Over the past couple of months, I have been introducing more shoes that have a lower heel-t0-drop than the traditional running shoe. As a result, I have been experimenting with the Saucony Mirage, Saucony Kinvara, and the Merrill Pace Glove. I was very excited to get the opportunity to review the Altra Intution, a zero-drop shoe made specifically for a woman’s foot.
When I first looked at the Altra Intuition, the first thing I noticed was the wider toe box (see picture). The toe box of the Intuition is definitely wider than any running shoe I have worn. The purpose of the wider toe box is to let you toes splay as you hit the ground (similar to what they would do if you were running barefoot).
The result is a very comfortable shoe. I have hammertoes from years of wearing heels, so shoes with a tighter toe box are often uncomfortable if worn for longer runs. The lack of toe discomfort was one of the first things I noticed after wearing the Intuitions on a number of runs of varying distance. I wore the shoes for training, but quickly decided to wear them at other times during the day because they were so comfy.
The other key feature of the Altra Intuition is that it is zero-drop. Because of the zero-drop, it is very difficult to heel strike in these shoes. Transitioning to a forefoot strike is gentler on the body, often resulting in fewer injuries. One thing I have noticed from trying a minimalist shoe like the Pace Glove is that there is very little cushioning for the foot. While this has its advantages in letting you “feel” the running surface, I think it is less comfortable for longer runs on asphalt or concrete. I think that this is definitely a plus for the Intuition– you can take advantage of the zero-drop, but have more cushioning.
The Intuitions were designed for the female foot, which often has longer arches and narrower heels. Most other running shoes that are labeled “womens” are just the male version of the shoe in a smaller size and with different colors.
I surprised myself by deciding to wear these shoes in my last 5K. Because my feet felt really comfortable in them, I decided to take a gamble and see how they fared during racing. Well, I ran a PR for the 5K, so I really can’t complain! I did take a look at my race pictures, and for what it’s worth, you can tell I am landing on my forefoot!
If you are entertaining the idea of switching to a a zero-drop shoe like the Altra Intution, keep in mind that you should transition gradually. Because most traditional running shoes have a higher heel, when you switch to a zero-drop shoe you may notice a little soreness in your calves (they are having to work harder than they would in a traditional running shoe). Altra includes an educational booklet (see picture) with each pair of shoes that gives you tips for switching to a zero-drop shoe. Also included are an two set of inserts: support and strengthen. The support inserts can be used as you transition to zero-drop, as they have a molded heel and arch (similar to the traditional running shoe). The strengthen inserts are completely flat and can be used when you are acclimated to the Intuitions.
Altra provided 30 Something Mother Runner with a complimentary pair of Intuitions for this product review. I did not receive any payment for writing this review, and all writing and opinions reflected in this review are my own.