I recently took out of pair of the Altra Lonepeaks (Altra’s Trail shoe) and was surprised and how well they worked for me. I decided that it was time for me to test their road shoe; the Altra Instinct. These shoes not only fit great but perform very well. I walked around in them for the first few days just to get used to the feel and I finally decided that I should test them out. I am not a into the concept of complete minimalist running shoes like the Vibram Five Finger but I do agree with them about the natural running form which is on your forefoot. I have been training myself for awhile to run on my forefoot and I was excited to try a shoe that I thought would help me on my quest.
The great thing about this shoe is that it has cushioning, about 18-20mm of it and that’s more than your will find in the forefoot of a regular shoe. The whole concept is zero drop, this means there is no difference from the heel or toe, this means the shoe is constantly level through out the shoe. I like this a lot more than very minimalist shoes because it allows me to have cushioning so I can be comfortable but it also allows me to practice the proper running form which increases efficiency and reduces impact.
With my running clothes on and water bottle in hand I headed out the door to test these brilliantly designed shoes. As I ran I felt very light on my feet and I felt that I wasn’t hitting the ground hard as I usually did when I would heel strike. It was fairly easy to stay on my forefoot and I was glad that is was because if not I would have been heel striking. I thought about the idea “they make your run on your forefoot” while I ran and decided to test it out. I tested it by trying to heel strike, let me tell you this wasn’t a fun experience. My foot kept slapping the ground hard and I was impacting the ground very hard and there wasn’t a smooth heel to toe transition. I would say from those actions and feelings that it defiantly keeps you up on your forefoot because it is hard to heel strike in these shoes without noticing somethings wrong! It basically made me run on my forefoot or I would be having a uncomfortable run.
Asides from the zero drop the toe box is bigger than usual. Most people think they need a size smaller because its so roomy but that’s not the case. The toe box is actually supposed to be bigger, because it allows your foot to expand. When you forefoot strike your toes spread out and your foot basically expands, the toe box on the shoe is wider to accommodate your expanding foot. Try forefoot running in a tight toe box, it isn’t comfortable. Your foot naturally expands and you should allow it to.
When you run in this shoe your feet don’t hurt because there is a lot of cushioning to comfort your foot. For example the reason this shoe is so comfortable is because something called A-Bound which of course is recycled and environmentally friendly for a resilient underfoot protection. Also the midsole is composed of regular EVA which is foam for durable cushioning. Another amazing thing about this midsole is called the NRS (Natural Ride System) which is basically a more natural foot shaped last, zero heel t toe drop, and metatarsal specific shapes in the outsole to assist in proper foot mechanics and allow for a more natural run.
The upper is also very breathable and keeps your foot well ventilated so you can enjoy a run without sweaty feet! It also has a very nifty design on the upper which wraps your foot for the perfect foot hold. This also holds true in the heel with the Heel Claw which holds your heel firmly in the shoe for a slip free run. I am very picky about the shoes I wear and I felt very good in this shoe, it was very comfortable and fit my foot well. The outsole is also very durable and is meant for high mileage so you can be sure it will last through anything you can put it through.
If you are just getting into the minimalist style of running make sure to train before you go out and hammer out 10 miles in these shoes. They have a guide to help you to running minimalist so if you buy these be sure to follow it! But if you are already a minimalist runner you will love these shoes! Happy Trails!