Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Topo Athletic MT Trail Shoe Review

So it has only been about 2 weeks since I wrote a product review on the Altra Instinct 2’s.  I wrote about the benefits of a zero drop/low drop shoe and the wider toe box.  I also stated that I might have found the perfect shoe for me.  While I love my Altra’s, I may have found its replacement already, at least for some of my runs.

Topo Athletic recently sent me a pair of the MT trail shoe to review.  They are great looking shoes, have a low 2.0mm. heel drop, which is low enough to make running in an ideal running form easier.  The MT also has the wider tow box just like the Altras.  It can be used on the road or trail with ease.

A little bit of history on Topo Athletic.  Tony Post was the President of a large shoe company and has over 30 years in the shoe industry.  A year and a half ago, Tony started Topo Athletic with the desire to create a shoe company that would help you train smarter.  He didn’t like how most shoes squished your toes, which is where the wide toe box comes into play.  He wanted to make a shoe that was nimble and allowed you to stay connected with the ground (i.e. feel the ground as you run).  Topo Athletic strives to make the best shoe available and welcomes customer feedback on how they can improve.  So now let’s get back to the MT’s.

My initial reaction is that the shoe looks great and felt great right out of the box.  My only initial concern was that there was not as much cushion as I was used to.  That concern was quickly squashed though.  I have been on three runs so far with the MT.  I went on two road (one fast and one easy) runs and a trail run.  The shoes felt amazing.  They were very quick on the road and had the perfect amount of cushioning.  The MT is also very light at around 8 ounces.  When I went on my trail run, I was running up granite outcroppings and felt like I was completely connected to the ground.  I never felt like I was going to slip and the material was extremely durable.  On multiple occasions I caught my toe on the granite and was worried that I would tear through the shoes outsole.  They didn’t even have a scratch on them.  They are a snap to clean as well.

The Topo MT retails for around $100 on the Topo website.  Give them a try and you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Altra Instinct 2 Review

I have to start by saying that it is overwhelming how many different types of shoes there are and if you are newer runner, I would strongly suggest going to a local running shop and having them fit you.  They will help you determine what type of shoe would be best for you.  There are neutral and stability shoes, shoes for over and under pronation, and shoes with maximal or minimal cushioning.  Go into it with an open mind.  Just because you rocked the Nike Air’s back in the day doesn’t mean that a pair of Nike shoes will be your best fit for running.    The last time I was in my local Fleet Feet store, I heard a lady say that she couldn’t wear any of the shoes that were picked out to her because they wouldn’t go with any of her outfits.   Are you kidding me???  I totally understand wanting shoes that look good, but come on.

I ran across a shoe company on Facebook a while back called Altra.  They started because the founder felt like too many shoes have gone with a higher heel drop (where the heel is higher than the front of the foot).  The problem with this is that most shoes, especially with a higher heel drop tend to make you heel strike, which is a major contributor to running injuries.  Golden Harper, the founder of Altra proposed the idea of a zero drop shoe, which would promote more of a natural stride. 

One of the best things about Altra as a company is the literature that they provide with their shoes.  They not only provide a great pair of shoes, but they educate their customers on the proper fit, running form, and benefits of using the Altra shoes.  Their shoes are gender specific as well since women’s feet are different then men’s feet.  Altra shoes use their zero drop and wide foot shaped toe box to alleviate pain associated with Bunions, forefoot pain, excessive pronation, IT Band issues, runner’s knee and shin splints.  I will now review the Altra Instinct 2.

I have to say that I might have found the perfect shoe (for me). It is cushioned, but there isn’t too much cushion like some Hoka shoes.  I really like the Zero Drop design and the wide toe box.  I do have to warn you though that they do look somewhat funky.  My wife calls them clown shoes.  The wide toe box lets your toes spread out naturally, unlike most shoes that pull your big toe in.  I have found that in using my Instinct 2’s, my IT Band, hip issues, and shin splints have gone away.  I can run longer with less energy expended and I love the way they feel.  By letting my toes spread out in the big toe box, I am more stable and comfortable when I run.  I did have some minor calf tightness the first day I ran in them because I was not used to the zero drop design.    Overall, these shoes are amazing.  They are durable and should last quite a while. 

I love Altra as a brand.  They make an incredible shoe and they educate their customers on becoming a better runner by improving their form, which I wish more companies would do.  Give a pair of Altra’s a try and let me know what you think.