In the trail running community, Altra shoes are a big deal. They’re all over the place, and people swear by them. I’ve tried on a pair or two in the shoe store, but the fact that they’re zero drop has scared me from making a purchase. This weekend I got a chance to actually take some demo pair out for a real run, on a trail.
We went to Rice Lake, WI this weekend to attend a pre-Tuscobia race event, and one of the perks was being able to check out Altra shoes on Sunday morning and take them out for a jaunt on the Tuscobia trail. I decided to go with the Timp model, as it had the highest cushioning, and the rep suggested that was a good choice for people who aren’t used to zero drop.
The nice thing about the Tuscobia trail is that it is straight, and flat. There was one small dip less than a mile in. Otherwise, I was running on solid double-wide track, with clear vision of miles ahead of me. I can certainly see why people feel that the mental game is killer at Tuscobia. You can see for miles ahead, and it takes forever to get there.
I did a simple 6 miler, out-and-back. My first impression of the Timp’s is that they are probably the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn. They have a nice wide toe-box, but the mid-foot is snug, and your heel feels locked in. At no point did I feel like my feet were sliding around in the shoe. I just felt a lot of comfort in my toes, as they could splay out to their heart’s content. The entire upper material of the shoe was a delight, and it made me quickly realize why people love these shoes. They’re almost like wearing socks. Very comfortable, cushioned socks.
I found that the zero drop pushed me onto my mid/fore-foot at the start. That’s not a bad thing, but after about 3-4 miles I found myself inching back onto my heel more. However, I didn’t feel like I was slamming my heel down any harder than I normally do, so the zero drop didn’t seem to give me too many troubles in that area.
The real test will be tonight, and tomorrow. I’ve already felt a bit more tightness in my upper calves, and so I’ve rolled those out to try and get them stretched. That doesn’t feel like anything that I wouldn’t get used to, so I’m optimistically hopeful. We’ll see how tomorrow morning feels. If I’m completely bound up then I might need to think twice, but hopefully I can wake up feeling mostly normal in the calf area. If so, I think the Altra Timp might be my next shoe purchase.