28th March 2016 - Hoka "Vanquish 2" Review
For those of you that know me, you’ll know that I’m a firm believer in barefoot style running and the majority of my running over the last ten years has been in either racing flats, Inov-8’s or Vibram Five Fingers. There was even a time when I used to do all my track sessions barefoot.
But in the last few years, I’ve started suffering with calf and achilles pain after almost every run, culminating in two achilles “failures” during both of my Ironman triathlons.
So, I was looking for a solution – the holy grail of injured runners – running pain free.
So after three years of laughing at them on the shelves in The Endurance Store, and owning nearly as many trainers as Marc Laithwaite has podium places, I finally decided to take the plunge and pay actual money for a pair of Hoka “clown shoes”.
I had to try on four different road varieties (please don’t ask me to repeat their names) before finding a pair that fitted my particular foot shape and were really comfortable, and as a bonus, they were in my opinion the least looking “clown shoes” of all the Hokas.
So, initial thoughts - there’s more cushioning in the removable insoles than there is on the bottom of some of my more usual trainers and I half expected them to feel like I was running on a pair of finest down pillows, but this turned out not to be the case. My first run was a hilly twelve mile road run and what can I say – they were firm and surprisingly responsive in a way that belies their looks. There was also no discomfort during the run and surprisingly, no aches, niggles or pains in the following few days. It was like I hadn’t been running.
One thing I remember Richard Bardon from The Endurance Store saying was that when wearing Hokas, you’d be smiling when you got to the bottom of a hill and he wasn’t wrong. They really come into their own when pounding down a hill (unless you’re no longer upright, in which case, they’re not much use anyway).
Still being somewhat sceptical, I decided to wear them a few days later at the Liverpool Half Marathon. My intention was to treat Liverpool as an easy Zone 2 training run, but after the first couple of miles, which felt surprisingly easy, I upped the pace and kept going to the end. I’d like to say I was happy with a comfortably run 1:33, but the happy part came in the following couple of days. Yes there was some minor DOMS in the quads, but my calves and achilles – no aches niggles or pain.
So in the last 4 weeks, my “clown shoes” have clocked up well over 60 miles and guess what, still no calf or achilles pain and I’d go as far to say that I’m now a fully-fledged Hoka convert.
Over and out.