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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Paradigm The Hoka Killa?

It's no secret that I'm a Hoka fan, I'm also fond of Brooks, Mizuno, Newtons, Adidas, Saucony, NorthFace Ultra Trail and after today's run in my New Balance Foam Fresh NB will find a place in my rotation.  Now that's not to say I'm not a fan of Altra kicks, at least not yet.  What I admire about the brand was the courage to step into a market with some existing heavy hitters and carve out a niche and grow a huge following in the process.

Paradigm Altra

Who doesn't love to root for the underdog?  On the strength of their accomplishments and my conversation with an Altra rep where I gave them my word, that I would check out the brand-I picked up a pair Paradigm's earlier in the week. 

My first run in the shoes where an easy 3miles that included some hills.  My second and final run in the Paradigm's was a 10mi run on the track.  Now is that enough time to give a review? Yes or No? Where ever you land on this issue, I think we can all agree that some features will remain constant.  What I discovered about myself during this review is, I'm a plug and play runner, I want to take a pair of kicks out of the box lace them up and go period.

I applaud Altra for the shape and concept of a wider toe box for those runners who need extra space for their toes to splay and play.  With somewhat of a narrow foot my feet spent more time playing in the shoe instead of assisting me on the run. 

The Paradigm offers a ton of cushioning in the mid sole with a zero drop.  I found the shoe stiff and laborious to run in.  The strategic high abrasion rubber on the sole will certainly add to the longevity of the shoe.

There's a ton of shoe underfoot and it felt clunky by the end of my runs my feet were hurting because the shoe wasn't flexible despite the flex grooves in the sole. Perhaps a heavier runner will have more success in persuading the Paradigm to cooperate on the their runs. 

Wear testers at Runner's World found the shoe stiff and wished it was more flexible, they felt it would be best suited for bigger runners who prefer lots of cushioning.

Altra Paradigm

I liked the feel of the heel counter and tongue.  The lacing system was missing that extra eyelet, which would have been helpful to keep my feet from inching forward especially on the down hills.  

The absence of the additional eyelet forced me to tighten the forefoot more than I typically would just to lock my foot in place and when I did there was ton fabric bunching in the front.

I like the colors of the Paradigm but couldn't stop thinking about bozo the clown when I looked down at my feet.  Definitely not eye shoe candy.

Altra Paradigm

So is Paradigm the Hoka Killer? Not in my opinion.  Should Hoka be concerned?  Absolutely!  With some tweaks to the mid sole and upper I may make the Paradigm shift to Altra.  The chefs in the Hoka kitchen are brewing some delicious soles these days leaving you craving for more miles.  



  1. Hello,
    Any advice for what shoes to get for someone coming of an achillies injury. I have flat feet, land on my forefoot
    Thank you in advance

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Jim,
      Often times the long term solution can also be the short term irritation if done in excess. The first thing I would do is look up "Eccentric Drops" on youtube and do those. Research has shown that at least 60 a day is necessary to make changes to something like an achilles tendon, but build up slowly. I believe cushioned Zero Drop shoes to be a long term solution to achilles issues. Populations that don't wear raised heel shoes don't seem to experience achilles issues. With that said, you should start by just wearing them for a bit or running an easy, short distance in them without doing so much as to irritate it. Slowly build up as your tolerance goes up, while reducing your reliance on heel lift. I also believe that wearing shoes that are shaped like feet helps as well...as the toes spread and relax they can help potentially reduce strain on the achilles as well. Best of luck!

    3. Golden, one of the things I like about Altra is the Run Better Guide which addresses the importance of transitioning slowly into a zero drop shoe.

  2. @JimDCCC Ouch... First off thnx for stopping by the blog, I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I'd suggest visiting your local running shoe store to get fitted. low drop shoes are going to put a strain on your a chillies so you'll want to stay away from them until your healed up.

  3. Derek,
    Thanks for taking the time to write up your feelings. The FootShape toebox certainly takes a little getting used to. Your feet are used to conforming to the shape of traditional shoes, and need a little time to get used to spreading out like they were designed to...this will quickly eliminate any feelings of the shoe being too sloppy.
    As for the comments on the midsole, this shoe was designed to run extreme distances like the Badwater 135 so it is designed with a firmer midsole that becomes more flexible after being worn a few times. The shoe is designed to be inherently stable and for those not doing extreme distances, aimed at runners who are at least slightly larger or harder on their feet than your stereotypical skinny runner. I found your flexibility comment interesting, as this shoe has been shown to be more flexible than any other shoe out there that has around the same amount of stack height (32mm). That said, every shoe is handmade and different, so it is possible you got a shoe that is a bit firmer than the usual for this shoe. At some point, we would love to get you in an Altra shoe that works awesome for you. Run well, and all the best!
    -Altra Founder Golden Harper

  4. Golden,
    My review wasn't all thorns and thistles. While at RnRPhilly this weekend I swung by the Altra booth to check out the One 2 in person. When I returned the Paradigm to my LRS the women's version looked promising, I would have tried them on at that point but they only brought in the woman's version :-(...

    The Altra crew at the Expo was awesome, I found them to be friendly and knowledgeable. The guy that helped me was rocking of the "One 2" as Iike to refer to them instead of the One Squared because this shoe has the potential to knock out some kicks on the market. As a "sneakerholic" I tried to keep my purchase of the One 2 on the DL but it slipped when folks caught a glimpse of them at the Expo and after posting the results of my shakeout run at RnRPhilly, Def a different fit from the Paradigm. Light Cush!!! I'll reserve the rest of my comments for my full review once I kick some more Asphalt in them