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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

July 24, 2014

ALTRA TORIN 1.5: Hitting the Right Spot

Penguins graphicsTwo articles are the reason why I decided to order the Torin 1.5, my second Altra after the Olympus.

The first one, ironically, I read from the Saucony website (http://blog.saucony.com/saucony-lab/rotate-running-shoes/). Entitled “Why Rotate Your Running Shoes” and written by Spencer White (the head of Saucony Human Performance and Innovation Lab), it talks about multiple styles of running shoes producing the following benefits:  rotate to strengthen; rotate to recover; and rotate for speed and surface. Running shoes can  affect how the stress of running is distributed within the tissues of your body. By wearing different shoes on different days, the article argued, you may avoid overloading any one muscle, tendon, bone or ligament while simultaneously strengthening others. 

At the time of reading this article, almost all the  shoes I was using for my training and ultra running were  maximum cushioned Hokas plus the lone Altra Olympus which was also  high-ly cushioned.

Which brings me to the second article.  Entitled “The Pendulum Swings” and written by Nicholas Pang (http://www.networkedblogs.com/SF0qL), this is the article where I first read the words “muscle atrophy.” It had a foreboding message and I quote, “..don’t let muscle atrophy settle in with prolonged use of heavily cushioned shoes.” Had me googling about the word and here is what I got about it. It is not good.  

Muscle atrophy is defined as a decrease in the mass of the muscle.  It can be partial or complete wasting away of muscle. When a muscle atrophies, this leads to muscle weakness, since the ability to exert force is related to mass. The main reason for muscle wasting is a lack of physical activity. 
 
The logic behind minimalist running advocate Pang is that heavily cushioned shoes will tend to work  only a specific set of running muscles to the detriment of the other running muscles, thereby resulting in neglect thru time. The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and more than 100 ligaments. This all have to be worked on and the best way to do it is not only to settle for one specific running shoe. Mix it up with both minimal and maximal shoes to work different muscles and prevent muscle imbalances thus preventing or reducing injuries.     

Since the past several months I have been using the maximum cushioned Hokas (Mafate, Stinson and Bondi) and now the Olympus, I needed a pair of running shoes with less cushioning than these behemoths. Having been exposed to Altra’s benefits, via the Olympus, I wanted my next running shoes to incorporate the zero drop technology and wide toebox. This is where the Altra Torin 1.5 comes into the picture.


The Altra website (http://www.altrarunning.com/fitness/en/Altra/mens-shoes/torin-15-mens) enumerates the benefits and technical specs of the Torin 1.5:

Run protected, increase performance and improve your running technique without sacrificing any cushioning with the Torin 1.5, our highly cushioned neutral training shoe. The Zero Drop platform and FootShape™ toe box work together to help you run the way you were born to with relaxed feet, more power, and better technique. Blended EVA/A-Bound™ cushioning protect your feet from hard surfaces across long distances and various terrain. For this update, we didn't want to mess with a good thing, so we simply revamped the upper to improve the fit at the heel and forefoot while making the shoe a touch more stable.

 Technical Stuff

  Ideal Uses: Running, Ultramarathons, Long Distance Walking

 Platform: Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform, FootShape™ toe box

   Last: PFS–M

   Stack Height: 27 mm

  Midsole: Dual Layer: EVA Blend with A-Bound™ Top Layer

  Outsole: FootPod™ Outsole

  Insole: 5 mm Contour Footbed

  Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh

 Other Features: Great Slip-On Feel, NRS™ Natural Ride System


There are no Altra specialty stores yet here in the Philippines. Nor are there local running stores carrying an extensive line up of Altra running shoes. Good thing the people behind Altra Singphil (https://www.facebook.com/altrarunningsingphil) are proactive, reliable and trusting.   Similar to how I ordered my Olympus, I emailed Boon of Singapore and pretty soon he replied to inform me that they will be sending a pair of Altra Torin 1.5 to Manila and that I could get it from the Swim Bike Run Expo at SMX Convention Center on the last  week of April.
With Blue, after picking up my Altra Torin 1.5 at the Philippine Swim Bike Run Sale Expo

That was two months ago and I have already used the Torin 1.5 for more than 100 kilometers already. Definitely and confidently, I can say that the Torin 1.5 is good as advertised. It is not too soft but a right amount of stiffness for the road and even trails. I have already utilized it for an ultra marathon, the Independence Day Ultra last June 15 and I did not complain of muscle soreness after the said ultra.  

More importantly, the Torin 1.5 is one running shoe, more than the Altra Olympus or the Saucony Kinvara or the Hoka Bondi, that has improved my running form. Of course, it helped that the shoe bow has illustrations of what the components of a  good running form are. Because it is less cushioned than the Olympus and Bondi, I really have to pay particular attention that I do midfoot strike when I am running with the Torin 1.5. It is not only me that has this observation. Check out Jason Bahamundi’s shoe review (http://cooktraineatrace.com/altra-torin-running-zero-drop-show-review/).
Tips on proper running form at the Altra shoebox
Trying out the Altra Torin 1.5 on the road and ...

...on the trail

Running with the Altra Torin 1.5 made me the penguin back in the water

And because I am in a good running form with the Torin 1.5, its outsole  does not wear out easily as the other brands I use.
Similar mileage but the wear and tear on the outsole of my Hoka Stinson is more pronounced than that in my Altra Torin 1.5

Bottomline for me: the Altra Torin 1.5 makes me hit the right spot for a good running form. Because of that, it is very much a part of my rotation for running shoes.




Penguins graphics
  

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