Disclaimer: I’m a slow runner, averaging a 9:30 mile during my shorter runs and around 11:00 on our 13.1′s. So, my shoe choices are not based on performance in a speed or race-winning capacity.
After wearing the hell out of my New Balance 1400′s and starting a training cycle for another half marathon, I needed new shoes.
Ginger and I had tried the Newton Distance U’s on at the expo prior to the Women’s Half Marathon, and we’d both fallen in love. We decided they’d be our next shoe – and they were. She bought them first; I followed a week later when we started ramping up our longer runs again.
Yes, we’re dorks. But we’re proud of it.
I’m a supporter of the minimal shoe movement. I have no idea why. Yes, I’ve read all the literature on both sides. I just love the idea of feeling a little more in tune with the surface on which I’m running. Not barefoot in-tune, mind you, but a little more natural.
The Newton’s fit the bill, but with a few caveats.
First of all, I love the colors. The Distance U comes in both fluorescent greenish yellow and this bright pink color. We both chose pink, which resulted in more comments from passing runners that we liked, I think.
The unique thing about these shoes is that the forefoot has Newton’s patented forefoot lugs – little rectangles of rubber that help you spring off your forefoot. They almost force you to run on your forefeet rather than strike on your heels. We had to practice a little to get used to running like that – but it felt good once we got the hang of it.
They’re ridiculously light and extremely breathable – perfect for Florida runners. I loved how they felt and looked – which is why I gave them so much time when I should’ve abandoned them.
Another factor that influenced my purchase was their heel-forefoot drop of only 2mm. The Distance U’s are considered a “Performance Racer” and their slogan is, ““PR in a box.” My New Balance’s had warmed me up for a more minimal shoe, and I thought I was ready.
Against my better judgment, my first run in these was a 10 miler. No blisters, super comfortable, no problem. I was running roughly 20-25 miles/week at this point, so felt like I had enough warm-up to break these in before our next long run.
After my third run, my heel and leg where so sore, I could hardly walk. I had no idea what the problem was, but attributed it to the new shoes, to too much too soon. I went back to my very expired New Balance’s for our long run that weekend – and while that probably wasn’t the best move, my heel didn’t feel quite as bad.
After two days of rest, I headed back out for a few shorter runs in the Newton’s again, and worked my way up to the longer weekends – all the while dealing with intermittent and sometimes crippling soreness in my Achilles.
Now, I know that it was the shoes that caused the injury; it certainly didn’t hurt that we were ramping up mileage. But I do think that my body just wasn’t ready for that low level of stability, that my calves weren’t strong enough to handle it. I kept thinking that my muscles would strengthen as I ran more miles in them, but it never happened. I was doing strength training and running a lot (for me) – but my body never got used to these shoes.
In the end, I realized I needed a shoe with a little more stability and an Achilles injury requires a more substantial heel/toe drop (I had to buy heel pads before I had time to get new shoes). I’d run far too many miles in these before realizing my mistakes though – and it sidelined me for almost a month.
- Colors! Most of Newton’s shoes have great, bright colors.
- Really light.
- Great minimalist shoe, but still built for racing.
- Breathable, cool mesh fabric – great for hot weather running.
- Forefoot lugs and special sole technology is supposed to last 800-1000 miles.
- More minimal than I was ready for.
- Not a lot of right/left stability.
- Fairly expensive ($130 average).
- Run small – order a half size up.
I really liked how these shoes looked and felt, but unfortunately, my body did not.
Have you ever run in Newton’s? They seem to be a love/hate brand. What are your thoughts?