Product Review: Newton Distance S III

2012 Newton Gravity vs. 2015 Newton Distance S III

2012 Newton Gravity vs. 2015 Newton Distance S III

Well, this is unfortunate. This is my 2nd pair of Newton Running shoes, and I absolutely loved them except for a couple of glaring issues, one of which may keep me out of Newton’s shoes permanently. Let’s get into it.

POP

When you read the rest of this review, you’re going to wonder why I buy Newton’s at all. It’s the POP. I know some people have mixed feelings about it, but the lugs that make up their POP system work for me. I feel faster with less effort in Newton’s than in any other shoe. I can definitely match my speed in a similarly weighted pair of shoes, but it will feel like more effort.

If I want to test my 5K or 10K PR, I would definitely want to have on a pair of Newton’s.

5 Lugs

The only reason I didn’t keep training in Newton’s following my first pair in 2012 was due to the 4 lug system. It always took me a couple of miles to feel comfortable, and they never felt all that stable to me.

More recently, however, Newton introduced 5 lugs. The change solved all of my issues with running in Newton’s. 5 lugs felt extremely stable, and I still felt the same speed and endurance benefit from the trampoline effect of the lugs.

Durability

Newton Distance S III Lug Wear Pattern

Newton Distance S III Lug Wear Pattern

I have never felt compelled to contact a shoe company about the durability of their product until the Newton Running Distance S III. Why? It should be obvious in the above picture. The outer lug on only my left shoe wore down almost completely within the first 120 miles of use. Let me say that distance again: 120 miles.

I don’t know exactly when the lug wore down. It might have been 50 miles, or it might have been 100 miles. Either way, it was not 500 miles. The older Newton Gravity pictured alongside my Newton Distance has over 500 miles on it, and there is almost no wear to any of the 4 lugs. They’ve lost some of their pop, but I bet I can still run in the Newton Gravity for another 500 miles. I’m at over $1/mile in the Newton Distance S III.

So I contacted Newton Running support to see if they had an explanation. Without looking at video of my stride or asking any further questions, the support agent diagnosed me as a supinator and told me I should be in a neutral shoe instead of a stability shoe. My old Newton Gravity are neutral shoes, and I knew I had more outside wear on most of my shoes so I accepted the explanation and went on my way.

It really kept gnawing at me, though.

Why do NONE of my other shoes show a significant wear pattern difference between left and right shoe?

Why did the local running store identify my foot strike as neutral?

Why did stability shoes solve a lot of lower leg problems I was having in neutral shoes?

I’m not sure why it took me so long, but clearly it was time to shoot some video on the treadmill and see what was really going on.

I spent some time researching pronation and supination to make sure I understood fully after seeing this video. The basic difference is which way the ankle moves when you land.

With pronation, your ankle will shift inward as your weight transfers toward the ball of your foot and big toe.

With supination, the weight transfer doesn’t happen, and your ankle might shift outward on impact.

As you can clearly see, I pronate. On the left side, it is more pronounced. This is due to my right ankle injury, and the hardware holding it all in place. My right ankle can only move so far before the internal hardware says it can’t go any further.

You can also see that I land initially on the outside of my midfoot. With a heel strike, that landing would show up in the tread on the outside of the heel, and then the pronation would show up with wear on the inside of the forefoot. Looking back at my first pair of running shoes from when I was still heel striking, you can see exactly that wear pattern. Most of my walking shoes also show the same pattern. The outside of the heel wears first followed by the area beneath my big toe’s metatarsal.

However, I no longer heel strike. I used Newton’s and Vibram’s to shift to a mid-foot strike to avoid injuries I thought were being caused by heel striking. So now my initial landing is on the outside of the mid-foot, right where the 5th lug is located.

I’m definitely impacting the outside lug on the left foot more than any other part of the shoe. There may also be a bit of scraping as that part of the shoe begins to contact the ground. That explains the wear pattern, but it doesn’t explain 120 miles.

My Altra Provision 2.0 which were in rotation during the same training cycle as the Newton Distance SIII have about 200 miles on them. The wear pattern is symmetrical and barely visible.

My Brooks Pure Cadence, 2 pair from 2014 and 2 more pair from 2013, all have around 200 miles of use. The wear pattern is symmetrical and barely visible.

My Newton Gravity from 2012 look like they’ve been barely worn and have 500+ miles of use.

My concern is that I don’t know why that particular lug wore down so severely. You would think I’ve been riding a bike and dragging my foot to stop. That’s how bad it looks. Given Newton Support’s misdiagnosis and lack of interest in pursuing the issue further, I’m not sure I want to spent $150 more on another pair just to see if it was a fluke.

Comfort

My other issue with Newton shoes is not new to the Newton Distance S III, but it was a bit more severe. The shoes have to be tight to keep your metatarsals right where they need to be over the lugs. That tightness, in my experience, translates to pain right where the laces tie together if you run far enough.

If you’re staying below 1/2 marathon distance, you may not even notice. At 10K or less, I never notice a problem, but on a 20 miler earlier this year I did enough damage that I was having trouble tying any of my shoes properly for weeks. I had to use some creative lacing techniques to be able to run a 1/2 marathon at the end of April and a marathon in early May due to the pain from that one 20 miler in my Newton’s.

Pros:

  • 5 Lugs for Stability
  • POP System for that Trampoline Effect
  • Extremely Comfortable Upper Except for Lacing Issues

Cons:

  • Lack of Durability (approx. 100 miles)
  • Cost (due to lack of durability)
  • Lace Discomfort
  • Responsive but Inaccurate Support from Newton

 

 

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