Monday, December 26, 2016

My Year in Shoes 2016 - from Altra (Instinct 3.0) to Altra (Torin 2.5)

My Year in Shoes 2016

the uphill road to 1700+ miles and countless sneaker purchases


I started the year ensconced in the Altra Instinct 3.0.  They had been a great shoe for easy to run trail races like the Rosaryville 50K in November of 2015. And I was running 5Ks in them as well - starting the year with them on my feet at the Montgomery County Road Runners Club New Year's Day 5K.  I upgraded to the Instinct 3.5, and was pretty dissatisfied with the update. The harder more structured upper was much less comfortable and even began to cause a bit of foot pain on the top of my foot. Plus, they were uglier than your average Altra, which is saying a lot.

I did some trail running in the Altra Lone Peak 2.5, a nice shoe but which I found a little too sloppy over rocks and roots. I now use them as a walking around shoe, and haven’t tried out the 3.0 yet.

Instinct 3.0
Instinct 3.5 fugly


Challenger ATR 2
I ran some trial mileage in the Hoka Challenger ATR 2, wearing them for an uncomfortable soggy 24K at St. Mary’s Frozen Heart and for the relay at the Mid Maryland 50K. The ATR 2s were nearly perfect except for being a bit too tight in the toebox. I have read that the ATR 3s remedied this issue, but haven’t had the chance to try them on yet either.

Breakthru 2, Breakthru 1
As I didn’t have a good road shoe after tossing the Instinct 3.5 asides, I experimented with the Saucony Breakthru 1 and 2.  Neither was wide enough for my foot, but I enjoyed running in both shoes on shorter and faster race courses.  It is at the bottom of the line for Saucony, but they did well on that model.

I ran in the Breakthru 2s mostly during the March-April-May timeframe.


Clifton 3
By July, the tightness of the Breakthru’s were starting to wreak havoc on my feet, so I went back to Hoka to give the Clifton 3s a try. They seemed to get the shoe into a good place the third time around - a better tongue and upper material solved a bunch of problems from the first two models. I used the Clifton exclusively through July and most of August, squishing the Strava miles in them through the most unpleasantly hot and humid days of the summer when the material couldn't hold up to what I dished out.


At the expo for the Annapolis 10 miler race, I made an impulse buy of the Saucony Triumph ISO 2. It was a cushier and better fitting version of the Breakthru 2 for me, and I do love the ISO sockliner quite a bit. I ran with them for the A10, Larry Noel half, Parks Half, and the National Capital 20 miler. By the end of the run in them, I started to get some pretty severe heel pain which wasn’t going away from alternating some runs in the Clifton 3.


I went back to the Adidas Supernova Glide, 8th edition, in October. I put a couple of hundred enjoyable miles in them with no discomfort, successfully running the Howard County Metric Marathon and the NCR Marathon.


Once again, I was undone by an update, this time from the Supernova Glide 8 to the next version, simply called the Supernova. The update had a lot of great pluses - more TPU cush in the forefoot, better cushion around the ankle, a more padded tongue. But damn if the shoe wasn’t tighter in the forefoot than its predecessor. After 50 miles, it was clear it was causing pain in my right foot.


Altra Torin 2.5 penguin shoes
What goes around comes around. I started the year happy and comfortable in the Altra Instinct 3.0. And so I decided to come home to Altra, relying on ‘s review of the Torin 2.5. And I swallowed my pride, putting function above style.

25 miles in, and I’m pain free and putting in comfortable daily runs. I think if I know what’s good for me, I’ll stay put.  As a sneaker geek, I always want to upgrade to the next model in the line, but as my experience with the Instinct 3.0-3.5, the Breakthru 1-2, and the Supernova Glide 8-Supernova shows, newer is not always better.  In fact, it's usually a step down.

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