French Bloke Runs

Shut up and run!

Category: Tests & Reviews (page 2 of 2)

Test: Altra One 2

Altra One Two? Altra One squared? Whatever. Altra’s marketing department screwed up big time when they came up with the name for the successor of the Altra One. It’s hard to find in Google or in online shops, and you’ll find completely different results depending on whether you type one name or the other. In the end, I bought it in a nice running shop in the City, even though I had to pay an extra 20 quid.

Altra One Squared Mens

Yeah, I have to admit, this shoe is rather ugly, but it came highly recommended by the Quiet Roman. This was my first zero-drop shoe (i.e. no height difference between heel and toes) and it has a 23mm stack. This amount of cushioning may seem a lot to a barefoot runner, but to me it was reassuring to start my journey towards minimalistic shoes.

My first impression was something like “Feck, this shoe is light!”. I checked, that’s about 210 grammes per shoe: this is about the same weight as an iPhone 6 plus, and it’s much cheaper. Also, it’s much easier to strap on your feet. Altra 1 – iPhone 0.

The next thing that struck me was that this shoe is very comfortable (23mm of flexible foam has to be more comfy than the 7.1mm of an iPhone 6 Plus, even if it’s famous for bending easily). I have very wide feet and this shoe has a very wide toe box, which felt great right from the first time I tried them on. Though some people have reported that the toe box is somewhat low and their toes hit the top at every step (not the case for me, and it seems to have been fixed in the next model). Altra 2 – iPhone 0.

The main reproach I have for this shoe is the longevity. After 200 km of running, the fabric cracked. My guess is that this happened because my feet are really oddly shaped and I almost run on the side of them, which puts a lot of strain on the top of the shoes. Add to that the fact that for whatever reason, I mostly ran on wet days with them, this may have weakened the fabric. Anyway, even an iPhone lasts longer than that. Altra 2 – iPhone 1.

Altra One 2 cracked

In the end, I’d probably recommend this shoe despite my misfortune. It’s still better than the iPhone. The Quiet Roman has a pair of them and he’s really happy with them, so is the Mad Cook. It seems to have been replaced by the Altra One 2.5 which settles the name issue, and supposedly, the toe box size (which might or might not have prevented my shoe to crack). Anyway, if I have convinced you to buy this shoe (I doubt that) you can buy it here for men here for men and here for women. Thanks for your generosity!

You must read ‘Born to run’

Everything is in the title. Just buy the damn book and read it! Seriously, when the Quiet Roman recommended to read it, I only complied because he’s one of my friends and I tend to trust these guys. But I really didn’t want to read it because I usually don’t like non-fiction, my to-read pile was already taller than the Eiffel Tower, and at the time I still hated running.

The narration alternates between facts about running and Christopher McDougall’s quest to find the Tarahumara, the legendary tribe of runners. These guys are unbelievable, at parties they drink to death and then they race each other, running hundreds of kilometres in the scalding hot canyons of northwestern Mexico for up to three days in a row, with hand-made flip-flops.

When he finally finds them, he then convinces a bunch of lunatics, American ultra-runners, to race them in the Copper Canyons of the Sierra Madre. Each of them is madder than the next. I cannot decide who’s the craziest between the hermit who lived in a hut in the Copper canyons for decades just to rediscover this hidden tribe, the girl whose seduction routine is to outdrink men and outrun them the next day despite de hungover, the guy who decides to compete in a modern Ironman with XIXth century gear from the Victorian era and runs barefoot on the sharp stones of the canyons, the guy who runs so much that he had his toenail surgically removed because ‘they kept falling off anyway’, or any other of these maniacs.

The running facts are as enthralling as the main story and some of them left me dumbstruck. I now think there’s a fairly good chance that we were born to run indeed, and I’m amazed that hunting animals by chasing them for hours until they die of exhaustion is probably one of the reasons why homo sapiens survived as omnivore bipeds for 200,000 years in a hostile environment.

The writing isn’t too bad and it’s a real page-turner. This book really got me hooked, it made me laugh out loud and left me in awe, but the reason why it’s so good is that it really makes you want to run and to enjoy it. Why haven’t you bought it and read it yet? Come on then!

Ref: Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

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