Newton Distance Shoes – 2012 Model

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Manufacturer Description

Our Distance line offers lightweight performance products crafted for fast-paced running. Because the lightweight neutral performance trainer is designed for speed, more-efficient runners will enjoy it for both regular everyday training and racing. This model is also a great choice for runners seeking a shoe for short- or mid-distance racing and weekly speed workouts.

Features

Click to See Larger
  • Highly-breathable, fast-drying, open air mesh
  • Minimal anatomical support strapping
  • Metatarsal stretch panels
  • Variable fit
  • Slip-proof laces with heel-securing double eyelets
  • Action/Reaction technology in the midfoot
  • Biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate
  • High-rebound EVA Midsole
  • Met-flex enhanced midfoot flexibility
  • ETC anti-friction, anti-bacterial sockliner
  • Accommodates most orthotics
  • High-density rubber in midfoot
  • Lightweight EVA heel
  • Measured size 9
    • Weight –225 g (7.9 oz)
    • Forefoot Width – 95 mm (3.7 in)
    • Stack Height –24 mm (heel), 22 mm (toe), 2 mm drop
  • Retail – $155

YMMV Review

I have been a Newton fan over the years. They were one of the first brands to take on the idea of natural running and have been a big proponent of it ever since. One thing I have noticed about Newton is that they cause a stir when you talk about them. There always seems to be people on both sides of the fence who really want to be heard when you talk about their shoes.

Top View – Click to See Larger

I personally first tried the Distance Shoes back in 2007, and they were one of the first reviews for the site. I liked the first model, and they helped me transition into a midfoot striker at the expense of wearing out my shoes rather quickly. In 2012, they updated the Distance model, and I was able to test them over the summer.

This review comes out to highlight a promotion being run by Newton. Their 60 Days of Better Campaign is an extension of the Hello Better campaign launched earlier in the year. Newton is encouraging runners to give their shoes a try.  Purchase a pair of shoes between September 1st, 2012 and October 31st, 2012 and you have 60 days from the purchase date to return them if you are not satisfied. If you have not tried these shoes and are curious, then this is a perfect way to see if they are worth it. To be valid the purchase has to be from an authorized Newton Retailer or online from NewtonRunning.com. Click on the link below if you would like to see more.

Testing

The Newton Distance Shoes are part of the performance lineup and made for mainly road running. I put in about 60 miles on 95+% roads, and some mixed use trails to get from one place to another. The summer here was hot and dry so all my running was in nicer weather ranging from 60 to 95 degrees.

Side View – – Click to See Larger

Design ★★★☆☆

Appearance (20%) ★★☆☆☆

Construction (35%) ★★★½☆

Lacing (15%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ★★★☆☆

Weight (20%) ★★★★☆

As with all Newton Shoes, you can see these coming. They are a mix of fluorescent orange, yellow, lime green, and red. These shoes are bright and you WILL get noticed.  The Distance Model is one of Newton’s original shoes. In 2012, they updated it with a new upper but left most of the guts the same. The new upper is an open-air mesh upper that is thin enough that you can see through it. Almost the entire upper is made of this mesh. The only exception is two small sections located on either side of the ball of the foot. These sections are still mesh but have a bit more stretch to allow the shoes to adapt to your foot shape better. Newton calls them their Metatarsal Stretch Panels as they will flex and allow the shoe to adapt through the gait cycle. There are triangular-shaped overlays that add support to this region as well. The bottom of the lacing system connects to the support structure to help secure the forefoot area. The lacing is fairly standard by design with a loop on the tongue to secure it in place. The laces themselves are slip resistant and made of recycled materials. The top of the lacing has an extra eyelet to secure the heel in place if you wish.

