As an Ambassador for the Runner’s World Half & Festival, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Altra Running, the main sponsor for the whole weekend. Golden Harper, the founder of the company, was involved with our ambassadorship from the very beginning, even hosting a Facebook Live chat to help us learn about what Altras would work best for us.
I’m always scared to try new shoes with my history of injuries. But right before the RW Weekend, even my old faithful Brooks had turned on me, so I was open to try anything. Between a nagging plantar fasciitis flare up and shooting pains & numbness just 3-4 miles into my last long run before Rock n Roll Brooklyn (then again, heartbreakingly, on race day), my feet were not happy and I was ready for a change.
Given my preferences for the cushy Brooks Transcend, Ravennas, and Asics Kayanos, Golden recommended I try the Paradigm 2.0 and hooked me up with a pair, and I won’t make you wait any longer for the big reveal: I freakin LOVE them.
I started out in a 9, my usual size, but quickly realized they were too small and swapped out for the 9.5, which fit great. They do say that you should go at least a half size up in Altras, and Golden even says I should go up to a 10 (!!) but I haven’t tried them yet because I refuse to get out of the 9.5’s.
I wasn’t planning on wearing them to race because they say you shouldn’t race in shoes you haven’t run in before, so I wore them for the first time Friday for our November Project workout and the rest of our crazy day. It was like a miracle: no pain whatsoever. Just one day earlier I took my last pre-race run in Asics Kayanos and felt the numbness and shooting pains around mile 2, but 24 hours later I spent nearly 8 hours and 6 miles of working out, jogging, and walking in the Altras with zero pain.
The key is in a few different features unique to Altra: the footshape toe box and the zero drop construction. Basically, the shoes are shaped like your foot (giving your toes room to breathe and move naturally), and the toes and heel are equidistant from the ground, unlike other brands where your heel is higher and the front of your foot takes more unnecessary stress. There’s a lot more science and actual FACTS to back this all up here.
After going back and forth on what to run the Five & Dime in, I decided at the last minute on race morning to wear the Altras – and I was not disappointed. I set out in the 5K simply to enjoy the scenery, take it slow and baby my foot. But when I finished and realized how good I felt, I decided to push a little harder in the 10K and unexpectedly PR’d, even with the hills on the course!
When I crossed the finish line and realized what I’d done – AND realized my feet still felt brand new with no pains whatsoever – I was so happy I could have cried. Finally I found a shoe that didn’t put any pressure on the sensitive parts of my feet, my knees felt fantastic, and if I’m being honest, I think they’re really freakin cute, too!
Fun Fact: after I crossed the finish line, I ran into the expo and found Golden, gushing to him about how happy I was in these shoes. He was so thrilled, and recommended that I get the 10’s instead to be even happier. I said OK and agreed to bring the 9.5’s back the next day and he’d have a pair of 10’s sent out to me later in the week. But when I wore my spare Asics to the expo the next day and my foot started going numb just an hour into the day, I swapped back into my Altras in the middle of spectating the half marathon (literally, took my shoes off on the side of the finish line) and told Golden I was sorry but he’d have to knock me out to get these Altras off my feet. I’ll buy a new pair when these quit but in the meantime, I don’t want to go one day without them!
I’m so excited to run now, knowing that I won’t have to worry about that creeping pain or numbness. I ran energized and happy the whole 9+ miles that day, and every run since has been smooth and pain free. I even ran 7 hilly miles this morning in them, completely blowing my expected pace out of the water and falling in love with running all over again.
Fun Fact #2: I’m already eyeing an old pair of the 1.5’s to match my Rebel Challenge costume (how can I not when they come in the perfect shade of BB-8 Orange???)
Once I started talking about them on social, I’m hearing from lots of other folks who love their Altras, so let’s hear it – have you tried them? What did you think? Would you ever give them a shot if you haven’t already?