The Rundown: Altra Paradigm 4.0

Photo Credit: Nicolle Monico

THE RUNDOWN: The Altra Paradigm 4.0 is a visually-pleasing, stable shoe for marathoners

Surface: Road    Pronation: Neutral   Stack Height: High

I log, on average, approximately 60 miles per week, with 6-7 pairs of running shoes in rotation. So having shoes that stand the test of time and keep my feet feeling good long after their initial wears is important to me. I’d recommend the Altra Paradigm 4.0‘s for longer distances and/or recovery runs. They offer a good level of support and cushion along with a roomy fit that is comfortable and blister free. Unlike other heavy, maximalist shoes, these won’t feel like they are holding you back.

The Specs

Weight: 10.3 oz M/8.2 oz W

Offset: Zero Drop

Heel/Forefoot: 32mm

Midsole: Altra EGO foam

Outsole: Hard rubber

Upper: Engineered mesh knit

Price: $130

Photo Credit: Kimberli Weeks
Photo Credit: Kimberli Weeks

100 Miles In: The Review

Upon opening the box for the first time, I immediately noticed the mesh upper and loved the beachy vibe from the blue and black knit. Visually, this color combo hits the spot. The Paradigm looks like a heavier recovery shoe due to its thick, rubber outsole with a 32mm stack height, but it is not as clunky as it seems. Admittedly, I was initially skeptical when I laced up for the first time, because the fit felt a little snug. However, the shoe quickly molded to the shape of my foot within the first few miles of wear. Unlike other knit shoes, these didn’t overstretch and simply hugged my feet.

Another highlight of this iteration of the Paradigm is the Altra Ego foam throughout the midsole. You’ll also find this in the recent Escalante road racer and the rugged King MT trail. Although similar to the Adidas Boost foam, Altra’s is softer and has more bounce to it, without sacrificing stability. Finally, the Guide Rail, which acts like a heel supporter offers extra support so you don’t slip out of the shoe.

Altra prides themselves on being the pioneer in Zero Drop, with their heels and forefoot being in line with one another, unlike most running shoes that can vary from a 4-10mm heel to toe drop. The zero drop shoe mimics our foot’s natural stance which helps promote proper form. Therefore, its extra-wide toe box allows for a more comfortable foot splay. Although the Paradigm 4.0 is designed as a road shoe, it is also suitable for flat-packed, dry trail (too slippery on wet surfaces) runs. My feet felt no real signs of fatigue, even after a 20-mile day and quick recovery run.

Photo Credit: Kimberli Weeks
Photo Credit: Kimberli Weeks

There’s The Rub

As I mentioned previously, the mid is snug, but don’t let that deter you from purchasing this shoe. As we know, the Altra toe box can accommodate the widest of feet, and the Paradigm mid will mold to a perfect fit in no time. I normally wear a 10.5 in women’s, but can easily size down to a 10 in these kicks and still have plenty of room for a comfortable toe splay.

The only downside for me as a neutral shoe wearer, was the added stability I wasn’t used to. My feet had to adapt to the heel being hugged by the Guide Rail and initially I felt a twinge, just as I did in the mid. Thankfully, this lasted no longer than a few miles and ultimately, I appreciated the added stability and dynamic road support these shoes provided.

The Paradigm 4.0 is priced at $130, which is reasonable, and expected at this level of running shoe. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly shoe, the Paradigm 3.0 will most likely be reduced once this model hits the market.

TL;DR

The Altra Paradigm 4.0 is a visually-pleasing shoe that is a smart choice for marathoners and ultrarunners. For shorter races, opt for the new Vanish-R, and keep the Paradigm 4.0 for long and recovery runs. Double-digit miles feel like ease in this highly thought out, supportive shoe. The shoe will be released Summer 2018.

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