(Edited by Brad Minus) The Decision My 3 years of running experience started with multiple injuries including a couple of ankle fractures. However, I still managed to complete a marathon, a 50K and...
Goof Review: The Altra Impulse
Are you seeing a pattern yet? Yes, I am becoming a huge fan of the 6 year-old running shoe company known as Altra. As I have been instructing clients in form techniques, and have found that most of the models Altra manufactures, lend themselves to my favorite principles.
The Altra Impulse is no different.
What I like about the Altra Impulse
As with all of Altra’s models, my favorite advantage is their FootShape™ Toe Box. This is the incomparable wide toe box that Altra is known for. The toe box is makes any of Altra’s models recognizable from a good distance away. That is how wide it is. I enjoy the ability splay my toes and have my feet firmly hit the ground without them being cramped up. Wider toe boxes also allow the feet to develop more strength because the shoe is not tightening around the ball of the foot or the toes. The toes can move around, and tackle all kinds of terrain.
As you can see from the x-ray below, the amount of splay the toes are allowed in the Altra vs a traditional toe box. Imagine having access to the full splay of your foot while you run. What is amazing is that most runners do not even realize the limits that a traditional toe box causes. (Hmm, maybe there is an idea for a full post.)
The Altra Impulse is no different in this department. The FootShape™ toe box has been incorporated and has all the comforts of the other models I have run in.
I love the Zero Drop™ technology that Altra incorporates. When I run I have the ability to utilize the full power and flexibility of my calf not to mention I can run as if I was barefoot, as our bodies were intended. Most traditional running shoes have a 12mm heel drop. This means that the heel is 12mm above the ball of the foot.
When we are barefoot, the heel and the ball of the foot are equal which is a Zero Drop™. This also helps with heel striking. Have you ever tried to heel strike while running barefoot? Even if you are a regular heel striker in shoes, it is almost impossible to heel strike while bare foot running. A huge effort has to be made to do that.
So, why runners continue to heel strike? If your heel is more cushioned in the shoe, then of course you will want to hit that area first. (Another post may be needed to explain a little more on this too…stay tuned.)
I love the Innerflex™ which are grooves at the bottom that create a more flexible sole.
One of the huge differences with the Altra Impulse is that they also incorporated their patented StabiliPod™ technology along side the Innerflex™. Now you have a stability shoe that is also somewhat flexible.
I have decided to put this feature as a liked feature more for others than myself. As a pure neutral runner I prefer to work allowing my body to support me, not my shoe, but Altra is marketing this shoe not only for running and triathlon, but for cross training as well.
The StabiliPod™ technology does really help in moving laterally, which is not something that is usual for runners, and especially those of us whom usually stick to the pavement. This is why I do like this feature.
My absolute favorite feature of this shoe are the drainage holes in the sole. My very last test run with the impulse was an 8 mile run, immediately following a huge rain storm here in Tampa, Florida.
My route took me through numerous ankle deep puddles and while my socks remained damp, the shoe was clear of water within a few yards of the puddle. There was no squish from the sole of the shoe or my sock because as my foot pushed down on the shoe, the holes squeezed water out the holes. No more blisters from soaked uppers and water log socks release water as well.
The Altra Impulse also continues with Altra’s A-Bound™/EVA blend compound which sits directly under the foot and adds a return of energy and reduces ground impact.
The upper is a light material and does have a noticeable difference from the other models. The tongue and laces are curved with the shape of the shoe which differs from the straight tongue of traditional running shoes.
I actually enjoyed this new feature. The fit of the shoe felt more comfortable with the tongue falling in the same curve as my foot.
I rarely run without socks, but I did end up having to do go out for a couple of miles one day without socks, and they were extremely comfortable. While the upper is not seamless it is very close. There are only a couple of seems that surround the tongue, but they are covered with a light fabric that helps reduce any friction.
What I wasn’t so crazy about
This is probably a very individual issue, but even though I sized up to a 10 from a 9 and a-half, after a few miles my toes still ended up moving forward till I they hit the front of the shoe. This probably has to do with the fact that I only lace my shoes tight enough to lock in my heel.
If you like your shoes laced up tight this probably will not be an issue.
The price point for the Altra Impulse is $120 dollars, which while competitive in the market place it still is a little expensive. In this day and age where people are scrounging for liquidity, I really would like to see at least one company come out with a quality shoe that retails for under $80. Of course that is my opinion and my opinion only.
How did the Altra Impulse Rate?
Quality – 4/5
Upper – 5/5
Outsole – 5/5
Flexibility – 4/5
Appearance – 4/5
Cost – 3/5
Overall – 4.2/5
Have you ever run in an Altra Running Shoe?
What were your experiences?
Which model do you like best?
