Katie's Running Shoe Evolution


I still remember clearly my first pair of running shoes, it was back in 2011 when I first started running outside of high school track and soccer. I remember hating running back then, I guess I was burnt out of “sports” after high school and wanted a break. It had been 4 years since I did any type of physical activity, besides the random yoga class here and there, and I was feeling like I needed to get back into something. 

I was in San Diego when a good friend of mine suggested that I start running again, being in sunny San Diego, running was a good sport to help reduce the stress of school and get some rays. I had never really thought about just running, without a purpose other than to just run. The question made me think about it, and for the first time in my life it actually sounded like a good idea.

Very quickly I encountered my first dilemma, I had no idea what type of running shoes to buy, it was a whole new world for me. For some reason or another I drifted towards the Nike Free, it was when they had just came out and I still remember seeing those crazy colors and the simple clean design of the Free and falling in love with my first running shoe! I didn't know anything back then about drop or support, I just knew that I liked the way the Free looked and I really liked the idea of it being minimal, I was sold.

That pair of running shoes lasted me probably 2 years with my very minimal running and mostly just wearing that I put in them. I started to run about 3 times per week, and wow I remember it was hard to start!

Luckily I had no expectations of what I should be doing pace wise, and I just ran until i needed to walk, then walked until i felt comfortable running again. And thats how i did it, simple and short. I think my “runs” averaged about 35-50 minutes each and that was just fine with me. I was a very random runner for that year, and then life happened and I seemed to forget about it all together once I moved back or rainy Oregon.

It was not until I was in Sydney Australia a year later that I started running again, consistently! 

This is when I met Gwen, and it was also when I finally fell in love with running for the sake of experiencing new places! I was in a new city that I knew nothing about, without a car or bike, so running really allowed me to explore it in an amazing way. This was also when I bought my first and only pair of Asics. Don't ask me why I got them, I think it was the colors that I liked, and I think I was also influenced by talk of how support is important, even though I had no clue what that even meant or why I would need support.

I wore those shoes on my almost daily runs of probably 2-4 miles for a few months, until I was out to Sea for 6 months without a single run. Wow, looking back at my running history, i was all over the place.

When Gwen and I were in Antarctica we read Born To Run, which I can say changed my life. We committed right then and there, in Antactica with no way to run until we got back to land, that we would run a 56k race together in France in 3 months! And yes, I ran that with only 3 months training and in those same pair of Asics! What a mistake, but I didn't know anything else.

I got so many blisters during that race, my feet were destroyed after it. I thought this was just theprice runners had to pay to run distance…. But man, was I wrong.

After those Asics and blisters I changed paths totally and when all in to the barefoot running world, inspired by reading born to run! I started running in Vibram 5 fingers, I changed my running form slowly but successfully to have a forefoot strike and I was loving it! This was a really exciting move for me as a runner! 


All was rainbows and unicorns until…. roots and rocky trails happened! I broke my little toe running in my 5 fingers and I was shattered. I cried getting the x-ray results and I was out for something like 6 weeks. When I got back to the trials I decided that I better not risk it, but I still wanted that earthy contact with the ground, but less risk… I did some research and landed on the New Balance Minimus, and to this day I love this shoe! It basically offers the advantages of the 5 fingers without stubbing toes or risking breaking them! The only downside is that the toe box is not as wide as our feet are naturally. I ran in these on trails and 5 fingers on smooth surfaces until I moved to Florida, land of no trails and hard paths.


For the first time in my very short running career I was experiencing leg pain from the pounding on all that pavement. I decided I need to re-think my shoe strategy if I want to keep injury free and running.

Again I was back on the internet researching what my next move could be. It didn't take long before I naturally gravitated to Altra. Here is a shoe that incorporates the best of all worlds (except perhaps durability) into a shoe for any occasion. Zero Drop like the minimal shoes I love, extremely wide toe box so it feels like the 5 fingers (no blistering or crowded toes thats for sure) but with just enough soft fluffy cushion to protect my legs from pounding and just brute milage even on trails.

My first pair of Altra’s was the One, their most minimal road shoe; I was completely in love again. The transition was a little strange, I will never forget that feeling… it felt like I was running on little clouds and I actually liked it! It was not too much, not to hard, not too soft, but just perfect. This quickly alleviated all pain i was having in my legs, so I knew it was a good choice. Another amazing thing about every pair of Altra’s that I have owned is that they never ever give me any blisters in the toes, and this is huge! Like I said before, I thought blistering was normal and every runner just got them. But now I know that it has everything to do with the shoe, the toe box and the fit. 

The only negative thing about Altras is they ware out too quickly.. This is really annoying but for now I am ok with the trade off because my feet are so happy in these shoes.

I have tried many different pairs of Altra’s now, and my favorite is the more minimal ones so I love the One for roads and the Superior for trails.

Who knows if I will go for one with more cushioning once I start running more 100s in them, and I see that Hokas would be nice, but I cannot bring myself to wear anything that does not have a super wide toe box and zero drop. I tried the Nike Kreiger 3 because I know how durable they are (the quality is insane, they are made so strong and so well) but after my first trail run in them I had blisters on the sides of my feet and between my toes. Not wide enough, and I am annoyed by any and all drop now. (I guess this makes me a drop snob… I like the sound of that lol).

 I have tried many times since then and I still get blisters and rubbing in everything except Altra’s. I really hope that Hoka comes out with a shoe that actually has a wide toe box and close to zero drop, then I will finally give it a shot.


Its just so funny, when I first saw a pair of Hokas back in 2013 I laughed at how silly they looked. I thought they were a crazy trend and that it would fade quickly… it didnt. Now they are normal and everyone accepts them into the running scene. 

We love running shoes so much, just as you probably do too. Every time a new shoe comes out we want to watch the reviews and read about it! 

If you have tried any of these shoes and have something to say about them please let us and other readers know in the comments below this thread. 

What do you think about Altras? What about Hoka? Do any other shoes actually have a wide toe box and close to zero drop?



Checkout my review of the Altra Superior 2.0 on YouTube!