I run exclusively in Altra Running shoes. I began a few years ago with the Intuition 1.5 and have now transitioned to pretty much wearing the Altra One (2 or 2.5) for all of my long runs. Occasionally I throw in some runs in the Intuition 3, but the One has become my go to shoe – it’s light, it’s neutral, and it works for me. I’ve run many half marathons and two full marathons in them. I love these shoes so much that I’m an Altra Ambassador.
When I went to the Runner’s World festival, Altra offered me a new shoe to try. I wanted a shoe that would work on the trail run, but really didn’t want a trail shoe (I just have no place to wear them.) Golden Harper, the founder of Altra, suggested I try the Altra Impulse because it would offer me a bit more control on the trail.
I wasn’t sure about the idea, because I wear a neutral shoe and the Altra Impulse is a stability shoe. Past experiences with knee pain from stability shoes made me leery.
However, he assured me that the Altra Impulse is different from other companies’ stability shoes. Instead of forcing your foot to run a certain way, it uses what Altra calls the StabiliPod – “three stability enhancing zones that act as a tripod throughout your run to help prevent excessive foot collapse or pronation.” The way it was explained to me is that if you don’t need them, they don’t do anything, but if you do need them, they are there.
As far as specs go, the Altra Impulse is a bit heavier than the One, but is still a light shoe with light cushioning. It also has a slightly narrower heel and instep area than the One, but has the usual FootShape toe box that Altra is known for. Out of the box, I loved the way it hugged my foot and didn’t make feel quite like I was wearing skis. (Don’t get me wrong, I love the One’s but I’m 5’3″ and wear a 9.5 in running shoes – they do not look “delicate” on me.)
But how did it work for me as a neutral runner?
Surprisingly well! I absolutely loved the Altra Impulse on the trail. I think if I’d worn the One 2.5s that I brought with me that I would have turned an ankle. The Altra Impulse allowed me to stay stable, despite a super rocky, uneven course. I liked the closer fit through my instep and felt like I didn’t slip in the shoes at all. Even better, I didn’t have any knee twinges at all.
I’ve now worn them a few times on the road and I still think that they are a great shoe, even if you don’t pronate or do so very mildly. I haven’t run more than 4 miles in them yet, but that has more to do with my still healing hip than any issues I’ve had with them on the run. I also wore them to the gym recently and found that they worked great for all the crazy jumping and side to side movement that my trainer loves to have me do.
All in all, I think the Altra Impulse is a solid offering from Altra Running. I didn’t expect to like it, but I’m quite happy that I gave it a chance. I plan to take it on some longer runs as soon as I can because I’d like to see if it works for half marathons. My preference is to rotate shoes, not just between different pairs of the same shoe, but also between styles of shoes as I have found that it helps me have fewer angry body parts. I’d love to be able to add the Impulse as a regular shoe in my (probably bigger than it should be) stable of shoes. And I kind of adore the other color…
Disclaimer: Altra Running gave me the Impulse as part of my participation at the Runner’s World Festival, but all opinions are my own.