This whole shoe review thing – it’s new to me. So, I was beyond pleasantly surprised when I received a reply to my inquiry to Newton Running asking to review some of their products. My contact at Newton had clearly done her homework, as she knew which shoes would best fit my shoe preferences. I received these Newton Distance shoes promptly and free-of-charge (Thanks!). I’ve always been intrigued by Newton, but never had taken the time to try on a pair, or even to come to realize how (what’s the word?) “different” they really are from most other brands. Here are my experiences:
Appearance – I have to be honest, I’m not thrilled with the neon colorways anymore. I see enough sorority girls walking around in their oversized tshirts, gym shorts, and neon colored Nike Frees to never want another pair of running shoes with “pop”. When I got my first pair of PureCadence, I enjoyed the fresh, bright color scheme, but the market seems a little played out and it’s time to go back to our primaries. As far as design, the profile of these shoes looks fast, and make me want to run fast when I look down and see them on my feet. That’s always a good start.
Initial impressions – The Newton Distance is marketed as a “lightweight performance trainer,” which basically means speed flat but not really designed to race. It weighs 7.8 oz and has a low heel-to-toe drop of 2mm. The forefoot is stiff with almost no flexibility, and the midfoot twists very little by hand, making this shoe very responsive for faster running. The upper mesh is very breathable, to the extent where I can see the outline of my toes from above. Turn the shoe over – WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE?! The forefoot of these shoes has four very aggressive and stiff rubber lugs. This is what makes Newton shoes, well, Newton shoes. In a different lug pattern, these shoes would almost be considered soccer cleats. The midfoot and heel both have soft EVA that cushions nicely.
First workout – Newton sends out a printed list of guidelines and suggestions with every pair of shoes. I love that they do this, because the shoes are radically different than most traditional shoes and Newton does not pretend that they will work for everyone instantly. Most notably, the company suggests easing into the shoes with a mile or two here and there for a few weeks until your body is used to the aggressive lug system. I don’t follow instructions very well (ask my coach), so I laced these bad boys up for a Thursday morning 12 mile workout (6 miles easy warmup/cooldown, 2x5k@MGP/hMGP). I started by removing the insole, an unnecessary barrier separating me from the heart and soul of these shoes. My left pinky toe (why just my left? I have no clue) felt a little crowded at first, but with some lace adjustments, I was able to get a good fit. I have to admit, my first few steps in these shoes – I was scared. I’m pretty good about naturally landing around midfoot, and when I first started running, it was hard. But Tyler, don’t you mean “hardcore punk rawk awesome”?! No, they really felt like I strapped a couple 2x4s to my feet and took off prancing down the road. I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but I did the workout in them regardless. It had done some raining here in Austin, so one of the roads we were using for the 5k loop had some mud washed across it, leaving about an inch layer on the top for us to navigate. I don’t recommend these shoes for these conditions. Pick a different route. Or a different shoe. Just don’t bother. They don’t do well (to be fair, probably only a bulldozer could have survived on that road). As the workout wrapped up, I found myself wishing I had a different pair of cushioned shoes to do the 3 mile cooldown. The balls of my feet hurt right around where the lugs live. During these faster paced workouts, I probably find myself gravitating toward the front of my foot and slamming down too much in this area, leading to some soreness in that area. I have experienced similar feelings in my A5s, though I did not notice the predicted calf soreness that most others said I would feel after wearing them for the first time. Overall, I think these shoes performed well during this workout.
I have heard that a pair of Newton shoes can last up to 1000 miles of running. That being said, I knew I couldn’t let a 12 mile workout determine if I liked these shoes or not. I’ve put a decent amount of miles on them, and I can honestly say that they get better the more you wear them. I like to wear a lot of different kinds of shoes, but I actually really look forward to feeling the stiff ride in the Distance that gives you feedback regarding the ground you’re running on. The shoes are protective and cushioned, but you get a good idea of how lightly or heavily you’re running. I found that this encouraged me to shorten my stride and aim to pound my foot into the ground far less. While we have been getting a decent amount of Fall/Winter rain here in Austin, I’ve had to test these shoes in less than sunny conditions. These shoes will hardly keep your foot dry, and I didn’t find that they drained well after I inevitably stepped in a puddle. In fact, I had some standing water still in my shoe when I took them off after a run.
Lightweight (7.8 oz)
Low heel-to-toe drop (2mm) works well for those who seek a near neutral foot position
Responsive ride while remaining cushioned
Very breathable upper
Lug system requires getting used to
Would not work well for forefoot strikes
Does not drain well
Loses all traction in mud
Toes felt crowded
I like the Newton Distance. I can’t say I love them, but I do like them a great deal. I will continue to run in them relatively often (once every week or two), and I would not be shocked if I grew to make them one of my favorites. The Newton Distance can be purchased from Newton Running.