Altra Chat with Co-founder Brian Beckstead
Posted on August 21 2017
It was a privilege to welcome Altra co-founder into the shop to talk about the origins of #Altra shoes, what makes them unique, and also their plans for the future.
Something that surprised us was how much biomechanics goes into the design of Altra shoes. It's a huge differentiating factor against so many other standard running shoes available today.
Brian started out working at Runners Corner, a small running shop in Utah. The staff there were big believer's in owner Hawk Harper's running philosophy of running "like a Kenyan", which was primarily landing over a bent knee rather than the high-impact heel strike. While a necessity for Hawk, who had destroyed his knee cartilage playing American football, it helped many of the store's customers who had various knee, back and other running injuries.
The other key advice was fitting shoes one to one-and-a-half sizes too big as well as skipping the bottom eyelets when lacing shoes. This gave the toes room to spread out on landing and helped with bunions, neuromas plantar fasciitis and other common foot ailments.
The team loved to tinker with shoes and eventually came up with the idea of modifying the mid and outsole on existing shoes to get a zero drop, which is the same amount of cushioning and thickness in the forefoot and heal.
These biomechanical concepts form the basis of Altra today - the famous zero drop, the wide FootShape toebox, plus the gender-specific fitting as, naturally, men and women have different shaped feet. Many runners of Altras find they run with better form, lower impact, more efficient technique and less injuries, particularly shin splints, runner's knee, ITB tightness and lower back pain. Ultra runners, especially, will love the extra tootsies room on big runs when you feet swell up and start to blister in traditional fitting shoes.
Testament to their success, in just six short years, Altra is now available in 64 countries worldwide and an incredible 31% of sub-24 finishers at Western States 2017 wore Altras! So how do you get the most out of your Altras? According to Brian, here are some key tips:
- It will take two to six weeks to adjust to your Altras and, during this time, you're likely to feel some calf and Achilles tightness. Listen to your body and understand you'll need to build up your mileage in the Altras. The more cushioned Altras like Timp and Olympus will probably reduce this transition period.
- High cadence - try to aim for fast short steps rather than striding out. Not only is this more energy efficient, but will naturally help you land over a bent knee and more forward on your feet.
We stock Hong Kong's best range of Altras, including a great selection of trail and road shoes (click here). Come in today and find your Altra and say hello to better running form and less injuries.