Lately, there has been an influx of new shoes and shoe types to choose from. Instead of making it easier to find a shoe, I think it has made that shopping trip even trickier. What shoe do you get? Brand, heel to toe ratio, padding, barefoot, neutral, natural, stabilizing, etc, etc, etc?? The options seem limitless....and so do the conflicting opinions. There are folks loudly yelling that the only way to run is barefoot (or as close as you can get to it) and there are folks yelling equally as loud that barefoot running is the best way to get injured. It is enough to make your head spin.
In my limited experience and equally limited expertise, I find that a shoe with a lower heel to toe ratio is better (4mm or less). So I guess I lean closer to barefoot running, although I don't think I will ever run completely barefoot. I read ChiRunning and loved it. I try to be a midfoot/forefoot striker (although many a race picture will show you that I don't always achieve it) and I think shoes with a smaller heel help you do that.
Shortly after I read ChiRunning I bought my first pair of Newtons. At that time nobody had them. I got a lot of strange looks from people checking out my insanely bright orange shoes that did not contain a familiar symbol on the side. I loved my Newtons and I still think they are a solid shoe choice. And now races are flooded with Newton clad runners...although you still might be the only one at the gym sporting them.
So why switch shoes? Well, Newtons are not cheap. I also hurt my arch and wondered if they shoes were to blame (I don't think they were). And finally, I read a review of this new shoe called Hoka One One (oh-nay oh-nay). The reviewer was none other than Marshall Ulrich, and if the grand master of the ultra marathon likes a shoe, well I listen.
|This is from last year when I met Marshall Ulrich...I bet he misses me.|
|Red nose not included|
So what makes these so great? How are these ugly, giant things any different, or more importantly, any better than the rest of the shoes out there?? This link from Hoka will tell you all about the technology and I will tell you this: they feel luxuriously plush. The material that Hoka One One uses is amazingly shock absorbing. It almost feels like running on gymnast flooring. Now I am not a skinny runner and I have bad knees. I need shock absorption, especially on long runs. Running down hill? A dream! Switching back to other shoes? Borderline torture on my knees. I love these shoes and they were worth every penny because I don't feel trashed after a long run....or a short run for that matter.
Now, that said, I will give you a few of the negatives
- They run small. I recommend getting a half size or size bigger than your current shoe. I actually had to take my first pair back because they were too small.
- They take a while to break in. I wasn't in love with these shoes the first 2 times I wore them. There was a definite break in period. My feet felt a little caged at first (they don't anymore).
- The toe box is a little narrow in my opinion. I wish it was wider (yeah, I guess I am saying I wish these giant shoes were even bigger).
- You take a little bit of an ego hit wearing them. You don't look a runner in these things....you look like your going to go mall walking. You are going to get looks from other runners like, "What are you running in? Amateur!" When I wore Newtons I felt considerably cooler. Shoot, when I wore Nikes I felt a lot cooler.