Review: Newton Gravity Running Shoes

10 February 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Product Reviews

I tend to be a creature of habit. I find something that I like or develop a brand loyalty and that becomes my “go to” product. Ever since I can remember, I ran wearing Nike running shoes, usually the Air Pegasus model. When I got back into running after about a 10-year hiatus, I purchased a pair of Nike Vomero running shoes because I wouldn’t consider anything but Nike.

I wore these shoes through a half marathon training group and ran in them during the half marathon. Once my training was over, I wanted to add another pair of running shoes into my rotation since I would continue to run and continue to train. Being an information junkie,  I had read several books about natural running and minimalist running during my training. Armed with this information, I opened my horizons to look at different shoes, especially ones with lower heel-to-toe drop.

I went into the local running shop to evaluate the options. After talking with Andrew and expressing my desire to run in a more minimalist shoe, he asked me if I had ever tried Newton running shoes. Although I hadn’t, there were several runners in the training group who had switched to Newton running shoes and nothing but great things to say about them. One of these was actually devastated during one run, because in her rush to get out of the house, she had grabbed an older, more traditional pair of running shoes. At the time, I couldn’t understand what the big deal was, but I would come to learn for myself later on.

I put on the Newton running shoes, and I could immediately feel the difference. If you haven’t seen a Newton shoe or would like to find out more, visit the Newton site to find out the science behind their design. I did my test run in the store to ensure that my form looked good and the shoes would be OK for me. I was immediately hooked. I paid my $175 and left the store very excited for my first run in my new running shoes.

When transitioning from a traditional running shoe to a minimalist shoe, it is highly recommended that you work your way into running. These types of shoes since they will change the way you run, and as you focus on a better running form, you will engage your muscles differently. If you put on a pair and immediately go out for a 10 mile run, you’re likely to be very sore the next day.

I ran a four mile run in my Newton Gravity, and it was incredible. I had never felt so good after running. For next run, a seven mile group run, I switched back into my Nike Vomero shoes and hit the roads. With this contrast, I decided that I didn’t want to run in my pair of Nike shoes any more.

I returned home and put my Nike’s in the closet never to be worn again (at least not for running, but maybe for mowing the lawn or working around the yard). From that point on, I have only run in my Newton Gravity running shoes with the exception of a single run where I ran in a test pair of New Balance 1080v3 shoes (read my review).

Since that time, I have told everyone who is willing to listen how life-changing these new running shoes have been. The most amazing thing is that I had been battling bursitis in one of my knees that I caused through an impact injury, but continued to run through the pain. After long runs, I could barely bend my knee (especially after driving home after long runs with a local running group). After I switched to the Newton Gravity, I no longer had this pain. After long runs, I only felt my normal stiffness and aches and pains that accompany these types of activities.

I will continue to look for another shoe to work into my rotation as well as maybe working in some other Newton models (maybe the Distance and a pair of Terra Momentums for running trails). When I find something that makes me feel like my running shoes from Newton do, I will let you know!

The Good

  • Lightweight – 9.4 oz.
  • The lugs built under the forefoot provide a cushioned landing and have a nice spring when lifting your foot back up
  • The wide toebox ensures that your toes have some room to spread apart, which provides a more natural running feel
  • These shoes will last longer than your average running shoe. You can expect to get 1,000+ miles on these shoes before they need to be replaced
  • By their design, Newton running shoes are designed to make you focus on and improve your running form

The Bad

  • If you’re looking for a low cost shoe, these are not the shoe for you
  • If you’re looking to choose the color of your shoes and do not want to wear brightly colored shoes, these are not the shoes for you
  • You may experience some initial pain and suffering, but you will experience this in any minimalist running shoe if you’re only accustomed to running in highly built-up, traditional running shoes
  • If you’re not willing to work on your running form, these shoes (or any minimalist or barefoot running shoe for that matter) are not for you

MSRP: $175.00

Review: New Balance 1080v3 Running Shoes

21 January 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Product Reviews

THUD! THUD! THUD! This is what I felt and heard each time my foot struck the ground while running in a pair of New Balance 1080v3 running shoes. New Balance describes the shoe as follows on their product page: “Setting the standard for neutral runners, the 1080v3 provides comfort and protection in a lightweight frame. With N2 heel cushioning and an ABZORB crash pad, the 1080v3 can keep up, mile after mile.”

