Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trail Running Intuition Edition

I went for my first trail run in my Altra Intuitions on Saturday. Oh sure, I've used them on the dirt trail where I live but it's more of groomed equestrian trail than a real "into the wild" trail. Saturday was a true trail test and they passed with flying colors!

What's funny is that when I bought them, I never even thought of using them on the trail. At least not until I went to the Crossfit Games back in July. I went there to meet Jeremy from Altra (@AltraZeroDrop) and Patton from the Natural Running Store (@naturalrunstore) since I am big fans of theirs and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. While I was there, Jeremy and I were talking and he mentioned taking them on the trail. I think he was insulted when I said I didn't want to get my Intuitions dirty because they were so pretty! ;) (Really, they are: I think the blue is a very happy color and they were just so shiny and new. Oh come on, new shoes are pretty!).

I was training for a road marathon at the end of August so I wasn't running trails this summer. Saturday was my first trail run in months. Ooh boy, it was good to hit the dirt again. I'd planned an epic morning: ride to the trail on my mt bike, run 11 miles, then ride home. I wanted my legs to be a little tired when I ran. I also only had about 400 calories for breakfast so I would be running mostly on empty. I wore my Nathan Hydration pack and just had water in it. I had one Gu half way through and then one more Gu when I got back to the bike. My legs were a little noodly off the bike but they did really well and I even did more than planned. I'd thought it would be 12 or 13 miles to the trail and then I got lost a couple of times and had to double back during the run so it turned into a 15 mile ride there, a 13 mile run, and then 15 miles home. I was one tired runner/cyclist but very happy with how it went.

I run in a place called Bonelli which has a great trail system in it. It has a mix of roads, fire roads, double track, and single track. There is hard packed dirt, powdery dirt, sand, and rocky technical sections. You can pick rolling hills or steep climbs. There's even a stream to cross! You can tailor your run to fit your mood/run and there is something for everyone.

My main goal was to get in a lot of hills in preparation for my upcoming races. My secondary goal was to make sure I gave the Intuitions a good test since I'm planning to wear them in those races. Because of that, I decided to hit a little bit of everything (except roads). We haven't had any rain in a while, just fog/mist, and the trails were completely dry so the only thing I didn't get to test was mud.

The Intuitions performed beautifully! I had plenty of traction when I needed it. I didn't slip in the sand or on the rocky sections. The Intuitions gave me great protection in the rocky sections too. I could feel the rocks but they didn't feel bruising to my feet and I didn't have to dig any rocks out of my sole like I do in my other shoes. At one point, I stubbed my toe on a rock and almost tripped but it didn't hurt my toe at all. Actually, I only tripped twice which is a major record for me since I usually trip about a half dozen times on the trail, especially when I'm tired.

I have a pair of Saucony Peregrines that I usually run trail in but the thing I don't like about them is that they don't feel stable. I sometimes roll my ankle in them or feel my foot sliding to the side. It really annoys me and I thought maybe it was because they weren't tied tight enough but no matter how I tied them, they never felt secure.

The Intuitions, on the other hand, made me feel very stable and solid and I never rolled my foot once. I think it's because of how they fit and because they are zero drop. I have plenty of room for my toes to do their thing but the rest of the shoe fits exactly right. There's no slippage in the heel or anything. The Intuition's zero drop sole gave me a very stable base to work with and I never felt off balance. Basically, I felt like I was channeling my inner mountain goat and could concentrate on the section I was running and not worry about what my shoe was going to do. That felt awesome and was a great relief.

So, all in all, a fabulous trail run on Saturday: the morning was foggy/misty and cool, my shoes did great, I got lots of hills in as my quads could attest to yesterday, and my plan to run on tired legs worked out really well. I felt like I was a lass doing some fell running in the Highlands of Scotland, except for the fact that I was in So Cal...and I'm not Scottish. But you know what I mean. God, I love dirt and hills. I really need to do this more often. Every weekend!

Oh, and my poor Intuitions are plenty dirty now. Sniffle. Maybe I should have 2 pairs so I can keep one pair "pretty" on the roads. ;) groaning! :p

Make sure you check out these links if you are interested in trying out some Instincts (men's) or Intuitions (women's). Patton will treat you right!

P.S. I'll be contacting the winners of my give away today, all 3 of you. :)


  1. They look sweet with some dirt on them! It means that they have been appropriately loved and used :)

  2. i agree with your review of the shoe. I was in the minimus before and didn't have enough room in the toe box. I love the room I have in the Intuition without feeling like I'm sliding all over. I also love that they feel cushiony while still being drop zero! I'm excited to read more of your blog :)

  3. I've been moving towards even more minimal shoes (VVFs, Invisible Shoes Hauraches, Softstar Runamocs), but the Altra is my go-to every day shoe. I haven't run in a "normal shoe" (Brooks Adrenaline for me) for about three months, and I feel great in them for any distance.

  4. What do you think of the Huaraches & Runamocs?

    I used to run in the Adrenalines too. I don't miss them.