Hello, Better.

I’m having an affair. I’ve been cheating…on my running sneakers. With a completely different brand. Shhhhhh.

When I tell you that I have an addiction to shoes, it shouldn’t come as a much of a shock. I mean, let’s be honest. What woman doesn’t love shoes? Only my addiction isn’t to boots, heels, flats, etc. It’s to running sneakers. Take me to DSW or Famous Footwear and I can easily walk out empty handed. Send me into Aardvark or the Finish Line and I can almost guarantee that I’ll walk out with a new pair of kicks. Hi, my name is Allison and I have an addiction to running sneakers.

During any given training cycle, I rotate between 2-3 pairs of sneakers. It’s a necessity for injury prevention when running upwards of 60 miles per week. My usual contenders are sneakers  for medium to long distances, trail sneakers, and lightweight sneakers for shorter distances and speed work.  My go-to sneakers are the Brooks Adrenalines and are always part of my rotation. Over the years, I’ve strayed and tested out many different shoes. A pair of Asics here, several pairs of Mizunos there, the Brooks Green Silence, Brooks Ravenna, and Brooks Trance are just a few that have infiltrated my stash. I always go back to the Adrenalines. As a matter of fact,  I ended up picking up a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS trail shoes over the summer – LOVE.

At the end of my 2012 fall running season, I wore out three pairs of sneakers and was ready to start stocking up for spring training. I planned to purchase a pair of Adrenalines, but I was interested in checking out the Brooks Pure Project line, specifically the Pure Cadence. Enter the Newtons. Hello, better.

There were a three different models of the Newtons in stock Aardvark. It’s hard NOT to notice them: the screaming neon colors catch your eye, and they look out of place among traditional running sneakers. The soles are chunky and oddly shaped, and the logo is a crazy looking letter “N”. My first thought? Ohhhhhhhhhhh, pretty.  But I know better than that. For as frequently as I purchase sneakers, I never buy based primarily on appearance. Besides, I’m a Brooks girl. I was there to try on the Pure Cadence. And so the conversation went something like this:

Salesperson: “Wanna try something on?”

Me: “Yeah, the Brooks Pure Cadence in a 7, please. And a pair of those crazy looking Newtons. Which model do you recommend?”

I felt like I was having an outer body experience. Or a Freudian slip.  I hadn’t done any research. No harm in trying them on, right? It’s not like I was actually going to buy them. $255 later, I walked out of Aardvark carrying my trusty Adrenalines…and a pair of Newtons. The “Distance U” model. Nicknamed a “PR in a Box”, they are considered a fast, lightweight performance trainer. Yep, sign me up.

Minimalist? Transition Shoe? The jury’s still out. Theoretically, they could be tossed into the “minimalist” shoe category, weighing in around seven ounces, but the soles are kind of thick to be considered a traditional minimalist shoe. I’d still classify them in more of the minimalist category than a transitional sneaker because the heel-toe drop is only two millimeters. My Adrenalines have a 13 millimeter heel drop, so that’s quite the adjustment.

The heel-toe drop (also referred to as  “Heel Drop”, “H-Delt”, “Delta H”) refers to the differential of the height off the ground of the heel and of the forefoot.The design and technology behind shoes with a greater heel drop is to take the strain off the Achillies tendon and promote a more forward momentum. With minimalist running and less (if any) heel drop, the point is to engage more of the foot and allow for a greater range of motion.

The Newtons are designed to practically force runners not to heel strike, and to run more on the mid/forefoot, causing less impact on the body than heel striking. The “Distance U” features four little forefoot lugs, which are little rectangles of rubber that assist in springing off of the forefoot. The soles are constructed of a high density rubber, and are rumored to last 800-1000 miles. That’s  at almost three times the life expectancy of a normal pair of running sneakers. The $155 price tag seems excessive, but could be more cost effective if they last longer. Or as long as I can refrain from purchasing weird shoes with hefty price tags.

Newton recommends slowly transitioning into the shoe, running short distances at low intensity. I should only wear them for a mile or two, but I broke them in a few weeks ago on a four miler (oops). They felt so comfortable and I just couldn’t resist. I’ve used them once per week since then. What is it about these shoes? All I know is that I took them out for an easy 5 miler last week, and I couldn’t slow myself down even if I tried. For me, an “easy” pace is usually somewhere between 8:30-9 minute miles. When I finished the run and my Garmin reported my average pace per mile as a 7:45, I was ecstatic.

I’m aware that shoes aren’t going to make me run faster, but maybe those crazy Newton designers are onto something. I’ve only been out on them a few times, but maybe they will make me a more efficient runner. Or maybe it was the Sesame Quinoa Spring Rolls that I made for lunch, or the Starbucks that I downed when I was en route to my trail. Either way, I think I’m in love. Comfortable and springy, they almost remind me of a trampoline. At first stride, they felt a bit awkward since they are constructed differently than traditional sneakers. After each use, I seem to prefer the feeling of running on my mid/forefoot and seem to try to mimic that feeling when I wear my Adrenalines. Am I a Newton girl now? It’s a definite possibility…

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