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RunnerDude Reviews Newton's Neutral Performance Trainer—the Gravity

Posted Oct 04 2010 5:31am
Back in July, Newton Running sent me a pair of their Neutral Performance Trainers—the Gravity—to test out and review. I've tried to provide information on a wide variety of running styles (i.e., Chi Running, barefoot running, Vibram Five Fingers) on the blog, so I was eager to get the Newtons and give them a test drive. I've read a lot about Newton, but had not yet had the opportunity to run in them . I was psyched!

The Newton  website , promises a lot for what the neutral performance trainer will do for a runner. I'm always a little wary when so much is promised. "Newton Running's top-of-the-line neutral performance trainer is the ultimate shoe for Natural Running. Get a fast, flexible ride with greater energy return and less impact. The 2010 model has enhanced durability in the heel, a new high-rebound midsole material and improved upper fit. This shoe allows you to run naturally — faster with greater efficiency and less overuse injuries (like achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis)." But in this case what was promised was delivered.

The neutral performance trainer is recommended for any distance. I wanted to test something that I could use on a regular basis for training runs, so this shoe seemed to be the best fit for me. The first thing that strikes you when you see a pair of Newtons for the first time are the huge lugs running across the bottom of the midfoot where the ball of the foot would be located. This is a part of the Newton technology or what they call the Action/Reaction Technology™.
The technology is based on Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion: "For every Action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." You see the large lugs act as levers and shock absorbers that return energy back to you as you run. The key to the Newton is that you land with a midfoot or forefoot strike instead of landing on the heel first. Newton calls this a Land-Lever-Lift motion. This causes continuous muscle activation instead of a start/stop action that's caused by the breaking effect when you heel strike.
I've tend to have more of a midfoot strike, so adjusting to the Newton's did not take very long. But Newton does a great job of letting new Newton runners know that they should ease into running in their Newtons, especially if they've been a heel striker. You'll be activating some muscles that you may not have used much when heel striking or you may just be using them in a slightly different way. Anytime you recruit new muscle activation, there's a period of acclimation. Newton recommends not running more than about 1.5 miles in your new shoes the first time. Then you should gradually add a little more mileage with each run. Also, be aware that Newtons tend to run about a 1/2-size smaller than your regular running shoe. So, for example, if you normally wear a 9.5, it's probably a good idea to order a 10 in a Newton.
The only negative I have to say about the shoe is the expense. The Neutral Performance Trainers that I tested sell for $175. About $75 more than what I pay for my traditional running shoes. But, I guess if you factor in the fact that Newtons may prevent running-related injuries down the road, maybe that savings in medical expense is the worth the extra money.
The video below shows Newton Running founder Danny Abshire as he demonstrates the finer points of forefoot running: proper athletic position; finding your sweet spot; the difference between walking stride, jogging stride, efficiency running and sprinting; and using the Land, Lever, Lift technique to perfect your form.

If you live in the Triad area (Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, NC) then check out a pair of Newtons at our awesome local running store Off'n Running Sports located at 2201 Joan Ave in Greensboro (just off Lawndale). This Tuesday (October 5th) from 6-8PM will be Newton Night at Off'n Running. A Newton rep will be at the store to teach you about Newton shoes and how to run in them. Participants in Newton Night will receive a 15% discount on Newton shoes!! I told you Off'n Running Sports was great!

Note: Although Newton Running sent me a pair of the Gravity shoes and asked me to test and review the shoes, I was in no way urged to write a positive reveiw, nor was I paid or compensated in any other way for writing the reveiw. My review is purely based on my own personal experience using the product.
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