Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All time favorite shoe - Altra Provisions

Ok, I have only run once in them but I have never had a shoe that seemed to fit me so well and after 90 attempts I have had a few data points. The shoes I have fallen in love with are the Provisions from Altra, they were a Christmas present from my wife.

If you are not familiar with Altra, they are a newer shoe company and only make zero drop shoes. They are not the barebones minimalist which allow all sensations to come through (think Merrell Trail Gloves or Vibram FiveFinger) nor are they super cushioned and thick monstrosities (like Hokas) but they seem like the perfect blend of the two. I wanted the Provisions as they are the stability shoes from Altra and I was hoping that they would help support my sore foot. The way Altra adds stability is a really interesting method that seems to work amazingly well. In all my runs since Surf the Murph, I have had posterior tibilas tendon pain, It has ranged from intense to twinges especially as the pace or elevation increased and it seemed to depend on which shoes I was wearing. I had only recently figured out that some of my shoes caused more pain but on today's run, I had zero pain, not even a twinge. Their stability wedge is indeed just that a removable insert that is thicker on the insole and thiner towards the outsole, here is Altras' description:

Stability Wedge

The Altra stability wedge allows for maximum stability without pressing into the arch and weakening the foot. Unlike traditional stability systems that only provide stability underneath the arch, the full-length 4 mm varus, angled from the outside to the inside of the shoe, runs evenly from heel to toe and accounts for both early and late stage foot collapse. The stability wedge sits underneath the insole of the shoe and can be used in both shoes or a single shoe for those who have collapse on just one foot.

For a good understanind of it watch this youtube video -

What's this mean is when you buy the Provisions you get two removable inserts, the stability wedge and their normal insert which is included on most of their other shoes, here is their description of it:

Support Footbed

Providing some arch support, this 5 mm support footbed gives you the feeling of a more traditional insole. For those new to Zero Drop™ technology, this insole is a good place to start.
So Altra has provided me with a shoe that I can reconfigure either over time or for each run, for now I plan to run with both inserts and have maximum protection and then when I am pain free, I will remove the stability wedge and work to strengthen the foot. I have read that the Provisions without the stability wedge are basically the Altra Intuitions so by getting the Provisions I have gotten some additional flexibility for only $5 more, of course in this particular instance they were a gift. Finally when I really want to work on maximizing the development of my foot strength, I can remove the support footbed insole and simply use the shoe with no inserts whch they refer to as follows:

Strengthen Footbed

Allow your feet to build strength and support with 3 mm of flat insole. For those new to Zero Drop™ technology, this footbed should be broken into slowly. Transition to the strengthen footbed by first wearing it on shorter runs and gradually working up to your regular mileage. For those with stronger feet, transitioning to the strengthen footbed should be easier.

So with that all said, here are the the combinations possible along with the stack height:

Stack Height (total thickness of the shoe):
  • With Stability Wedge and Support Footbed: 25mm (medial heel)/ 25mm (medial forefoot).
  • With Support Footbed: 20mm (heel)/ 20mm (forefoot) 
  • Strengthen Configuration (no footbed): 15mm (heel)/ 15mm (forefoot).
Ok, maybe one run does not provide the definitive data set that would allow me to say these are the best shoes I have ever run in but at least its' a good start.

1 comment:

Wayne said...

wooohoooo... a pain-free run is great! I might have to try a pair of these. and I'll believe these are really the best shoe ever for you when you actually dispose of the others... or at least a few of the others. you know, maybe the ones that have been retired multiple times. :)


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