Altra Intuition 3.5 Review ¦ Altra Zero Drop Running Shoes
A Women’s Offering From Altra that Isn’t Just ‘Small and Pretty’ – The Intuition 3.5
The Altra Intuition 3.5 is the Women’s specific version of the Altra Instinct 3.5. However, it isn’t just the same shoe made in small sizes and pretty colours. All Altra’s shoes are gender specific because Women’s feet are a different shape to Men’s. Women have a narrower heel and midfoot, higher instep, longer arch and slightly different spacing between their toes. Altra makes a whole line of truly female-specific shoes. Altra’s shoes are all trademarked zero drop and foot shaped to encourage the natural movement of the foot. This helps your feet get stronger with every run.
The Altra Intuition 3 is my go to shoe for everything from long runs to faster interval sessions. This was the previous incarnation of the Inutition.
So, is the Intuition 3.5 an improvement?
A constant complaint among runners is when they find what is the perfect shoe and then the manufacturer ‘improves’ it: so, it is no longer your favourite shoe! The small updates to the Altra Intuition 3.5 are: improved fit of the upper, giving it more toe height, a softer, foot-hugging heel, refined overlays, and an attractive toe swirl that makes the forefoot look less boxy yet maintains the ‘foot-shaped’ toe box. The midsole density has also been tweaked to make it slightly more dense which is more in line with the first version of this shoe.
Having run in the Altra Intuition 3.5 for a few months now, alternating them with the Intuition 3, I think that the tweaks are an improvement. However, out of the box the shoes do feel very different. You can probably see from the picture that the Intuition 3.5 is a better fit on my feet. The improved heel fit does make the Intuition 3.5 grip your heel well, whereas the Intuition 3 was a little slippy at first and took a few runs to really feel secure. Although the toe box of the Intuition 3 was wide, allowing my feet to never feel squashed even after long runs the new designed toe box of the intuition 3.5 has more volume. This initially felt very comfortable and when running you can feel your toes spreading into the space, which is what they are supposed to do. So, in my view this was an improvement too.
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When running in the Intuition 3.5, initially they felt less flexible and less forgiving than the previous version. The Intuition 3 felt flexible and cushioned from the box. However, once I had done about 50 miles of running in the Intuition 3.5 they started to feel more flexible and responsive. Now I have done over 200 miles of running in the Intuition 3.5 they have moved up to another level. They are now even better than the Intuition 3 was. They have also held their shape better and show less signs of wear on the upper and the midsole.
Generally I believe if shoes feel soft from the box then they lose their shape and cushion faster than the firmer feeling shoes. Although The Intuition 3 was never over-soft the firmer midsole in the Intuition 3.5 is an improvement. As well as being more durable and getting more comfortable the more the run in them a firmer mid-soled shoe also makes your foot behave as it should. In a very soft feeling shoe your foot stays curled up when you hit the floor, doing no work at all. This is because it doesn’t know it has hit something hard because the shoe has absorbed it all. You might think this is a good thing. Unfortunately it isn’t as your foot just gets weaker which can lead to foot complaints like plantafasciatis . The midsole needs to be firm so that your foot spreads out as it hits the floor. This loads the planta fascia, which is like an elastic band on the bottom of your foot, absorbing the shock buto giving you the spring to lift your foot of the floor. The firmer feeling midsole in the intuition 3.5 coupled with the more roomy toe box facilitates this.
So, to sum up. I will be more than happy to replace my Intuition 3’s with the Intuition 3.5.
Morag Stead is the working Mum of three children and was twice inter-counties 5,000 metres Champion and has represented Great Britain. Morag still gets out for a run twice most days.
If you are new to Zero Drop shoes then it is advisable to go through a transition phase gradually introducing the shoes to your running routine. For more advice on this please see the article on transition on our website.