My Calves Have Something to Say: Newton Running Clinic Recap

We should probably start with Ian’s, first. They stole the show on Sunday  morning, as part of our Newton Running Clinic with the Fitness & Health Blogger’s Conference (FHBC).

NewtonClinicHe showed up, and handed out shoes with Brandon; I took one look at that muscle definition and shut-up to listen.

{Picture, courtesy of a Facebook thread started by Bookieboo’s Leah.}

For about thirty minutes we stood there, and listened to him explain foot form, “Western” shoe technology leading to foot deformities, and injury-inducing strides/gaits/strikes. Before that began, we were instructed to take off shoes & socks, and stand with our feet flat, and parallel.

Easy, I do that all the time!

7.18 015

Until about five seconds later when I find myself leaning on one foot or the other, jagging the hip out to put weight on one side, or sticking my left foot over my right (I stand one-footed quite often, see right.).

He had to remind most of us more than once to stand straight again; apparently feet have the attention span of a two year old.

For the remainder of the clinic, it was a conscious effort to stand with my feet parallel – equally distributing my weight and spreading out my toes. I know, yoga, you remind me to do this, too.

From there, we did a few drills –  balance on one side with your eyes closed (how long do you last? I got to 30 seconds on the left side – whoop!); boxer-hop “like Ali” on your toes (notice how your heels don’t touch – because that would hurt); lift your leg back and rotate your hip out (see how much further back it goes – half moon, anyone?); jog in place (watch those heels!), then lean forward – hello, forward movement.

Still barefoot, we ran around the parking lot a few times – I definitely did more of a toe-hop than what could be considered a “run”; my feet felt tender and intimidated by little rocks and the possibility of toe-stubbing. Wimps.

There was a lot of focus on form – avoiding heel-striking (got that, yet?), being light on your feet, avoiding parking-lot-foot-dangers, and holding your arms at ~90* angles to avoid waiving them around inefficiently like a crazy person!

There was also some introductions to exercises that keep all running muscles happy – planks, lunges, bicycle-crunches and plyometrics.

We finally got to put the shoes back on, and try to runwithout heel striking, obviously– a few laps. The balls of my feet were really battling with those heels for the first-strike, and it was almost annoying how quickly the latter would win if I didn’t concentrate on every step.

It was a coincidence (or not….) that I was handed these pink beauties. They feel so light; above you can see the odd additional strips right under the balls of the feet. By “odd”, I mean that Nike doesn’t do this and my feet were confused. I’m not going to attempt a scientific explanation of why it’s there, but it’s probably safe to assume it has to do with not heel striking.

Think so? Me, too.

Fun fact: The heel is deceptive. They started designing these shoes about five years ago, the ‘minimalist trend’ hadn’t hit yet, and people were used to seeing a padded heel. Your foot actually sits down where the logo is (i.e. near the bottom).

Tricky, Newton. {Read more about the shoes, here.}


After a short 90 minute “clinic” of barefoot drills and “light weight” shoe running, my calves are slightly sore today. They’re letting me know that those exercises were onto something, that my left knee would likely appreciate less heel striking, and that maybe…just maybe…there’s something to be learned here.

I’m not saying purchases have been made, but I am saying that I’m slowly letting down my “minimalist shoe” wall (as are some other people I know).

Other things that happened after this clinic: Ashley + Anne & I went hiking. They both had on ‘barefoot-style’ shoes, and survived the 1.5 hour mountain adventure in them. My calves have got nothin’ on these girls!

FHBC.11 130FHBC.hike
FHBC.11 093

Who wants to put in their two cents?

Do you run in minimalist shoes?

Have you done barefoot drills?

Are you also mesmerized by those calf muscles + tendons?! 

I’m not saying one shoe – much less shoe style – is right for everyone. But I’m definitely open-minded – so have at it!



Filed under Exploring Colorado, hiking, learning, new things!, running, weekends

22 responses to “My Calves Have Something to Say: Newton Running Clinic Recap

  1. Becky F.

    Hearing/reading about people working on heel striking actually makes me feel like I’m doing something right, though I admit it is unintentional. My background is actually in sprinting so I have never really been a heel-striker. In sprinting our heels just don’t hit the ground. While I still have tons of other things to work on I’ve at least got the lack of heel strike figured out. So if you keep trying and are still struggling try doing some shorter sprint work. It will definitely make you more comfortable with the balls of your feet hitting first.

  2. I *always* do that when I’m trying to stand still. I try to tell myself I’m just working on tree pose 🙂 Great to see you this weekend!!!

  3. I’ve been to a couple of Newton nights at a running store here — one a form clinic with a local rep and one natural running presentation with Ian. I have Newtons but hurt my foot last summer — I actually think my orthotics + other shoes hurt the foot, the foam in traditional shoes just masked the problem. Still, I needed to protect my feet and make it thru my marathon. This spring, I started transitioning into New Balance Minimus Trail shoes. Not sure if I’ll be able to go long (up to 5 miles now), but I’ll see how far I can go! I may try putting the Newtons back in rotation, too.

  4. Very cool – I would love to take part in a clinic like that! I couldn’t even run a 1/4 mile without pain (knee, ankle, shin) before I started running in Vibram FiveFingers, so I think I must have been a huge heel striker.

