I’m starting to feel like The Girl Who Cried “SHOES!” In the couple years I’ve been actively training for long distance races, I’ve tried a lot of running shoes.
A LOT. Of running shoes.
Going from memory…
The Asics: Nimbus 11 and Phoenix
The Newtons: Lady Isaac S.
The Altra: Intuition.
The Hoka One One: Bondi B and Kailua Tarmac.
That. Is. A. LOT. Of. Shoes.
And of the ones listed above, how many did I actually keep and run in regularly? A few. Thank goodness for excellent return/exchange policies! The Mizuno Inspires worked pretty well for a while before I ditched them in favor of a lower drop shoe that seemed to aggravate my IT Band less. The Altra Intuition was taken over by my mother, who loves them for work as a home nurse. I still have the Free Runs and, though I don’t like them for running, I use them for running errands. I adore the Mizuno Evo Cursoris (no point in a review, though - they discontinued it), but it’s not a distance shoe; I reserve it for short, speedy runs.
I ran in the PureFlows for the better part of a year and they were perfect! (Ironic that I never reviewed them!) But the new version, the PureFlow 2, has been nothing but trouble for my left foot for some reason. I’ve put 100 miles in my pair of 2’s and every time I run in them, I get stabbing pain in my outer left foot. I finally gave up and moved on. That’s right, to more new shoes. It’s review time again…
After much research and deliberation (and realizing there aren’t all that many options left that I haven’t tried…), I ordered a pair of Newton Gravity 13’s. Not the new Gravity, but last year's model. Because - duh! - they were $75 less than the new model.
On the run
- I LOOOOOOVE the colors! Truly love. And that's saying something, as I'm sick to death of pink shoes. But this is such a pretty pink, with so much depth and energy. (No offense Pepto-pink Evo Cursoris) And the contrast of the blue, green, yellow and orange is practically a study in Pop art. I've named my new shoes Andy. After, you know, Andy Warhol. #artgeek
- Slipping them on, I noticed right away that these fit much differently than the Lady Isaac S I tried a while back. The Gravity 13 has a much snugger fit through the heel, which is a huge must for me, but a far roomier toe box, another must. I also noticed the total lack of any medial or lateral posting; not a darned thing was pushing my inner or outer arch in any direction. I took the left shoe off and tried on my painful PureFlow 2... yep, squeezing and pushing on the outer edge of my foot, even without any weight on it. Interesting.
- I bought these right before my last big race of the season and experience tells me that running in any new shoes right before a race is dicey; one overly stressed muscle can wreck me. So I had a few weeks to kill before I could really test the Gravity. In the meantime, I wore them around - to the movies, for a couple days at Disney World, grocery shopping, etc.
HOLY COW!!! These are the perfect stroll around shoes! Who'dve thought? I didn't. I mean, the deal with Newton is the lugs - 4 (5 on the new models) protruding chunks o' rubber in the forefoot sole that are supposed to support a mid- or forefoot-strike and provide excellent energy return on the run. I had serious doubts about how comfortable that would be while walking. And yeah, I was kind of aware of them the first day, but they weren't at all uncomfortable and actually came quite in handy... driving in them was like having a block on the gas and brake pedals, an awfully nice feature for this very petite lady!
|They look nice with jeans, no?!|
On the run
- With my long distance race season complete, I finally got to running in the Gravity 13 a few weeks ago. Newton stresses the importance of making a slow transition to their shoes and they're not foolin' around, so I began with a mile in them. Then 2 a few days later. 3 miles. 4. 5. I've been running in low-drop shoes for well over a year, and I naturally land on my forefoot, so there were no transitional issues with that. However, the mechanics of Newtons (more detail below) are, indeed, different than other shoes and I definitely felt it in my feet, ankles, quads and calves after 5 miles. Not in any bad way; quite the opposite, really - I could feel entire sets of small muscles working that had pretty much never had to work before. But I'm glad I took it slow and didn't stress anything too much.
- Okay, the mechanics... Newton has a mantra of sorts, and it goes like this: "Land, Lever, Lift." And that's exactly what the lugs encourage your body to do - land on them, lever your heel down lightly, then lift your foot off the ground, using your quads, not your toes. As a lifelong dancer, that last part is hard for me; I naturally push off the tips of my toes, as evidenced by the early wear on my shoes.
But the land and lever parts worked beautifully for me from the first running step! It's amazing how much energy return is loaded into those silly orange lugs. And, surprisingly, I found them equally propulsive on my walk intervals - the heel was cushioned enough to absorb the small impact it takes on the walking stride, but quickly seems to convert that force into forward momentum. This is VERY different from the feel of walking in the PureFlows, in which I feel like my heel sinks into cushion and it takes a whole lot of effort to lift it back up.
|See the yellow treads at the top? Yeah, that's where I naturally land and push off. A little far forward... I'm working on it.|
- The fit while in motion was every bit as good as while meandering about town. On the run, the snug heel cup kept any weird movement there to a minimum, while a nice height on the upper stabilized my temperamental Achilles. Meanwhile, my mid-foot was supported underneath nicely. The Newton sole is a bit rigid through there, at least compared to the exceedingly flexible PureFlow and Evo Cusoris, and I've found that that's a good thing for my overly flexible feet. Again, there are absolutely no support features pressing my feet laterally or medially, which meant... NO outer foot pain! Halle-freaking-jujah. As for the toe box, it has, perhaps, a tad more room widthwise than I need - but I don't feel like my feet are swimming in them, and I'll likely appreciate the extra space when the long, hot runs of summer come along.
- Feeling really good about my new shoes, I opted to give them a race test. Typically, it's in race conditions that I discover my "perfect" shoe has flaws. I have no idea why, but almost every shoe I thought was terrific turned out to be a dud when I raced in it. So a true test came in the form of a local 5K that included roads, dirt, sand and gravel paths, and a little technical trail. How'd they do? Beautifully! Darned if those lugs didn't dig in and grip like crazy in difficult terrain. By the end of the race, nothing hurt, my shoes still felt yummy, and I was feeling pretty darned good about my future with the Gravity 13.
- Know what's my favorite part of Newton Running shoes? Instant feedback. Check out those lugs! If you look closely, you'll see that the lugs are (were) covered in a fine mesh pattern. See how that's worn away on the forward, outside parts of the lugs? That tells me where the bulk of my landing impact is, and confirms what I've long suspected: not only do I not overpronate on the left, I supinate quite a bit. That would account for the ongoing issues I have with my outer ankle, outer knee, outer hip... And I'm landing pretty far forward, too. The beauty of this information is that I can now do something about it! I've been making a concerted effort to keep that foot straight, to land a bit more centered and on the balls of my feet, not the toes. And guess what? I have less pain when I do!
I'm almost afraid to say it, given my track history, but I honestly think these are long-term keepers. If there's any negative to the Newton Gravity 13, it's that my feet do get tired after several days running in them. So I've been changing them up with my Evo Cursoris every other run and everything seems happy with that arrangement. At some point, though, (and sooner rather than later, judging by how quickly they're wearing) the Evo Cursoris will wear out and need to be replaced. And, as I said earlier, they've been discontinued. What's a gal to do???
Try another new shoe. Look for a review of the Altra Intuition 1.5 soon. :)
Meanwhile, yes, I heartily recommend the Newton brand and I look forward to even more miles in my Gravity shoes! I'll be sure to update this review when I hit longer distances, too.