Since launching in 2007, Newton's growth has been largely through word-of-mouth. As co-founder Danny Abshire explains, the Boulder, Colorado-based company's goal from the start has been" to build a more efficient running shoe." As more and more runners and triathletes are discovering the brand, the company's "tribe" of customers has developed a fierce loyalty to the Newton's unique shoe design. New converts regularly find their way to Newton shoes after battling recurring injuries in more traditional shoe designs.
On October 11, three-time Winter Olympian and gold-medal speed skater Apolo Ohno finished the Ironman World Championships in Kona wearing a pair of Newtons. In fact, according to the annual running shoe count of Ironman World Championship competitors, more than 10 percent of the 2,000 competitors wore Newtons during the marathon leg of the world-famous race.
The key to the unique feel of Newton running shoes lies in its proprietary energy-return technology. Action/Reaction forefoot lugs placed underneath the midfoot are engineered to return energy, improve efficiency and enhance runners' ground feel. The Extended Medial Bridge built into the center of the shoe is designed to provide support without overcorrecting the natural gait.
As a regular runner, I was immediately intrigued by the outsole of the Newtons when I saw them for the first time. I was given the opportunity to run in the Newton Gravity. This is the company's neutral "Mileage Trainer" with a 3mm heel-to-toe drop that's geared towards short and long-distance training and racing. After logging about 30 miles in them and working through an extended adjustment period, I'm a believer.
The Action/Reaction lugs are immediately noticeable when walking in the Gravity, but equally noticeable is the shoe's light weight. I have a wide forefoot and was pleased to find that there was plenty of room in the toe box. The upper has minimal overlays and breathes really well.
Newton advises runners start slowly and work their way into the shoes, building up with shorter runs at first. In fact, they include a list of tips titled "Newton's 10 Laws of Running Better" along with each pair.
Among their recommendations, numbers 3 and 4, emphasize form and are key to running in Newtons. I had been running in a shoe with a 4mm drop, so I didn't think that adjusting to the Newton Gravity would be very dramatic. I was wrong. The geometry of the Newtons is different, and the shoes have a noticeable "sweet spot" (the lugs) that delivers rebound which I discovered on my very first run in them. Since I was engaging different muscles and tendons, my body quickly reminded me that a shoe change had occurred. While I wasn't having any difficulty landing on my midfoot and hitting the sweet spot, my ankle and core were both engaging more and I felt resulting tightness in my ankle tendons and hips. That feeling eventually went away.
One thing that's particularly helpful about Newtons is that you can study the wear pattern on the forefoot lugs to tell you about your gait. You can then try to make adjustments based on that information in order to maximize your efficiency. In my case, the lugs are worn more at the forefoot and the outsole in front as well, which suggests I'm pushing off a bit with my toes.
Newtons are designed to have a lifespan that's as long as a traditional pair of shoes, depending on your form and running style. One thing worth pointing out is that the space between the lugs makes it easy to get large pieces of gravel wedged in there. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend wearing Newton road shoes on gravel or dirt roads.
Hot Newton Shoes:
- Newton Gravity Neutral Trainer Running Shoes (For Men) — A balanced design for daily training, tempo runs and distance racing, with a 4mm drop and added midsole cushioning
- Newton Lady Isaac Running Shoes (For Women) — Built on Newton's Guidance Trainer platform, this model features a midfoot support chassis for a balanced combination of support and flexibility.
- Newton Distance Neutral Trainer Running Shoes (For Women) — Engineered for speed, responsiveness and efficient running, with a 2mm heel-to-toe drop
- Newton MV2 Running Shoes (For Men) — An ultralight, efficient racing flat for short distances and speed workouts
Earlier this year, Newton became the first dedicated running shoe company to become a certified B Corporation. This nonprofit identifies companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and tr