Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hoka Hope!

Hoka One One, but I will just
keep calling them Hoka Hope.
It's amazing to me how I can go from feeling stronger than ever as a runner just a few weeks ago, to feeling weak and undertrained as a result of three weekends of long runs with some excruciating knee pain and stiffness (ITBS! iliotibal band friction syndrome). Not to mention the PF issues—yow! Just last weekend I was in agony at mile 10, and not wanting to let my run buddy down or cave on the 17 miler, I pushed thru. I found myself with one focus: to run thru this pain for 7 miles and get to the other side. I found pride in my moments on the other side, but every downhill turned up the volume again. One thing is for sure, I can not quit or sit idle with no resolution. I know, I know, running thru the pain is completely stupid. So time to resolve it and keep going.

Today I am excited to report a ray of hope. Besides all the feet, ankle and knee exercises I am doing daily—and the foam roller treatments I am screaming thru—I stumbled upon a fantastic running shoe called Hoka One One pronounced Hoka O-nay O-nay. I think the name is better described as Hoka Hope because that is just what they are giving me. Thank you to my running guardian angel. I know it's a little much, but I am grateful. Plus, if Marshall Ulrich can recommend these, then let me learn from one of the greats.

This amazing shoe is the opposite of minimalist in my opinion. It may be all the rage to run in less support, but right now, I need more. Less is sometimes, just LESS. Sure they are big and people compare them to clown shoes, but if they came in red, I'd buy them and strut like the happiest clown in town! After testing them all week, I ran 15 miles today—pain free/swelling free and felt like I could keep going.They really do deplete the impact, strain, and muscle fatigue. These shoes have a larger than normal wide-based bottom so rocking isn't an issue, plenty of toe room, and are made with a lightweight thick foam for cushion to keep them lighter in weight than most running shoes. Bottom line: they absorb shock without the weight. That is exactly what I need right now since the downhill is kill'n me. The foot actually sits a little lower in the shoe and not on top of the foam stack for stability and I am using a SuperFeet insole for more stability since I pronate. I have yet to try these on trail, but when I switched back to my favorite Sauconys they felt like I was wearing cardboard. I could feel every kernel under my feet.
What these might look like in RED.

The shoe company claims these wear longer around 500 miles, so the price should be worth it—time will tell.

I am sure I will keep experimenting with what will give me the best run in these, but I finally feel like my last two races in October are doable and that I can continue to rebuild and strengthen my weaknesses.

Weekend Update: Holy Hoka! 

Since writing this post a week ago, I ran a 21 miler in them today. I felt a little tension in my lower leg by the end, but no horrifying or debilitating pain or stiffness like I was experiencing before. This challenging run was made more difficult by going it alone, and it has been the longest distance since the flare up during the North Country Run 4 weeks ago and the two painful long runs that followed. 

A couple great things occurred today. Besides meeting this abandoned sun bleached flamingo on the side of a county road, I ran a negative split for the first time in a long run of 20 miles! I wasn't even trying. I have to consider that it may have had something to do with the first 10 miles of listening and kicking back to the Another Mother Runner Podcasts and music on the second 10 miles.

Then at mile 20, where I had already given myself permission to walk the last mile or part of it, I just kept going. At the risk of sounding like a freak, I am just going to be honest and say I past the cemetery as I hit 20 miles and saw the 1 mile stretch home. Every hair on my neck stood up and I had a tingling from my neck down through my spine. It's a beautiful moment when victory is right in front of you and you can take that last one as a glory mile. Who knows what other presence was right there tapping in? I NEEDED that last mile for mental armor and to give thanks.

Grateful that I found my Focused Drive.

Race Update! 

I ran the GR Metro marathon in these Hoka Bondi Bs. Although I read not to expect to PR in these shoes in a road race, I managed to run a PR just fine. I am no speed queen, but having legs that take a little less pounding worked in my favor. I ran without any ITBS issues. I credit both these shoes and the Train Like a Mother Own it Plan (which I just ran the miles in the last month and a half due to ITBS) to the PR. 

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