Goof Review: Altra Torin 2
I have been a fan of the Altra line for a little while now, so I was so honored to be given a chance to review the brand new Altra Torin 2. I reviewed the 1.5 version when it first arrived, and it became my shoe of choice for long runs.
What I love about the Torin 2
One of Altra’s significant differences in the complete line of shoes is their zero heel drop and since my coaching methodology includes an emphasis on our body’s natural movement while running this is obviously one of my favorites. (I have included a explanation of what “Zero Drop” means in my previous Altra Torin 1.5 review.)
Wide Toe Box
The other difference between Altra and their competition is the wide toe box, or as Altra calls it, a “FootShape” toe box. The ability to splay the toes plays a significant role in injury prevention and the strength of the feet. This allows the runners body to support itself, rather tan relying on a shoe for support.
The upper has been improved in the 2.0. The Torin 1.5 was made with a thick upper which added unnecessary weight and reduced flexibility of the shoe. The 2.0 has been upgraded with a much thinner mesh material that breathes better and allows for more flexibility.
Here is where some of my favorite changes were made. First, they moved from the heavier EVA to their lighter proprietary “A-bound” material that for me seems to add a little more spring to the ride of the shoe. When my foot strikes the ground the material seems to not only protect from the natural impact, but reacts driving me forward.
The weight in the previous show was 10.1 ounces which was up from the original Torin which was 9.5 ounces. The Torin 2 comes in at 9.1 ounces which is one of the lightest in this category, if not the very lightest.
Altra added what they call Innerflex which are groves in the outsole and midsole that bend with your foot allowing substantially more flexibility than the previous models. This too me was the single most important change they made. The Torin has always classified as their High Cushioned shoe which most companies have traded flexibility for cushion. Altra has found a way to give runners the flexibility I love with the cushioning I want and without giving up any of proprioception.
The have now included a Foot Pod technology which maps the bones of the foot with the Innerflex so the shoes flexes where the runner needs it to, allowing a near customized fit.
Altra went ahead and removed the toe guard and heel rudder as well. In my opinion this not only allowed them to shed some weight, but also added to flexibility and comfort. In a road shoe I never really thought either added any value. These two advantages are best left for trail specific designs.
What I don’t like about the Torin 2
Obviously, not much.
The new Abound foam tends to soak in water and sweat which makes the shoe feel a little heavier during training and racing. Even with the mesh material the shoe does not seem to drain well. I would love to see a version of this shoe with drain holes, but of course that is the triathlete in me talking.
After about forty miles the new Abound material started to squeak while just walking ,and only in my left shoe This does not seem to happen when I run in them, but it is a little noisy when walking through the store. I think it may be just a problem with this pair, but nonetheless it is something I dislike. However, it did not change the performance of the shoe.
The price of $125 is a little high in my opinion. A better price point would be the $100 – $110, but of course that is very minor for shoe of this quality.
Let’s see how the Torin 2 ranked on my scale:
Quality – 4/5
Upper – 4/5
Outsole – 4/5
Flexibility – 5/5
Comfort – 5/5
Appearance – 4/5
Overall – 4/5
The Altra Torin 2 is available in men’s whole and half sizes 7-12.5, whole sizes 13-15 and in three color patterns. It is available in women’s whole and half sizes 5-10.5, whole sizes 11-12 and in three separate color patterns.
Have you ever ran in a pair of Altra Torins (any version)? How did you like them?
Please feel free to comment on your feedback.
Goof Review: Altra Torin 1.5
The quest for the best running shoe can be daunting, but the search for the best zero drop running shoes can be downright frustrating. The majority of all the Altra Zero Drop reviews I personally have read, the consensus is pretty positive, and in this instance, it will be no different, because in my opinion, it has resolved my issue of finding the best zero drop shoe on the market. The Altra Torin 1.5.
What is Zero Drop?
To define zero drop is to first define heel drop, which is the difference between the height of your heel off the ground minus the height of the ball of your foot. For instance, most of the traditional running shoes out there have a 12-millimeter drop.
The heel is raised 12 millimeters above the ball of the foot. This causes more emphasis on the heel when running because that is where most of the cushioning is. A more minimalistic shoe will have a drop that is much lower.
For instance, the Brooks Pure Flow has a 4 mm drop. This shoe is great for starting the transition to a more minimal shoe giving all the benefits of a minimal shoe without causing the injury of the drastic change from traditional to minimalistic.
The Altra Torin 1.5 is a complete zero drop where the ball and the foot and the heel are equal keeping the foot more natural like walking barefoot. While it has the zero drop of a minimalistic running shoe, it does provide the protection of a good amount of cushioning in the sole. This is one of the reasons I truly enjoy running in this shoe.
