Thursday, April 3, 2014
Alright, alright, alright.
First off i'd like to admit that I like shoes. All styles, casual, fancy, sandals, flip flops, running shoes, shoes with toes, etc. etc. I loves them I do.
So When I read "Born to Run" a long time ago I eagerly bought a pair of Five Fingers. I enjoyed them but I quickly decided i'd rather run in close toe'd shoes and use the Five Fingers while I cross train. Besides at this time the minimalist shoe craze was in full effect.
Any banana I first read about the super puffy Hokas a yer or so ago and i didn't think much of them. They were designed by and for elite ultra runners. Neither of which I am so I ignored them. Well, after finishing my first 50k last December I was all kinds of tore up. My ankles were especially sore but the experience was fantastic and i knew I was going to do a lot more 50ks especially this year.
A chance encounter in the trails led myself and true ultra runner Amy Lenza to a park in Queens to run a 6 hour race. You do a 5k loop as many times as you can for the 6 hours. I looked at this day as a training day for my first 50k of the year which is closely approaching. So I decided to use this opportunity to grab a pair of these puffy clouds they call Hoka One One. These guys here, Hoka One One Stinson Trail.
The six hour run was grueling, but I achieved my goal and I got to wear my Hokas. The problem though is that the 6 hour race was on paved paths so although the shoes were nice I didn't feel that they were truly tested.
This leads us to today. A gorgeous day, filled with wonder and joy. It was also filled with a 6 mile jaunt through the Greenbelt in my puffy, fluffy Hokas. As I headed into the wood behind the Nature Center I slowly started to listen to my feet. Whaaa? Yes, listening to what my feet were telling me as I began my first official Hoka trail run.
My absolute first thought was that these things are ridiculously cushioned, but not squishy. The ground was very soft from the yards of snow and buckets of rain that have been dumped on us this year. So I'm wearing an ultra cushioned shoe running on very soft dirt. The shoes were responsive, I felt the ground beneath my feet, yes it was a little muted compared to my "minimal" shoes but I could feel it. The shoes are stable. When I first put them on I imagine I'm in Kiss and this is 1977. I feel way up there. It doesn't take long to adjust though.
Hitting the crushed Gravel Multi use Trail felt great. the Hokas bounced right along, dug right in. It felt great. I ran over the long plank covered section along the white trail to see how the Hokas would do on slippery planks. The boards were dry, and not slick at all so that will leave to be tried again at a later date. How did the Hokas do in puddles of mud you ask. Actually awesome. I trudged right through digging into the ridiculously sloppy sections but I felt extremely stable and as powered through the muck. I also was pleasantly pleased with how well the Hokas drained. Good shoe, weird but good.
Here's where they lag a bit. Response. Look, a cheetah is able to do things on the plains that a water buffalo isn't going to be able to do. That's the nature of the beast. Digging in and pushing off through a series of switchbacks I didn't snap off I kinda mushed off. Negotiating rocky terrain was also a bit challenging. Here is where the Hokas cushioning was a negative. I felt unsure over the few loose rocks I ran over.
Overall I'm glad i decided to buy them i think they will be a great benefit for my 50ks but anything form a 25k and under and I will stick my "minimal" shoes.
Oh yeah, when bought the Hokas i also bought a new model of Saucony Peregrine 4s. A completely different shoe. Once I get some runs in them I'll review them as well.