In one of my last blogs I wrote about how I have arthritis in my right hip and it leads to right knee pain. The ortho told me I shouldn’t be running (sorry doc, I’ve got too much money tied up in OCRs at this point).
I’ve been running in minimalist shoes over the past few years. I started the whole minimalist thing in Vibrams. They were great in the gym, but horrible for OCRs. So I decided to race in Inov8’s TrailRoc 245. Still minimal, much more grip, much better for racing.
It’s not the races I’m concerned with though. It’s the amount of time I spend on my feet training. In one of my blogs I discussed the importance of incorporating running when training for an OCR. Before the longer OCRs I like to get my mileage up to around 20 miles per week before tapering off. So the question becomes how do I get my mileage up without stressing my 40-year-old joints. One answer has been to run on a treadmill because it is less impact than the road. Lets face it though. An hour or so on a treadmill gets pretty boring. So I started exploring other options. I started researching what some ultra runners wear due to the fact that they put hundreds of miles on their legs in a week.
I noticed some of them wearing these funky platform Parliament Funkadelic shoes. The brand? Hoka One One. I was very hesitant to pull the trigger on buying these. For one they were on the expensive side, and to be honest with you they looked really funny. After reading about them for months I realized these shoes might be the answer I was looking for to run pain free. I finally pulled the trigger, and with some miles on them here’s my 1st impressions…
Hoka Bondi B
I took them out of the box. “They aren’t that big.”
I put them on my feet. “Yeah, they’re big.”
Walking around in them I thought I got ripped off. I thought it was a hoax. I could feel no difference in the cushioning between the Hokas and a normal pair of running sneakers. My 1st thought, I was not impressed.
I went out for my 1st run which was a 3 miler. My thoughts changed. It seemed the more impact you put on them, the more cushioning they provided. It was the strangest thing I’d ever felt. The cushioning acted like a pneumatic shock absorber. I started liking them more (so were my legs).
I had fears that since the stack height (the amount of cushion in the shoe) was so thick they would be unstable. This is not the case. In fact, they are more stable than some of the minimal shoes I’ve used in the past. My heel sits lower in the shoe so there is a cradling effect going on with them, and the outsole is very wide. I think this also contributes to the dissipation of shock.
Even with all that midsole they do take on one aspect of a minimal shoe. Hoka has incorporated a minimal drop in the construction so I can continue to use a mid-foot strike. This will help me transition over easily to my Inov8 race shoes that have just about the same amount of drop.
My final thoughts after putting a dozen or so miles on the Hokas, I love them! Would I ever use them to conquer an OCR? No, they just aren’t nimble enough. Just like my Vibrams were great in the gym for providing cat like grip, the Hokas will be great for keeping my mileage up while saving my joints. The way I look at it, I’ll be able to spend more money on OCRs (sorry doc).