I LOVE running shoes. They’re one of my favorite things to buy. I think most runners would agree – you can never have too many in your closet! I currently have six pairs in my rotation. Two of them are probably ready for retirement, but sometimes it takes me a little too long to throw them out. I know this isn’t good for my legs, but sometimes I get attached!
I’ve been wearing my Newton Gravitys and Nike Frees for the longest, so they’re my back up shoes right now. I leave the Nike’s at work in case I forget my sneaks and want to go for a run at lunch or at the end of the day. I left my Newton’s at home after Christmas so when I visit – especially when I fly – I don’t have to stuff a pair in my carry-on.
Here’s how they stack up…
Newton Gravity 2012
Lugs on my Newton test pair
Just The Facts:
Women’s Size 8
3mm heel-to-toe drop
How they Lace Up:
Putting on my new Newton’s was love at first step. I got to try them out in a series of four Friday 5ks wear Newton reps showed up with tester pairs, but it only took 2 weeks – and 2 PRs – to win me over. They’re incredibly light and breathable. Like all Newtons they feature their trademarked Action/ReactionTM technology and a biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate. Check out the lugs on the bottom that make them so unique and while still providing cushioning, give you a very engaging and responsive feel making you more efficient and costing you less energy with each step. The sensor plate lets you run more naturally since it allows you to sense the ground better making your stride more efficient and more stable.
These shoes are prefect for neutral, midfoot strikers like myself. They can also help encourage a midfoot strike if you’re looking to transition, but you should definitely take it slow and only run a couple miles at a time in them until you build up and strengthen the different leg muscles you’ll engage.
Newton’s bright colors are super fun, and combined with their patented technology they make me feel like I have an extra bounce in my step. I ran my fastest 5k ever in them, and yet they also were supportive enough to carry me through a marathon (also a PR) and all the long training runs along the way to it.
Nike Free 5.0
Nike Free 5.0s
Just The Facts:
Women’s Size 8
7mm heel-to-toe drop
How They Lace Up:
The Nike Free’s are super light and feel like there is barely anything on my feet. They’re also incredibly flexible. I think they’re a good first step into more minimalist shoes. Most of my runs in these shoes were on a treadmill since they were my back up pair at the office for when I’d fit in runs at the gym there. I was stuck doing most of my runs for that training season on the treadmill though, including three of my 20-milers (ugh!) so they saw plenty of miles.
After wearing heavily cushioned shoes for years, I was warned to ease into these, but I loved the light weight barely there feel right from the start. Again, these are best for neutral runners. The heels don’t have a lot of cushion either, so if you’re primarily a heel striker these might not be a good move.
Showdown – The Verdict:
Both shoes were great to me, so this is a tough call, but the Newtons win out. Both were pretty breathable, but the open air mesh upper of the Newtons dried a bit faster. The Newtons also force you to focus on your form a lot more. It’s easier to slip into a heel-first strike with the Nikes, which isn’t easy on the foot with their lack of cushioning.
While any specialty running store would lecture me about not choosing a shoe based on color, the Newtons fun, bright colors are definitely a plus! Sometimes it just comes down to feel and my Newtons felt great on every run, gave me support without weighing me down and most importantly – made me feel fast!