The natural and barefoot running craze has hit America (and probably the world) pretty hard. If you look around you at your local race, you’re bound to see someone in shoes that look like the toe socks worn by junior high girls – the techies like to call these “Vibrams”.
I’m not really down with the barefoot craze. I love the look and design of Nike Frees and I’ve read Born to Run, but really, are we meant to run this way after having our feet in shoes all our lives?
Danny Abshire seems to think so.
Spending a week in Colorado, I was fortunate enough to remember reading an article about an up and coming shoe store based in Boulder, that advocates Natural Running.
Newton Shoes, based in Downtown Boulder, has a welcoming corner spot that houses the research and development office as well as the store.
Danny Abshire, the founder of Newton Shoes, is a proponent for barefoot running, yet created a shoe that delivers the same cushioning we experience in our Nikes and Brooks, only in a different location: the forefoot.
If you have ever visited your local running store, Abshire’s store is not very different, except you will only find Newton shoes on display.
I walked down and immediately saw him standing their helping a customer. Yes, after reading about him in Runner’s World not too long ago, I whispered to Mario “that’s him! I can’t believe he’s really here”. Can you say Star Struck?
Looking around, I decided I’d like to try on a pair. I found one that offered stability, which is what I’m used to receiving from my Nike Structures: The Newton Motion.
If you have an aversion to bright shoes, Newtons may not be for you. I slipped into them, and thought I’d feel a huge bump at the front of my foot since that is where the cushioning is located. But, I did not. Abshire came over and offered some tips on natural running form.
“Start marching in place, bringing your knees up” I’m pretty used to this motion, so I started with that.
“Now start jogging in place, but instead of kicking your butt, bring your knees up” Ok, just like high knees!
“You’ve got it, but pick up your cadence! Quick small steps.” This feels good, I feel very bouncy
“Now lean forward, and run.” I did, and guess what? I felt propelled and light!
Abshire noted my form and gave me a few small tweaks to make, but said that I had the basics down. He did the same with Mario, only Mario had a harder time adjusting to the feel of the shoe. Maybe there’s a difference between the men’s and women’s? Or he may just have been more of a heel striker to begin with?
Spending a few minutes learning the proper form and pace, Abshire apologized and said he had to head upstairs (where the offices are) and get on a video conference. Yes, the man promotes the shoes, instructs proper form, and does a lot on the business end of it. I came out impressed by him.
His sales assistant was just as knowledgeable and friendly as him, making the experience that much more enjoyable. You felt as that you just sat down in your best friend’s house chatting about running.
I didn’t head home with a pair of shoes unfortunately. Limited luggage space forbid me from taking the leap. Also, my Nikes are relatively new.
I will take home the concepts that Abshire gave me and put them to use:
- quick, short strides
- lean slightly forward
- bring the knees up
My next pair of running shoes? Newtons!
Until then, I think I’ll be saying “Hello Better” to running.
If you’re interested in more information about Newton shoes and Danny Abshire, click on the links below:
- Newton Review on GearJunkie.com