Natural and Newtons

I have had my Newtons since September and they literally have 15 total miles on them.  Every time I have tried to run in them I end up with calf and shin pain.  It’s usually one run and I am done with them because I haven’t wanted pain, or the potential for injury, while training for a race.  Luckily for me, there was a free clinic put on by Newton Running on Friday at DEKA Atlanta–all about Natural Running.

Ian Adamson was the “speaker” and led us in several different exercises.  Several takeaways:

1.  Take your shoes and socks off and see how your feet are naturally when you stand.  They should both be facing forward.  If your feet turn, you have things to work on–because if they aren’t forward now, they aren’t forward when running.  (I noticed my left foot slightly turns out).

2.  Run outside barefoot.  Feel the difference in how your feet naturally land.  It will probably feel very different from running in shoes.

3.  Midfoot/Forefoot striking doesn’t necessarily mean that your heel doesn’t strike too.  THIS has been my mistake.  I wasn’t letting my heel come all the way down in the Newtons.  You can land on your forefoot first but the rest should follow down.

4.  We probably all know about cadence and trying for 180 steps per minute.  Ian pointed out ways to improve your cadence by running in place quickly.  He also suggested high knee running and butt kicks.  You can also do high knee running but clap your hands under each knee–this will also improve your speed and turnover.  

5.  Notice where your feet land when you run-they should land directly under you–not too far out in front of your body.

6.  Watch your arm swing-your arms shouldn’t cross over your body, be too high up, or be out too much (kinda like the chicken dance).  They should slightly move on your sides.

7.  Make sure you have a strong back and core (sit-ups and planks) and to stretch regularly.  Also, make sure your adductors are strong-runners tend to have stronger quads and don’t focus on the “inner muscles.”

Practice Running.  Ian pointed out that other athletes practice-golf, baseball, football, etc.  We should also “practice” running.  Focus on what you are doing.  You should still do drills to work on form and speed–don’t just run.

He also recommended reading Natural Running.  He said it is an easy read and will really help with proper form and biomechanics.

When the clinic was over I asked for help with my Newtons.   The President of Newton, Keith Simmons, watched me run in them and gave me a few tips (he also suggested their website).  Keith said to begin by almost stomping in the Newtons.  Train your foot to still have all of it land on the ground-basically an even footstrike.  Start by running slowly and still “stomping” to make sure you are still striking with all of your foot.  Eventually it will be easier to switch to a more midfoot strike.  The best way to start with the Newtons is with low mileage runs.

Someone at DEKA captured some shots of me learning from Keith and these were on their Facebook page.

I will be trying out the Newtons on my short run tomorrow.  And once I finish my many books that I have piled up, Natural Running will be next.  
If you haven’t tried Newtons or are like me and haven’t quite gotten the hang of it, I highly recommend checking out the Newton Running website to see if there is a clinic coming to your town.  

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  • I was finally able to build up to 6 miles in my newtons, but like you, too much shin or calf pain as well. There is also a really good article in this months Runner's world that talks about natural running- lot of similar advice that you received. Hope it gets easier for you!

  • I have never tried Newtons. I tend to stick with shoes that I know work for me. I have really oddly shaped feet and have gone through many pairs trying to find something that works.

  • New to your blog! Just wanted to say that I love it!

    I don't wear Newtons, but I do wear neutral Saucony running shoes. I know that I have MANY mistakes in my form (though I do try consciously to correct them). I like the tips you have listed here. I need to keep them in mind…especially about allowing the heel to come all the way down even if you are a midfoot/forefoot striker. I don't think I have been doing that. (I've been called Tippy Twinkletoes regarding my tippy-toe running style.) I think allowing my heel to strike would keep my legs from getting fatigued as fast. I think I'll try that on my run tonight.

    The concept of running in place and doing butt-kicks is awesome and will really help! I did a running study through Furman University about 6 months ago and they had me doing plyometrics (a-skips, b-skips, butt kicks, etc.) twice a week and it REALLY improved my speed.

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