Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hoka Stinson Evo First Impressions

I've had my new Hoka Stinson Evo shoes for about a week now. Three runs, about 14 miles total. Not enough time or miles to truly judge their merit or worth. But enough time to have a few first impressions:

Highly cushioned

Highly cushioned
Narrow toebox
Thin tongue

For a shoe that costs around $170, I expect more. First off, the sizes run short.  I normally wear size US13 and needed a 14 in the Hokas. Even with the size 14, they are a bit narrow in the toebox area. I prefer a wider forefoot that allows my toes to splay. Also, these suckers are behemoths--mine weigh 14.3 ounces each. That's almost TWICE the weight of my other shoes! If you try to bend them, they will fight back. They are not flexible shoes. Imagine running in a cast on top of a pillow. Rigid, but cushy. The cushioning is what I wanted, and it's a double-edged sword.  Because this shoe was so much cushioning, plus a slightly elevated heel (about 5-6 mm), you are allowed to heel strike.  When I pick up the pace, I am almost encouraged to overstride and heel strike. That's caused some knee issues for me. Even when I focus on short steps, there's a slight wobbly sensation. If I tighten the shoe for a more secure fit, then I have top of foot pain because the tongue and laces dig into my foot. I bought the shoe as a potential 100-mile savior.  I figured they might be perfect for my upcoming (April 2013) Umstead 100 mile attempt. On a crushed limestone trail, my feet might get beat up pretty good in more minimalist shoes. The Hokas may still fit the bill as an ultra shoe, but right now, they don't work for even short runs. I'll keep trying to work on correct running form and see if the Hokas feel better after the "get to know you" period has passed. I'm not optimistic, but after the large investment, I want to try...and hope.


Jake Wyatt said...

Hello Chris:

I've had quite similar experiences with that particular model of Hoka. The sizing and fit are indeed a bit weird (although, from what I've read on other blogs, the Stinson Evo may actually be better than most of the prior models).

I too have had challenges in figuring out exactly how to run in Hokas, and I didn't get the feel for them right away. The first run I did in them was 2 miles on flat pavement, and I was sore in weird places the next day.

But the next run I did was hilly and rocky, and they seemed to excel on that terrain (particularly compared to shoes like the Inov-8 F-Lite 195, which can leave my feet feeling bruised and beaten up from rocky trails, no matter how "lightly" I run).

It's taken a bit of time but I can now use the shoes for less extreme runs (like groomed crushed gravel walking paths) but not feel like they're throwing off my form too much.

Of course, just because a person could run in them more often it's necessarily a good idea. You may be on to something when you say they're more of an "ultra shoe" than they are for training (unless your training goes really long, and you feel particularly trashed after those long training runs). I think they do spare a person's feet and joints some wear and tear, but maybe those benefits only really show themselves after a few hours on the feet.

Perhaps Hoka's Bondi Speed is more of a daily trainer shoe?

Chris said...

Good feedback Jake. I haven't given up on the Hokas yet. I'll keep inserting them into my shoe rotation and they may eventually work for me. At some point, I hope they will be my long distance training and racing shoe.

Chris said...

Note to 2013 Hoka is bringing out two new models--one trail, one road--that are designed to be lighter and less cushioned for racing and faster paced training. Not sure if they'll fill any niche that I need. I'm still hoping these darn Stinson Evos work out for me before April 2013 and the Umstead 100 mile race!

jeff said...

Don't sell them to anyone until I say I don't want to buy them. my 12.5's are good but I think 14's might work for me, my son or my brother.

The altra shoe does seems to be the best shoe for you.

Chris said...

I am still hanging in there with the new shoes, but I'll keep you in mind if I give up and want these out of my house.