All competitive cyclists know that your contact points (the parts of your body that come in contact with the bike: feet with pedals, hands with bars, ass with saddle) need to be taken care of or you’ll be absolutely miserable. While I found a great saddle to fit my sit bones, fantastic bar tape for my handlebars, and gloves that kept my hands comfortable without losing a feel for my bike, I never really found a lightweight shoe that felt really good. I’d get numb or tingling toes, my little toe would feel smashed against the outside of the shoe, my heel would experience slippage at certain points in my pedal stroke…whatever. I’m know I would have found a shoe that felt better for $300 or $400, but I was never willing to break the bank for shoes when the cost of race entry fees, bike maintenance, traveling for races, coaching fees, and the like were already costing thousands a year. As a result, my feet were never really happy on the bike, which always made training/racing not as enjoyable as it could have been.
Why am I saying all of this? Well, when I hung up my wheels back in April, I dedicated more time and effort to running and hiking, the prospect of which made me really happy. Unfortunately, my feet weren’t happy in these disciplines, either. Now, the disclaimer is that I only run on the treadmill because I have rubber band ankles that can’t handle trail running (words cannot express how bummed this makes me) and I absolutely despise running on pavement. I’ll run on gravel roads or on paths that are only dirt with no roots or rocks, but I’m almost always on a treadmill doing intervals. I’ve tried tons of running shoes over the years (all lightweight and neutral support since I’m relatively petite, have high arches, and run with a mid- or forefoot strike): Asics Cumulus, Nike Free 4.0 (until they stopped making them, these were my favorites), Adidas Boston, Brooks PureFlow…all kinds of issues. The Brooks caused blisters/hot spots on the balls of my feet after about 50-75 miles of use. The Nikes wore out and made my knees hurt after about 100-125 miles. The Adidas caused the same hot spots/blisters as the Brooks and my heel slid all over the place because the opening around my ankle was way too large. I was beginning to think I’d never find a running shoe I would love.
Enter the Chester County Running Store. I went in and told the associate all of the issues I was having. Without hesitating, he said, “Have you heard of Altra?” I never had. And as soon as I put on their Escalantes, I knew I’d found a shoe for life!
I have narrow feet, but the stretchy material and laces of reasonable length makes it so I can cinch the shoes tightly enough without the laces dragging all over the place. The toebox is wide and supple enough that my pinkie toes never feel squashed and my toes splay exactly the way they’re meant to do. Altra’s propietary zero-drop and Altra Ego technologies keep your feet, ankles, and knees properly positioned while giving you cushioning that feels much more than the advertised “moderate” level and fantastic energy return on every foot strike.
If you’re looking for an exceptionally comfortable everyday runner, or a great race-day option, I highly recommend the Altra Escalante. The pair above is worn out and I’m awaiting my new pair to arrive any day. First running shoe re-purchase I’ve made in three years!
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out what Hollie has to say in her review!
Next review: Altra Women’s Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid, as soon as I get a chance to try them hiking out on the trail!