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Are you seeing a pattern yet? Yes, I am becoming a huge fan of the 6 year-old running shoe company known as Altra. As I have been instructing clients in form techniques, and have found that most of the models Altra manufactures, lend themselves to my favorite principles.
The Altra Impulse is no different.
What I like about the Altra Impulse
As with all of Altra’s models, my favorite advantage is their FootShape™ Toe Box. This is the incomparable wide toe box that Altra is known for. The toe box is makes any of Altra’s models recognizable from a good distance away. That is how wide it is. I enjoy the ability splay my toes and have my feet firmly hit the ground without them being cramped up. Wider toe boxes also allow the feet to develop more strength because the shoe is not tightening around the ball of the foot or the toes. The toes can move around, and tackle all kinds of terrain.
As you can see from the x-ray below, the amount of splay the toes are allowed in the Altra vs a traditional toe box. Imagine having access to the full splay of your foot while you run. What is amazing is that most runners do not even realize the limits that a traditional toe box causes. (Hmm, maybe there is an idea for a full post.)
The Altra Impulse is no different in this department. The FootShape™ toe box has been incorporated and has all the comforts of the other models I have run in.
I love the Zero Drop™ technology that Altra incorporates. When I run I have the ability to utilize the full power and flexibility of my calf not to mention I can run as if I was barefoot, as our bodies were intended. Most traditional running shoes have a 12mm heel drop. This means that the heel is 12mm above the ball of the foot.
When we are barefoot, the heel and the ball of the foot are equal which is a Zero Drop™. This also helps with heel striking. Have you ever tried to heel strike while running barefoot? Even if you are a regular heel striker in shoes, it is almost impossible to heel strike while bare foot running. A huge effort has to be made to do that.
So, why runners continue to heel strike? If your heel is more cushioned in the shoe, then of course you will want to hit that area first. (Another post may be needed to explain a little more on this too…stay tuned.)
I love the Innerflex™ which are grooves at the bottom that create a more flexible sole.
One of the huge differences with the Altra Impulse is that they also incorporated their patented StabiliPod™ technology along side the Innerflex™. Now you have a stability shoe that is also somewhat flexible.
I have decided to put this feature as a liked feature more for others than myself. As a pure neutral runner I prefer to work allowing my body to support me, not my shoe, but Altra is marketing this shoe not only for running and triathlon, but for cross training as well.
The StabiliPod™ technology does really help in moving laterally, which is not something that is usual for runners, and especially those of us whom usually stick to the pavement. This is why I do like this feature.
My absolute favorite feature of this shoe are the drainage holes in the sole. My very last test run with the impulse was an 8 mile run, immediately following a huge rain storm here in Tampa, Florida.
My route took me through numerous ankle deep puddles and while my socks remained damp, the shoe was clear of water within a few yards of the puddle. There was no squish from the sole of the shoe or my sock because as my foot pushed down on the shoe, the holes squeezed water out the holes. No more blisters from soaked uppers and water log socks release water as well.
The Altra Impulse also continues with Altra’s A-Bound™/EVA blend compound which sits directly under the foot and adds a return of energy and reduces ground impact.
The upper is a light material and does have a noticeable difference from the other models. The tongue and laces are curved with the shape of the shoe which differs from the straight tongue of traditional running shoes.
I actually enjoyed this new feature. The fit of the shoe felt more comfortable with the tongue falling in the same curve as my foot.
I rarely run without socks, but I did end up having to do go out for a couple of miles one day without socks, and they were extremely comfortable. While the upper is not seamless it is very close. There are only a couple of seems that surround the tongue, but they are covered with a light fabric that helps reduce any friction.
What I wasn’t so crazy about
This is probably a very individual issue, but even though I sized up to a 10 from a 9 and a-half, after a few miles my toes still ended up moving forward till I they hit the front of the shoe. This probably has to do with the fact that I only lace my shoes tight enough to lock in my heel.
If you like your shoes laced up tight this probably will not be an issue.
The price point for the Altra Impulse is $120 dollars, which while competitive in the market place it still is a little expensive. In this day and age where people are scrounging for liquidity, I really would like to see at least one company come out with a quality shoe that retails for under $80. Of course that is my opinion and my opinion only.
How did the Altra Impulse Rate?
Quality – 4/5
Upper – 5/5
Outsole – 5/5
Flexibility – 4/5
Appearance – 4/5
Cost – 3/5
Overall – 4.2/5
Have you ever run in an Altra Running Shoe?
