Years of cross country and track in high school did a number on my shins. To this day, my legs bark at me every time I hit the pavement. In addition to shin splints, I have a poppy knee that likes to do what I call the Rice Krispies, as it quite literally snaps, crackles, and pops stride after stride. Darn you, aging joints.
These experiences catalyzed my quest for new running shoes, and on this journey, I found Altra Running's Via Olympus sneakers ($170). Suffice to say, I haven't looked back.
- 01Sneaker highlights
- 02Full review
- 03Final thoughts
Compared to the dozens of other running sneakers I've worn, the Via Olympus has an unbeatable fit. With a firm midsole, extra thick sole, and a boat-like design, the shoe is meant to launch you into each step with ease and comfort. That thick, bouncy sole is even more impressive for shock absorption, keeping your joints ache-free stride after stride.
- Lightweight and breathable
- Firm FootShape midsole
- Wide toe box
- Heel-to-toe offset is 0 mm
- Grippy, rubber outsole
- Chunky sole for shock absorption
The Via Olympus sneakers on every surface
As someone with shin splints and crackly knees, shock absorption is an extra important in my running routine. These sneaks hold up on every surface—even the cold, hard New York City streets.
On the treadmill
I prefer indoor running to avoid New York's bustling streets and nature's elements—rain, snow, wind, etc.—so most of my running occurs on treadmills at several local gyms. What I love about the Via Olympus is its rocker shape, giving my feet and legs that extra oomph to propel into my next step. (I swear I feel like Sydney McLaughlin when they're on.) They're a dream for shock absorption, giving me all-over comfort on long- and short-distance runs alike. They even withstand my HIIT days, which typically consists of skipping rope and pounding out 30-second interval sprints. My shins feel so good when they're on, no sudden aches or splitting pains.
The footbed is cushioned, but the midsole is firm, which I prefer over more cushy running shoes I've worn. As someone with wobbly balance , these shoes give me superior stability, never causing me to lose my footing on walks or runs. It's all thanks to the brand's proprietary FootShape midsole, which allows your feet to sit more naturally. Also to thank? The grippy rubber outsole, which beautifully grabs the treadmill's sometimes-slippery conveyer belt.
On the pavement
I do like to run outdoors when the conditions are right. On the days that I hit the concrete, my shins and knees usually absorb more impact—but not with Via Olympus. The colossal sole comes in clutch to absorb all of the shock, so my knees and shins don't have to.
Even more, the cushioned yet firm midsole provides long-lasting comfort, so I never have to worry about my feet feeling tired the more miles I go. These kicks also boast a zero millimeter heel-to-toe offset (my heels/toes sit at the same height) promoting better foot mechanics and decreasing stress on my joints (hooray for no achy knees).
On the trail
I'm not a big trail runner since I live in a concrete jungle, but Catie Jaffe, Well+Good's senior commerce manager, was able to put these baddies to the test on gravel. "I tested this pair on this gravel path as well as asphalt and a treadmill, and on each run I felt that there was enough cushion to support my joints," says Jaffe. "I also felt that the width was actually very welcome in the toe box, as your feet naturally expand when running. I would recommending buying towards the higher end of your size range."
After putting these kicks to the test on concrete and conveyer belts, I'd highly recommend them to runners, gym goers, and trail runners alike. They reduce impact on just about every surface, and truly feel amazing mile after mile—something other running shoes don't deliver. One thing to note is its wider heel. During runs and walks, the shoe slips up ever so slightly and while it doesn't bother me, it's something to consider for people with narrower ankles.
The shoe retails for $170, which is on the pricier end. But with all the shoe's unique specs—its chunky sole, fun coloring, firm midsole, and roomy toe box—I'd pay all the money to run in these. They perform in all areas of my workout routine while keeping my shin splints and "Rice Krispies" at bay. I have a plethora of running sneakers on my shoe rack, but the Altra Via Olympus sneakers have earned a top spot, and will continue to for miles to come.
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