The upper is durable but is thick throughout. I personally like this, because I feel the security of the shoe without having to pull the laces tight. In my opinion, the laces should never be tight. Once the laces are tied they should really never have to be untied unless you are using a runners lace. The laces should be tight enough to secure the heel but no more. This allows the runner to support themselves rather than the shoe supporting the runner.
The Altra 1.5 has the same wide toe box that is consistent with the whole line of zero drop running shoes. I love the wide toe box because it allows me to have splay my toes and grab the road with more surface area. My feet do not feel crowded in this shoe.
Altra changed the laces in the 1.5 from the original model. They are now flat vs the round nylon laces and they reduced the number of holes on each side from 7 to 6. It provides more space between the touch of the laces to the foot and security in the sinch of the laces.
The shoe also seemed to have less seems and the addition of a strap that cinches the tongue to the upper. It helps the security of the foot in the shoe.
The outsole has not changed from the original Torin, but that is something I personally liked. There is enough cushion in the sole for protection without losing the feel for the road or trail underneath.
The ride of this shoe is extremely comfortable. Of course, this is why I enjoy the Altra line in the first place. The ride is smooth with great responsiveness on the road.
The interesting part of the shoe is the weight. When upgrading a shoe from an original version, the thought would be that the weight could be dropped, but in the new Torin 1.5 has an extra ounce added. The shoes weigh 10.5 ounces versus the original Torins at 9.5 ounces.
The flexibility has not changed either. The Altra Torin or the Torin 1.5 are not the most flexible of shoes, but they do have enough flexibility to give a good lever and lift from the ground. I am chalking the lack of flexibility to the design of the shoe being for the road and not the trail. Trail shoes should have a little more flexibility for the technical terrain.
I do like the color of these versus the originals. The blue and orange weren’t bad, but they went a little more conservative with the grey, yellow and black. This is obviously a personal choice on the runner, but I thought I would put my two sense in.
The cost is a little more expensive at $120 dollars, but the shoes seem to last over 400 miles which most shoes will only last 250 to 300 before losing the cushion and ride comfort.
Quality – 4/5
Outsole – 4/5
Flexibility – 3/5
Comfort – 4/5
Appearance – 4/5
Cost – 3/5
Have you tried the Altra Torin or the Altra Torin 1.5? Have you run in any of the Altra lines of shoes? What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.
Goof Review – Newton Energy & BOCO Running Shoes
Here it is again, a long time since my last post. Life happens and when it does, watch out. It can really mess up the things you want to do versus the things you must do. I am learning to prioritize what is absolutely important to me versus what is important to everyone else. I hope to soon have that under control, but I digress.
Newton was nice enough to send me both a pair of the Newton Energy and the BOCO. I am reviewing them together since I have found they are the same shoe with the only difference being the BOCO has a tread that is made for the trails and the Energy is made for the road.
To be transparent and honest, I am a certified Newton Coach, so I am a little biased towards Newton. However, I rarely train in Newtons, as running is very personal I have my favorite running shoes to train in.
I do however, love the methodology behind them. For those that do not know, Newton running shoes have 5 lugs in the front of the shoe directly under the ball of the foot. The lugs have a higher or lower profile depending on the shoe.
The lugs serve as a reminder for running form by automatically driving the foot to land on the fore or mid foot, reducing the impact dramatically.
When paired with Newton Natural Run training, the shoe will decrease the effort level of transitioning to a mid or forefoot runner.
In my experience, after the runner has developed the habit, they no longer need to be running in Newtons, but most do not only due to muscle memory, but they also last about 4 times longer than other running shoes.
Prior to the release of the Energy, the core products Newton produced were the Motion, the Isaac, the Gravity and the Distance. These models needed a transition period for the runner to get used to the way the lugs lifted the heel causing some calf soreness.
The Energy now has a lower profile of lug, and a transition plate which actually allows the athlete very tiny transition period, if any, before the comfort of the shoe settles in.
The EVA foam that makes up the sole of the shoe is extremely comfortable and highly accommodating to the road.
The only conflicts I have heard is the heel cup is a little shallow for some, causing some slippage during long runs.
Since one of the core beliefs of natural runners is that shoes should be tied just tight enough to secure the heel, this could be a problem. I have always taught, the athlete needs nothing to support but themselves.
In other words, if the shoe is tied too tight, the shoe ends up supporting the runner. By tying the shoes very light and only tight enough to secure the heel, the feet, the calves, the ankles are strengthened with every activity.
I personally have not found an issue with the heel cup even without the help of a runner’s lace, but I have heard of the issues.
I did get an eleven-mile run on the trails with the Newton BOCO and was I surprised at how well the tread grabbed the terrain.
The trails I was running were meant for Mountain Bikes and that meant steep climbs and steep downhills and there was not a moment I did not feel secure.
