I pound the hell out of my heel when I run and it's doing major damage to my knees. I'm looking to try and re-train myself to run on my toes. I know Newton's are made to help with that, but what about Vibrams?
Which one should I try first and what do you think of the two brands?
Thanks for all the advise!
Hi Tania - If you choose to try Vibrams, take it slow. Like frustratingly slow. Especially considering that you don't run on your mid/fore-foot already. I know very experienced distance runners who eased themselves very slowly into Vibrams and still got pretty seriously injured.
Have you tried changing your stride with your current shoes? I used to run mostly on my heels, and over last season I concentrated on shortening my stride and moving to a mid-foot landing. Try to ease into it, maybe on a 4 mile run spend miles 2 and 4 very deliberately landing more towards the front of your foot. Another thing to try is running around the inside of a track on the turf in your bare feet. Not saying you shouldn't get new shoes, but they aren't going to be a quick fix.
I have both and am very happy with both.
The Newton is sort of like a backward running shoe, with most of the cushioning under the balls of the feet instead of the heel. The cushioning is also designed, they say, to help your foot rock forward and lift off smoothly. The Vibram has no cushion at all and is essentially the same as being barefoot.
If I had to choose, I'd say it depends on what you want to do with them and where you run. Are you just looking for a shoe that will help you run up on your forefeet, or do you want something you can knock around in a bit as well? The Newton is good for forefoot running and not much else. It's not even comfy to walk in because of the cushioning upfront. The Vibram is always a blast to wear -- your feet get to be naked and just be feet, with reduced danger of stepping in something bad.
As for running in them, I found that my gait was easier to "correct" in the Vibram, because it truly was like being barefoot. BUT - think critically about where and how you run. It is true that forefoot running has a lower force of impact running up your leg according to studies (which you can watch on YouTube--people running on treadmills with impact gauges built in), BUT the force that's measured is not net of the cushioning of the shoe. In other words, it's true nature evolved us to run on our forefeet. It's also true that nature didn't evolve us to run on pavement. Many people can get used to running in Vibrams for long distances on pavement. I'm not one of them. And you should be honest with yourself about your biomechanics and whether that's something you would be able to do. If most of your running is on the Mall or the C&O, have fun with the Vibrams. But if you're stuck on the blacktop, think about starting with the Newtons so there's some padding underneath you.
And whatever you do, go slow! The first time you put either on, you'll feel light and footloose, and you'll want to go out and run a bunch of miles. The next day, you won't be able to move. Start small - maybe a half mile at a time for a couple of weeks, and then build from there. Chances are your calves won't be ready for the new stresses. And if it doesn't hurt, you're probably not doing it right.
If you would like to try changing your running form do it slowly and gradually...instead of risking injury with VFF I would think about supplementing your regular running routine with some 30 minute barefoot sessions on a grass field.
ALSO, here's a great (read: science-based) overview of the hype surrounding barefoot running and a little history of running shoes:
you might also check out the book Chi Running, by Danny Dreyer. He breaks down, step-by-step, how to move from heel striker to mid/forefoot runner. I've found his advice to be very helpful. Joyce
Newton's or Vibrams? Neither. Look for a minimalist shoe - something with a low heel. I like to wear Converse One Star shoes for 800m repeats and shorter and wear VFFs for running drills. Adidas Samba (or other indoor soccer shoes) or even cross-country (performance/distance running/racing flat) shoes are a good choice as are some Inov8 shoes, although they are hard to find locally. Check out Zappos for every shoe option imaginable.
Newton might promote the 'land-lever-lift' technique with their shoes, but there's still a crapton junk in the trunk of the shoe (ie. heel cushioning). You can definitely learn to heel strike less in your current shoes, but going barefoot in the grass is a good start, too.
In addition to Chi running, check out Pose running http://www.posetech.com/ for videos on run technique as well as 'pose approved' shoes.
As stated before - start slow and build up your pain tolerance (if barefoot or in VFFs) and endurance. Fine tune that technique. And get someone to record you running so you can SEE if you're improving.
Agree with most of the sentiments above. (I supplement using Asics Kayanos + Superfeet insoles (nearly the most supportive setup out there) with Nike Free+ (one of the earliest minimal trainers)). Whatever option you decide on, go slow, like 15 minutes at a time, when you first start out.
With the Army 10-miler and Marine Corps Marathon coming up, now's a good time to check the expos and talk to vendors about the different options and what might work best for you.
Are you still planning to do JFK?
If so, with the mileage you've got coming up, I wouldn't make any changes before then. Post JFK you'll be needing some recovery time which will be a great chance to change/fix/improve/experiment with your stride while not being inclined to rush it in time for a big race.
Before self-diagnosing a new type of running shoe, I'd hit a couple of running stores and see if they'll look at your gait and fit you with a shoe. Margie Shapiro is really good at it if you can track her down at a Potomac River Runner shop. (She's also very busy so I don't know how often she does this for individuals.) Or some of the PT folks out there offer gait analysis.
I was watching Katie run a backyard burn race this weekend and a guy was running in VFF. Someone had asked him how long it took him to get used to them and he said "Months!" That happened to be his first race on them and he'd never run that far on them so I wonder how he felt on Monday? Just don't rush it, whatever you do.
Thank you everyone for the advise! I think I might actually buy a pair of both, go slow, and see what works best.
I will run all my long distances in the shoes I am in now, but would love to have a different gate next season.
Travis... JFK is way up in the air. I'm a little worried about messing up my knees (which have been giving me a hard time) right before Brazil training starts.