Second Time Was A Charm – RunLog 9-8-19

Sometimes you just need a little more time and to make some adjustments in a shoe for them to show you how they will really feel for running. Since Friday’s run in the Altra Torin 3.5, I was really wondering if they were going to be running shoes or a decent pair of walking shoes?

While I liked some of the things about the Torin 3.5 on the first run, wearing them around the past couple of days really didn’t make me all that gung ho about wearing them.

So I went about making a few minor changes to the shoes:

  • Re-lacing the laces to change a few things and going to the last eyelet, which really helped to lock down the heel without having to tighten up the upper yellow lock downs quite so much.
  • Getting rid of the heel inserts and going with the zero drop only
  • Remembering that running in zero drop requires a slightly different running form than my regular stride
  • I also read a bunch of old initial reviews on some of the old Altras that I have run in before and realized that even in my first runs in some of them that I had many of the same questions about the shoes, until I got used to running in them. That slightly different stride thing again.

Enough of the background stuff!

What happened on my second run in the Altra Torin 3.5 today?

I drove into to Waterville to run a different course from the Hannaford on JFK. Which meant that I also used my GPS watch to get a decent guestimate on the mileage. Yes, I updated the watch and when I used it yesterday on a course where I am pretty sure of the mileage markers it was very close to what I would expect.

While the new for me course in Waterville has a few bumps on it, it is a pretty flat and fast course where I can relax and just run, versus knowing that I have to fight the hills too. The weather was just about perfect for a nice run being sunny and in the low 60’s when I started, although there was a bit of a breeze in a few sections.

Starting out I really wasn’t sure about what kind of run this was going to be, I had planned on an easy run, since I had run a bit harder yesterday. So I went out comfortably focusing on getting used to the Torin’s zero drop.

Did I ever tell you that I run differently when I use zero drop shoes? Well today really showed me how much differently. I won’t say that I don’t heel strike, because I am very sure that I still do most of the time, but I do feel more efficient when I am running with a lower heel height.

Also the minor changes that I made to the lacing seemed to make a big difference in how my foot felt it was being held. There wasn’t any of that loosely-goosey feeing that I had on Friday. Although I have a feeling that I would go with a true to size 8.0, if I get another pair of Torin 3.5.

I went around the new bridge and came out on Silver Street, although for some reason or other there was a lot of traffic and crossing the road was a bit of an adventure. Once I got on the other side everything was pretty easy from then on.

Oh yeah, when I got to the first mile spit before the light, I was rather shocked! Coming in at around a 8:30 pace, without trying made me go mmmm. I didn’t attempt to speed up and just kept running comfortably and kept churning out at about the same pace until I got over on the bumps along Martin Stream.

Even there I felt strong, but I was going by effort and naturally slowed down going up the bumps. Once I got back on First Rangeway I wanted to see what the Torin 3.5 would feel like at faster paces, so I picked it up a bit. Especially once I hit the Cool Street connector.

The last mile was in the 7:35 range and that is without getting into racing effort levels. I just maintained a steady harder effort going down the inclines and back to the finish. While I ran faster for me in them, once I got down under 7:30s they felt a little awkward and less smooth than other shoes that I run faster in.

Often the first run in a pair of shoes is not the run you expect and at least I know that it makes me pause and think are these going to be shoes that I actually want to run in or not?

It also makes me stop and think about tweaks or how I have run in similar shoes in past. Which often gives me ideas about how I can improve the fit/feel of most shoes to make them better for me.

In the case of zero drop shoes, since it has been a while since I really ran in them, I needed to go back and re-read some of my older posts, which let me know that it takes a few runs to actually get back into that running style. The ability to let my forefeet splay out and toe-off naturally is a big part of the changed stride I think.

Although Altra doesn’t recommend running 6.0 miles in your first run in zero drop, it really didn’t seem to bother me all that much during the run and my calves still feel good tonight. I guess running in the 6mm drop Beacons has helped a little in that department, so at least I am not coming straight from 10-12mm drop shoes down to zero drop.

I was very happy with how the left Achilles felt during the entire run, but I do want to continue to work on strengthening my lower legs more. In some ways it would be nice to be able to run more in Altra shoes again.