    For hiking I love using Merrell Pace Gloves, but I tend to get top of foot pain if I do too many miles or too much elevation gain in them. I guess I’ll need to break them in more slowly.

  5. I have 2 pair of Vibrams and a pair of Nike Frees. I hike in my Vibram Sprints and do short runs in my Bikilas. I know it is possible to run farther in Vibrams, but it takes a long time to work up the distance and I’m in patient. The farthest I have ran in this is 5 miles. I love the Nike Frees because there is some support, but still has a barefoot feel. They breath so well (in the car I can feel the air conditioner through them).

    Since I have improved my form to a mid foot strike I have had much less pain in my knees.

  6. I run in Frees right now, and eventually would like to do shorter runs in either vibrams or the merrell barefoot shoes (I just need to buy them first). I have run barefoot before VERY short distances in my neighborhood. I liked it, but am scared to do it in places where I could step on something sketchy (i.e. downtown).

    And I will be having dreams about those calves.

  7. Lacey

    nice clinic!!!! those shoes are SUPER deceptive!! do they hit wicked high on your ankle then??? i’m all about lightweight shoes, but i’m not super into the minimalist trend. i like a real shoe (cushy!!! but supportive) that is as lightweight as possible 🙂

    i have always been into calf muscles, i think because mine became developed early on as a result of sport-specific training (basketball- plyos, jumping, etc.). i used to work my calves ALL the time- toe raises + lowers (if you do it on a step= bonus), and also using the leg press machine when your legs are extended then just push forward with your toes/ball of your feet + do reps for your calves. and of course jump roping 🙂 i guess i am somewhat interested in calves, huh! hehehe. love all the pictures!!!!! you are a busy bee!!!!!!! do you ever get tired ??? 🙂

    • Heather C

      Nope! They appear totally normal, your heel just sits lower so that your foot is flat.

      Get tired? Rarely, but it happens! 😉

  8. HOLY LEGS! ❤ wowiewowiekazowie!

    Yeah I think I could improve some things by learning a better footstrike and strengthening all those support muscles. I don't think I'll ever run barefoot everywhere, but I'm open to barefoot drills and more minimal shoes for certain types of training. I just haven't really done these things yet. haha.

  9. I have to do those eyes closed balances as part of my PT and it’s so hard. I can get up to a minute now but back when I started I flopped all over the place! Glad you had fun at the conference, I def wanted to go, if only tickets out West weren’t so freaking expensive!!! Ugh. Any way, let me know if you switch to Newton’s I’ve been considering them for sure!

  10. hehe, I definitely hid behind a “no minimalist shoe wall” for a long time, but so far I am glad to be branching out a little. Sounds like a neat experience! Keep us posted for sure!

  11. Lauren

    I wore some of Kelly’s 5 finger shoes once…however, it was for halloween. I feel like my legs would get really sore and my knees would hurt if I ran in them! a lot of people really enjoy them though, especially for hiking! Interesting concept. I like all the info about form in this blog! Those shoes seem really neat too. 🙂

  12. Whoa! My brain is trying to wrap around all this crazy cool info – I had no idea about half (ok most!) of this stuff. Wow!! And yes, I’m totally mesmerized by those calves, DAMN!!

  13. Elizabeth

    Considering I *just* bought my new running shoes, I’m not exactly in the market for minimalist ones any time soon. But I’m not ruling it out for the future.

  14. Lucas

    When I made the transition a few years back from a heel strike to forefoot, I used my regular Brooks shoes and intentionally started getting up on my toes during my runs. It was painful and I could only go a mile or two each run but over 8 – 10 months I was finally able to do a 20 mile run completely on my toes. After this is when I moved into minimal shoes. I have seen too many people getting into minimal/Newtons/etc and get injured immediately because they don’t get their muscles on the same level before the transition. The shoe is important but the base work and your body’s ability to run like this needs to be in place first. Use the shoe as a tool and work to it progressively and you’ll be good to go! Brooks has the new Pure line coming out that I’m really looking forward to.

    • heatherdc

      This is something I was wondering about – you can’t really just jump into a totally different shoe and go from there…but what’s the tactic for forefoot-striking if you’re in a shoe that’s so heavy on the heel? Thanks for the insight! Any tips on how to actually execute this? 🙂

  15. Holy calves! I have a pair of Vibrams but I just wear them for running errands, walks, etc. I would really like to do some of those barefoot drills.

  16. G

    I think it is very interesting. I did a Chi Running clinic and few years ago. It was all about the mid foot strike, light on your feet, relax your legs and keep your arms at 90 degrees. So it all sounds very familar. I really do think it makes a big difference in my stride and using less energy.

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  18. Great recap of a Newton clinic! I’m a total believer of barefoot/natural/minimalist running…whatever people want to call it.

    I do barefoot drills, run during the week in my VFFs and run my long runs in Newtons (the pink universal trainers you used). Great combo for me!

  19. Bev

    I’ve run in Newtons for over a year now. I took the time to transition to them from traditional running shoes (Asics Gel Kayano) to prevent injury. I run long distances on the roads in them with no problems. They feel as though they propel me forward and I move forward with less effort (always good!). I also love how light they are – definitely helps fight fatigue on a long run.

    I tried their trail shoes. Not so fond of those because the midfoot protrusion caused me to trip on obstacles on the trail.

    My first pair of Newton road shoes lasted over 400 miles. Not too shabby.

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