Needless to say my interest was piqued. It took a while for the shoes to become available in Canada and thankfully it was Running Free that ended up carrying them so I got a nice little discount on them. I do believe that they are still the only place in Canada that you can get them. I got my first pair for Christmas in 2009. The Newton Motion All Weather. I was so excited. I wanted to go out and run in them right away but because they are so different than a regular running shoe, you need to ease into wearing them. Newton has a list of instructions that come with the shoe and there are a multitude of resources on their site and on their You Tube channel. Much like breaking in a new pair of orthotics, you gradually increase your mileage in them until your body is used to them. One thing I noticed immediately was that I felt lighter on my feet. I wasn't shuffling anymore because I physically couldn't. The shoes have lugs on the sole of the shoe at the mid-foot / ball of the foot area that force you to land there and push off, thus hypothetically eliminating the need to heel strike. I say hypothetically because even though my running form has improved immensely since I switched to these shoes, I still find myself heel striking a bit. I can see it in the wear on my shoes and I have photographic evidence from various races (see below...look at that!!)
So what's the big deal about heel striking?
Well, other than the fact that it's incredibly jarring on your body, it's like having the emergency brake on while driving. In aerodynamic terms it creates drag. Drag=more energy required to move forward. This is not what you want when you're running, especially when you're racing. You want your motion to be easy and fluid. Don't get me wrong, there are some really fast runners who do heel strike but you if watch an elite runner, you'll see that their feet barely touch the ground when they run. They are incredibly efficient.
I don't seem to be slowing down any but I do have to wonder, if I could eliminate any heel strike, could I go faster? Given that I won't start ramping up my mileage again until mid-July, I'm thinking now might be the time to take a look at fine tuning my form even more and banishing that heel strike from my running repertoire for good. I've ordered Danny Abshire's book Natural Running and I can't wait to get it so I can work at finding my form.