Jordan McGowen is a Technical Sales Representative for Newton Running in the South Central area of the United States, which includes Louisiana. Recently, we were able to spend some time with Jordan, showing him what the Run Louisiana movement is all about and also asking him a few questions, while we were at it.
CYJ: When did you start running?
JM: I had a couple of brief periods when I would try to run during elementary and middle school but I didn’t get consistent until freshman year in high school when the counselor recommended I join the cross country team.
CYJ: What keeps you motivated to continue running?
JM: I like the feeling of exploring trails and roads that usually I would have no purpose to go down. If I don’t explore, I get bored. So the boredom of a sedentary lifestyle keeps me motivated.
CYJ: What race have you enjoyed the most?
JM: I had the opportunity to race in a triathlon in Ixtappa, Mexico a couple of years ago. It was amazing because I was able to see how the triathlon/running community is similar even across different cultures.
CYJ: What has been your hardest race to train for and why?
JM: The Florida Ironman was definitely the most humbling experience I’ve ever had. I had to give up a lot of free time to train for it and in the Texas heat, the long runs and rides take a large toll on the mind and body.
CYJ: What shoes do you run in the most?
JM: Currently I run in the Newton Distance Trainers. I used to work in a specialty running shop so I’ve run in every brand’s version of a lightweight neutral shoe and I keep going back to the Newtons because I like the feeling of the lugs and the energy return.
CYJ: What is your dream race?
JM: I’ve always wanted to do the running of the bulls in Spain, but that isn’t technically a race so I guess I’ll have to say the Great Wall Marathon is one that I’ve always thought would be fun.
CYJ: Give us a little background info on Newton Running as a company.
JM: Newton Running is a company that uses physics and physiology to create a shoe that allows for natural running. After many years of development, the shoes were launched by co-founders, Jerry Lee and Danny Abshire, since 2007 we have about 48 employees and hundreds of retailers all over the world. The company’s goal is to use the success of the shoes and technology to advance it’s social responsibility initiatives (please see the Newton Running Web site for a video about some of our efforts).
CYJ: How does Newton Running use Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion in their technology?
JM: Newton’s third law of motion states that whenever one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite force on the first. This law explains that a runner is able to move forward because of the equal and opposite force the ground exerts on the runner’s foot after each step.
CYJ: Explain what the Action/Reaction Technology is and how it works?
JM: The Action/Reaction Technology ties into the ideals of Netwon’s third law. Most shoes take the energy of a runner and absorb it in soft open-cell foam. Our Action/Reaction Technology absorbs the impact but then returns it back in the form of energy return. This is achieved by an elastic membrane in every shoe which is pressed by the actuator lugs, located directly underneath the forefoot, into a hollow chamber in the forefoot of our shoes.
CYJ: What is natural running?
JM: That’s a great question! What feels “natural” when running in traditional running shoes is most often not the way your body would run distances if you did not have shoes on at all. So natural running is the way that our body functions without shoes on. It involves a light foot strike underneath the body’s center of gravity and quick recoil of the legs. One part that is hard to overcome is lifting the leg instead of pushing off the ground. There is more info on newtonrunning.com.
CYJ: Is natural running for everyone?
JM: Absolutely. Everyone has the same tendons and bone structures. Unfortunately, many people have become very good at running with poor form and most of those people will have to take time to change their form if they want to experience the benefits (less injury, faster times, more fun).
CYJ: Why do you think more people are leaning towards minimalist shoes?
JM: Minimalist shoes allow the nerves on the bottom of the feet to feel the ground. In essence, I think that is what has opened the eyes of so many people and why people see success when they try minimalist shoes. Newtons are not considered a minimalist shoe, rather they provide the same proprioceptive benefits of being close to the ground while also being more protected and supported. We have a thin plate that spans the width of the forefoot (where the largest concentration of nerves are) so the foot still feels the ground through the lugs, but you can also reap the benefits of the technology.
CYJ: Do you think this is just a fad, or that it is here to stay?
JM: As far as natural running form goes, it is here to stay. People have been running for centuries with a stride that is light and efficient due to thin level shoes. However, with the emergence of a thicker-heeled running shoe in the 1970’s, running form changed and injuries increased. Now with biomechanic research and technology, people are returning to a natural run form.
CYJ: How should a person transition from a heeled shoe to a level shoe and how long does it typically take?
JM: The transition will be different for each person and many people underestimate the time that needs to be taken to make the transition. It is similar to trying to drive a manual transmission car after years of driving an automatic. Many elements are similar but there are some that could take more time to adjust. The key is allowing your muscle memory to forget over-striding and bring your center of gravity above each foot strike. I usually recommend doing a mile or 2 to begin and gradually work your way into it over time. This allows your tendons (mainly the Achilles) to properly stretch and retract like a rubber band. If that band has been tight, due to improper shoe structure, it is going to be tender for some time after runs because of the stress. This will go away if you slowly if the body is allowed to adjust.
CYJ: How can a runner avoid injuries that can be caused by natural running?
JM: Too fast, too far, too soon are the three main reasons that people get injured in any form of running. By allowing your body to adapt and focusing on your form at least one day a week, one can avoid injuries. It is like any other sport; you have to think about how your body is functioning and how you can achieve the best results.
CYJ: Any other thoughts/comments
JM: Claim Your Journey is doing an awesome job of promoting running and fitness in Louisiana! Keep it up! If anyone is interested, I recommend the book “Natural Running” by Danny Abshire (cofounder of Newton).
If you have any additional questions please contact Jordan at Jordan@newtonrunning.com.
By Rivers Hughey