After I drank my 1,5L morning green juice (1L celery, apple, lemon, beetroot + 0,5L purified water) to keep on recovering, I decided to give you an update on my marathon training. Well, marathon training and racing with the Altra Escalante !
I transformed my running and running shoe arsenal towards a real minimalist style. Well actually my life too. For trail running, including ultras I need a lot of protection, little cushioning and no drop. For road running I need no cushioning and no drop as training goes, but slightly more foam for racing. Wide toe box is necessary in all cases. I love Vivos, VFF, the Trail Gloves, FeelMax and the zero drop Pure shoes from Brooks. However there is something about the curve of Altra shoes’ toebox what makes them ideal for my feet. Strangely, I think during the last decade of running, I developed a Roman/Greek feet. My regular large square feet have its second toe just slightly elongated. Just a couple of millimetres ahead of the big toe. I started realising this a couple of years ago. Probably actually as my big toe is getting stronger from all the squats, deadlifts and kettlebell drills, it is “him” who is getting slightly shorter as the musculature develops. Either ways the Altra ToeBox is the most ideal for my style of feet and running.
The ToeBox and the Upper
Knit style design with a double mesh toe bumper. Yes, reinforced with some extra knitting from a black string. There are no plastic overlays, but a sock like upper. I already tried shoes like this, for instance the Nike Free Knit or the old Kiger. They are straight performance oriented ! The comfort of running at high speeds is excellent. However only in a straight line and only in dry circumstances.
With a good pair of socks, it wicks away moisture superbly effectively. I find that it keeps the feet dry as ! On the contrary though, if it got wet, because of this soft textile like material, the shoe gets really saturated with water and becomes heavy and sloppy ! It doesn’t hold your feet anymore and it feels like running with two bricks on your feet. I did 2 x 20km tempo runs in them and they were excellent. I risked a half marathon where the rain was just about, but at the 12km mark the sky opened up. I am not blaming the shoe at all for my 4 minute loss from my goal time, but the negative sensations were there. So definitely they are for 100% dry conditions !
At the beginning I found the fit a little bit on the sluggish side. However, after the 4th run, I got the hang of it. Actually, you have to tighten the shoe down a bit more than used to and the stretchy upper will hug your feet like a sock. I use the double loop lacing system, like with all of my Altra shoes. This will pul the heel part towards the front, enveloping and blocking your feet from moving back and forth.
The tongue of the shoe is half gusseted. It is sewn completely on the outside to not to let it slip. It is made from a thin knit material and works superbly.
It really depends on the runner you are, but for me personally, it is way too much. I try to run a lot in the shoe, to degrade a little bit that a-bound foam, but it looks like that it will hold up for a while. I am wearing all day every day in the last decade, zero drop, very thin shoes, or I am barefoot. I really got used to being close to the earth. I am going to run and train still in the Escalante, as it is an excellent shoe, but I think for my personal needs the ONE 3.0 and the Solstice would be a better choice. The Vanish-R would be more suitable for 5 to 10km racing and definitely for a very strong feet with it’s 116g ! I ran a lot in the 79g Wave Universe and the 83g RC5000 and I can say, I am in love with ultra light shoes. They provide you with a different kind of sensation through your stride phase and give you a strong push off with no powerloss.
The insole is classic Altra, quality and good, nothing to mention. The outsole is half rubber, half exposed Altra EGO. It works just fine. I prefer, for the longevity of a shoe, a full length rubber, but it is acceptable. Exposed EVA makes the shoe exclusively usable on roads. One single trail outing would damage that nice white foam !
- If you hated road running, this is the shoe for you. It gives a trail like feeling to the road.
- If you were into marathon training and racing, you just found the right choice.
- For 10km and half marathons, I find them too much.
- For 50 or 100km road races or even the Spartathlon ? Why not ? They are perfect !
- Trail running ? Only if you were running on flattish wine-yard type dirt roads !
We talk about a cushioned zero drop shoe. There is less time needed to adapt, but still significant thinking and extra training are necessary, before you jumped into the barefoot lifestyle and running.
I still hold up my stance: If you were wearing classic shoes, with pointy toes and lifted heel during the day as lifestyle shoes, you will never adapt to zero drop shoes ! You just cannot ! The 10hours of weekly training cannot offset the cons of 120hours in office shoes ! A small tingling, injuries, muscular elongations and tendonitis will always be lingering somewhere. Change or not to, this is 100% your choice ?
My personal feelings say, that I might not like the cushioning, but for longer road outings, this will still be my go to shoe. For up to 15km tempo runs, I will go with the lower end, like any VFF or the Altra ONE3.5, Solstice and Vanis-R ! I still own a nearly new TYPE-A and the RC5000, but I just cannot wear them anymore. I hate the feeling of being jammed in the toebox, but either ways, it is unhealthy too, even for a small fraction of my training.
Finally, the Escalante was no surprise. Since the beginning of the Altra craze, I found no shoe in the road or tail line what disappoints. I do not like the Olympus, but it is a personal feeling. I do not have any problems with it, like blistering or any kind of stride issues. I am just not a cushioned guy.
The Escalante however shows a lot of promises for road training and marathon running. I am going to come back for a final verdict after this St Tropez Marathon.