The Sole – Click to See Larger

The tongue and back half of the shoes has an anti bacterial and anti-friction liner. This liner has a softer feel to it than the underside of the mesh. The insole is removable as the shoes can fit most orthotics. The Newton insole is made of basic EVA foam to add some extra cushioning. The cushioning and Action/Reaction technology are what makes Newton’s different than any other running shoes. This is where the 2012 model is basically identical to the older one. The midsole is EVA foam to provide cushioning. It does not make up all the cushioning as the Action/Reaction technology is the real story. This technology is made up of four lugs in the fore foot which sits above the Biomechanical Sensor Plate which allows you to sense the ground so you can stride more efficiently and lightly. The lugs press into an open space in the midsole during impact and then spring back out on push off returning energy to your push off. The Action/Reaction Technology has a trampoline like feel that will not lose energy like traditional cushioning such as gel or air. The lugs are highly responsive and engaging cushioning that protects and loses less energy with every step you take.

The outsole is a high density rubber in the forefoot in and around the lugs. The heel and a portion of the toe is EVA foam to keep the weight down. The outsole has a met-flex groove under the toes to improve the flex during toe off. The Newton’s are made to wear from the outside in. This allows you to see the wear patterns on the sole and lugs and find places where your gait may or may not be as efficient as you want it to be. Newton does try to use recycled materials where possible. Their outsoles and laces are made of these materials. They also use recycled cardboard boxes and try to be a socially responsible company. Newton also holds several events, produces natural running videos, and sponsors plenty of athletes. They have made a large impact in the running community and whether you like their shoes or not it is good to see this effort.

Up Close of the Actuator Lugs – Click to See Larger

Fit ★★★½☆

Comfort of Upper (25%) ★★½☆☆

Foot Length (15%) ★★★★☆

Foot Volume (15%) ★★★★★

Heel Width (15%) ★★★½☆

Midfoot Width (15%) ★★★★☆

Toe Box Width (15%) ★★★★☆

The Newton Distance Shoes have an updated upper and therefore, a slightly different fit. I am normally a size 9, and that is what I tested again with the 2012 model. Newton has generally recommended sizing down a ½ size from what your wore in the older models, but I was more than happy with my regular size. I had a little extra room at the end of my toes but not enough to feel like the shoes were too big. The 2012 model did feel like it had a little more room, but I personally liked it. If you have tried Newton before, and you had a little extra room already, then I would size down but in all other circumstances, then stay the same size. On the Newton website, they use the shoefitr software which does an outstanding job comparing shoes so you can see how these will fit compared to a shoe you already own.

EVA Foam Insole – Click to See Larger

The shoes do have an excellent fit in all aspects of the sizing. The toe box is wide enough to wiggle your toe and be able to slightly splay them, which are n important aspect of natural running. Through the midfoot, the Distance Shoes wrapped my foot well and were adjustable with the lacing system. If you did tighten up the forefoot too much, then the tongue can scrunch up a little as it is connected at the bottom. The only drawback with staying with my normal size on the 2012 model is that the heel ends up being slightly wider than it was on the older model. I could have gotten it similar by sizing down but would have had to give up some length and forefoot width which I would rather have. Even with a slightly wider heel I did not have any issues with my heel coming out or having any comfort issues. The only comfort issue I had was with the mesh material, specifically where it is sewn on the tongue. The edges have sharp and pokey ends that irritate the top of my foot from time to time. Wearing these without socks was impossible for this reason and even really thin socks would sometimes get poked through. I ended up wearing a normal to thicker sock to prevent this from irritating my foot. The Newton MV2 I tested a while back had a similar upper material, and I had similar comfort issues around the tongue. I think it is just how the upper mesh is sewn together with the liner. This was the only discomfort I felt in all my testing of these shoes.

Performance ★★★½☆

Breathability (15%) ★★★★½

Cushioning (30%) ★★★★☆

Durability (20%) ★★★☆☆

Flexibility (20%) ★★☆☆☆

Traction (15%) ★★½☆☆

One of the things I noticed when I first put on the 2012 model is that it feels like Newton has added some material to the heel of the shoe. My first pair felt a lot like road cycling shoes as it felt like you were on your toes when you walked around. This is not the case with the 2012 model. They are much more comfortable to stand around in. I know this is not the focus of these, but it is important to be comfortable before and after your run. Just not as important as during it. When running in the Distance, you can definitely feel the lugs and the “bounce” they seem to give you. I am normally a midfoot striker and running in these I felt like I needed to transition slightly more onto my forefoot to land on the lugs correctly.

