Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newton MV2 Shoe Review

Two and a half months ago I received my Newton MV2 running shoes.  These screamers are engineered to be the lightest and most efficient Natural Running shoe using Newton's second-generation Action/Reaction Technology.  This technology has numerous patents to prevent other manufacturers from simply copying their designs, and having run in Newton shoes for three years I encourage you go to a good specialty running store to learn about them, then to give them a good run.

These MV2's have a truly flat profile, which encourages a quick high cadence gait. Recognizing that many runners, like myself, are transitioning to the MV2's from running shoes with a slightly higher heel-to-toe drop, Newton supplies these shoes with optional three millimeter heel inserts.  Initially feeling my calves to be a bit too tight, I applied the inserts, which relieved the tightness without adding anything to their light weight.  Combined with Newton's action-reaction technology found on the soles of the shoe near where the metatarsals strike, from my experience this results in a performance boost of 15 to 30 seconds per mile.

These MV2's are truly neutral, and, as they are extremely light weight do not provide excess cushioning that inhibits the runner's grounded feel to the running surface - that is essential at higher speeds.  As a pleasant surprise, the MV2's five versus Newton's normal four Action-Reaction lugs provides hugely enhanced responsiveness and cornering abilities, which I found to be especially helpful on a weaving Memorial Park trail.

Curious at what distance the MV2's light weight and minimal cushioning would drive me to a more substantial shoe, I wore them over varying distances while training for the Houston Marathon - up to one 20-miler.  While I've since heard that several area runners have successfully run, and P.R.'d marathons in the MV2's, I found 16 miles to be their maximum comfortable distance.  I believe this distance to solely be a personal one, as with my current level of fitness it corresponds roughly to the point beyond which my running form tends to deteriorate on Houston's hard concrete road surfaces.  So, for the remainder of my Houston Marathon training runs of 16 miles or beyond and for the race itself, I ran in the Newton Gravity Performance Trainer (an easy decision, as in prior years recent I'd successfully run numerous P.R.s and B.Q.'s in the Stability Motions.)

Now that the Houston Marathon is complete, I am training for the Rodeo Run 10K and the Texas Independence Relay.  So, after two weeks of self-enforced rest I just laced-up my MV2's, and took them for what turned out to be a great run.  By concentrating on the pivotal elements of good running form, and cranking up the speed well beyond my normal pre-marathon training pace, these shoes demonstrated again that they rock!

As the MV2's run a bit small I recommend that you get them a half to full size larger than your normal running shoe length.  Also, as I found the MV2's to be a bit snug on the width, by lacing them a bit loosely I found this relieved the tightness without affecting my grip of the road.  Since the best specialty running stores have knowledgeable sales people with a generous return policy, choose the shoe that fits best while you are running, and not simply on the cushioned surface found in many stores. Don't gauge comfort simply by walking around the store in running shoes, as a surprising number of runners do, since the Newton's Action-Reaction technology feels a bit unnatural until you run!

Regardless of the shoe you buy, it's important to transition gradually to a shoe with a smaller heel-to-toe drop.  This provides your body time to both adjust and strengthen, and to minimize the likelihood of inadvertently returning when fatigued to an inefficient and potentially injurious heel-strike.  I have consistently found that by concentrating on gradually increasing my cadence, and concentrating on a slight forward lean from my ankles, that my good running form - and boost in speed with no incremental effort - quickly follows.

Embedded below are four YouTube videos in which Newton's CTO Danny Abshire discusses the MV2's: technology, initial fit (buy a half-size larger), adaptation from other running shoes, and some helpful form drills:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why runners should oppose the "Stop Online Piracy Act"

Visiting Wikipedia this morning, I saw that it was blacked-out to encourage its readers to educate themselves on the draft Senate and House bills SOPA and PIPA.  Having done so, I composed and submitted to my Congressman the following note.  I encourage you to educate yourself, and to contact your representative.

