I was as skeptical as they come. They look like moon boots! I work at the Boulder Running Company on weekends and I’d heard it all from anyone taking their first look at the shoe with their super sized midsole. But I’d been selling them to nearly all the serious trail runners that come into the store. Many of them are on their third or fourth pair, swearing by them.
As long as I stay in the Hokas, I remain injury free / is what nearly everyone said.
I’d been fighting off injuries since I ran the Leadville 100 in August, where I saw one in eight runners wearing the Hokas. One guy even had them tied to his backpack, where at the top of a big climb he would stop and switch out his minimal shoes for the Hokas and then bomb the downhills. I was intrigued but hesitant. I’d tried all the fads when it comes to running shoes. I was in the Newtons for a year and had good luck w/ them. I tried going more minimal and like most people, got injured. I had decided that I would just stick to a trail shoe w/ a 10 mm heel pitch and wear it w/ an insert. But still, I was fighting off a nasty Achilles injury that had lasted for a long time. Almost every run was followed w/ frustration. Sure, I finished my run but now the Achilles hurts and I probably just made it worse. I’d tried everything, even going inward. Maybe I’m constantly injured because of some inward battle within myself. I’d turned to yoga and meditation to calm myself down, hoping to heal my injuries. No luck.
I purchased my Hoka One Mafate 2 Lows with little expectation and yet big hopes. They carry a hefty price tag, almost the most expensive shoe the BRC sells. That night I went for a four mile pain free run. Could they be magic shoes?
Today, I laced them up w/ double digits on my radar (if I could make it that far without pain). My four legged running partner and I headed for Mount Sanitas where I could give them a proper testing. It’s not the most technical climb in the world, but it’s very rocky and there are a few sections where you are doing more boulder hopping than running. I was unsure if all that extra foam cushioning on the bottom of the shoe would prevent me from climbing efficiently. They were no bother. If anything, the extra padding gave me more confidence to take a step off a jagged rock that I might otherwise avoid. When we arrived at the summit of Mount Sanitas, I was feeling no pain and nearly converted.
Then we started our descent. That was when their logo, Time to Fly, began to make sense. To say I hammered the downhill wouldn’t be right. Hammer is the wrong word. It felt like I floated down the mountain. All the extra cushion absorbed every rock and root I normally feel on a fast descent. It felt like the mountain was covered in about two inches of pristine powder snow. Even Roxy couldn’t keep up. I put my arms out and floated down the hill faster than I ever had before. Even if descents were the only thing the shoe was good for, I’d be sold. It felt like I was cheating.
I did roll my ankle once, which is a common problem of mine. With the extra cushion on the bottom of the shoe, there is a lot further for the ankle to roll towards the ground. I hope this doesn’t prove fatal for me in the future. I like to normally run with a shoe w/ a wider last like the Saucony Xodus.
I finished my ten mile run w/ no pain. I still stretched out, I’ll still wear compression tonight. Are they magic shoes? Are they too good to be true? Well, I haven’t tattooed Hoka across my back yet but I know what I’ll be wearing out on my next trail run. And I can’t wait.