This review did not start out like the others.
Usually, as soon as I acquire a pair of shoes for review, I follow a pretty standard routine. First the shoes undergo a photo shoot while they are brand-spanking-new and free from any funk of the trails and pavement. Next, I put the shoes on for part two of the review: the “domestic test”. How do they hold up in the house? Are they comfortable when I walk from my computer desk to the fridge? Do they pass the test of standing in front of the kitchen sink while I aimlessly perform one of my least favorite chores ever: washing dishes? (This is a highly scientific shoe review process, I assure you.) Next, I take them out for a short run…three miles or less, just incase something goes horribly wrong with the fit, chaffing, or I just hate the way they feel. If they pass that test, they get a few more runs with increasing mileage, before I review them.
This was not the case with the Altra Intuition 1.5’s.
You see, the shoe that actually arrived on my doorstep for review from Altra was “The One“. I had a few problems with them right from the start (long story short, I couldn’t get them tight enough on my narrow foot). But despite the issues, I wanted to like them, so I kept trying. I even took them down to Pennsylvania for the Runner’s World Festival, and ran in them again…an easy 3 mile shakeout run before all of the races. Still, the shoe just wasn’t working for me. Luckily enough, on that very same run I was running with some people from Altra. I showed them my issue, and they explained to me that many of their shoes are made on different lasts, and that I probably wouldn’t have the same issue in another pair.
When we arrived back to the expo at the Runner’s World Festival, Jeremy Nef of Altra put me in a pair of Intuition 1.5’s. The Intuitions were still a neutral shoe, still zero drop (as all of Altras are), but these shoes were designed as a training shoe, and thus, had significantly more cushion than “The One”, which is a racing shoe. But the good news was, they fit perfectly.
And so, that is my very long way of telling you that instead of going through the normal shoe review process, the Altra Intuitioin 1.5’s and I were thrown right into battle together: a 5K immediately followed by a 10K, followed by a half marathon the next morning. It was a risky move…and thankfully, they worked out for me.
Now on to the review.
I had the honor of meeting the founders of Altra at the RW Festival, and hearing the story of how the company came to be, firsthand. Heather’s clif notes version: Golden Harper, a running child prodigy (seriously, he ran a 2:45 marathon at age 12) was working in his parents running store when he began altering shoes for his customers. Basically, he was trying to help his customers find a shoe that helped prevent injuries by helping people learn to run naturally. The desired design of shoe included a zero drop from the heel to the forefoot of the shoe’s sole. From this idea, Altra was born.
Altra Zero Drop™ footwear offers runners the world’s first fully cushioned, foot-shaped, training shoe without an elevated heel. This platform allows for a more natural foot strike and a more efficient, comfortable ride which in turn helps to prevent and eliminate common running ailments such as ITB pain, shin splints, and excessive pronation.
ALTRA INTUITION 1.5
ZeroDrop™ Platform with Full Cushioning
- Weight: 7.7oz
- Midsole: 12mm; Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound Top Layer
- Outsole: 4.5 mm FootPod Outsole
- Total Stack Height: 22mm
- 2 included insoles: 5mm Sculpted and 3mm Strengthen
- Upper: Quick Dry Air Mesh
- Liner: Full Length Seamless inner lining with Premium Drilex Collar Lining
- Asymmetric Lacing
- Other Features: Innovative Foot-Shaped Design, Female-Specific Design
- MSRP $100
According to Altra:
“Designed specifically for women, The Intuition™ 1.5 isn’t just another shrink it and pink it shoe. From the amount of cushioning to shape of the shoe, this shoe is 100% female-specific. Plus, with the Zero Drop™ platform and innovative foot-shaped design this shoe delivers many of the benefits of barefoot running with the comfort, cushioning and support that distance runners love. Follow your intuition and experience the world’s first fully cushioned, foot-shaped, Zero Drop™ running shoe.”