Their description, however, does nto reflect what I experienced when I took a pair of New Balance 1080v3 running shoes out for a spin on a cold and icy New England night. I have grown accustomed to running in a pair of shoes that have some life and spring while not being overly cushioned. These shoes felt dead and lifeless, and they felt like they were making me work harder on every single stride. In addition, the fit in the toe box was a little too tight for my liking. After a 5.5 mile run in a pair of test shoes provided by New Balance through the local running store, I was not convinced that these running shoes need to be in my closet.

The Good:

  • 8mm drop, so if you are looking to transition into a shoe that is closer to a minimal shoe (minimal is usually considered no more than a 5mm drop), this shoe will help you in the transition.
  • Good traction in slippery conditions. I ran over some icy roads and through some snow, and the shoes continued to perform with minimal slipping.

The Bad:

  • Toe box could be a little roomier for a more natural feel.
  • Very little spring/life. If you are accustomed to some spring in your shoes, you will notice a big difference and will need to work harder throughout your strides.
  • From a personal perspective, I’m not a big fan of bright white running shoes that quickly become dirty running through the winter, through mud season and on the trails.

Overall Rating (1-10): 6

Dashing through the Snow

4 February 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

If you’re like I was in the past, when it comes to winter you hang up your running shoes and pass away the time on the couch in front of a nice warm fire in the fireplace. This year, however, I decided that I was going to run a spring marathon, which means that I committed myself to training throughout the winter months. Living in New England, this could result in runs through the blustery cold, through the snow, through the sleet or occasionally through relatively mild temperatures.

The problem that I found is that no one would ever give me a decisive answer when I asked about training through the winter. I had many questions:

  • What do you wear for shoes?
  • What do you wear for clothes?
  • What do you do when the weather prevents you from running outside?
  • How do you keep your motivation to train through the elements?

Even searching around the web, all that I typically found was generalities but never the answers that I was hoping to find. So here are some of my thoughts based on my experience thus far this winter:

What do you wear for shoes? The simple answer is whatever you run in the rest of the year. When the roads start to get slippery from the snow or ice, your running form is much more important than what you’re wearing on your feet. If you are using good running form you will land on your forefoot or midfoot right under your center of gravity.

If you feel your toe/forefoot slipping, then you are overstriding. Try to shorten your strides, keeping in mind that ideally you should be running at about 180 steps per minute. If you feel your heel slipping, then you pushing off with too much force. It’s amazing how your run can change in slippery conditions just by focusing on these couple of things. When I first ran in slippery conditions this winter, I was slipping and sliding around. Once I was home I immediately went to the Newton Running’s Facebook page (since I run in Newton running shoes), I figured that since they are headquartered in Colorado that they would have some good advice. They provided the advice that I just shared with you, and it has been amazing how much running when it’s slippery has improved.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because you have good running form doesn’t mean that you won’t slip and fall in icy or very slippery conditions. It will, however, lessen your chances of doing so. There are some other things that you can do to create more traction in those conditions. The most effective options are:

  • Use YaktraxStabilicers or something similar to put over your running shoes to provide you with extra traction when you need it. If you want a DIY solution, you can screw hexhead screws into the bottoms of your shoes. I haven’t tried any of these methods yet, so I can’t provide you with a review.
  • If snow and icy conditions are going to be a constant or if you plan on trying to run trails throughout the winter, then you might consider investing in a pair of winter running shoes. Most of the major running magazines publish reviews in the fall so you can decide which one is best for you.
  • Many runners (especially trail runners) decide to switch to snowshoe racing/running to get through the snowy days.
  • Run on the treadmill or take a day off. If you are concerned that it is too slippery, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Turn the day into your rest day so that you will remain safe and ready to run another day.

