I have been running for more than seven years now, and a lot of that time I have spent dealing with injuries, primarily those related to feet, legs and back.
When I started running I went out and bought a pair of Asics 21XX series, and then saw a podiatrist for my first real injury, that being an issue with a Morton’s Nueroma in my foot. The podiatrist confirmed the Asics were a good match for my running style so I kept wearing them for a few years, until I moved into the very similar New Balance 76X series, which I preferred to the Asics as I could run a marathon in them straight out of the box, whereas the Asics needed about 100km of wearing in.
As I started to ramp up the distance and ventured into ultras, my injuries also increased, with a serious calf tear, ongoing hamstring issues as well as lower back problems surfacing.
About this time last year I heard of a new shoe brand called Hoka OneOne that was being hailed by some ultra runners as a fantastic shoe for very long runs and trails. A little bit of research found the brand’s website, ahowever my first impression wasn’t great. Hoka’s main point of difference is they have a very thick sole, so at first glance they do look a little odd.
One other problem I was experiencing on trail ultra runs was that the soles of my feet would get very sore after about 25 miles after the constant impact of jagged rocks and pebbles through the shoe.
Despite the look I thought it would be worth giving the Hokas a try. The first run was certainly different with the impact being much softer than normal. I likened it to running on marshmallows.
I am now on my seventh pair of Hokas, and have not run in normal running shoes since. Since starting in the Hokas I have experienced the following benefits:
· My leg soreness the day after a run is much less, in fact just about non existent
· I have been reasonably injury free
· My soles no longer hurt during ultra trail runs
Another thing that has happened in the last 12 months is many of my friends have gone from laughing at my Hokas, to buying their own. Almost to a man, they are all Hoka converts. One running friend used to have major Planter Faciitis issues, so much so that he would keep the bulk of his training to running on grass. Since changing to Hokas he is running all his runs on the road, been able to ramp up the miles, and hasn’t had one Planter issue. And he is by no means the only one that has seen significant advantages.
So if Hokas can benefit experienced ultra runners, why wouldn’t they potentially do the same for beginner runners? People just starting out with running often experience injuries such as shin splints, problems with knees and the like. My view is that Hoka’s lower impact (its cushioning dissipates up to 80 percent of the shock) may well help new runners prevent many of the injuries that can crop up.
One thing with Hokas is they are not cheap, however I do find I can get more miles out of each pair than traditional shoe models, so the additional cost is counteracted somewhat.
I would love to hear reviews of Hokas by those who have worn them when they started their running journey.