You might think I’m crazy buying $175 sneakers. I’ve never spent that kind of money on sneakers before, and it’s at least double what I’ve normally spent in the past. So I’m calling my Newton sneakers an investment.
I was introduced to Newton sneakers by my Pilates teacher and trainer, Jane Beezer, as we were discussing the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s reshaping the sneaker industry. And as it turns out, less is more.
Years of running injuries can be tied back to a sneaker industry that babied our feet with too much cushion, encouraging a heel-first strike point rather than your physiologically intended mid-sole (ball of your foot) strike point. Your body does this naturally when you run as you were born to run: barefoot.
The hidden Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico understands this, as McDougall writes:
In Tarahumara Land, there was no crime, war, or theft. There was no corruption, obesity, drug addiction, greed, wife-beating, child abuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, or carbon emissions. They didn’t get diabetes, or depressed, or even old: fifty-year-olds could outrun teenagers, and eighty-year-old great-grandads could hike marathon distances up mountainsides.… [A] Tarahumara champion once ran 435 miles, the equivalent of setting out for a jog in New York City and not stopping until you were closing in on Detroit.
Not only do the Tarahumara run well, but they smile while they do it, drink beer when they’re done, and basically run barefoot—since the sandals they use on the rocky terrain could never pass for what you and I would call sneakers.
And that’s where Newton sneakers come in. They provide the light and smooth feeling of barefoot running while offering some protection from the unforgiving skin-ripping roads that most of us use. With my Newtons, I’m not running any faster, but my feet and legs feel stronger, and my knees feel great. So I’m happy with my investment.
Yesterday, it was announced that Reebok founder Paul Fireman invested $20 million in Newton Running Co. That piqued my interest for two reasons. One, $20 million is a little more than my $175, and two, I happened to go to high school with Mr. Fireman’s son, Dan, who runs Fireman Capital and said to The Boston Globe, “Newton Running is the footwear partner we’ve been seeking for quite some time.”
John Fisher, the former chief executive of shoemaker Saucony Inc., who now teaches marketing at my Alma Mater, Babson College, told The Boston Globe, “The idea of minimalism will continue to grow in geometric leaps and bounds. In my view, this is probably the largest single revolution in running footwear since the Nike air bag.”
Tying this all together, investors can learn a lot from the minimalist living of the Tarahumara and the principles behind barefoot running. For one, be like a hidden tribe and separate yourself from the chaos of the markets. Focus on being like a light and smooth runner with your well-thought-out, minimalist investment approach. And think about what running barefoot forces you to do: slow down and concentrate on where you’re going in that moment, and not worry about what the guy next to you is doing.