Shoe Review: Altra Paradigm 2.0

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.

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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.

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Seriously, I’ve worn them almost every single day this week.

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.

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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!

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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? 

16 thoughts on “Shoe Review: Altra Paradigm 2.0

  1. oh I soooo need a pair in my life! do they have alot of different models or? did Golden say why paradigm 2.0 for you vs any other models?

    • they’ve got tons! basically he said because I’m used to the super cushion-y shoes like the transcend and the kayano, the Paradigm is the most cushioned shoe they offer so it wouldn’t be as drastic of a change for me. But they’ve got lots of other styles and a great guide on the website to help you figure out what shoe is best for you 🙂

  2. I’m intrigued! I’ve loved both the Kayanos and Ravennas (up to the 5s, did not like or buy the 6 or 7). Do you find they give you enough stability? I’m up for new shoes in the next month or so.. And congrats on the PR! One day I’ll get back there but surgery earlier this year took me out for a few months.

    • Thanks! Yes, they’ve definitely got the stability I need. I’d give them a shot if I were you, it can’t hurt to try! You’ll be back in PR shape before you know it, I know how the post-surgery road can be a slow tough road but it’ll be worth it!

  3. I tried Altras and within 3 miles of my first training run I hated them. I wanted to love them so bad!!! Maybe I just tried the wrong version? =( With a few ultras coming next year, especially trail ultras, I really really want these to be the shoe for me… I guess you can’t force it though, right? =/

    • Oh boo! You can’t force it, you’re right! But it could be the wrong version, sure – I tried on the Torin briefly and it felt different, a little less comfy. And are you sure you had the right size? I was shocked to find I needed a full size larger, a 10, when I’m normally a 9 in sneakers and an 8.5 in regular shoes!

  4. I LOVE Altra and I’m completely, 100% sure they’re the reason my boyfriend can run now. Every other shoe he’s ever tried causes ankle pain and foot numbness. He’s running his first half in two weeks thanks to these shoes. I’m loving the Torin and the Intuition for me – Torin for distance and Intuition for tempos/speed work.

  5. Pingback: I’m an Altra Ambassador! | Jess Runs Happy

  6. I have just purchased my first pair of Altras – in anticipation of completing the Great Wall Marathon in a few weeks. I have hallux limitus (limited movement in big toe joints – really painful) and so far – they are awesome! I am actually running ON MY TOES which is incredible to me!

  7. Hoping to try the Paradigms as soon as my Hoka Cliftons are done. I have so many toe issues and I think these may help! (by the way- what brand are the pants in the top pic? Love them!!)

  8. Loved my Paradigm 1.5 and their ripping so I decided to get these 2.0. It’s hard to find the right fit. In the 1.5 I wore a 9.5. The 2.0 in 9.5 are I think big because my heels slip out a little. And the 9.0 fit okay but I feel like I need more toe room. how much toe room do you need for a good fit?

    • I definitely need to size up in the Paradigms, across the board. I’m currently in a 9.5 in the 2.0s, and I even rotate a pair of 1.5s in a size 10 (!) and my normal sneaker size is 9. I was shocked I could go that big without slipping, I just laced up a bit tighter and was able to run a half marathon with no problem. I hope that helps!

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