Newton Distance 9 Review 2020 | Best Lightweight Running Shoes – Runner’s World

Newton Distance 9 Review 2020 | Best Lightweight Running Shoes  Runner’s World

The RW Takeaway: Best for midfoot strikers who want fast cushioning for daily runs and uptempo efforts, the Distance 9 can serve all runners as a training tool for improving their gait mechanics.

  • Forefoot lugs encourage touchdown closer to the midfoot, which can be more efficient for some runners.
  • Upper mesh is extremely lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying.
  • Midsole provides bouncy full-length cushioning, but heel feels slightly firmer.

Price: $155
Type:
Road
Weight:
7.6 oz (M), 6.6 oz (W)
Drop:
2 mm


Like habanero hot salsa, heavy metal anthems, or the Dallas Cowboys, a Newton shoe is something you either love or you don’t. The tall forefoot lugs paired with a low drop felt more natural and propulsive to our midfoot-striking testers, nudging them up on the balls of their feet for quicker, tempo-paced efforts. “I wanted a shoe that encouraged a midfoot strike and kept my form honest,” said one tester, who is back to running 40-mile weeks after a previous injury. “Heel strikers might find the setup too obtrusive, but I fell in love.” If you already land closer to the front of your foot, you’ll immediately dig the energetic spring on touchdown; otherwise, the design is an invitation to test the waters. Some testers took a bit longer to adjust while grappling with more lower leg fatigue during the initial break-in miles, and at the end of the testing period, a few runners just never jibed with the shoe.

The featherweight in Newton’s lineup, the Distance uses a single piece of extremely breathable mesh on its upper—sheer and airy enough that testers could feel the wind whistle between their toes. With its flashy overlays and a flexible toe cap for protection, the shoe had only one part that felt neglected: the heel. In terms of both its softness and durability, the cushioning in that area wore down quickly at higher mileage.

Distance 9

Newton zappos.com

$155.00

Love ‘Em (or Leave ‘Em) Lugs

Shout out to Newton for crafting some of the most polarizing shoes we test. Personally, I appreciate the lugged forefoot design because I really do think it helps encourage a midfoot strike. (Skechers also experimented with adding more material to that area of the midsole in the GOrun 7 Hyper—which uses a small rounded bump instead—but also received mixed feedback from testers.) For my gait, the placement of the five rectangular lugs does seem to make me feel more efficient and quicken my turnover; the resulting ride feels light and nimble with a noticeable bounce and responsiveness, especially at faster paces. For daily runs, or even just use as a specific training tool, I think most runners can find a benefit in the unique midsole. Though mostly firm and springy, the forefoot lugs do provide some softness—it’s a level of cushioning that will serve most runners best for uptempos—but still performs at a jog. For longer distances, I’d opt for the slightly cushier Gravity.

More Images

Lakota Gambill

Grip at High Speeds

The secondary benefit of the lugs is a really tight grip on the roads. Although there are just two extra patches of rubber at the heel and toe—the rest is exposed foam—the Distance offers traction in exactly the right places. It made tight cornering a breeze at top speed, and even on wet roads, I didn’t feel unsteady. The drawback is that one tester did see some early wear on the tread, which isn’t unusual on exposed-foam outsoles, but worth noting if you are considering the shoe for a high-mileage training block. If you plan to delegate the Distance to speed days, and lean on other shoes in your rotation for longer runs, neither grip nor durability should be an issue.

More Images

Lakota Gambill

Meshy, Minimalist Upper

Both our testers and myself awarded big style points to Newton’s bold and flashy uppers, which have garnered compliments more than once midrun. (Even runners who would have preferred more subdued colors agreed the uppers could boost visibility when running at dawn or dusk.) However, the breathability of the material was most impressive. The shoe uses a slightly stretchy upper—sheer enough to see your socks peeking through the holes of the mesh—with two slim pieces of elastic on the sides of the tongue to prevent bunching or sliding beneath the flat laces. This helps give the shoe a snugger fit through the arch, but widens into a spacious toe box without feeling loose or sloppy. My foot isn’t especially wide, but my forefoot and toes do need more room; the Distance is one of the few shoes that helps lessen some extra pressure on my outer toes at the end of long runs.

More Images

Lakota Gambill

Three Testers’ Takes

Benjamin R. | Tester since 2012
Arch: Medium | Gait: Overpronator | Footstrike: Midfoot
I had a previous left knee injury—all from a treadmill mistake—which led to minor surgery, and these shoes were a godsend for this time in my life. The platform under the shoe’s forefoot promotes a more forward-leaning form, which has helped my knee feel terrific. I never ran in Newtons before, but I tend to like similar zero or low-drop shoes like the Brooks Pure series or Altra. I will now always keep a pair of Newtons in my stable. They breathe better than any other that I have ever used. There is no heat build-up because they have great ventilation, and they also dried quickly when I came out of a rain storm.”

Tim O. | Tester since 2017
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
“I had a full 90-minute run in the rain, and the Distance’s upper did not hold water and helped wicking occur quickly. For daily runs, these shoes were awesome; however, if I pushed 10 or more miles, I would start to feel the pounding of the road. I would say the sweet spot for me was eight miles. This is a great speedwork shoe—I could actually feel the spring from the extra forefoot lugs. But for regular training, I would appreciate a little more heel cushioning.”

Don K. | Tester since 2012
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
“Unlike shoes I’ve worn in the past that are overly cushioned or feel spongy, the Distance provided a nice, solid ride while protecting my feet from hard, paved surfaces. But, unfortunately, the forefoot design contributed to my fatigue more than other shoes, as it seemed to add strain on my legs.”

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