I just ordered my second pair of Atreyu Running shoes. Atreyu is a Texas-based running shoe company that began a few years ago by offering shoe subscriptions. You paid a monthly fee and received shoes on a schedule. I can’t find any evidence of this anymore, so they must have abandoned the subscription model. However, the shoes remain less expensive than comparable running shoes.
For context, running shoes are rarely less than $100 and tend to be upwards of $150. Brooks, my previous brand of choice, come in around $140. A typical pair of running shoes might last 350 to 500 miles depending on you and on the shoes. A heavier runner like myself might go through a pair every 400 miles. I run about 25 miles a week, so that’s $140 every 16 weeks. Anybody who tells you running is “cheap because you only need shoes” doesn’t run very much. Shoes are expensive and different ones serve different purposes. You also can’t legally run nekkid. So you’ll need lots of clothes too.
But I digress.
Atreyu’s base model shoe sells for $85. If you sign up for their newsletter, you get 10% off. So, that’s about $75 for a pair of shoes, half the price of their competitors. On that front, Atreyu is killing the game. But what do you get for your half-priced shoes?
The Atreyu Running Shoe
I like a minimal offset, which is the difference between heel height and toe height. Some built-up shoes have 14 or 18mm drops. Atreyus have a 6mm drop. That lends itself to a midfoot strike instead of the heel strike encouraged by taller shoes. Research conducted around the Born to Run minimalist craze of the early 2010s indicates that a heel strike causes pretty serious shock through the heel to the knee to the hip. Some runners heel strike all their lives and never suffer from it. I’m not one of those. If I don’t get a soft midfoot strike, I’ll be hobbling for the rest of the week. The 6mm drop works for me.
The shoes are lightweight. I don’t have a scale because I’m not a drug dealer but Runner’s World tells me a men’s size 9 weighs 5.5 ounces. For comparison, On Cloudflyers weigh 9.88 ounces. That’s a seven ounce difference when you account for both shoes. An extra half a pound might not sound like much, but it can definitely feel like much.
The cushioning is responsive and firm without being thin and hard like some other lightweight shoes. They’re not squishy, though. A firm, responsive sole is usually what runners mean when they say a shoe “feels fast.”
There’s not a lot of rubber on these shoes, which sounds odd. The soles are made of some soft material that feels like the material underneath the rubber sole on most shoes. I don’t know what EVA foam is, but I think that might be it.
Taking Them Through the Paces
There are three basic kinds of runs most runners keep in their quiver: easy runs, tempo runs, and long runs. Easy runs happen somewhere in zone two, effort wise. My easy runs are usually six miles. Atreyus are cushioned enough that my easy runs feel easy.
Tempo runs happen at zone three or four usually. That’s an effort that’s challenging but sustainable throughout the length of the run; you don’t need to stop and walk at any point but you feel pretty worn out at the end. Mine are five miles. These shoes are responsive enough that I feel I can push off hard on hard efforts.
Long runs account for about 30% of weekly mileage. I only did one long run in my first pair of Atreyus, 9 miles. I would’ve liked something a little more cushioned for a longer effort, but they got me there and back.
How Many Miles Until You Need New Ones?
When Atreyu was running the subscriptions, I remember them suggesting you buy a new pair every 250 miles. I can’t seem to find that recommendation again, but that feels right to me. As shoes wear, they wear in patterns based on how you run. For example, my shoes wear out on the outside first. That causes you to land and take off in a specific way. For me, I know it’s time for new shoes when my left knee and left hip start hurting; that means the wear pattern has caused a nagging change in gait. Looking at the bottom of the shoes, the sole definitely says the same thing.
However, I’ve got 400 miles on my first pair, and I just now ordered their replacements. 400 miles is pretty standard for me for any type of running shoe. I maybe should have replaced them 150 miles ago, but they were holding up well and I’m broke.
My wife keeps running shoes for years. My left leg would spontaneously combust if I tried that, but she’s a lot lighter than I am. She could probably keep her $75 shoes for years. I would say however long you normally keep running shoes is how long you can keep these.
The Bad Part
Now for the bad part that I’ve been saving: they’re boring. The colorways are boring. Version 1 had some interesting colors like a butter gold and forest green. So far, version 2 only has white and black with some accents of other colors. Hopefully, they’ll add some version 1 colors in due time; even those were kind of boring, though. Running shoes need to look fast. You know what looks fast? Hot pink. Lime green. Lemon yellow.
And brighter shoelaces. A runner is only as fast as her shoelaces say she is.
That’s the only bad thing I can say about them, though. They’re durable, affordable, and they feel fast. Also, the company is run by real people in Texas who don’t sponsor millionaires. They could probably use your money more than a multinational juggernaut.