Knowing my competitive nature, I had a long mental chat with myself before heading out on my run and formulated the plan (albeit with resistance) to go slow and not push the pace so I can get to 100% soon and put in the 24 mile run that is calling.
As I headed out, Garmin on my wrist to keep me honest, I noticed my heart rate very high and breathing a bit off. Colds are not fun so I listened to my body and slowed down a bit more. About 1/2 mile into my run I was on the dirt road leading to my favorite running trails and was feeling somewhat good, pushing a very conservative 8:30 minute/mile. With every step, my Hoka's felt more and more comfortable. This was their maiden voyage on dirt and while the Bondi B's are not known to be a trail shoe, I was certainly enjoying the exceptional grip and cushioning on the dirt.
Once I hit single track, I had the opportunity to test the Hoka's out more on loose dirt and jagged rocks. I hunted for rocks to step on with each step and was absolutely amazed at what I was feeling. I could hardly detect some rocks underneath my feet as the Hoka soles were absorbing them. This was definitely a huge benefit. Unfortunately, because of my cold, I could not venture onto my favorite trail which includes about 1300 feet of vertical on single track in 2.5 miles; however, I was able to get in some good jagged singletrack to give the Hoka's my first test.
Climbing was effortless and while I have heard of others kicking rocks with their toes due to the increased sole thickness, I had absolutely no issues with this. The real fun began when I descended. I can see why so many athletes who wear Hoka's gleam about their downhill comfort. I can attest that it made going downhill a pure joy. My typical style of running downhill is similar to a rabbit where I bounce along the trail, avoiding obstacles. What I noticed wearing the Hoka's were two things: 1) I was still as nimble with these shoes on and 2) I didn't have to avoid as many obstacles since the shoe absorbed so much of the shock. I also had no ankle stability issues with the shoes.
Of course, the real reason I am testing these shoes is to see what their effect is on my chronic Achilles tendonitis. I almost forgot to include my thoughts in this blog because my Achilles pain was almost non-existent on this run! Granted it was a shorter run, 7.5 miles, but it included hills and whenever I run hills, my Achilles becomes more aggravated. As I started this trail run, my Achilles pain was at about a 4 (scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst) and throughout the run, it never increased. In fact, it went down to about a 2-3 most times. Another pleasant surprise I should say.
And, similar to my first test run in the Hoka's last week, when I returned home and took the shoes off, I had ZERO pain in my Achilles. After any trail run, I would always come home hobbling around for a few hours afterwards but with the Hoka's...nothing! A breath of fresh air for my Achilles for sure!
I still have my 24 miler waiting for me and I will attempt it early next week when I am a bit more over this cold. Not a good thing doing this distance when you are not close to 100%. I tried that at Leadville one year and let's just say that it was less than favorable!
Stay tuned for the next long run check in...