September 25, 2014

I ran in Hokas

Tonight. Cliftons. Hoka's "racing flat".

A six mile test run, one of quite a few available via the local running store.

Can't really write a review based on one run, but I can say that I really liked them, so much so that they'll very likely be my next purchase.

Light (7.9 oz). Low (4 mm drop). Soft, but not so much as to compromise stride mechanics or turnover. The whole thing was sub seven pace, and the shoe never felt in the way or lacking in response. In truth, it felt faster than the Saucony Kinvara and New Balance Fresh Foam, both of which we've test run'd recently.

The real fun though - and this is kinda the point of the soft foam/rocker combo that Hokas are known for - was found downhill. Hit 4:30 and 4:13 pace VERY BRIEFLY down some of KU's steeper offerings, and if felt pretty damn effortless. Just stay loose, keep a good cadence, and let the shoe turnover.

I did find the heel fit a little sloppy, and the laces came untied near the end. The rocker profile also made for a funny sensation while standing around and walking, like your body really wanted to roll backwards. Of course, it is a running shoe. My biggest worry would be that the soft foam, most of which isn't covered by any rubber, would wear very quickly.

So, a large pinch of salt considering the sample size, but I could see the shoe being very useful for daily plodding, tempo efforts, and races longer than 10K.

For reference: I'm currently running mostly in the Adidas Boost 2, with some shorter work in the Mizuno Wave Universe 5 and Saucony Hattori. Before my stress fractures this year, I was a much more committed minimalist; but I've learned to embrace cushion since. I did a test run in the Bondi 3 previously, and hated it. So this could perhaps be the Hoka that unites the die-hards with the holdouts.


  1. I have found it amusing how some assume that a particular type of shoe is the must have shoe for everyone. We don't typically do that. Cars for example - we look to create the niches, a van versus a mini Cooper versus a truck. All different and we see that based on style, preference, etc. But not so much with shoes: folks want everyone to love this style or that type because it is the must way to run (even to the point of no shoe).

    So of course, I see it as something that can be highly varied and acceptable from runner to runner. I enjoy the Hokas and their padding and am able to quickly curtail any naysayers by blaming my lawnmowered foot. They ain't for everyone though as they can ride high, and they are not great in the muck (I had a friend run in them at UTMB and it may as well have run in bedroom slippers).

    1. I'm learning that. There's a temptation, when you're new to something, to seek out the "one true way", and I've been guilty of that plenty. Doing better now.