In less than a year, Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking has sold over 1000 pair of Newton Running shoes. Newton Runner Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (pictured left) opened the concept store in June 2010.
Dr. Mark, one of the earliest adapters of Natural Running, began researching and learning about better running form after several foot operations in 2000. He discovered the effects of footwear affects as a runner for Brooks Sports and working on minimalist shoe projects. “By cutting the heels off shoes I understood the feel of zero-drop,” says Cucuzzella. “I didn’t need any more data to realize that elastic recoil and natural motion were enhanced with my foot in its anatomic position.”
When these projects were shelved, Dr. Mark contacted Newton Running‘s Danny Abshire, of who was building a shoe designed to facilitate proper running form. Dr. Mark and Newton Running continue to learn and evolve with a common goal of having runners embrace the notion of “No Pain…Thank you”, not “No Pain…No Gain”.
In 2009 Shepherdstown started hosting running events that soon become the largest in the state. There is now an entire Freedom’s Run Series of Events (www.freedomsrun.org) with partnerships with the National Parks. The all-volunteer group builds trails and gardens for schools and has established the Historic Region as a National Heritage Area.
The events have grown such that a race headquarters was needed. Freedom’s Run race committee members Tom Shantz and James Munnis, stepped up to the challenge of creating a shoe store specializing in flat and minimalist shoes.
“The Sir Isaac Guidance Trainer has been an excellent and safe transitioning shoe for many new and experienced runners,” says Shantz. “It is durable and allows the feel and protection of a shoe as runners start to learn and understand better form at their own pace”
“We are big supporters of barefoot running as a supplement to land better and improve posture,” he adds. “Most who have not achieved proper strength, mobility and efficiency would trash a pure minimalist shoe and their bodies in two to three weeks. The resiliency and firmness of Newton Running’s midsole and its sustainable properties make it unique in the shoe market. We also teach the components of healthy movement in weekly clinics and at each customer interaction.”
The Distance Light Weight Trainer is the shoe of choice for State Champion Jefferson High School Cougars. Whereas most coach recommend cushioned trainers to their athletes, Jefferson Coach Scott Biola understands it is critical not to let his runners transition to a dysfunctional heel-to toe-pattern. One Newton runner who has achieved great success is multiple state champion and 4:15-miler Brandon Doughty. Brandon has but over 1200 miles in his Newton Running Gravity Neutral Performance Trainers and has avoided injury. He will run for Oklahoma next year. Five of Biola’s runners broke 10 minutes over 2 miles this year, when five years ago he would have had trouble finding five runners to break 5 minutes in a mile.
“Chi Running principles have helped me overcome my own injuries,” says Biola. “Getting away from heel striking is an essential aspects to teaching proper mechanics to high school athletes. I prefer to see them land on either the forefoot and rearfoot touching simultaneously or the ball of the foot (forefoot) touching first.”
“It seems that the older the athlete, the harder it is to transition away from the heel strike,” he adds. “Time spent in traditional training shoes definitely has a lot of us accustomed to heel striking. I’ve found that the Newton shoes and other lightweight minimalist models help reinforce proper mechanics. In addition to getting people away from heel striking, these shoes are also light in weight which is essential to having a rapid cadence. That quick turnover not only makes for faster running, it seems to help reduce injuries.”
Dr. Mark has these thoughts about the future: “We are seeing many runners now graduating into less shoe in a healthy and progressive way. We look forward to the launch of the MV2 in the fall. It will be a fresh option for those who have learned and evolved. The Isaac , Gravity, and Distance will continue to be our focus for the new and transitioning runners. With over 1000 pair of these out now I have yet to hear of a customer or their doctor come back to us blaming the shoe. I give credit to my staff who teach patience and progression.”
After the lead of Two Rivers Treads, several stores are now opening with a similar model of selling only flat and minimalist shoes. They are aligning in a partnership and all are Newton Running retailers:
- Born To Run; Bellevue, WA
- Natural Running Center; Dallas, TX
- Good for the Soles; MA
- Revolution Running; WI
- The Runners Sole; Chambersburg PA
- Hunter Gait; Newcastle, Australia
The store started in a 500-square-foot second-story space and just last week moved to a beautiful new street level space with triple the space and a new visibility. The future looks bright for both Newton and Two Rivers Treads. Two Rivers Treads wishes to thank the support of Newton for a successful first year. Newton has also been instrumental in the success of Freedom’s Run as a major sponsor (www.freedomsrun.org) and the US Air Force Running Team, of which I have been a part of for almost 20 years.
Meet Dr. Mark and learn about Newton Natural Running at this weekend’s Running Injury Prevention Conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Click here for more details and registration.