I’m excited to tell you about the new running shoes I bought; The Altra Torin Knit 3.5.
I’ve never been a brand-loyal runner. I buy shoes based on how they feel. I know runners who are lifelong brand fanatics and buy the same shoe model over and over, but I’ve always enjoyed trying out new shoes. Every 500 miles or so I’m back in the running store looking for my new favorite shoe.
I’ll start by saying that this isn’t a sponsored post, it's my honest review of the Altra Torin 3.5 Running Shoe. Altra didn’t send me free shoes or pay me to write this article. I paid about $150 to buy them from Fort Worth Running company. I wanted to make that clear because even though you’ll find this is a positive review, it is unbiased.
FEATURES OF ALTRA TORIN 3.5 RUNNING SHOE AS ADVERTISED (FROM THE BOX)
Foot shape allows the toes to relax and spread out naturally and allows the big toe to remain in a straight position.
Zero drop to maintain a natural foot position throughout your run.
Customized to the unique shape of the female foot.
Helps Improve running technique.
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HOW DO THE ALTRA TORIN KNIT 3.5 FIT?
The Altra Torins have a roomy toe box for a very comfortable fit. I wear a size eight in dress shoes and usually buy a nine in running shoes, but due to the roomy toe box, I didn’t need to size up.
As a running coach, I usually recommend that you buy your running shoes 1/2 to one full size bigger than your street shoes for a couple of reasons: When you run your feet swell a bit, and you need to accommodate for that. Secondly, the forward momentum can push your toes into the front of your shoe. If you ever lost a toenail due to running (welcome to the club) chances are it was because your shoes were too small.
They feel comfortable yet firm around my mid foot, but they feel a bit loose in the ankle, so I use this technique to tie my running shoes for ankle support.
WHAT IS A NEUTRAL RUNNING SHOE?
There are three major types of running shoes: Neutral, Stability, and Motion Control.
The Altra Torin knit 3.5 is a neutral shoe, which means it doesn’t provide any stability support for overpronation.
Foot pronation is normal and just means that your foot rolls inward as you strike the ground while running or walking. A neutral shoe is the correct fit for runners with normal pronation.
Not sure if you have normal pronation or if you overpronate? Visit a running specialty store and get a shoe fitting. The store associates are usually trained to watch the way you stand and run to help fit you with the best shoe.
WHAT DOES ZERO DROP MEAN?
The Altra Torin is a zero drop shoe. The heel to toe drop is the difference between the height under the heel and the height under the toe of the shoe. If you look at most running shoes, you’ll notice they have more cushioning under the heel than the forefoot. If you have an 8mm heel to top drop, that means there is an 8mm difference between the heel height and toe or forefoot height. A zero drop shoe is the same height at the heel and toe.
IS A HIGH HEEL TO TOE DROP BAD FOR RUNNERS?
Most running shoe manufacturers design shoes with extra cushioning under the heel, this makes sense because a lot of runners strike the ground with their heel. However, heel striking, while common, may not be the most efficient way to run. When you make contact with the ground first with your heel, you may be overstriding and adding unnecessary stress to your hips and knees.
However, the best foot strike is the one that works best for you. If you heel strike but are satisfied with your performance and have been running without a history of injuries, then keep doing what you’re doing. (My coaching philosophy: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) You may want to consider how your foot strikes the ground if you are injury-prone or not improving in performance.
Sometimes runners who want a low or zero drop will advocate for barefoot running or minimalist shoes. It works great for some runners, but my (old lady-ish) body needs cushioning.
I have found the Altra Torin is a perfect combination of a zero drop shoe with cushioning. It is not a barefoot shoe, yet there is an equal amount of cushioning under the heel and toe.
CAN RUNNING SHOES CORRECT BAD FORM?
Like you can’t take a magic pill to lose weight, you can’t buy magic shoes to fix your running form. You have to work on your form through drills and practice. However, due to the zero drop heel to toe, the Altra Torin promotes a forefoot strike, and along with running form practice, it may help you improve. You must do the work.
CAN RUNNING SHOES PREVENT INJURIES?
Short answer: No. But, with runner-specific strength training, mobility exercises, running form (skill) practice, adequate rest between workouts, sleep, and whole food nutrition (got all that?), running shoes that fit correctly, feel comfortable and promote a natural stride can be part of an injury-free running strategy.
MY ALTRA TORIN KNIT 3.5 ROAD TEST AND VERDICT
The Altra Torin Knit 3.5 is supportive, comfortable and may help promote a natural foot position with a zero heel to toe drop and cushioning. They allow my toes room to breathe while still feeling firm around my foot. My only issue with the loose ankle was solved with a shoe tying technique. They look a bit bulky, but they feel light on my feet. I’m excited to see where I run in these shoes for the next 500 miles.
When people ask me, “What’s the best running shoe?” I always respond it’s the one that is the most comfortable for you. You can’t choose your running shoe based on what your best running friend, running coach or favorite blogger recommends.
Shoe fit is so individual that the only way to know the best shoe for you is to visit your local running store and try on several brands and models to see what feels most comfortable to you. I invite you to add these to the rotation on your next visit to the running store to see if they feel as good to you as they do to me.
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