Adapted review at Fitness Rocks:
People can generally be classified into three groupings where Hokas are concerned – the lovers, the haters, and the curious.
Hoka One One is the brainchild of two gravity sports enthusiasts Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud. They identified fatigue, impact and muscle strain as the main challenges facing runners on a daily basis and designed a shoe that would help to alleviate these problems.
The result was the Hoka One One brand.
“The word Hoka is derived from the ancient Maori language and roughly translates to ‘now it is time to fly’. That’s just how it feels to run in a pair of Hoka One One shoes; with each and every step your foot takes flight.”
At first glance they do appear to be the antithesis to the growing minimalist movement. However, with only a 4mm drop from heel to toe, they have more in common than you might think with a lot of the minimalist shoes currently on the market.
- They are, most definitely, a conversation starter
- They attract subtle glances and not so subtle stares
- They are quite unique
Aesthetically the colour scheme, although generally bold, is not the stand out point. That honour is reserved for the sole, and what a sole it is. A relative asked when platforms came back in to fashion and, in all fairness to them, there is a similarity!
The sole makes use of a 50% rockering profile to encourage an efficient foot strike through to push off. With up to 2.5x the volume of EVA in the midsole in comparison to standard running shoes, all of the Hokas offer outstanding impact absorption. The shoes have a bucket seat design, with the foot sitting recessed into the midsole by 20mm to 30mm. This provides for optimum foot stabilisation. Finally, the sole is some 35% wider, resulting in enhanced foot stability.
I can almost guarantee that you will be surprised the first time you pick up a Hoka shoe. They are ridiculously light (320 grams), far lighter than they look!
I have found that I needed to alter my running style fractionally, especially when running on rocky, rooty terrain. I found this out the hard way on my first outing in my Hoka Mafates when I really did ‘learn to fly’. That one incident aside, I have had positive experiences in my Hokas.
It’s true that you do lose an element of feeling for the terrain and this is no more evident than when returning to minimalist running shoes. However, this trade off comes with a promising plus side – those same roots and rocks that would otherwise be felt at each and every mile of your run are simply brushed aside. For those who like ultra distance running, it is those same roots and rocks that can make every single step feel like walking on glass by the time you reach the later stages of a race.
With this in mind, you can see why Hokas are steadily increasing in popularity amongst ultra runners, including ultra legends like Karl Meltzer and Dave Mackey.
I received a pair of this years Hoka Stinson Evo on the wednesday, took them out for a very quick 5 mile ‘spin’ on the Thursday and, on the strength of that, decided to ‘break them in’ at a 33 mile race on the Saturday. That probably is as daft as it sounds!
However, 33 miles later I was less sore than normal, had no blistering whatsoever and had taken 23 minutes off of my course PB from the previous year.
On the strength of that performance, the Hoka Stinson Evo is going to play a big part in my running this season and will likely be my shoe of choice for my remaining 6 ultras in 2012, including my first attempt at the 95 mile West Highland Way Race.
I usually run in minimalist shoes and will likely continue to do so on shorter runs. However, when it comes to those long slow runs for training and on race day itself, it will be ‘time to fly’.
Up until a certain book about the Tarahumara, the idea of barefoot running seemed ridiculous to most people and the concept of minimalist running has now been taken on board by all of the major companies. As such, who can tell what ‘the norm’ will be in future years.
The only thing to do is to put your preconceptions aside and to try them out for yourself. A quick Google search on Hoka unearths a huge debate (again, the lovers, the haters, and the curious) but you have to wonder just how many of the haters have actually tried out the shoes.
- Reduction in muscle fatigue and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
- Comfortable fit (appears to have been refined further in 2012 models)
- Price – Hokas will set you back over £100. However, they should not need to replaced as much as normal trainers and, as such, this should be factored in to any evaluation of the cost
- Aesthetics – The ‘platform’ sole and colourschemes are not to everyone’s tastes, but then that’s like, for example, buying a particular car because “it’s a nice blue colour!”