Inside View w/o Insole – Click to See Larger

Newton may not say this, but I feel like these are better for an established midfoot to forefoot striker or someone looking to becoming a forefoot striker. The shoe is a lower drop than some of their other models and has a more trimmed down sole with EVA in the back rather than rubber. If you are either learning to run naturally or like me tend to lose form on longer runs, then you will see more wear with the Distance. The lugs themselves are made of rubber and will only as durable as you are efficient. When I tested my first pair, I only got 300 miles out of the shoes. I am already noticing that my wear is better than before, and the shoes should last much longer. Maybe not as long as some runners who have put in over 1000 miles in a pair, but it should be better than my first pair.

The upper mesh is very breathable. It is thin enough that you can see your foot through it and thus was great during the hot summer here. The only downside with this is that dust and water can get through very easily as well. This was not much of an issue for me as I ran on almost exclusively roads, and I live in the High Desert, so we get very little rain. If you have different conditions than I have, then you may want to wear when the conditions are appropriate. The mesh though will dry very quickly and will not absorb much so it will maintain its light weight even if it is wet. The shoes are already very lightweight coming in less than 8 ounces.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euV1YqEJv9o&feature=plcp&w=527]

The Distance shoes do lose a bit of flexibility with the Action Reaction Technology. Newton has tried to help this with the Met-Flex Zone, but they are still on the stiff side. This is to maintain the integrity of the metatarsal plate and the spaces below. Even with this lack of flexibility the shoes still can roll through the gait well as the actuator lugs can pivot as you roll forward. The lugs are able to adjust to the motion of the foot and reduce the feeling of a stiffer shoe. The lugs will take some time to get used to as they are an entirely different feeling than most shoes. I tended to notice them for the first half-mile or so before I got into a groove and really did not think about them after that. They do provide an excellent energy return, especially if you have good form. While it always does, form especially matters when using Newton’s as the shoes are engineered with a certain motion in mind. Deviating from this motion greatly diminishes the return you may see. Some may wonder if having less surface area in contact with the ground will affect traction. I did not have any issues, but all my running was on roads. There is not much to grip if you go off roading in these, so I would suggest using them primarily as road shoes. They will also wear faster on trails as rocks are rough on shoes. Newton does make some trail models if you wish to have an off-road pair.

Fabric Up Close – Click to See Larger

Overall ★★★½☆

Overall, I liked the update Newton did to the Distance Shoes. The new upper is a better fit, in my opinion, and has excellent breathability. They were able to make these updates while keeping the guts of the shoe the same as the Distance has been very popular, and you would hate to see them change what has worked for so long. My only drawback from the change is the new mesh does irritate the top of my foot if I go sockless or wear really thin socks. With thicker socks, the shoes were great. The Newton Distance will be able to accommodate a variety of foot types as they have a very neutral shape and design. I would recommend these for runners with an established midfoot to forefoot running style as there are better styles for those transitioning. If you have never tried a pair of Newton’s, they are worth a look. Their technology is entirely different than anything else on the market, and they really have been a big proponent of a more natural form of running style. With the 60 Days of Better promotion there are not many reasons to not at least give them a try. You have 60 days to see if they are truly better. The Newton Distance retails for $155, which is expensive, but if they improve your running, then they may be worth it. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Feel Fast with Energy Return
  • Very Breathable Upper
  • Comfortable Fit Throughout
  • Able to Accommodate Orthotics
  • Can Currently Try for 60 Days

Cons

  • Some Transition Period
  • Will Wear Faster with Poor Form
  • Expensive

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About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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