Altra Paradigm 3.0 Review – Zero Drop Road Running Shoes

Altra Paradigm 3.0 Testing/Review


As a user of the original Paradim (600+ miles in fact!) and at the time of writing a user of the Paradigm 2.0, I was interested to see how the newest version compared. Immediately it’s clear this new Paradigm 3.0 is a very well cushioned Altra shoe, with a very roomy toe box, that immediately proved ideal for my wider foot and bunions. All Altra shoes follow this format, but do differ slightly.

I’m traditionally a heel striker and have written about transitioning to Zero Drop before on (search “NorthernRunner transitioning to Zero Drop” on Google) and with the help of Altra shoes I’m certainly now landing with all my shoes more onto my mid-to-forefoot. It is proving much more efficient and definitely makes you feel lighter on your feet. I’m not “braking” when my heel lands first into soft cushioning and you need more power to push over onto the sole of your foot, to spring off and start over again each stride.

The Altra Paradigm 3.0 is well cushioned and as such will at as a fantastic entry level Zero Drop shoe. As you get more confident and efficient, you can try more responsive Zero Drop footwear.. and you’ll be unstoppable!

It’s pretty clear that the outsole of this newer version is more hard wearing than the oldest, more akin to the 2.0. With regards sizing (with all Altras), I would say go up at least half a size to your normal running shoe (returning a pair really doesn’t cost a lot relative to finding the right pair!).

N.B. I like to use the looped lace technique to really pull in the top of the shoe around my foot!


Day 1 // 23rd September:  House test. Worn indoors for three hours.  Could wear these a slippers…….comfy!

Day 2 // 24th September: House test two as before, but bumping up to four hours in them.

Day 3 // 25th September:  Short 3 mile road/concrete path around town run.

After the short 3 mile, they’re feeling comfy and well cushioned but not heavy. You strike the ground mid-to-forefoot if you can but as a heel striker I can honestly say it’s a very forgiving shoe! Once you get to know them, you can’t beat these trademarked FootShape toe boxes.

Day 4 // 26th September: Full blown hard effort session, consisting of warm up, 10 x 400 m efforts (Ashington Hirst Running Club) on a tarmac cycle track.  Checking my form by our coaches at the running club.  Concluding with lactic shuttles and cool down slow run back and stretch.  Total approx 8 miles.  I was striding quickly and effectively, striking the ground fairly mid to forefoot a lot more than my usual heel strike, although to be fair the heel striking with the other Altra usage is reducing a great deal in any case.  So no “braking” and losing momentum as much as I used to.  As I have mentioned, I love the cushioning, now that’s an interesting thing to say from myself as normally Id say I prefer a slightly more stiffer shoe, but I’m striking the ground well and they really do feel very comfortable. 

Day 6 // 28th September: 4 miles easy run as a coach with the running club.  All on concrete paths.  Nice and steady.  I put in my authotics to try too, this should be a fair test, all went well, shoe certainly still felt good with authotics, which are made for “standard” toe box width shoes, no slipping of them at all, nice and stable overall.

Day 11 // 3rd October: Efforts again, but this time hill repeats.  I like to reduce stride length and really drive up a hill.  In our case concrete paths for 5 blocks of 4 “hills”.  The ground was actually damp, no pools but wet.  There isn’t a lot of light either.  But overall great grip from the shoe.  This brings me to the sole of the shoe. This version (3.0 and the previous version the 2.0) have a harder wearing course than the original.  But this version certainly has a softer feel than the 2.0.  In all honesty, Id be very surprised not to get more than the 600 miles plus than I got with the first original version.  However I am careful so let’s see how they feel later on.  I ended up with 10 miles in total by taking out steady run groups before hand too.

Day 14 // 6th October: Off road for a change, we have a community woods here in Ashington, within it we have a 10 km course.  This I more or less did.  Total distance in any case 6 miles on damp mainly firm soil.  Again I didn’t notice any more slipping with this shoe over any other road shoe I have.  Just nice, light enough and comfortable. I did a mix of pace and steady running.

Day 17 // 9th October: Easy 7 mile run on tarmac.  All ok, just very comfortable.  As I am in all Altra s, I do feel as if I’m upright and certainly can feel that continued transition to mid foot striking as well.

Day 23 // 15th October: Long run time.  Nice route.  Very windy, damp on the ground and lots of leaves on the paths/road I run.  95% tarmac or concrete.  As they say it’s not flat!! Certainly no issues, no blisters, no rubbing, not only lots of width in the toe box but a nice height inside too, this really gives a roomy shoe.  Mileage on that run is 18 miles, with authotics.


A very well cushioned, softer shoe, yet not heavy, which is hard to achieve! (I also use many other brands). You won’t lose your foot within the cushioning, causing a lot of roll or instability either. 

Works well with authotics.

Better grip and a harder, more durable outsole than the original Paradigm (bearing in mind I got over 600 miles on them).

PERFECT for those who want to try Zero Drop for an improved form and efficiency. Transition carefully regardless! Accept you cannot change how you run overnight and after a few runs you will realise that you are actually now running more efficiently.  (I certainly did).

You can’t beat FootShape toe box tech from Altra, it really is roomy. Don’t panic, you’ll get used to this and it’s better for your foot and form!

Iain Singer

UKA qualified coach and runner of the marathon distance over 75 times.

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