The Altra Paradigm 5 is the ultimate long-haul road runner when it comes to cozy comfort, smart cushioning and moderate control.
The new edition is a soft, smooth-riding max cushioned high-mileage stability shoe with extraordinary shock absorption and energy return attributes.
Tester’s Take: “This shoe soft, poppy and fun! It feels like a cushy neutral shoe, but it provides subtle support of a stability shoe.”
Altra redesigned and rebuilt the Paradigm and came up with a much better performing shoe this time around. A new upper and integrated Guiderail system is integrated into the springier AlterEgo midsole/outsole chassis. This creates a better fit, feel, ride and look.
The Paradigm provides subtle stability from its medial GuideRail system and the slightly firmer SabiliPods. These pods define three zones of balance for a runner’s foot as it rolls through the gait cycle.
This shoe has an internal heel counter and stabilization unit that integrates with the rear part of the midsole. This helps to reduce awkward movements or inward rolling after impact with the ground.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The new Paradigm fits true to size to slightly wider from heel to arch to toe box. However, like all Altra shoes, it has a roomy forefoot that allows your toes to flex and splay.
The step-in feel is exorbitantly plush but not mushy, and the smoothly lined interior gently cusps the rearfoot and midfoot.
On the run, the Paradigm has cushioning for days, but it also serves up precise handling that keeps your foot moving forward without overbearing control.
This new edition is energetic and moderately bouncy, soft but not definitely not sloppy.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who tend to run a lot of miles and need or want a bit of structural guidance will rave about this shoe. And committed Altra customers, especially those who have run in previous editions of the Paradigm, will absolutely love this shoe.
The Paradigm is the ultimate tool for medium to long runs, well-appointed for recovery runs and light and energetic enough for racing from 10K to beyond the marathon.
Note: The reason Altra builds its shoes on a level platform is to allow the heel and forefoot of a runner’s foot to always be an equal distance from the ground. Unlike shoes with elevated heels and sloping profiles, Altra’s shoes create what the brand calls an optimal foot alignment. This cultivates better running form and encourages a low-impact foot strikes.
The refinements to the Paradigm have made it slightly lighter and more lively, which helped make it more versatile for a wider range of running. It won’t be your first choice for faster, interval-based workouts, but it’s a shoe that runs lighter than it feels and can hold its own on longer up-tempo efforts.
All Altra shoes are built with a “Footshape” toe box that is wider and more rounded than most other shoes, thus allowing a runner’s toes and the transverse arch to splay and flex to allow for more effective muscular output for natural stability and optimal propulsion at the toe-off phase of a stride.
One thing to consider about the new Paradgim is that it’s built on a level or “zero-drop” platform and it might take some time to adjust.
Ultimately, we think it’s a great setup for a lot of runners to help their feet move and flex naturally. But if you’ve been running in shoes with a high to moderate heel-toe offset, consider make a gradual transition into Altra shoes built on a level platform.
ALTRA PARADIGM 5:
SHOP ALTRA PARADIGM 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.
He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.
As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”