Newton shoes were initially introduced to the South African market through triangle sports in eastern cape, but recently had a boost as a result of their brand ambassador Zola Budd (Pieterse) who although living and coaching in Myrtle Beach in USA has taken on the brand in South Africa.
Famous for her barefoot running Zola knows the reasoning, benefits and energy efficiency of running style and it is this aspect that drives the innovation of the Newton range of shoes.
The brand is named after Sir Isaac Newton (incidentally the great great great grandfather of Arthur Newton the Comrades legend) who mathematically accounted for gravity when seeing an apple fall from a tree and evolved the laws of motion into mathematical equations. MV2 refers to momentum and velocity and which affects even the orbit of the earth and universe. So its all about ‘energy’.
The MV2 are the second generation of Newton shoes using five external lugs on the outer-sole of the shoe as opposed to the four that are evident in the earlier models. However the MV2 is a lightweight racing type shoe which will appeal to all who either believe in the barefoot, minimalist or natural running style.
The upper is a wide mesh with a lightweight screen material to prevent fine sand and grit from entering the shoe, but at the same time ensuring the cooling of the feet. There are no restrictive straps or bands, which ensures full flexibility and comfort in the upper.
The MV2 is a ‘zero-lift’ shoe meaning that the thickness of the midsole under the ball of the foot is the same as the thickness under the heel and as a result the calf and lower leg muscles are able to move through the full range of their flexibility. While this is a useful objective in the long run it is vital that runners are aware of how dramatic this can be if the move to such a shoe is not done in stages. With this in mind Newton supply a heel insert for each shoe so that the transition can be made gradually. Furthermore this, as with any move from tradition shoes to the minimalist shoes, should commence with alternating training sessions and ensuring a slow adaptation.
This brings us to the outer lugs: The five lugs provide greater ‘stability’ of placement when landing in the MV2, but maintain the founding concept that the runner should land on the ball of their foot only marginally ahead of the centre of gravity. As with all Newton shoes they greatly assist runners to understand the concept of efficient running and cleverly highlight the very first key of a slight forward lean and drive from the hips.
The cushioning that is provided by the shoe comes primarily from Sir Isaacs law that for every action there is a reaction and the impact on the lugs cause compression and reaction which is said to reduce both the impact and increase the return to the forward motion.
The work of this second-generation lug layout is said to be further enhanced by the way the inner plate has been placed above the lug ‘socket’ area.
The theory is all very well, but how does it run?
Without question the MV2 will assist you in learning the correct running style and put you on the ball of your foot. With practice and nominal coaching you can learn to hold the body in a more efficient position, but this work requires to be augmented by core strengthening in most runners who have spent past years in rigid shoes that have destroyed their running style. The other noticeable change will be the running cadence.
By landing closer to your centre of gravity the stride length is initially shortened and so for the same running speed the number of strides per minute (cadence) needs to increase. This however is not that different to the way the more skilled road cyclists use a higher cadence and easier gear to go as fast as the cyclists who grind out a pace in a lower gear with a reduced muscle fatiguing stroke rate. As with the cyclists once you are used to this higher cadence you become more efficient and as you become more efficient (and faster) you can automatically lengthen your stride (because of the greater momentum) and so run faster for the same energy.
So most of this review has looked at the concepts – but there is no amount of explanation that can describe the feeling of the shoes and what it can or cant do for you. What’s important is to try them on. They will not be everyone’s choice, but everyone can benefit from them if they use them in the most suitable fashion. For some runners this will be a track or short distance type shoe used to learn / remind them of the more correct running style (i.e. used as a skill development tool) for others it will become a full time racing and or training shoe. It will be dictated individually. What I can say is that runners who have previously suffered metatarsal pains (where a metatarsal bone or head has dropped or is being inflamed by road impact), will probably battle to use this shoe for long distances, but many runners have already used them for marathons, ultras and even the last leg marathon of an Ironman: so don’t be quick to discount them on the basis of their shape.
All in all the MV2 is an impressive and comfortable lightweight shoe and I feel a better option than the previous models and most importantly …. Worth looking at.