I am concerned that enactment of the proposed House "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) would put a huge, unnecessary and ultimately ineffective burden on website owners to police user-contributed links for possible copyright infringement.  Such legislation would destroy the vibrant and interactive internet community, and impair citizens' ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.

To provide a personal example of the way this Act would impact, I am a recent Houston Marathon runner with a long history of running and health related interests, and maintain as a pure labor of love the blog: To learn from my visitors I invite them to post comments, and on many occasions they kindly provide helpful links to other sites.  While I check that such links are valid, I have no way to verify that violations of copyrights do not exist on such sites.  Thus, enactment of SOPA would effectively force me to disable all user-contributed comments, and to delete those which were previously posted.  In fact, even if I had an effective way to determine copyright violations, such an unnecessary burden would literally be never ending as I would need to continually re-visit such links ad infinitum.

Additionally, SOPA would adversely affect other sites that I frequently reference and value (e.g.,,, and Presuming such legislation was enacted all of these sites, and many others, would be forced to curtail user-contributed input - effectively destroying the vibrant culture of the web.  SOPA and PIPA therefore directly infringes upon U.S. Citizens' First Amendment rights to the detriment of society.  For these reasons, I strongly urge you to reject any legislation such as SOPA or PIPA.

Finally, here's a great song which highlights the issue superbly:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Houston Marathon Race Report

In this morning's beautifully cool weather conditions I was a bit disappointed that I'd struck too ambitious a goal by seeking to re-Boston Qualify with a time of 3:35 or better. However, considering that my training was interrupted due to a minor injury during three pivotal weeks I'm generally okay with outcome, especially as I broke 4-hours via my 3:51:14.

Everything went according to plan for my nutrition and hydration, where I drank Gatorade to thirst. For nutrition, I consumed one tablespoon of chia seeds mixed pre-mixed with one Succeed S!Cap electrolyte capsule every five miles. Additionally, every four miles I had one Roctane.  I've taken Roctane for years, and experimented with chia this training cycle, and them both with absolutely no problems.  I'm thinking of tweaking this only slightly next marathon, potentially increasing the frequency of Roctane to about every 3.5 miles.

The big surprise for me was seeing the massive congestion associated with running with the 3:30 pacing group in the first ten miles. I've successfully run with pacing groups in the past, and I can only attribute today's problems as due to the comparative huge popularity of this particular pacing group, along with the full marathoners being merged with the half-marathoners through the tenth mile.  As such, we constantly passed slow full or half marathon runners who'd started excessively fast. As they slowed they were oblivious to faster runners such as ourselves attempting to pass, which forced us to constantly inefficiently weave back and forth.

After six miles of this frustration, Allison, a Kenyan Way friend, and I got in front of the pacing group. Unfortunately, I then made the mistake of allowing my ambition to over-ride my better judgement and experience, as I proceeded to run a minute too fast via a 1:44 half.

Inevitably, I then paid the price, as despite running the first 18.7 miles at an average 8:05 pace, the final 7.5 miles' slow-down killed my overall time goal, as I ran them at a comparatively glacial 10:25. Oh well! I'm consoling myself by at least having prevented the energy collapse from being total, and at least showing an ounce of wisdom by slowly running in the final miles. This is an improvement, from my prior recent marathons where I'd foolishly set an even more ambitious 3:10 goal, then compounded that mistake by not adjusting my goal pace until I had completely run out of energy, and was forced to walk it in. So, while pacing remains a puzzle that I obviously haven't cracked, I think I'm getting a bit better.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Olympic Marathon Trials

With a group of long-time running friends we lined-up this morning to cheer for the Houston 2012 Olympic Trials.  All of these incredible athletes inspired with their graceful and powerful running abilities and determination. My friends Dave Johnson and Chris Vandersteeg and I took the following photos of the excitement:

Finally, if you're looking for the final results, you can see them here: men and women.   Congratulations again to all of the men and women who qualified for, and who ran in today's race!