Saturday, October 16, 2010

Newton Natural Running Symposium

Today I attended the Newton Natural Running Symposium in Cambridge, MA at the MIT indoor track sponsored by Marathon Sports. I listened to presentations by Ian Adamson and Danny Abshire of Newton Running, and I had a chance to meet Zola Budd.

The presentations were very good and quite entertaining. The information they disseminated on running technique was very sound with one notable exception. They kept saying that that sprinting is different from distance running, because sprinters push off, but distance runners fall forward. This is absolutely incorrect. Sprinters to do not push off any more than distance runners, nor should they.

Here are Ian and Danny giving their presentations

While I was there, I had a chance to try a pair of Newton Running shoes. I only had the chance to run a few hundred yards in them, which is not nearly enough to do a fair evaluation, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. For shoes that are as bulky and thick as the Newton Running shoes, it was very easy to run in them with good Pose Running Technique. My first impression is that they may be a good choice for people who are beginning to work on their technique, but are still having some problems landing correctly.

I would really like the chance to do a full evaluation of a pair Newton Running shoes, but unfortunately they are relatively expensive, and for now I'm very happy running in my Virbrams and Mizuno shoes. However, if I'm ever able to get my hands on a pair long enough to do a fair evaluation, I'll be sure do a full write up at that time.
Zola Budd teaching some running technique

For more information about Newton natural running see my earlier post:


  1. Interesting take on sprinting "Sprinters to do not push off any more than distance runners, nor should they."

    Any acceleration or push against an opposing force such as gravity (running up a hill) or a head wind (from environmental wind or running fast) requires push off. Wind force increases as a square of running speed, so at about 15 miles per hour (assuming no environmental wind) the force required to push against the body of air in front of your body becomes significant.

    Most people can sprint at 15 mph (world class sprinters are moving at about 22 mph) and if you stop pushing off you will slow down. The math is pretty straight forward, and as anyone who rides a bike knows, pedaling at 15 mph or more creates a headwind that requires significant effort.

    Another difference between sprinting and running (or jogging) is body position. The wind resistance created from the speed of sprinting requires significantly more forward lean than running. This is a good visual demonstration of Newton Third Law "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

    Ian Adamson
    Newton Running
    MS Sports Medicine
    BS Bio-mechanical Engineering

  2. Hi Ian,

    Thank you very much for your comments, and I really enjoyed your presentation. Forward motion in running is a controversial area, and I should have stated that in my post. As I've stated in previous posts, this is the most controversial and the most criticized area of Pose Running Theory.

    Unfortunately I'm not a bio-mechanical engineer as you are, so I am probably not as capable at defending my opinion on this subject. Also, I'm willing to concede that I may be completely wrong. However, I'm sure Dr. Romanov would be able and willing to defend this position very well.

    There is a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that there is little or no push off when running at any speed. Based on the evidence I've looked at, I believe that forward movement in running at any speed is primarily the conversion of the downward force of gravity into forward movement via rotational torque.

    A runner with good running technique should be able to sprint on ice, as has been demonstrated by Dr. Romanov. If it is possible to sprint on ice, then it seems unlikely that pushing is a significant component of the movement forward when sprinting.

    Over time, I've begun to suspect that there is some fundamental misunderstanding on this subject because of semantics. I've often found in my correspondence with others that we were not using some basic terminology in the same way when discussing running technique.

  3. Ken,

    Thanks for the explanation. I am a fan of Pose (and Chi and Evolution) running, and believe that there is an overwhelming amount of common ground.

    Force plate measurements in gait labs accurately measure components in all three axes of motion and clearly show that sprinters have a significant propulsive component of the ground reaction force.

    A body at motion only continues in motion if there are no opposing forces. Resistive forces are very real on a runner, primarily wind resistance and gravity. On a level surface the vertical component supports body weight and vertical oscillation (75-80% of energy expenditure) and the remainder goes to propulsion, lateral and inertial forces, mostly moving the limbs.

    I can go into a full explanation but suffice to say basic Newtonian (!) physics apply to runners as it does all other objects in motion in an gaseous atmosphere and acted on by gravity. The very same forces that cause wind resistance while running (and consequently the need for a propulsive force) keep an air plane in aloft and reduce gas mileage on a car as it goes faster.

    Happy running,


  4. Hi Ian,

    Thank you for your more detailed explanation. I do believe that the laws of physic apply to all runner equally. That has been my basic argument against the idea that good running technique varies significantly from person to person.

    Is it possible that there may be differing interpretations of the same or similar data? Dr. Romanov and other independent researchers have come to very different conclusions looking at force plate data. However as I said, I am not in prepared to make the case for them. My background is in physiology, not in bio-mechanics.

    However, it is very clear that people can sprint on ice using Pose Running Technique. So far, I have not heard anyone explain how this is possible if the runner must apply a significant horizontal push off to move forward.

    For now, I have to admit that I do not have the answers, and that I may be completely mistaken. However, based on my experience and the research I have looked at, I am not convinced that there is a significant horizontal push off required for sprinting.

    Happy Running,

  5. Purchasing shoes for running and jogging should be done with consideration. Foot health is vital for anyone that is very active such as an avid runner or jogger. Finding the correct shoes that will properly support the feet takes through consideration. While there are a number of shoes that are available on the market not all of them are the same and not all of them are of high quality. To ger more information on good quality running and jogging shoes please visit

  6. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your input, but I strongly disagree with your advice, and your selection of running shoes. These are the kind of shoes that cause injuries by enabling people to run with bad technique. In other words, they enable unnatural technique.

  7. honestly, why would a rep of a shoe company come to a minimalist running site attempting to hawk their pedal death traps? odd.