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Intro: Putting Altra Running Minimal Shoes to the Test

altracomparison.jpgThe box arrived two days ago. Inside, was a new pair of one of the latest minimalist shoes to hit the market, the Instinct running shoes from Altra. What, another pair of minimalist shoes? Do we really need another? From the minute I opened the box, it was clear that these shoes are very different from those marketed by the larger companies. The packaging itself shouts out that a group of runners designed these from the ground up. Better yet, the shoe fit my foot like a glove when I slipped the right one on.

In full disclosure, I am a true minimalist shoe convert. When I restarted running about 7 years ago, I followed conventional wisdom and began buying stability shoes to "protect" my flat feet. As the injuries started to mount, I kept ratcheting up the amount of "stability" that shoes would provide. Ironically, the more stability I added, the more frequently I founded myself nursing tender muscles. A long bout of plantar fasciitis pushed me into Newton Shoes and now finally Vibram Five Fingers. Along the way, I rebuilt my running form and have raced for 2 years with minimal problems.

I get a lot of questions about these shoes from people who know I run with them. The first question is usually around how to get used to them. Altra addresses this from the first moment you open the box. Underneath the lid are clear instructions about proper running, how to make the transition, and what makes these shoes unique.

altrashoesbox.jpgThe shoes feel great for me. Altra Running crafted an unusually wide and loose toe box. The spacing will allow your toes to spread and get stronger. I have a very wide forefoot now and the shoe fits perfectly. Though I really like my Vibrams, I have been looking for a shoe that runs comfortably on crushed stone surfaces, offers more insulation when the road is very cold, and better ventilation when it's very hot. Over the next two weeks, I will try these shoes and give you a full report.

Author: Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler is the founder of Triessential.com and a contributor here at TRIJUICE. Triessential offers an iPhone application that provides training tips and motivation every day throughout the entire year.