I’ve gone through pretty much every brand of running shoe out there. Asics, New Balance, Newton, K-Swiss. For the last few year’s I was a die-hard Newton fan. I decided to give them a try because the shoes were light and also because the technology intrigued me. There was something about those little lugs on the bottom of the shoe that caught my eye. Plus, Craig Alexander uses them so what’s good for Craig must be good for me too right? I guess I’m exactly the type of target consumer that the Newton marketing folks are trying to reach.
Newton says that humans naturally run on the mid foot or fore foot. Try running barefoot in a park or on the beach and you’ll understand. They further contend that the running shoe companies encourage heel striking by constantly reinventing the padded heel which in turn encourages bad running form because It’s soft and squishy and you think that it’s where you’re supposed to land. Bottom line is that heal striking transmits the force to the knees and hips which eventually cause injuries. Newton designed their shoes around the natural running form theory and installed the lugs on the forefoot as a sort of landing pad target I guess.
I’m a sucker for innovation so a few years ago, I decided to look at these shoes a little more closely. The first thing I noticed was the $175 price tag. That’s a HUGE chunk of change to drop on a pair of shoes. Second was the outrageous color scheme that they chose for each and every model. Nevertheless, I decided to commit and give them a try. My first two pair was from their Motus line which is their answer to a stability shoe. From there, I switched over to their new Sir Issac model which, in retrospect, I should have tried first because it’s designed more as an entry level shoe to get runners use to the new running style and the overall feel of the lugs. I then decided to try the less expensive Distancia ($155) which is what I currently have on right this very minute.
Last summer, I started to have some problems with my hips and my calf muscles. I stretched regularly, drank plenty of water, used a foam roller and even had massage work done to work out the tightness. Nothing seemed to help so I decided that it might be the shoe itself. I noticed a few folks complaining about calf and achilles pain while using Newtons so I began to wonder if the shoes were catching up to me.
I started to look around and try a brand that I had never used before and finally settled on the K-Swiss. I picked up a pair of Blade-Lights which ran me around $100 or so. I used these shoes for a while and did notice some of the calf pain subside but I then began to develop pain in the ball of my right foot. What the $@%& was going on with me? Frustration really started to set in and to this day, I still can’t figure out what the problem was. I was limping everywhere, my foot was very tender to the touch, and I was having problems standing for extended periods of time. I eventually got over it but only after I increased my running hours per week. What a mystery. I guess I’m getting older and my body is starting to fall apart.
I liked the KSwiss but but ultimately decided that they didn’t provide me with much arch support. I was able to run in them reasonably well but my legs were always fatigued. I experimented with laces, wore calf sleeves, etc but I never had that spring in my stride that the Newtons gave me. I’ve recently returned to the Distancias and did a quick 8 miler the other day. What a difference! I was able to run the entire distance at a sub-8 minute pace and felt great afterwards. My legs were a little sore the next morning but I fixed that with some stretching and a nice swim.
The jury is still out on my shoes. I still wear the K-Swiss from time to time but I’m currently leaning more towards the Newtons. I feel better in these shoes. I just wish they weren’t so flashy.