Shoe Reviews

Altra Paradigm 4.0 Performance Review

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By Austin Bonds

Like other fans of Altra, I’m eager for the release of the highly-anticipated Escalante 1.5 (it’s no Pegasus Turbo, but I’m sure it can hold its own). My intrigue is undoubted with the responsive and soft EGO midsole, a fantastic technological blend that’s making its way into other models, including the recently updated Paradigm. I ran sporadically in the 2.0, but the weight and stack height (31 millimeters) left it lacking in speed. Accordingly, I set it aside for casual walks. The Paradigm 4.0, which retains the same stack height and weight (10.3 ounces in a men’s nine) as the 3.0, raises the bar again. In other words, is this version a new paradigm? Let’s find out together.

Altra Paradigm 4

Navy-Air Force Leaderboard

The Good

In spite of the magnificent stack height, the Paradigm still weighs less than the Glycerin 16 (10.8 ounces) and Bondi 6 (10.8 ounces), both of which recently updated as well. Like the Glycerin and Bondi, the Paradigm is a max-cushion road shoe, ideal for long runs and recovery runs. During some late July vacation runs in Tybee Island, Georgia, I managed to bring my mile pace down to six minutes, thanks mainly in part to the addition of EGO in the midsole.
Frankly, I’m impressed I managed this feat between the morning heat, humidity, dry air, and hefty shoe weight (the Escalante is 2.5 ounces lighter than the Paradigm 4.0). Still, the Paradigm is a remarkably soft trainer capable of propelling your body forward fast.
Running Warehouse indicates that the Paradigm runs a half-size short, but I found the fit true to size with generous toe splay and width. Runners with wider feet will appreciate this. Breathability in the knit upper is superb, and the gray and black color pattern has a knack for making this shoe look less like cruise ships attached to your legs. The EGO midsole provides remarkable cushioning with minimal sinking. Finally, the Paradigm 4.0 provides a few hints of “dynamic support” (stability) courtesy of a GuideRail and three Stabilipod pieces (two up front and one near the heel). The Paradigm isn’t a posted shoe. Thus the inclusion of GuideRail, added for “only when you need it,” according to Altra.
For fatigue that sets in during long runs, and even ultramarathons with manageable terrain, the Paradigm is a worthy contender, competitively priced on par with the Glycerin and Bondi at $150. The Paradigm flexes well in spite of the stack height, and only a small portion of the midsole is exposed to the ground. The shoe delivers a noticeably softer ride than the Altra Duo, a model I reviewed in February. I clipped my ankle a few times with the rear Stabilipod piece in the right shoe, but I attribute this to sloppy form.

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altra paradigm 4

The Bad

My only critique—which is more of an observation—is that I worked harder to run on the midfoot. The stack height, weight, and uber-soft heel encourage a rear landing, but I prefer to touch down on the midfoot or forefoot in all shoes I rotate. For some shoes, this is a breeze; others, like the Paradigm or Duo, not so much. Otherwise, nothing about this shoe caused pain, hot spots, blisters, numbness, or any other impact-bearing ailments associated with running.

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Altra Paradigm

Altra Paradigm 4.0 Conclusion

There’s a myriad of choices for runners seeking max-cushioned shoes, road, and trail alike. The addition of EGO in the midsole and a knit upper are the two noteworthy characteristics of the Paradigm 4.0. And at $150, the mileage return will skew towards a higher number. 400-500 miles doesn’t seem unreasonable in the least.

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2 Comments

  1. Have you been able to try the new Skechers Max Road 3 Ultra yet to compare with the new Paradigm? If not, would be interested in a comparison with the Skechers Ultra Road 2 if you ever tested that one. All three are currently on my list for next long distance trainer and possibly as a marathon race shoe – I’m aiming to break 4 hours next year but do like a cushioned shoe for anything over half marathon distance.

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