Spring 2014 Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide

Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Altra Olympus, $130

10.9 oz. (men’s); 9.1 oz. (women’s)

36mm (heel), 36mm (forefoot)

Fit: Like other Altra shoes, the fit is nailed-down in the heel and comfortably snug at the midfoot but rather wide-open in the foot-shaped toe box to allow toes to splay.

Feel: At first glance, this shoe looks like a monster of a shoe. But it’s surprisingly light for its size and actually quite nimble once you get used to running in it. It lacks the complete proprioceptive connection to the ground that typical trainers offer. (However, it improves as you near the toe-off phase.) The trade-off, of course, is a copious amount of lusciously soft cushioning.

Ride: Running in the first true zero-drop (flat profile) maximalist shoe is like running on air. It’s one of the highest shoes ever produced, but it’s not at all bulky. Not only is it one of the lightest max-cushion shoes in stores this spring, it also has a noticeably rockered profile in the forefoot (a beveled upward curve) that contributes to forward momentum. “It’s like you’re floating into your next stride automatically and effortlessly,” one tester remarked.

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