Since its launch two years ago, Newton Running’s shoe philosophy has been seen as revolutionary and at times highly controversial. As Gear Junkie readers know, I am a fan of Newton’s odd outsole, which includes minimal heel-to-toe drop to discourage a rolling stride and lugs underfoot to keep a runner forward and fast.
For runners intimidated by the company’s original shoe offerings, which skew aggressive and unforgiving on form, Newton (www.newtonrunning.com) has unveiled a new model for this fall. The men’s Sir Isaac Guidance Trainers and women’s Lady Isaac Guidance Trainers have most of the same attributes as the original Newtons, including the midfoot sole lugs, called “actuator lugs.” But with a wider heel and forefoot, increased toe spring, a midsole support shank, and a beveled heel, the shoes are more forgiving to people not used to the “Newton stride.”
The company says the Sir Isaac and Lady Isaac will help a runner “make the transition to a more efficient midfoot/forefoot running technique” and “embrace their natural running form.” This form would be a midfoot strike with shorter steps and a faster stride cadence — a style that is sometimes referred to as a barefoot running technique.
Both Isaac models — due out in September — have a breathable closed mesh upper. The sole has been beefed up for durability, including a hard plastic protective covering on the midfoot. The rubber feels much more durable than other Newton models I’ve tested, which have soft rubber that shows wear after only a couple runs.
The actuator lugs on the Sir Isaac and Lady Isaac have been updated. They have a slight tread pattern for traction on wet surfaces, and they are made of a harder-wearing carbon rubber for added durability.
Like past models, the Isaacs remain at the upper echelon of the running shoe pricing structure. They will cost $149.
The company quotes the Sir Isaac as weighing 10.9 ounces (men’s size 9) and the Lady Isaac at 8.9 ounces (women’s size 7). On my scale, they were 13.4 ounces per shoe (in a size men’s 12.5), which is lightweight for this kind of running shoe, though about an ounce heavier than the Newton Neutral Racer model I employ for training and events as long as marathons.
I took two five-mile test runs in the Sir Isaacs this week. My initial reaction was good. They are comfortable and indeed more forgiving than other Newtons I have tried. There is less negative feedback underfoot if you strike with the heel, letting a runner ease into a midfoot-strike technique while learning to run the Newton Way.
—Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.