The reality is that

After running in the Altra Torin 3.5 today and having a nice confidence building run, I am planning on using them more as running shoes than walking shoes. They will be a part of my running shoe rotation going forward.

In fact, I liked them enough that I got my winter shoes out a month early and will start using them as my primary walking shoes.

Yeah, the Wildhorse 5s are pretty bright, but for wandering around, without boots most of the winter, I have found the Wildhorse series to be very, very good. Plus people will notice the shoes and realize that there is a person attached to them.

I don’t plan on doing a lot of running in the Wildhorse, but by next April they will be pretty well worn-out I have a sneaking suspicion.

First Run Altra Torin 3.5 – RunLog 9-6-19

It has been a bit silly around here the past couple of days (a quick trip over and back to Berlin, NH for a wake late yesterday), attempting to keep up with chores, starting to get ready for winter (it is coming) and I have gotten behind on blogging, but hey that is okay, I know how to get caught back up.

Sit my arse down and start writing.

The other night I was looking for an easy run shoe to alternate in with my New Balance Beacon 2, so I don’t keep putting ridiculous miles on them. Then I remembered how impressed I had been with a pair of Altra Torin 3.5 back in May 2018, when I went down and ran with Sam W. I got to run a short distance in them that day and was very impressed with the Torin 3.5 mesh. You can read more about his thoughts about them here.

However, I have a love/hate relationship with zero drop shoes since I partially tore my Achilles’ tendon (in a different brand), about five years ago and all the times that I have attempted to go back to Altra shoes since have ended with me getting rid of the shoes.

Which really made me think twice about getting the Torin 3.5.

You can read about my post where I discussed my wish for an Altra Torin with a 4-6mm drop here.

I figured that I can handle easy 3-5 milers in zero drop as a change of pace shoe once or twice a week. It is more when I attempt to run in them as my primary trainers that I seem to run into issues.

Well, to make a long story short the other night I made an a very conservative offer on on eBay for a pair of Torin 3.5 and it was unexpectedly accepted.

Shit, now what do I do with them.

Best answer – run in them and see how they feel.

They came in and didn’t have the stock Altra insole and the previous owner had attempted to make them a non-zero drop shoe, which kind of sucked, because a regular insole doesn’t fit quite the toe box of Altra Running shoes. They didn’t feel right with the modifications, so I got them back to zero drop and added in a heel insert of my own and a different insole not an Altra insole but one that was better than what was there.

Like I said I am leery about running in zero drop.

Then I proceeded to run my Middle Road Loop which is lots of hills and 1.7 miles of dirt road. It is a good test of how a shoe performs in a variety of conditions.

I started out slowly and it took a little to get accustomed to the way the shoes felt, though I really loved the Cush/width in the forefoot. However, I could tell that the Sole heel inserts were not going to work and that I would be getting rid of them after the run was done after about the first mile.

This is the first shoe in a long time, where I could honestly say that the toe box was too wide. If I were to get them again, I would go with a size 8.0 versus the 8.5 and if I could try them on first, I would look closely at a 7.5, they feel that much too large.

Also I am not a fan of the the 2 sets of internal straps (yellow) in the lacing system to hold my foot, I have to be VERY care to not over-tighten the laces in the straps, because it is very easy to do so for me. I might even hole-punch the upper and get rid of the top set if they keep bothering me, since they are the ones that are bothering the most.

I was able to easily maintain a comfortable 9:00 minute pace for this fairly tough 5.0 mile course and when I wanted to pick up the pace a little, it was not a problem. They did exceptional on the dirt road, which is nice, since I have several courses that use the down-back.

After the run, I did a few modifications and am thinking about a few more if the Torin 3.5 need a little more tweaking. The stock laces were too long, so I changed them out to a different pair and yes, I got rid of the heel inserts and will run in them as zero drop shoes and see how they do with my balky Achilles.

Actually, I am rather hopeful that how I am planning to use them will allow me to run successfully in Altra shoes again. To be able to run 5.0 miles in them with heel inserts that were not comfortable and not have my calves be on fire, was a pretty positive thing to me. I have been using them as my walking shoes since that to help the adjustment to zero drop and the calves/Achilles have felt fine.

So the next test will be to run in them as zero drop shoes and see how they pan out.

Yeah, I am hopeful.