|Clown shoes?? They have a certain je ne sais quoi, do they not? Did I mention they are French?|
The one group of runners that seems to rave about Hoka shoes are ultra marathoners.Specifically they note that they have less muscle fatigue, almost no negative sensation with the ground, and the ability to maintain form after the point where they would already be tired running in other shoes. I believe these claims are partially true, but are dependent upon the nature of ultra marathons themselves. For example, it is unlikely that ultra marathons are actually physically beneficial for any runners, elite or (sometimes) pedestrian, because the combination of the distances run and the time on the feet is actually beyond the natural capacity of humans.If you're not seeing where I'm going here, allow me to explain. After about 40 miles, it becomes hard to maintain good form consistently, at least for me. My Saucony Peregrines, which have served me well over the years, leave much to be desired in the later miles, with their minimal padding. My feet are beat up, swollen, and quite adverse to pounding down hills. Wouldn't it be great if there was something I could do to help them out?
This year, I'm running a 24 hour race that is all on pavement. I know I can't do it with any of the shoe models I run in now, which are all minimal. If I'm going beyond "the natural capacity" of a human, maybe a completely unnatural, maximally padded shoe, such as the Hoka, is an option. It sounds crazy to me, but what if, around mile 50 or 60, I make the switch? Would it hurt at that point?
In practice, I've seen this work. Or at least, that's what I've been told. How can I be sure it's not more of a comforting mental thought, than a physical advantage? Few people will buy these insanely expensive shoes and complain about them. Even fewer will buy them and not wear them, even if they cause suffering. Oh, they are just so ridiculous looking.
|My daughter's Fila Skeletoes and Nike Frees|
It is ironic, I have to say, that an article that derides the shoes so much, would cause me to actually consider finding a pair. This is no way suggesting I go back on my natural running form though. I'm as committed as ever to running as efficiently as possible. However, there is a point where I need to admit that I get sloppy with ugly form, and injuries happen. The thought of a hundred or more miles on tarmac makes my joints cringe.
Yesterday, I bought a pair Nike Frees for my daughter (her second pair of minimalist shoes) and some Merrell Gloves for my own daily wear. It's taken 3 years, yes THREE years, but I'm finally gravitating to pure zero-drop shoes, with even 4mm feeling uncomfortable lately (sorry Kinvaras). So, believe me when I say, I didn't wake up this morning thinking about Hokas.
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