Newton Distance Trainer: $155, 8.4 ounces (mens 9)
Newton Running was the first company to design a shoe specifically to truly facilitate a midfoot/forefoot strike while running. The inspiration for the design, along with the company's namesake, came directly from Sir Isaac Newton and his Third Law of Motion: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." The idea was to create a shoe that would not only encourage a more athletic and efficient footstrike, but one that would also allow for a greater rate of energy return. This is accomplished by constructing a shoe with a less drastic heel-to-toe drop (between 0mm-4.5mm/0-3%, depending on the model) which promotes the midfoot strike initially, in addition to the use of "Actuator Lugs": protruding platforms that, when the foot strikes, press into separate chambers and membranes built into the midsole that, according to newtonrunning.com, allows for a 44% reduced impact and a 23% greater return of energy. As a result, the wearer will reap the benefits of greater efficiency, quicker recovery, and hopefully a noticeable improvement in their overall running. Additionally, Newton claims that, as a result of the technology used in the construction of the shoe, it can greatly outlast the typical 500-mile limit of most standard trainers, stating that the Distance trainer can maintain a lifespan of 800-1000 miles(!).
I can say with all certainty that Newton shoes feel akin to no other shoe I have ever worn. While walking or simply standing in the Distance trainer, it gives the impression of a negative heel drop, where the height of the forefoot is above that of the heel. Running in them is a different story altogether. Being a midfoot-striking runner already, I felt as though I acclimated to these shoes rather quickly. They are very light, very airy, and very soft, which is uncharacteristic of most shoes in this particular category. The best way to describe the feeling while running is "bouncy", as it truly does provide excellent impact protection and energy return. I felt light on my feet, and didn't feel fatigued at the end of my run at all, which is surprising considering I was moving at a pretty good clip (for me, anyway). As much as I loved this shoe, it is NOT a shoe you purchase and attempt to continue your current mileage using ONLY this shoe, seeing as it is completely different from anything most of us have ever worn. Considering the fact that many runners are heel strikers, I would recommend purchasing this shoe with the intention of using it as a training tool to improve your form, which is easy to accomplish when utilizing Newton's website that is chock-full of great videos and other information to make the transition as effortless as possible. Over time, you can use these as your daily trainers with the intent of becoming a more efficient runner, which could lead to faster times, less frequent injury, and longer distances. Come give them a shot at Fleet Feet Nashville!
(Note: Fleet Feet also stocks the MV2, Newton's Racer)