As a former athletics outfitter, I’m going to let you in on a bit of a tough-to-swallow secret: if you’re a runner in any other part of the running journey spectrum besides elite athlete, your top priority should be your form, gait, and a bunch of other less sexy things that will allow you to have a long and healthy running journey. For this reason, as an amateur runner myself, I strapped on the Altra Running’s Paradigm 5.
The Paradigm 5 caught my eye initially because of its stability features. It has guide rails that operate kind of like a bowling bumper but for your running form, which in my case means improving my gait and preventing over-pronation. I also found that the shoe has even cushioning, instead of only at the heel. This was a welcome relief to my knees.
Women's Altra Paradigm 5
Men's Altra Paradigm 5
Two things separate these Altra shoes from the rest of the running shoes I’ve tried, the first being that the shoes are shaped like feet. You may think all running shoes are shaped like feet, but a side by side between The Paradigm 5 and my old Nikes show a distinct difference in the toe box. Altra's wider, more angular front aligns with my foot giving it enough space to maintain its natural shape when I land. But even before running in them, I knew the Paradigm 5 was going to be a game-changer just from how different my feet felt in them.
The second reason I wanted to try these Altra shoes is that they’re zero drop, unlike previous running shoes I’ve tried. Zero drop means there is no added height from the toe box to the heel. If you were in the running scene in the early 2010s, you might remember a phase of people wearing non-padded toe shoes. This craze was primarily inspired by the book Born To Run that argued running barefoot was how humans are meant to run, and arch and heel support weakens your feet and ultimately your gait. Parts of theory are correct, but what it doesn’t account for is that people like me have been running (and walking) in supportive shoes my whole life and don’t have the footpad calluses necessary to hit the track raw. In short: I wear these shoes because they’re the logical midway point between strengthening my stride and not pulverizing the bottom of my foot.
One of the ways I take care of myself is by running, and one of the ways I take care of my body while I’m running is by wearing the Altra Paradigm 5. Wearing them feels like my feet are fully aligned with my body, and running in them makes it feel like maybe we were born to run.
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