Shoe Showdown: Newton Distance vs. Brooks PureConnect

My last Shoe Showdown post featuring Newton Gravity and Nike Free 5.0 shoes seemed to be a big hit, so I thought I’d follow it up featuring the two newest pairs of running sneaks in my lineup. I bought my Brooks PureConnects with a Groupon at City Sports in late October just when I started physical therapy, so it was awhile before I actually got to go running in them. My brother and his fiancée surprised me at Christmas with a new pair of Newton Distance kicks. They give great gifts!

Here’s how they stack up…

Newton Distance 2012

Just the Facts:
$155
Women’s Size 8
6.8 oz.
2mm heel-to-toe drop

How They Lace Up:
I said trying on my Newton Gravity shoes was love at first step, and the Distance model somehow managed to feel even better. Lighter and an even smaller heel-to-toe drop than the Gravity model, the Distance shoes felt like I barely had anything on my feet. The blue and orange colors are bright, fun and make me smile every time I look at them. The mesh makes them very breathable, which will come in handy when it heats up here. It’s already been nice to see how quickly they dry after some snowy and rainy winter runs.

Similar to the Gravity model and all Newtons, these feature their trademarked Action/ReactionTM technology and a biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate. 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. The lugs while still providing cushioning, give you a very engaging and responsive feel, making you more efficient and costing you less energy with each step.

I haven’t gone further than 7 miles in these yet, so I don’t know how they’ll hold up to high mileage of marathon training or if I’ll have to switch back to the Gravity for that. I plan to train for and run a half marathon in April in these anyways, so that shouldn’t be an issue. These are great for neutral runners and really encourage a midfoot strike. The shoes are snug, but my toes have a lot of wiggle room, and I’ve never had any blister or discomfort issues wearing these. The lower heel-to-toe drop and lighter feel makes these feel real fast, and I can’t wait to test out my speed outside of a track or treadmill in an actual race.

Brooks PureConnect

Just the Facts
$90 original price, currently $59 on BrooksRunning.com
Women’s Size 8
6.5 oz.
4mm heel-to-toe drop

How They Lace Up:
The Brooks PureProject was released last year to a lot of fanfare, and the PureConnect is a sharp-looking shoe. Obviously you can tell I like bright colors. These neutral shoes are incredibly light giving you a barely-there feel, yet somehow still manage to feel like they have some cushion. They’re also very breathable and flexible. They feature a split toe groove that extends through the forefoot that is supposed to allow you to better connect with and feel the ground, but I didn’t really notice a difference with this.

I love these for cross training. They’re great to wear when I’m biking, hitting the elliptical, cranking out burpees or suffering through single-leg squats. I wanted to love these for running too. I really did. Unfortunately, I don’t. They fit nice and snug which I like through most of the shoe, but the toe box is very tight as well. When I was finally cleared to run in these I found that my toes started rubbing and feeling really uncomfortable after just a few miles. I think sizing is the main issue causing this and wish I hadn’t been cross training in them for a couple months before taking them on a run or I’d try to return them. I’d recommend going a half size up compared to your usual size. I wish I’d used my Groupon on other gear and gone to one of the many awesome specialty running stores around here (Pacers in Clarendon is my favorite) to ensure the right fit instead of getting sneakers from a salesperson busy waiting on five other people at the same time.

My only other issue with these shoes is after experiencing the 2mm heel-to-toe drop, it’s amazing how much of a difference a couple of millimeters can make. I wish they’d taken this one a little lower, but I still think (if bought in the correct size) they would be a great way to transition to minimal running.

Showdown – The Verdict
Given that I can’t run more than a few miles in my Brooks PureConnects, it’s pretty obvious that the Newtons win out in this showdown. I standby the Brooks shoes as great cross-trainers,  but would have to see if the 8.5s fit better before putting them at an equal level to my Newtons. The Newton Distance really kicks it up a notch with it’s low heel-to-toe drop and extremely light shoe. I feel like I can fly in them and love the feedback I get when running in them. I can instantly tell when I slip into a heel strike where I’m reaching my leg out in front of me, and it’s almost as if they force or guide me into more of a midfoot strike underneath my body.

Newtons have won my heart for now and will be my primary race shoe for 2013.

I’d love to hear if others have had a better experience with the PureConnects. All Newton wearers out there – have any of you tried the MV2 model? I’m thinking of treating myself to these after my first goal race for my speed sessions and shorter races.

Shoe Showdown: Newton Gravity vs. Nike Free 5.0

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

Just The Facts:
$175
Women’s Size 8
7.6 oz
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

Nike Free 5.0s

Just The Facts:
$100
Women’s Size 8
7.4 oz
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!

Natural Running

Last weekend I went to a running seminar and clinic put on by Newton Running at Pacers in Arlington. The Arlington store is my favorite one – mostly because it’s within walking distance of my place! It started out with a presentation on natural running, going over proper running form to make you as fast and efficient a runner as possible.They talked about balance and relaxation as the keys to running.

They also hammered home the importance of landing under your center of mass. While they noted that the most efficient running form of running has you landing on your midfoot/forefoot before your heel settles, I liked that they showed this might not be best for you if you’re still reaching your leg out in front of you. I’m usually a heel striker and have been working on converting, but if I reach my leg out then landing on my forefoot puts me another half a foot away from the center of my body than if I kept landing on my heel. It’s one more thing to try and think about while running of course, but I feel like I have a much better understanding of how I should be trying to make adjustments. I hope I can get to the point of landing on my midfoot first, but for now my main focus is going to be landing under the center of my body.

Check out Newton’s 10 Laws of Natural Running.

 

Naturally, they were there to promote their shoes as well, but that was the fun part. We got to try on their different shoes and take them out for a test drive. We were paired off with different Newton running coaches and went through a series of drills to the amusement of onlookers walking by the Clarendon Metro as we worked on our running form. It was pretty cool and I have to admit I really liked the shoes. I might have to try them out when I go for my next pair – which will be soon as I plan on retiring one of my current pairs of sneaks after the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday.