Altra Instincts First Impressions

P7190018The Instincts have always been high on my list of shoes to check-out, but I really wanted to try them on before went ahead and bought a pair.

Appearances are Deceiving

I don’t know why, to me they just really looked clunky and well like a “slow” shoe. Even though they are listed as a “minimal” shoe, are listed as weighing 9.1 oz. and all the reviews state differently.

Also I am doing higher mileage (for me) and looking at them, the Instinct’s just didn’t fit with my preconceived notions of what a marathon training shoe looks like.


Based on how they looked and the significant departure from the regular shoes, (zero drop, only 16MM stack and a $100 price tag), I waited to buy them until I could actually put a pair on my feet. At this point, I really couldn’t afford another $100 mistake on running shoes.

I had done a bit of research for new running shoes over the past week, to get ready to replace my Nike 4.0 v2 which were getting a little long in the tooth. I was planning to make a purchase sometime in August.  I had planned to visit the Run n Fun Running Store in Burnsville (off 42 going towards Apple Valley, for you in the area) to get an actual look at the Altra’s and some other shoes, I was curious about, that are not available in my local area.

Due to losing my road running shoes on the trip to Minnesota (that is a whole story in itself), I had to find another pair of road running shoes, for while I was out here, instead of just looking. I wasn’t real keen on spending the extra money, but I wasn’t going to run roads in my Adidas Vigor’s while I was out here.

Initial Impressions

When I first tried them on, they definitely were different from the other shoes I have worn – the toe box is bigger and my feet were able to splay out more. The store let me run in them outside and I could definitely tell the difference of the zero drop. I even wore a different shoe on my left foot and the Altra on my right and went for a run up and down the sidewalk, I bet that looked so cool. Winking smile


Guess what, even though the Altra’s looked slow and clunky to me originally, THEY ARE NOT!

The Instincts were light, responsive and felt – well, quick on my feet.

They looked very well made and the sole is not going to wear out quickly. No they are not as flexible as my Nike Free’s, but they are still flexible and comfortable. Even though they only have a stack height of 16MM, the midsole of the shoe, surprisingly felt like it was a cushioned running shoe.

After wearing them and comparing the Instinct’s to the other shoe that I really wanted to try on, I went with the Altra Instinct. There was a definite difference between the two shoes.

Thanks to Perry at Run n Fun – I got a great deal on the Instinct’s and as usual, I wanted to try them out as soon as possible.

First Runs


So I left the store and immediately went down to LacLavon Park and ran my first run in the Instinct’s (I wasn’t expected at my daughter’s until later in the day – I hate surprising people early that way). It is mostly paved walking paths, but I found some of the old trail system tried the Altra’s on them as well. The Instincts handled everything I threw at them and seemed to want more.

Nope they didn’t bother my calves and confirmed my impressions of them at Run n Fun, that they are a quick and responsive shoe, that could handle light trail running and felt good on tar and concrete.

A Second Run

Then later that night, I went ahead and did a second run – over 6.0 miles of road running. They handled the run without any problems, even though I purposely ran in the shoulder, on small rocks and other assorted debris to see how they did. My legs didn’t feel any different then they did after other 6+ mile runs and the Instinct’s just felt great to run-in.

Now Altra doesn’t recommend that you go ahead break in their shoes, this way, in fact they recommend a much slower transition to these shoes from regular running shoes.

I don’t listen well sometimes Smile.

One thing that I was really worried about when I first saw the Instincts was that they would be a shoe that slaps the ground when I run – they are not. I ran quietly in them, on both runs and there was no ground slap, when I land. Which means that I am running efficiently in them.


The only issues that I noticed while running in the Altra’s was at about 5.0 miles I had to stop and fix my socks and noticed that my feet did get pretty warm in the Instinct’s, but it was also 90+ degrees when I was running, so it will be interesting to see how they do when it cooler out.

Also the outsole does seem to pick up small rocks every once in a while, but not nearly as often as my Free’s do and they are a lot easier to dislodge.

The Reality is that

after having run 9.0 miles in the Altra Instinct’s yesterday, I am very impressed with how well they worked for me. My calves are not sore (but I have run in 4-6MM drops shoes for a while), they are very comfortable, and I like the way they feel when I run.

My first impressions of the Altra Instinct’s was very positive. I am cautiously optimistic that these running shoes are part of the solution for my higher mileage running and will really be interested in seeing how they are at the 100 mile mark. 50 miles just comes too quickly with 50 mile weeks Winking smile.

My review mostly confirms the many other reviews that have been written about the Altra Instincts.



9 comments on “Altra Instincts First Impressions

  1. Glad you liked them! You are braver than me to wear them for that much right out of the box! Anyhow, I have been very happy with my Delilahs (just wore them today). My only concern is lack of any cushioning for longer runs, which is why I posted today about another zero drop shoe I tried. : )

    • I ran another 6.2 in them today and no problems. The Instincts are a 16MM sole height and so far have plenty of cushioning for what I have run in them. The Sampson’s are the more minimal version of the Delilah’s and I would have a lot of problems running in them I think.

  2. I love my altras, I have just above 100+ miles on mine and they are my favorite long road shoes. I can confirm that my feet sweat like crazy in them, even if I just walk around in them throughout the day.

    Glad you were able to get them. I just bought the Kinvara TR today so i’m pretty stoked to get them and try them on.

    • Alex – the Kinvara TR is supposed to be a really nice shoe, will be interesting to hear about how your like them. The Altras made my fee sweat pretty bad today too, but, used different socks and it made a big difference, just have to learn the right combination with them :-).

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