Right, first off I need to explain what’s going on with the blog. I’ve got a bit behind, and that’s stopped me putting new stuff on because it’s wouldn’t be in chronological order. And then I woke up and realised that it doesn’t bloody matter! So, here’s some new stuff, and I’ll fill in the gaps in what I’ve been up to over the last couple of months as time allows.
But today, here, and now, I shall waffle on about my new Clown/Moon/Spice Girl* shoes (* delete as applicable) – Hoka One One Stinson Trail.
What the hell are they?!
They’re shoes. Obviously.
Think of them like a pair of low-drop (4mm) fairly minimal shoes, with a ruddy great lump of EVA foam stuck to the bottom of them.
OK. So why?
Well, coming on for a year ago now I entered a running event called Endure 24. I fancied a challenge, and as a solo runner my main goal is to stay alive while making my way around a 5 mile loop in Berkshire for 24 hours. Yes, yes, I know. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Anyway, that’s in 3 weeks now. It was the first ultra event I entered, but I’ve managed 2 “official” ultras and at least 3 “ultra distance” training runs since I originally entered. I ran the 48 miles of the Green Man Ultra in March this year, the last stage of the Jurassic Coast Challenge in March as well, and the 60 miles over 2 days of XNRG Pony Express last month (May), as well as randomly running from home to Winchester (47 odd miles) just to get a ride home on a train.
For most of these events I’ve run in Salomon SpeedCross 3’s which are fantastic trail shoes. They grip through soggy mud like nobody’s business and give supreme confidence as you run around moderately technical trails. They do offer quite a bit of cushioning, but after a few hours you can start to feel every stone you go over, and my heels can become a little worn out.
So, I thought I’d get some Hoka’s to give my feet a lovely cuddle in the latter stages of a long run like Endure 24. The plan is to run in something less cushioned for 40-50 miles, then change over to the Hoka’s to do the rest.
If you look at the sizing guide for Hokas they tell you to put your foot against a wall on top of piece of paper, mark out the furthest extent of your toe and then read off a chart to get your size. I duly did as instructed, and got told I was a UK Size 9. Which is odd, because all my shoes range from size 10 to 11, with most of my running shoes being 10.5.
I phoned up Keith – the guy who runs the Ultramarathon Running Store – and we had a chat about shoe sizing. He suggested that I stick with my usual UK 10.5 because the Hoka sizing guide around the UK 9 mark isn’t really reliable. It made sense too – my feet are very wide so I guess I have to up my size a little in order to cater for that, which means foot length isn’t a great indicator for me.
I ordered the shoes (they’ve got 10% off at the moment) on Friday, and they turned up today (Monday). A quick try on and walk around the house showed that they were about as good a fit as I could expect – nothing rubbed, my feet didn’t move around in the shoes. The only thing to do was to get out for run.
My first Hoka run
So I did 11 miles of mainly off-road trails around where I live. I took the pace easy – I’m planning a long run on Friday and this was just supposed to be a try out of the shoes.
Right from the start I loved them. Running up the road feels like you’re running on cushions. My feel rolled from front to back and my usual mid-to-forefoot running style felt very natural. I was a little worried about stability (as I have a history of going over on one of my ankles), so once I got to a rougher off-road section I deliberately tried to wobble the shoes around as I ran, catching angled ruts etc. They felt quite a bit more stable than my Brooks Vapor road shoes and as I’m happy with those then I’m very happy with the Hokas.
Every transition from soft to hard ground brought back that cushion feeling, and it was really nice to run on. After about 6 or so miles I did notice what felt like a few hot spots on my toes – sort of running along the tops of my middle toes – but having got home and had a look there’s no blisters or signs of anything odd there. When I do long runs I use PTFE power in my socks and run in Injinji socks so hopefully that won’t be an issue.
There’s not really anything negative to say about them so far other than they do some a little wider than normal shoes at the very base and running down some very narrow ruts meant my foot kept catching, but I couldn’t say for definite that it would have been any easier in SpeedCross 3’s.
I love ’em! I’m planning on running in circles for 12 hours on Friday, and they’ll be waiting in the boot of the car ready to give my feet a cuddle after 30 or so miles. I’ll let you know how I get on after that.