To be honest, it did feel odd to pay so much money for a pair of running shoes- isn't part of the appeal of running its low cost simplicity? (Tell that to my husband as he pays the bills for our recent trip to Hawaii, Maui Oceanfront Marathon and all:) ) Yes and no. The activity itself is generally free but the shoes, the technical gear, the hydration systems, the races, the Garmins, all cost a fair amount. But certainly cheaper than cycling or golf, right?
While I certainly care about and appreciate the importance of good running form to run efficiently and injury-free, I've never really jumped on the 'barefoot' or 'minimalist' running bandwagon. It makes sense to me that our bodies would naturally run most efficiently without shoes on since virtually all of our anatomical evolution occurred while we were barefoot. And if I was an injury prone runner, I'm sure I'd give barefoot running (and maybe even those absurd looking Vibram 5-fingers) a try. But I haven't had a running injury in years (knock on wood), so I see no need to fix what ain't broken.
I do, however, think running form is of the utmost importance. As I've focused on improving my form, maintaining fore/mid-foot landings (I've never been a heel-striker, thank goodness), increasing my cadence, and shortening my stride, running has become easier and I've been able to run faster speeds more comfortably. Also, I require very little (to no) recovery after hard efforts and races which I also attribute to a combination of good genes and good running form. So concepts like Chi-running and the natural running stride advocated by Chris McDougall appeal to me. Newton shoes fall more into this category.
So how are Newtons (supposedly) different than other running shoes? They are designed to specifically benefit runners who are midfoot or forefoot strikers ("natural running gait") by designing the shoe around Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion: For every ACTION, there is an equal and opposite REACTION. (Hence the name of the shoe.) According to the Newton webpage,
"When your midfoot/forefoot LANDS on the ground, the technology's four external actuator lugs are pressed into hollow chambers inside the shoe's midsole via an elastic membrane (ACTION). This movement absorbs shock.
As you LEVER inside the shoe, the lugs release their stored energy and propel you forward through a burst of energetic return (REACTION) from the Action/Reaction Technology™. You then LIFT your knee and begin a new stride."
So unlike most running shoes that try to absorb the shock/impact of your foot hitting the ground to allegedly "protect" your joints, Newtons take that energy and give it right back to you to help propel your next step forward. I say "allegedly" protect your joints because when running naturally (ie not heel striking) your body does a better job of protecting itself that shoes ever will, so this so-called protection is really just a way to slow you down.
Either way, though, these bright orange shoes will certainly stand out at races making it easier for family and friends to see me! After all, I'm still a gal who loves cute shoes!!
And, don't worry, I bought a new pair of Ravennas as well. You are supposed to slowly work in your Newtons starting with 15 minutes at a time, so I found a deal on a pair of old model Ravennas to be my mainstay as I adapt the the Newtons. This time, purple and white:)