Innovation in the realm of running shoes often comes in the form of new colors, added padding, or subtle — sometimes gimmicky — design tweaks that do little to increase performance on the run.
That’s according to shoe expert Dr. Paul Langer, a podiatrist with Minnesota Orthopaedic Specialists in Minneapolis, and a veteran runner with two-dozen marathons, several triathlons and an Ironman under his belt. “Running shoe design hasn’t radically changed in 20 years,” he said.
But Newton Running, a new company from Boulder, Colo., that recently shipped its debut line of high-end shoes (read: $175 a pair), has Langer singing a slightly new tune.
Indeed, Langer, who is not alone in his assessment, goes as far as saying that what Newton has done is among the biggest running shoe innovations in recent memory. “The jury is still out on performance, but there’s no doubt the company is trying something new and intriguing,” Langer said.
So what has Newton (www.newtonrunning.com) done? The shoes feature rubber lugs — called “actuators” — that extend a quarter inch or so from the base of the forefoot region on the sole to mimic a barefoot running style, attempting to promote a more efficient and natural running technique. According to the company, the design minimizes detrimental heel-striking, promotes forefoot striking, increases speed, and prevents injury with some runners.
There’s also a claim that the actuators rebound you into each new stride — contracting on impact, absorbing energy, then springing you forward in a fit of, well, Newtonian physics.
In addition, the shoes are fairly lightweight — the Gravity model I tested are about 11 ounces per foot — and they have a mushy, dead-feeling heel, further egging you to strike on your forefoot.
Did I mention they cost $175 a pair?
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