What were your experiences?
Which model do you like best?
Hoka One One Biondi S2
Have you ever even heard of these shoes before? I didn’t before I met Chet “The Jet” whom was a double Ironman athlete I hosted in my home a few weeks ago. Chet is from Hawaii and he nonchalantly mentioned these shoes as he was telling the tale of his son whom was running across the country. He was even went on to mention that he sent a pair to a point in Alabama where he knew he son could pick them up, and the response, nothing but sure gratitude for the gift. That was the point I had to give them a try.
Hoka One One is not well known here on the east coast, but in the community of ultra runners they have been known since their inception in 2010. Obviously this is a relatively young company which falls under the Deckers Outdoor Corporation umbrella whom also houses brands like UGG, and Teva. With the increased popularity of Ultra and Marathon running, I believe these will take off to even higher levels in the very near future. Why? Well let me tell you.
When I looked at these shoes for the first time, I reacted negatively. The huge sole, was a problem for me, due to my belief in a more of a minimal running form, but I for the readers and for my clients I wanted to give them a try, especially after the rave reviews from Chet and his son. I decided to take them out first for a three-mile run, and then give them a full test drive at the Sarasota Half-Marathon this past Sunday. I was completely overwhelmed at how comfortable and responsive these shoes are. At first glance they look really heavy don’t they? They weigh in at slightly under 10 ounces(9.8), which is the exact weight of my Brooks Pure Flow 2s that I love so much. My Brooks Pure Cadence 2s, I was just sent are actually almost 0.4 ounces heavier. (Just a disclaimer, I weighed these myself, I did not take these stats from the website.)
What also surprised me was the structure looks like a normal running shoe, like any Asics Nimbus, or Brooks Ghost which has a 12mm heel drop. They say looks can be deceiving, and with these shoes they are. They also have the same heel drop as the Brooks Pure Project line as well. The flexibility in the forefoot is probably the only disadvantage of this shoe versus my own running shoes and even that is minimal, and I believe probably after running in them for a little longer even that would become pliable enough to create more flexion.
The sole not only provides superior cushioning upon impact, it also is slightly wider which increased the stability as well. It seriously was like running on a cloud. I always preach good running form, and if you have naturally good form, impact is not usually an issue due to a proper lean, raised knee, and high cadence. I found myself not having to think about my posture and position, because the rocker-ed sole of the shoe did not inhibit, but encouraged a good strike and lean. Just for the fact a few of my clients are still trying to get into the habit of good form, I decided to jump rope, and do some box jumps in order simulate the impact. I barely felt anything, and I had full control of my feet. i really thought I would end up kicking the rope especially doing double-unders, but I had complete control and I barely felt the impact doing the box jumps. I could totally understand why these shoes are so popular with the marathoners and ultra-runners on the other coast. The more people start wearing them here, I believe they will gain popularity pretty quickly.
The retail price of the Hoka One One Biondi S2s are $170.00 which seems even high for a running shoe, but like the Newtons, they have a much higher mileage output. In my research I have found these shoes have been averaging over 700 miles without any degradation of the sole or cushioning. An ultra runner friend of mine said he had 3 pair of these he was switching out, and his current count is at 3048 miles and he has no intention of getting new ones yet. Most running shoes will get up to 350 miles, and my favorite Pure Project line rates there own shoes at 250 miles and cost around $100 retail.
They do take some getting used to. They do feel bigger, but not heavier. I do like that I was 5’11’ with them on, instead of 5’8″ and change. Personally, I do not think I would use them for a half marathon or below. I like the feel of the road a little too much, but you better believe I will be running the Chicago Marathon in them.
I give the Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2s, 4 out 5 Goofs.
Hoka One One has several other versions of shoes, for different fits, and surfaces. More information can be found on their web site.
It’s January 9th and I have been trying to provide a base now since November 6th. I think I am doing pretty well. I couldn’t swim 600 yards without changing up strokes from freestyle to sidestroke, to breaststroke. Now I can go about 800 yards with strictly freestyle..at least in a pool. Yesterday, January 8th 2011, I ran the Disney Half-Marathon without stopping in 1:59:32. It is not great, but not that this is an excuse, but it was extremely crowded and I was in the very back of the pack. Last week I cycled 40 miles, with a 5K run at the end. I think as far as my endurance factor goes I am a little a head of the game.