Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Open Mouth. Insert Foot...With a BIG Ole Shoe On It!

I'm pretty sure I told quite a few folks The Trak Shak would never carry Hoka One One! Well, I was wrong! I'm a big boy, I can admit when I'm wrong! And you know what? I'm glad I was wrong! Now is the perfect opportunity to give you a little insight as to why we do or do not carry a certain product. Oh, and I can tell you a little about a new and exciting RUNNING brand we hope to have in our shops this week!

Let's be honest here, at first glance Hoka shoes remind people of a certain shoe that promised a nice tooshie and toned calves, i.e. the first reason why we were not going to carry Hoka. NO GIMMICKS! Little did I know, at the time, there is a lot of science, research and, most importantly, running behind the Hoka One One brand. The creators, in fact, dabble in ultra running a bit and wanted improved protection, especially down hill. So, instead of taking the design of a shoe and trying to improve it, they started from scratch and created something totally unique.

Now, when you see someone running down the street in Hoka, you have to take a second glance, which is the second reason we didn't carry the brand for a while. NO FADS! We just got through a trend of people running down the road in sandals, funky looking shoes, and even barefoot, that caused onlookers to rubberneck! We didn't hop onto that train, so we figured we wait a while to make sure this "maximal" movement had a little staying power. When iconic figures like Ken Harkless and Al Dimicco (Leukemia Society and Mercedes Marathon training coaches) put hundreds of miles on a pair of shoes and swear they "saved my running", we have to listen. Besides that, I've heard from many satisfied customers and see more and more of Hoka on the streets. Did we miss some sales? Certainly, but more important, we didn't get anybody hurt or put anybody in "fad" shoes.

OK, done with our No gimmicks, No fads buying philosophy! Here's what you need to know about our exciting new running brand! I'm in my second pair of Hokas right now. I put about 50 miles on a pair of the Stinson Tarmac and currently have about 30 miles on a pair of the Bondi 3, not coincidentally, the two styles we will carry for men and women. The very first question I get about the shoe. Is it heavy? The answer is a surprising NO! The Bondi 3 comes in at 10.3 oz. (8.8 oz. for women) which is highly competitive with other brands and styles. While the differences between the two styles are minimal, I did definitely notice the Stinson is softer, a tad heavier, and has a greater heel to toe drop (6 mm).

Techy stuff! My biggest concern with this type of shoe, is the disconnect a stacked, thick midsole creates between your feet and the surface. The body relies on a certain amount of feedback from sensory nerves endings in your feet to properly support itself while running. I was afraid such sensations would be dulled or numbed. Well, Hoka has two main technologies that address this very issue. First, the Meta-Rocker midsole geometry (pictured above) creates a "guided" gait, which helps your feet take an efficient path from heel to toe. Second, the Active Foot Frame (pictured below) allows the foot to sit down in the midsole, not on top, to create a stable ride.

But the main attraction of the Hoka One One brand is the midsole volume, which can be up to two and a half times the normal midsole height. Traditional running shoes are *24mm in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot, which creates a 12mm offset*. The Stinson Tarmac is 32mm heel and 26mm forefoot. By soaking up all the impact forces generated by running on cement and asphalt, athletes can recover quicker and avoid injury easier!

Who should look at Hoka One One in The Trak Shak? Quite frankly, everybody, especially if you have had chronic knee, shin or hip injuries, are an ultra runner, trail or road, have an issue recovering from long runs or heavy mileage weeks, or need an extra couple of inches to FINALLY dunk a basketball! HA! 

As for my experience in this new brand, I'll admit it again, I was wrong! It took me about 3 weeks to finally put them on my feet, but once I did, the shoes felt pretty good! In fact, my first thought after wearing them for the first time was, "Man, I wish I would have had these on during Statue to Statue!". For those of you who don't know, there are a LOT of hills in Birmingham's Statue to Statue 15K and the downhills are as bad, if not worse than the up! You can ROLL downhill in Hoka without having to worry about snapping a foot! I also was concerned I wouldn't be able to run very fast with that thick of a midsole, but my first few five milers in the Stinson were all under 7 minute pace, so there's that too! Fit wise, I did have to put a different insole in the Bondi to take up some volume. It's just a little wide for my feet! 

Finally, I'll say this! For years, we have been telling folks to find grass or softer surfaces to run on! That is no easy task in our fair city! Problem solved! Throw 36mm's of foam between you and the ground, everything becomes a soft surface!! 

*Fun fact for the day! Stack heights for running shoes happened because EVA (the foam used to build a midsole) only came in 12mm thick sheets, highly noticeable in the pic of my sweet, blue suede Pegasus 83's below! 



Al D. said...

Thanks Jeff. Really an excellent review. I tried all types of shoes, insoles, and supports to try to keep some semblance of running, and had just about given up when I ordered probably the first Hokas in Bham. Although if I say they"saved my running" and somebody sees me run, I'm sure they'll say "what the hell kind of wreck was he before the Hokas?". I am sold on their technology. I frequently get more than 500 miles on them and then transition them to a couple more hundred miles on the trail. Thanks for carrying them. I will always support Trak Shak and I look forward to being one of your first Hoka customers.

Ihearttsephoraa said...

Hi,I am looking for a new running shoe. I currently run in Asics. I am recovering from a recent foot injury which happened in my last 5k my Physical Therapist told me I was an overpronator and needed a shoe whith lots of support. Would this be an appropriate choice? Thanks, wendy

Jeff said...

Ihearttsephoraa, This is really bad to just send this message, but yes, this shoe would be OK for mild to moderate over pornators.