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Archive for the ‘Shoes’ Category

Behold, the Hoka One One Conquest:

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You may recall my previous review of a Hoka shoe, the Bondi. At the time, I really loved that shoe.  After a few runs though, I realized I had gotten the wrong size, and even with an insole, it was too loose.  Unfortunate, really, because the max cushioning of the Bondi was fabulous for my achy feet.

The first version of the Bondi had some durability issues, so when the new version came out with a reinforced upper, I was eager to try it.  Although I went down several sizes when trying the Bondi on, I just wasn’t satisfied with the fit.  It was just too wide and felt sloppy on my foot.  So I tried on the Conquest.

The Conquest’s fit is much better for me than the Bondi.  It is relatively narrow (compared to other shoes in Hoka’s line) and has a lightweight, seam-free upper. Under foot it is firmer than the Bondi, but compared to more traditional shoes, the Conquest still has an advantage.  I like the quick-tie laces that come with the shoe, though some might want to cut them off to use the traditional laces for a snugger fit in the heel.

The Conquest has a water-drainage system.  That, combined with the high stack-height of the mid-sole, means running through puddles is no problem.  I love the rocker bottom on the Conquest, just like I liked it on the Bondi.  It helps me to mid-foot strike and therefore increase my turn-over, which is important right now as I’m working on increasing my speed.  The rocker bottom and the max-cushioning also feels great — it protects my toes from bending too much, which means less pain from my bunion and pinched nerve in my second toe (Old Lady alert!).

In the looks department, I think it leaves something to be desired, as do most Hoka’s, but that’s the sacrifice you make for a shoe that feels this good.

Every run I’ve gone on since I’ve gotten the Conquest has been in this shoe, with the exception of one run — it was short and I thought I’d wear another pair that I hadn’t worn in a while.  About a quarter mile down the road I was regretting my decision.  You just can’t get the same feeling from a traditional shoe.

My husband and I signed up for the Healthy Human Race Half Marathon Relay at the end of August, so I’ll be training for a faster 10K time between now and then. The Conquest will definitely be my go-to shoe for the summer training season.

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Review: Hoka One One

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Hoka One One Bondi B

Here’s how I sell Hoka’s at the store: I know they’re ugly, but they are the most comfortable running shoes you will ever wear.  And at mile 20, do you really care how they look?

First things first, what is Hoka One One?  From their website:

Hoka One One was founded by two trail-running adventurers that set out to design road and trail running shoes. While across the running shoe industry, the trend has been towards minimalism and creating lightweight shoes with less cushioning, Hoka One One went a different direction. Taking cues from the “oversized” trend that has surfaced in skiing, golf, tennis and mountain biking, Hoka One One introduced a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind oversized shoe concept in 2010. The goal? To provide a shoe for runners of all levels.

The result? By merging aspects of minimalism and maximalism, Hoka One One has pioneered a patented innovative design, engineering lightweight, nimble shoes utilizing an oversized outsole footprint, maximally cushioned midsoles and active meta-rocker technology. Hoka One One’s loyal customers use words like “weightlessness” and “effortless” to describe running in the shoes, which, counterintuitive as it may seem, are 15% lighter than the average running shoe.

Hoka One One shoes are designed to minimize impact while maximizing comfort, traction and stability and for a relaxed stride. Whether on pavement or trails, runners maximize their speed, efficiency and distance and achieve improved running form and body mechanics.

The first thing to note about any pair of Hoka’s that you try is that they have significantly more cushioning than a traditional running shoe, but they are about 15% lighter.  You wouldn’t guess that by looking at the shoe, but once you try it on, you will definitely be impressed.  I’m not normally one to go for a super cushioned shoe, but once I tried on the Hoka Bondi B, I was hooked.  The first time I took these shoes out, I intended to do a 5 mile run.  On my way back to the car I realized my feet and knees and hips felt great, so I just went for an extra 2 miles.  That’s how great they felt.

The cushioning is firm enough to not make it feel like you are wearing pillows on your feet.  It’s responsive and the meta-rocker bottom helped me do a mid-foot strike and therefore increase my turnover.  The shoe is wide (particularly the BondiB), so it will work great for someone with a wider foot.  The large midsole and wide base controls overpronation but works equally well for someone with a neutral foot.

