The following post was written by Marilyn Cox from Cincinatti, OH, the winner of our website contest to win a trip to the Newton Headquarters in Boulder to be coached by Danny Abshire, Newton founder and Chief Technical Officer at Newton.
Thwap, hu, thwap, hu, thwap, hu. At one time, the rhythmic pounding of a run created a hypnotic trance. The foot-strike created a dependable cadence to measure strength and speed. This beat carried me through 20 years of running. Last weekend 20 years of thwap, hu, thwap, hu, thwap, hu were silenced.
Every Islamic faithful makes a pilgrimage to Mecca. The same holds true for endurance athletes—only our Mecca is Boulder, Colorado. Muslims must visit the Holy Mosque, and athletes must patron the Newton Running Lab. I had the opportunity to visit the Newton Running Lab after winning a sweepstakes. (It pays to follow @sirisaac, which alerted me that the contest was going on.) Along with the trip, I received a pair of Newton running shoes and valuable training with Danny Abshire, the brains behind the Newton operations.
When I arrived at the Newton Running Lab, Danny and his wife Jennifer offered a very warm welcome and went right to work. Danny evaluated my feet and stride. I over-pronate, strike with my toe, and my strides are too long. Danny and Jennifer explained the Newton Running Shoe’s ability to correct your foot position and stride. With the right shoe and a lesson in proper running form, they could fix me right up.
I slipped on my new Newtons and immediately noticed a dramatic difference in my stride. I’ve purchased many shoes that have claimed to improve speed, comfort, and form but the Newton was the first shoe to immediately deliver. Danny leads a form clinic every Saturday morning, and as we started out he gave me instructions such as “land on the middle part of your foot,” “pull your arms back,” and “lift don’t push”. Shouldn’t running be the most natural movement? Yes, but over the years our brains and fancy running shoes have trained our bodies to run unnaturally. The Newton pulls from Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity and teaches the individual to harness that “free speed” which naturally exists.
As we completed the initial form instruction, Danny decided that my feet needed a little more correction. My feet were measured for orthotics and soon I was ready to hit the road again. Danny and I headed out on a run through Boulder. Again he instructed me to quicken my cadence, lower my arms, and make sure my foot strikes the ground quietly.
“Quiet foot strike?” I asked. I’m reliant on the sound of my feet to carry me through my run. Danny explained, “Yes, you shouldn’t hear your feet hitting the ground.” And so I continued, conscious of the pounding and scraping of the pavement. Very quickly I found that the joint and foot pain I had become accustomed to was absent. There was no heavy breathing, which was monumental considering the altitude I was adjusting to. For the first time in many years, I was enjoying a relaxed, pain-free run.
After our run I had the opportunity to see the Newton offices and learn how a shoe moves from conception to completion. Danny is working on a book that focuses on the biomechanics of running and on his desk were the copious notes from many hours of research. The afternoon concluded with a quick discussion of Craig Alexander, 2-time Ironman World Champion and proud Newton shoe proponent. Craig has worn the Newton shoe for several years and happens to be my athletic idol. Jennifer handed me a Craig Alexander autographed Newton running hat which now sits on my desk, never to be worn, only admired.
Thinking back on the weekend, I recall the sight of the Flatirons, the numerous athletes on bike and foot, and that great training run with Danny. In the midst of silent foot strike and relaxed breath Danny said “This is my religion”. I agree, this is my religion, and now this is my peace.