To date, I’ve put well over 50 miles on these shoes in the last few weeks. They have seen pavement, trails, and even the dreaded treadmill. As mentioned earlier, my very first weekend with these shoes included 22.4 miles of road racing. If ever there were going to be an issue with these shoes, that would have been it. (And for the record, other than slight wear on the sole, they show zero signs of wear and tear; the shoe is built very well.) As I sat here writing this review I turned to Geoff and asked “What DO I like about this shoe?” Nothing specific stood out. And then it occurred to me that since I brought these shoes home, I have worn them for every single running workout. Now, as any blogger who does a number of shoe reviews can attest, there is no shortage of sneakers in our house to choose from. So the fact that I reach for the Intuitions each time speaks volumes. They are a great compromise between a more minimal shoe, that I typically run in, and an overly built up, long distance road worthy traditional sneaker. For the sake of the review, here are a few specifics:
Cushioned upper: A problem that I have experienced with a number of minimal shoes (which I typically run in) is a weak, flimsy upper that either leaves the shoe feeling too loose, or gives me a gnarly blister on the back of my achilles (or worst case scenario: both). I understand the concept of “less is more” in the minimal shoe world, but I have had a very hard time finding a good compromise between a zero drop, minimal shoe, and a shoe that offers some of the features I want from a traditional shoe. The Intuition, leaning more towards the “traditional” shoe status, has a great, cushioned upper. No chafing, no blisters.
Wide toe box: I have very narrow feet, however, this doesn’t mean I want my toes jammed into my running shoe as if they were in a stiletto. Having run in more minimal shoes for the past few years, a wide toe box is a feature that I have not only come to love, but to require in my running shoes. It is nice to see this in a more built up shoe as well.
Stack height: The stack height of the Intuition 1.5, as mentioned above, is 22 mm. This is more than I have run in/on in quite some time. It was an adjustment for me at first, but as I transition to adding more and more road miles to my training, the cushion of the 22 mm stack height is very welcome. PRO: the cushion does not come at the expense of a heavier shoe; 7.7 ounces is very light weight and comfortable. Semi CON:the stack height does inhibit the flexibility of the shoe. While I wouldn’t call the Intuition stiff by any means, I certainly will not be posting a picture of me bending it in half (or even attempting to) as I do with many other shoe reviews.
Multipurpose: The zero drop and wide, almost completely flat sole make for a perfect, stable surface for the gym. Squats? No problem. If you are looking for a stable shoe for heavy lifting that can also be used for plyometrics and running, this is a fantastic alternative.
Aesthetics: I know they were trying to avoid the “Shrink it and Pink it” method used by many other companies for womens shoes, but they still “pinked it” , and I appreciate it. (Don’t worry, other, less feminine colors are also available.)
Other points of interest: As mentioned, I ran a significant amount of trail miles in the Intuition. Trails are my happy place. These trails were relatively flat and very well traveled (i.e, not technical trails), therefore, they worked out just fine. However, the return trip to the car on this particular trail included a few feet of steep, leaf covered climbing, in which I needed assistance in the form of Geoff’s hand in order to prevent a face plant/falling down the hill. There isn’t much tread on these shoes, so stick to the road (or trails where tread/grip isn’t of any concern.)
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a focus group discussing the topic of fitness gear and shoes, and one interesting conversation we had was regarding loyalty and running shoes. The wrong shoes on your feet certainly can increase the possibility of injury, and thus, runners are often very reluctant to try something new when it comes to running shoes, for fear of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” concept. While I am lucky in the sense that my feet are pretty forgiving, I still often feel a bit of hesitation when a new running shoe company shows up on the market. Do they have the background, technology, and reliability of the bigger names?
Altra is indeed the new kid on the block, but in my honest opinion, I hope they are here to stay. Their philosophy and mission of promoting natural running is something that is, in my opinion, needed in the running community, above and beyond the simple “barefoot” trend that we’ve seen come and go with already established shoe companies. And most important, the product performance and quality has met and exceeded my expectations in a running shoe.
* Altra provided me with the Intuition 1.5’s for review at no cost. However, all opinions expressed are solely my own.