Friday, April 27, 2018

Altra Running Paradigm 4.0 First Look and Initial Run Impressions Review: Bring on the EGO!

Paradigm 4.0
The Paradigm is Altra's dynamic support, non posted long run and ultra shoe. Skipping a full version number, the Paradigm has two significant changes. It gets Altra lively bouncy EGO midsole first seen in the Escalante and a new engineered knit upper.
Ostensively a road shoe, it is the choice of many Altra elites for dry conditions ultra races.  The dynamic support is designed to adapt to changes in form and to fatigue as the miles pile on. It is a great option for any long and recovery runs and due to its reasonable approx.10.5 oz weight, as a highly cushioned yet lively daily trainer, and due to its 30 mm forefoot stack and ability to accommodate orthotics and for those with foot issues.



Stats
Weight: Pre production tested sample US M 8.5 10.2 oz/ 289g. Approx.10.5 oz US M9.
Stack Height: 30mm forefoot and heel, Zero Drop
$130. Available end June- beginning July 2018

Fit and First Impressions.
The fit was true to size with medium weight socks and extremely comfortable with a somewhat stretchy forefoot area with plenty of  height and width. Knit uppers can have challenges in terms of mid foot hold  due to their stretch but here Altra wisely laminated a full panel inside from midsole to  the lacing area on both sides of the mid foot with the panel ending where vertical knit changes to more horizontal in the picture below.
Engineered Knit Upper
The knit here has some stretch but is not the snug very stretchy sock like fit of some fit of some knit uppers. So the fit is super accommodating but no where constraining.

EGO Midsole
With the exception of the dark Guide Rail EVA pieces, which are by no means very firm, the entire midsole is made of Altra EGO foam. The EGO forefoot cushion is called out as making it a good potential run shoe for those suffering from Neuromas and Plantar Fasciitis. I am thankfully not suffering from any of that thankfully I really like the forefoot feel which is deeply and softly cushioned yet supportive and in no way mushy.

First found in the Escalante and later in the King MT 1.5,  EGO is a softer, bouncy and very lively foam. I would characterize the midsole feel, understanding that beyond the EGO the Guide Rail, Stabilpods, and Inner Flex all play a role, as somewhere between the softer yet adidas Boost in shoe such as the adidas Supernova 9 and the more measured pneumatic feeling Brooks DNA Amp foam in the Levitate. For those familiar with Skechers FlightGen or Nike React it is clearly bouncier in feel than those two foams.

Dynamic Support Features: Guide Rail, Stablipod, and Medial Flare

The dynamic support comes from a combination of the fairly soft black Guide Rail wrapping the heel, a medial midsole flare and three small harder plastic Stablipod units, two just ahead of mid foot on either side and one on the medial side near the heel.
The system uses no harder foam post and thus is not particularly noticeable for this neutral runner but it is there for sure.  As described by Altra when I first saw the Paradigm it does have "inherently stable non posted support". The most noticeable element so far is the medial flare as it was on the Reebok Grasse Road (RTR review) but here it is less pronounced maybe due to the fact that the EGO midsole is softer overall. I can well see the utility and flexibility of this system, combined with the supportive panels on the upper for long runs, tired legs recovery runs and for ultras.

Outsole
The outsole has extensive full contact coverage of what appears to be of a not particularly firm rubber and is all of the same firmness as best as I can tell. There is a decoupling line and combined with the InnerFlex pattern in the midsole the Paradigm is reasonably flexible already despite the massive 30mm front stack.

Ride and Conclusions
I have only a few shorter runs to date in the Paradigm. The  ride is on the softer side, bouncy and lively without any instability or much in the way of "sharp edges" from the dynamic support elements. It has softer yet bouncier feel than the firmer Altra Duo which has about the same stack  (RTR review), Instinct 4.5 (RTR review), Torin 3.5 ( RTR review soon). It is also less responsive, which is fine in a shoe focused on cushion and support. There is a very slight sense that there is something extra on the medial side towards the heel. I think this may less be about the Guide Rail itself, which is really not that much firmer than the EGO misdsole but more about the combination of the rear Stablipod and medial midsole flare.

The cushioning is deep, luxurious even, while not mushy and unstable as say the adidas Ultra Boost or Supernova Glide 9 can feel, especially up front. Despite the dynamic support, the heel feels slightly "lower" than the forefoot compared to some recent Altra I have tested such as the Duo, a lighter firmer shoe and Instinct 4.5 which has less stack at 25mm, and which is noticeably firmer and heavier at about 10.8 oz.  The shoe is still new and not as flexible as it likely will become which should ease transitions.  I am a pretty far back on the heels at slow paces and as my first runs were slow putting more weight on the soft EGO at the heel.  I will run at faster paces and longer to get a better reading on this and update this article.

Altra fans and those looking for a long run, dry smoother trails ultra, and recovery run shoe with a touch of dynamic support and a lively midsole should definitely consider the Paradigm 4.0. Neutral runners should not be scared off by the underfoot support features here. Given its reasonable weight to cushion ratio, it can also be a great choice as a high mileage daily trainer for non tempo runs, for those requiring orthotics and for those who have foot issues where the forefoot cushion and stability could be helpful.

Full review to follow.
Paradigm will be available late June-early July.

Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his birthday a 3:40 marathon.  

The Paradigm was provide at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments Questions Welcome Below!

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8 comments:

geomaz said...

Hello and thank you very much for your review! I would like your opinion what are the differences between the paradigm 3 nad paradigm 4.Is the new one [4] a better shoe? Thank you very much.

geomaz said...

Hello and thank you very much for your review! I would like your opinion what are the differences between the paradigm 3 nad paradigm 4.Is the new one [4] a better shoe? Thank you very much

sam winebaum said...

Hi geomaz,
Unfortunately I did not run the 3.0. I have to believe the superb new upper here and the lively ride from the new EGO midsole will be improvements.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links to all shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews. Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated

Anonymous said...

For longer runs between this and the DUO which do you find leaves your legs more fresh by the end of the run?

Unknown said...

I think the Ego foam needs to find its way into the Duo...and perhaps the Torin? Any word if Ego is going to infiltrate other Altras?

sam winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
Great idea! I don't have any info on where EGO may go next but it is in the King MT 1.5, a super fun loose and wet terrain trail shoe. Review at the link below.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links to all shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews. Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated

Anonymous said...

Awesome review as always Sam! Can't wait for the full review. Would love to see a comparison of the paradigm vs. the sketchers ultra 2 and vs. the sketchers go run 7 since those 2 shoes were so highly rated by the rtr team.

sam winebaum said...

Thanks Anonymous! Much appreciated! Of the shoes you mention the Paradigm clearly has the most and most noticeable inherent cushion, stability and support, the GRR 7 the least underfoot while being the liveliest running. GRUR strikes the best balance of light weight and max cushion.
Sam,Editor