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Hoka One One Kailua Trail

As for the price, it’s a little more spendy than other traditional running shoes ($170 for the BondiB and $135 for the Kailua), but it’s definitely worth the extra bucks, especially if you’re doing a lot of miles in one go.  Hoka One One was first made popular by ultra endurance runners, but it’s picking up steam in the marathon/half marathon market now.

Bottom line: I would definitely recommend this shoe for anyone looking for more cushioning or for a wider base/toe box.  I will warn you though, once you make the switch to Hoka it is incredibly difficult to go back.

For anyone in the Rochester area, next Thursday at 6pm we will be having a Hoka One One 5K (your $5 registration fee gets you a marked course, food and drink after, and the proceeds will go to a local charity).  Our Hoka rep will be here and you will get the opportunity to try out the shoes for yourself.  We will even be giving away a pair of Hokas to one lucky runner!

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Shopping for a new pair of running shoes can be stressful.  You don’t want to spend $120 on a new pair of shoes only to discover a few weeks later that it isn’t very comfortable on long runs.  As a result of this stress, I notice that some people panic when they are forced with making a decision on a pair of shoes.  “How do I choose?” they ask.  With an array of colors and styles in front of them, they just want someone else to make the decision for them.  I will gladly be the decision maker for an apprehensive customer, but not every sales person will do this.  And what happens if you don’t have the benefit of a footwear specialist to help you?

In this blog post, I will guide you through the shopping process, and hopefully relieve any anxiety you might have about running shoe shopping. (more…)

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Insider Secrets: Shoe size

I’d estimate that 80% of first-time runners wear their shoes too small.

They think that their running shoes should fit the same as their street shoes or dress shoes.  This is not the case.

You should typically buy a running or exercise shoe at least a half size larger than your regular shoe size.  Sometimes you may even need to go up a size or even a size and a half, depending on the brand.

You want to have a good thumb’s width behind the front seam of the shoe.  The reason you need all of this extra room is that as you exercise longer, and especially as the days get warmer, your feet will swell. You want to make sure that the shoe is just as comfortable at mile 3 as it was when you first put it on.  A shoe that is too short will mean that your toes will be butting up against the front of the shoe, causing blood to pool under your toe nails, which is why some runners will loose their toe nails when they train for long distances.

A proper fitting shoe will make all the difference.

Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what size you need.  You may even find that your feet “grow” over time.  My feet have grown a whole size since I started running.  As you age, your feet may grow (due to gravity and falling arches).  If you give birth, your feet will typically grow a half size with each child.

So do yourself a favor and buy a larger size next time.  No one will know that you wear a size 10 now except for you.

(Just for an example, I wear a size 8 in a dress shoe.  In a running shoe I wear a 9.  In some models I have to wear a 9.5.  I learned my lesson the hard way).

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My muddy running shoes, post-run

Every day at my job I see different types of people looking for running shoes.  Some of these people aren’t very serious about running, and just want something cute.  Others are just getting started and don’t really know what to do.  Still others are very serious runners, who know exactly what they want (and have been running a lot longer than me).  But my biggest pet peeve is when people complain about the color of the shoes: “I wish they were black.  These are going to look really dirty.”

I hate to tell you this, folks, but if you are worried about whether or not your running shoes get dirty, you are in the wrong sport.

You see, for me, and I suspect a lot of other runners, a really muddy or dirty running shoe is a badge of honor.  It indicates that you are a “serious” runner (whatever that means)– that you are more worried about the distances you go and your splits than about whether or not your clothes match*.  When your shoes are at the end of their life**, they should look like they’ve been through hell and back,  not like they’ve  just come out of the box.

So please, stop worrying about what your shoes look like, and start worrying about where they’ve taken you.

* Don’t get me wrong, I care deeply about whether or not I look cute when I go out for a run, but it’s not my only concern.

** For the love of God people, please, please, please replace your shoes more frequently.  A running shoe should last 300-500 miles, if you’re only wearing it for running.  If you are 120 pounds and you only run 10 miles a week, and don’t wear your shoes for anything else, you are looking at a maximum of 1 year.  If you weigh 250 pounds, and run the same amount of miles, your shoes should last you no longer than 7-8 months.  Anyone else, do the math.  But please, replace your shoes frequently.  If you are wearing a stability shoe, this is even more important.  The dual-density foam in the stabilizing part of the shoe doesn’t break down as fast as the rest of the shoe, so over time, you end up with a much larger medial post compared to the rest of the shoe than when you started.  This can mean you are over-correcting and can lead to injury.

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