Remember when you used to run on intuition? Think back—this was long before any well-meaning coach, spouse or local running store guru started tweaking your form this way or that. It predated the exercises and drills and gadgets and your closet full of this season’s must-have running shoes. You just ran and it was good. Consider the Altra Intuition your passport back to that simpler time.
The Intuition is a natural running shoe that boasts zero drop, proper alignment and a gender-specific fit. At the forefront of the revolutionary Zero Drop movement, Altra markets its footwear as combining “the bio-mechanical advantages of barefoot positioning with the structure and protection of traditional cushioned footwear.” Our Gumption Gear colleague recently reviewed the Intuition’s male counterpart, the Instinct, and has a masterful rundown of the naturalist running movement and the mechanics and methodology behind Altra’s shoes. While we can’t compete with his in-depth description of the foot-shaped design and zero drop, we can offer our take on the Intuition’s gender-specific blueprint.
Summing up how women’s running shoes have been created for decades, the Altra website uses the brilliant term “shrink it and pink it”. In other words, take the men’s shoe, make it shorter and narrower, and slap on more feminine colors. Trouble is, women’s feet are just anatomically different then men’s feet in so many ways. For starters, women have slimmer heels, higher arches, smaller insteps and shorter toes. They also have more of a triangle shape to their feet, while men have a rectangular shape. Altra carefully considered these differences, and every women’s shoe that they make is specifically modeled to the female foot. What’s our new battle cry? No more shrink it and pink it!
Our Gumption gal used the Altra Intuition as her main running and training shoe over a testing period of two months. It’s useful to note that our Gumption crew member is known for her long, narrow feet; her hopelessly flat arches; and her cringe-inducing heel strike. In fact, she had given up hope that a single running shoe could successfully accommodate these characteristics. However, our tester was pleasantly surprised to discover that she could navigate dirt, pavement and treadmill with new ease—without the use of bulky insoles or the confines of a more highly structured shoe. She simply ran and it felt right. Here are some of the highlights noted from running/training in the Altra Intuition:
- Zero-drop platform offers ample cushioning that helps minimize impact
- Wide toe box promoted toe splay and improved balance
- Noticeably less stress on shins, knees and hips during testing period
- More effortless foot placement with virtually no heel striking
- Gender-specific contouring and asymmetrical lacing made for comfortable, barely there fit
- Natural biomechanics plus the comfort of a more traditional running shoe
Room for Improvement…
While the extra cushioning of the zero-drop platform was appreciated by our tester, the comfort came at the cost of some flexibility. This caused slight arch discomfort after longer periods of wearing the shoe, but was not significant enough to dissuade the tester from making the Altra her new running shoe of choice. In addition, the wide toe cage attracted some curious inquiries from other runners.
Our gumption gal hadn’t been in any rush to embrace the minimalist movement. The Intuition turned out to be the perfect starter shoe for her as it married the mechanics of barefoot naturalism to the smooth comfort of a conventional running shoe. Nor did the tester expect the Intuition to be the Silver Bullet to all of her running challenges, but Altra has delivered a shoe that returns her to the carefree runs of her youth, before she was conscious of her stride or her strike, back when she was just born to run.