ALTRA PARADIGM 4.5 REVIEW

Melanie Mitchell | April 28, 2020

ALTRA PARADIGM 4.5 - SHOE REVIEW

by BRIAN METZLER | APRIL 2020

THE BUZZ

The Altra Paradigm 4.5 is a maximally cushioned road running shoe built for supreme long-haul, cushioning and comfort. It has a unique stabilizing structure in the rear of the shoe that guides the foot after it hits the ground and rolls forward, making it a great choice for runners who overpronate.

The biggest perk of ther newest model of the Altra Paradigm is that it’s a bona fide cushy cruiser.

Altra Paradigm 4.5 - What's New

WHAT'S NEW: ALTRA PARADIGM 4.5

The only major change to the Altra Paradigm is the stylish, sleek knit upper that has given the shoe a more performance-oriented fit and a better look. The new upper allows it to fit better, feel better, run better and look better.  
The reason Altra builds its shoes on a level and balanced platform is to allow the heels and forefoot of a runner’s foot to always be an equal distance from the ground. Unlike shoes with lifted heels and sloping profiles, Altra’s shoes creates what the brand calls an optimal alignment and that cultivates better running form and encourages a low-impact foot strikes.

Altra Paradigm 4.5 - Fit and Feel

FIT-FEEL-RIDE

The well-padded interior of the Paradigm 4.5 makes it feel comfortably snug and secure in the heel and midfoot, although it does have a slightly wider fit than many Altra shoes. The forefoot is typically wide because of the “Footshaped” toe box. The step-in feel of this shoe absorbs your feet the moment you lace them up, a sensation somewhere between a comfy bedroom slipper and a foot massage.

The AltraEgo midsole is not marshmallowly soft, but instead responsive and energetic. For such thick cushioning and rear foot structure, it really flexes quite well and is appreciably agile. It’s not really a shoe made for up-tempo running, but it’s smooth and effective from marathon race pace to 10K pace, and on long runs at any pace, it’s an absolute dream.

WHO'S IT BEST FOR?

Runners who appreciate max cushioned shoes — and especially those training for marathons or ultramarathons — will really enjoy the new Altra Paradigm 4. Long weekend runs are idyllic in the Paradigm, both because you feel as good in the final miles as you did when you started but also because you’ll likely experience less inherent soreness in the days that follow.

In addition, Altra’s women’s models are built with Fit4Her Technology, a design system that caters to the specific anatomical differences of female feet — a narrower heel and midfoot, a higher instep, a longer arch and unique metatarsal spacing.

PROS AND CONS: ALTRA PARADIGM 4.5

Altra Paradigm 4.5 - Pros

Pros: Altra Paradigm 4

The AltraEgo midsole cushioning serves up an energetic vibe that both dampens impact and puts a noticeable spring in every step. The interior cushiness is further enhanced by a 5mm sculpted footbed. 

The Paradigm has a unique take on structural guidance with integrated StabiliPods in the bottom of the shoe to create a stable platform and a GuideRail system for individualized medial/lateral support — but only when you need it. The asymmetrical design with medial flaring increases lateral support for weak or tired feet and is ideal for both neutral runners and those looking to upgrade from the limitations of traditional medial posted models.

The new engineered mesh upper offers structured stretchiness that enhances the comfort and improves the locked-down fit in the midfoot. The perforated toe box is noticeably breathable, creating interior air flow that helps wick and evaporate moisture away from a runner’s feet.

Altra Paradigm 4.5 - Cons

Cons: Altra Paradigm 4

Runner beware:the Paradigm 4.5 is a lot of shoe — maybe too much for runners used to models that are lighter and lower to the ground. It tips the scales on the slightly heavier side, but within the range of other maximalist models.

TECH SPECS: ALTRA PARADIGM 4.5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of "Kicksology", "Running Colorado's Front Range" and the co-author of "Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running" and "Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner."