May 31, 2011

Thank You. Hoka One One

It wasn’t long ago that I was having serious doubts about finishing my ultra racing season. Routine long runs, something I look forward to, were becoming nearly unbearable from the pain in my foot caused by a neuroma. I went to a podiatrist who did to me what western medical professionals do so well – he gave me drugs by shooting me up with cortisone. But the pain didn’t subside. Instead it lingered and seemed to get worse on the tough, rocky trails that I’ve been training and racing on. 

I experimented with several types of shoes, hoping the pain would just go away.  Trail shoes, road shoes, racing flats, anything I could get my hands on.  But nothing seemed to help.  Some shoes made it worse, while others fought off the pain for an hour or two. But inevitably the pain kicked in as soon as I started climbing hills or running on rocky terrain. All I could do was shrug my shoulders in frustration.

Then I tried Hoka One Ones.  A rather unconventionally designed shoe, Hoka midsoles are as much as 2.5 times thicker and 30% softer than the typical trail shoe. With the additional thickness, Hoka’s were designed with a significant rockering (curve) in the soles, help
ing runners to produce a quick turnover. The shoes have a very wide birth with 50% more surface area than other shoes.  Even with the thickness and wide surface these shoes are surprisingly light. My size 11’s weighed in a little over 12 ounces.  

 Just as soon as I started running in Hoka’s the pain from the neuroma simply stopped. I’ve been running and racing in them since April.  With a couple of hundred miles logged in them, including a 50 mile and a 100k race with some significant technical terrain, I’m pretty sure my neuroma is no longer a factor for me. Other than some customary blisters, I walked away from both races without feeling any pain in my foot. I even switched back to a conventional trail shoe to be sure and the neuroma flared up again.

Hokas come in two models with a third to be released very soon. The Mafete, which is designed for trails, is the bulkier and widest of the two. The Bondi, for roads, is a little lighter and has a slightly smaller profile. I’ve been using both on and off the trail with much success. One caution is that I don’t recommend the Bondi for trails.  I took them out on trail one day and rolled my ankle in the first several steps. A final note for Hoka neophytes—be sure to order at least a half size larger than you typical shoe size.

A third model, the Stetson, is due to be released in a matter of weeks and shares the Bondi light upper section and the Mafate wider footprint. My order has been in for a few weeks and my feet are getting anxious.

Thank you Hoka One One.  I don’t think I would be running and racing ultras without you.


it's all about pace said...

and they look hip too... =:-) glad to hear that you are running pain free

Unknown said...

Just wanted to endorse your comments too Will. HOKA Sponsor me here in Aus, and I just love these shoes. Pain free running, and most importantly they make running trails even more fun. I just love smashing the downhills :) I've not had any blister issues with mine or black toenails, which may be the shoes or perhaps the socks. The HOKA-Drymax trail combo works for me, having done a harsh 100km trail 2 weeks ago with no gear changes for the first time ever in an ultra.

Another benefit of the HOKA is that people talk about your shoes rather than commenting on the unpleasant aroma associated with running for 12 hours!

Will Cooper said...

Andy, now that I've found my shoes, I'm searching for the right sock. I'll look into the drymax. thanks for the comments guys.

Anne said...

That is fantastic! I'm all for the right shoe versus a cortisone injection...those are brutal on the body! REally happy for you...and they look pretty cool too :)

Rachel said...

interesting to read your experience with the hokas. my store hasn't brought them in yet, but my coworker, also an ultra runner, tested some out recently and loved them. i'm not sure what to make of them yet, but if they work and let you run pain-free then that's all the matters!

EricG said...

I will definitely look into these Will, thanks. Regarding socks, I have tried many brands and now, I get all my socks from Drymax and love them (its the only brand I wear). There are many variations but my race day socks are either the Max Pro or Max Pro Trail (Maximum Protection). Peace E

Will Cooper said...

I'll take better shoes over cortisone shots any day. I can't believe I even have the other shoe seemed to help!

Will Cooper said...

the stetsons arrived the other day. ran in them and they are great. not much different than the maffate, just a little less up top and a tread that is less aggressive. running sd 100 in them this weekend.

Unknown said...

I love my Hoka one one too. I have the trail version. I loved them from the start, but was a little worried on technical terrain with them. But ran a full marathon in them two weeks after running my fist 50k trail marathon. Perfect. I doubt I will even use any of my other running shoes now! And I have a lot of other shoes.