Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oh, How I Love My Hokas!

If you don't know what Hokas are, you're probably not alone. It's a brand of running shoe that, when most people first see it, they think, "There's no way I'd wear that!" They're not pretty. They look big and bulky and goofy as all get out. Then, if someone does make it past the less-than-appealing look of the shoe, the $170 price tag is normally enough to quell any hint of desire to try them out.

But, oh what you'll be missing if you don't bite the bullet and get a pair of these. I just retired my first pair of the Hoka One One, Evo Stinson model and I absolutely love it! In fact, unless they drastically change the shoe sometime in the future, I doubt I'll ever run in any other brand.

I was convinced to try out this odd looking shoe by a friend who runs a lot of marathons and ultras. It wasn't long after the shoe I'd been running in was discontinued and replaced with a newer version. Once that shoe was no longer available, I couldn't seem to find a suitable replacement. Granted, I only tried a couple of pairs, but sampling running shoes gets really expensive really quickly. On a group run one Saturday, I noticed my friend wearing a very different looking shoe and asked about them. He told me they were like, "running on marshmallows."

My problem with the shoes I'd tried before was there just wasn't enough padding. Even on my 6 mile daily runs, my feet felt like they were being battered by the time I finished. The balls of my feet hurt. My heels hurt. Pretty much both my entire feet throbbed in pain, even after short runs in the new shoes. It was like there was nothing between the soles of my feet and the road. It was while I ran in those two experimental pair of replacement shoes that I ended up with a major knee injury too, one that I had no other explanation for other than the shoes I was wearing. I was to the point that I had to try something drastic, and took the plunge and spent the money on my first pair of Hokas.

On my first run in the Evo Stinson's I could tell they were different. In my notes on that run I wrote, "Awesome run in new shoes, Hokas. Lower legs feel much better." Later that week after a 15 mile run on hills I noted, "Loving these Hokas!" My friend's description of the how it felt to run in these shoes was accurate. It really did feel like I was running on marshmallows. And it wasn't just my feet that felt better.

As long as I'd been back at running, I was always sore after a run of any distance. I remember one day, my principal asked me, "What's wrong with you? You're limping." I told him, "I'm old. I'm fat, and I run. I'm going to limp. It was like that every day. After a good run, my legs were sore. My knees were sore. My ankles were sore, and I hobbled around such that it made people think I was injured or crippled. The funny thing was, I thought it was normal. And it was normal for me, in the shoes I was wearing at the time. But it was different in the Hokas.

It was one of the first things I noticed, that my legs weren't sore after runs. Not even after long, hard runs were they sore. It was such a different experience, I could hardly believe it. I thought I was doomed forever to feel pain and soreness after I ran. But these shoes took that away. I was running as hard as ever and I was no longer hurting. It was amazing!

Some of you might be thinking, "Yeah. But they still cost a fortune." Okay. They are pretty expensive as running shoes go. But these fantastic shoes even overcome that obstacle too! You see, I was only getting between 400-440 miles out of a pair of shoes before, at best. I was told by my friend that Hokas were supposed to last a lot longer. I was leery of that assumption, mainly because I weigh in at 225 pounds. My friend, and most runners, are more in the 150-170 range. I was convinced that my heavier body would break down any shoe faster than my lighter weight running colleagues. I made my first run in the Hokas on January 22, and made my last run in them on July 4. During that time, I never ran in another pair of shoes, neither another brand nor another pair of Hokas. In that span, I logged 723 miles on that single pair of Hokas.

The shoes I wore before, the ones that didn't injure me, listed for $145. At best, like I said before, I could get 440 miles out of those shoes. That translates to an average cost of $0.33 per mile for shoes. With the 723 miles the $170 Hokas gave me, my cost per mile for shoes is $0.24. So, even though the upfront cost for the shoe is significantly greater, the additional mileage yielded by the Hokas actually saved me about 25% of the cost per mile for shoes.

If you've read here long, you know I'm not a scientific runner. I don't get into the engineering of a shoe, or understand the intricacies of the foot. So I can't do a shoe review that's spiced with scientific jargon. I have heard people discussing Hokas and talking about heel-to-toe drop, or midfoot strike vs. heel strike, but I really don't know much about all that. All I know is I want a shoe that can give me comfort and value, the best combination of those two things I can find. My first pair of Hoka Evo Stinsons seems to be that shoe.

I can't promise the same results for you. I have read comments on Facebook by people who claim Hokas just didn't work for them. I'm not paid to write this post. I don't represent anyone associated with the company who makes the shoes or anyone who sells them. I write this solely based on my experience with the shoe and only as an informative post for other runners who want an honest opinion about the Hoka Evo Stinson. I do suggest though, if you're having trouble finding a running shoe that you can get a lot of miles out of and that doesn't let you run without pain in your joints and legs, try a pair of Hokas.

So, if you see me on the road, on the trails, or at a race, and you glance down at my feet, you'll see them dressed in a pair of Hokas. I LOVE these shoes!

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