For new runners or for athletes transitioning to more efficient technique, I believe the Energy is the perfect shoe. They are the perfect shoe to transition with before trying one of the core Newton models.
The BOCO is a great trail shoe for anyone wishing to start or continuing a journey into trail running. They are comfortable, supportive and made me feel completely secure on the trails.
That’s my opinion and I am sticking with it. Happy Running!
Ghost the Musical in Tampa FL – The Goof Review
Ghost The Musical Tampa FL – A Goof Review
The supernatural seems to be all the rage nowadays. The silver and big screens are filled with zombies, vampires, demons, spirits, you name it. Prior to the latest trends, the 1990 movie Ghost starring the late Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore was a blockbuster hit. Not only was it the top-grossing movie of 1990 but it took home Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg).
The theatre trend started with musicals becoming movies like Mama Mia and Rent, but lately, the trend has moved in the opposite direction to include Ghost. Can movies be turned into musicals and still retain the original vision of the screenwriter?
As I anxiously awaited the opening number in the orchestra section (main floor) of the Straz Center for Performing Arts‘ Carol Marsoni Hall, I pondered this in my head. I happened to notice in the program that Brian Joel Rubin wrote the script for the musical as well as the movie which increased my optimism and my excitement.
Now, as I have previously written in prior reviews, I love the theatre and especially musicals. I have experience on stage as a performer and behind the scenes as a designer and director, which is why my reviews tend to get a little in-depth. This one will be no different.
Ghost’s plot centers around Molly(Katie Postonik), who is in danger after her lover Sam Wheat(Steven Grant Douglas) is murdered. Sam, now a ghost, using a reluctant psychic, Oda Mae Brown(Carla R. Stewart) tries to save her.
This musical was a multimedia extravaganza, with video being used as an introduction and as background, and foreground for a good amount of the duration of the show. For example, video of stock tickers, traffic and crowded sidewalks as a background for a dance number to symbolize the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Most of the time, the ocular stimulus was way too much. It pulled from the actors’ performances as well as the dancers. There was so much going on that my eyes didn’t know where to focus. I literally had to decide what of the action going on-stage was supposed to be the central focal point.
My eyes didn’t feel that way all the time. The scenes underground with the Subway Ghost(Brandon Curry) were incredibly vivid and they worked really well. Unfortunately, most of the other moments where the talented dancers of the ensemble were visually drowning in the fast-moving video that played around them. There was a point that any audience member, focusing stage right, would miss some amazing movements going on stage left, due to the multimedia being shot in the foreground.
When I am asked to review shows at the Straz, it usually opening night in order to turn around the article so it can be used for marketing purposes. In my experiences as an actor and director, sometimes tweaks are taken care during opening night. There are the different sound, lighting, and technical obstacles that appear when the house is full of warm bodies which then lend to acting struggles as well.
With that being said, I was disappointed with the performances of both Katie Postotnik(Molly) and Steven Grant Douglas(Sam). Not only were their singing voices falling flat more times than not, but the chemistry and the heat needed between them was just slightly more than a flicker. There were small moments here and there, but they were few and far between.
The singing was flat overall without prejudice of the performer, which lead me to believe that maybe the monitors that feed the music on stage may not have been fully functional. If the performer does not hear the same pitches as the audience there will be perceptual differences which could sound like their singing is falling flat or sharp.
Robby Haltiwanger, who portrayed Carl Bruner, had more chemistry with Molly in the few scenes they shared than the entirety of scenes with Sam. There was a fleeting moment between them, but it had enough heat that it seemed to linger on stage for the rest of the show. Regardless, of the fact that he too fell flat during most of his singing numbers, his acting skills seemed far superior to those of Molly and Sam.
The best performances came from Carla Stewart(Oda Mae) and those performers playing her sisters, Lydia Warr(Louise) and Evette Marie White(Clara). Their pitches were spot on, and they seemed to have more fun on stage than a lot of the other performers. The characters of Oda Mae and her sisters are what I would consider the comic relief to what should have been a very emotional story. They brought much-needed hilarity at a point where the rest of the show was failing. My opinion must have shared with a number of the other audience members because it was only when these talented women came out for the curtain call that the ovation became standing.
One aspect that did disappoint me was that Carla tried to mimic Whoopi Goldberg’s performance from the movie. Of course, this could have been a directorial choice. It is evident that Carla is a phenomenally competent actor whom given the creativity might have made different choices that would have played to her strengths.
When a new musical is first presented on Broadway and then sent on tour, it usually takes five years for the rights to the show become available. During those five years there are minimal changes that a director can make from the original Broadway version, so a lot of the issues I mentioned may have fallen into that category.
In summary, while there were some great moments, the multimedia, inferior acting and pitchy voices tended to distract from what was an award-winning script.
Ghost is playing at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, April 27th. For more info please see the Straz Center website.