reason why I didn’t follow the strict guidelines is that these shoes are just so comfortable to run in: the uppers are constructed from a minimalist mesh that combines with the ETC sockliner to prevent chafing or rubbing, but the real eye-opener was the feeling they imparted during the stride pattern.

The Action/Reaction technology is incorporated into the unique lugs on the sole of the shoe. The concept is that when striking off the fore/mid-foot the energy from the push is stored and then released during the stride. I cannot comment on the science behind it all, but I will readily admit that using the Distance allowed more flow through my stride and left me feeling much less beaten up after runs. Perhaps the ultimate testament to the performance of these shoes was in a recent long-course triathlon, my first experience of a marathon distance run. Coming off the bike leg I felt less than fresh, but the natural helping hand of the Newtons managed to get me through the final 26 miles, and even left me in a good enough state to cross the line with a spring in my step.

Newtons have also been proving themselves among the highest echelons of sport: those of you watching the recent Ironman World Championships in Kona would have seen Newton lugs on the shoes worn by Craig Alexander, winner of this year’s race as well as of Las Vegas 70.3 in September.

Post-marathon run at Challenge Henley with elastic laces

I’ve had my Newtons for over a year now, and they have been a revelation and total joy. They are billed as a lightweight racer, but I have also been using them for general training on tarmac and trails. They have shrugged off everything I have thrown at them, and consistently come back for more.

It pains me to say it but they are probably past their best, and due a replacement (as seen in the above picture, taken after Challenge Henley). However, the quality of craftsmanship and the sound nature of the idea mean that the only alternative I am considering come from Newton as well: the new MV2.

Useful information

Environmental credentials

  • 100% recycled laces, webbing, insole topcover
  • 100% recycled box, packaging
  • 10% recycled outersole rubber