What do you wear for clothes? I must fully disclose that I tend to be warm when others are cold. Having said that, my general rule is that if it is over 20 degrees outside, then I wear shorts. If it’s below 20, I will switch to basic running tights (I’ve been using Under Armour EVO ColdGear compression tights with only complain being that they don’t have a drawstring so they tend to slip and slide at times). If it’s really cold, then I swear by my CW-X Insulator Pro running tights.

When it comes to the top layer, I prefer to put on layers than to wear a heavier weight jacket. Depending on the temperatures, I range from wearing a long-live moisture wicking long sleeve technical shirt (typically a race shirt) and a 1/2 zip pull over (also moisture wicking). The “go to” 1/2 zip is usually my Brooks Nightlife 1/2 zip jacket. When it get’s really chilly, I’ll add a thermal base layer under the technical shirt. I have been running in both the Under Armour ColdGear compression longsleeve mock turtle neck and more recently Mizuno Breath Thermal running crew. These combinations have served me well through my winter runs, even on the coldest of days. If you’re very sensitive to the cold, then I would recommend a running jacket or shell that is also wind resistant in addition to adjusting the layers to fit your personal comfort level.

Even though I do not tend to wear a heat in the winter on a day-to-day basis, I always wear a hat when running throughout the winter. The most important thing to remember when choosing a hat is that it should be moisture wicking. This will ensure that the moisture moves away from your head and your head stays warm instead of freezing up or getting cold and making your head even colder. Before this winter, I didn’t realize that such a thing existed and now I couldn’t live without it! As with much of my running apparel, I chose Brooks again for my hat. I have both a more traditional knit hat as well as a running “beanie”. The knit hat is the “go to” on colder days. If it is particularly cold (in the single digits or below or if it is cold and particularly windy), I also have a Brooks balaclava that I have only used a few times this winter, but it was a welcome addition.

Much like a hat, I typically do not wear gloves or mittens in the winter. However, there is no way that I could run without them. My gloves are relatively light weight, but once again adjust to fit your specific comfort level. As with the hat, my only recommendation is that you choose a brand that is moisture wicking so that your hands don’t get all sweaty. I have a pair of Brooks Nightlife gloves, which provide some additional reflectivity on those dark early morning or evening winter runs. I also have a pair of Mizuno Breath Thermal gloves, which were a nice recent addition to the wardrobe.

In terms of socks, I wear the same ones that I wear year-round. Once again make sure that they are moisture wicking to try to keep your feet as dry as possible.

What do you do when the weather prevents you from running outside? Here are some ideas for alternative activities when the weather prevents you from running:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Treadmill
  • Crosstrain (stationery bike, elliptical, etc.)
  • Crossfit
  • Yoga
  • Walk
  • Rest

Most often I end up on the treadmill or turning the day into a rest day. This largely depends on where I am when the weather prevents me from running (which isn’t that often, but it does happen).

How do you keep your motivation to train through the elements? I had this very same question when I was trying to figure out how I was going to run through the winter. At the time, I was training for the Seacoast Half Marathon with a training group that was offered through the local running store (Runner’s Alley in Portsmouth, NH).

Even though it was August, I posed this question to our running coach, Mike Davis of No Finish Line Running. He gave me some great advice. He recommended that I plan on running the Half at the Hamptons, which is a half marathon in Hampton, NH, on February 24, 2013. This would be the carrot that danged in front of me on those cold and snowy days when I would prefer to stay on the couch in front of the fireplace. So that’s exactly what I did. Well, actually, I took it one step further and also registered for the Delaware Marathon on May 12. These two races would ensure that I would have to remain dedicated throughout the winter months. I haven’t looked back since. So pick something that will keep you motivated to run or even better find a running partner or a running group through your local running club or running store both to keep you accountable and to provide you with support through the winter months.

There are many more questions involving running in the winter and in colder weather, but hopefully these questions and my responses will help you to eliminate some of your doubts and fears of running through the winter. If you have other questions, please let me know and I’ll gladly share my experiences. And I’ll share more as I go along.

Now get outside and go for a run!