What’s On My Feet?
In addition to constantly experimenting with new gear, I’m also beginning to build quite a lengthly list of different shoes either currently in use or formerly in use. Below are the shoes I’m currently rotating through, as well as shoes I’ve warn in the past!
Altra One-Squared 2.5– I’d been wanting to lace these shoes up for quite a while and finally broke down and bought a pair (7/25/15). The wide toe box in the Altra line has yet to do me wrong, and these shoes have thus far been wonderful. They are incredibly light, to the point that I would see them as a racing flat, but they seem to hold up quite well. Others have complained about the lacing causing the upper to pinch but I haven’t found this to be the case, and the fit is almost glove-like. I’ve been very impressed thus far.
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2– This trail shoe is built on the same last as the Clifton, but adds some increased lugging and a more rubberized sole. It is otherwise identical in fit, and the 2.0 adds some additional width in the toe box that the initial Challenger and Clifton lacked. The result is a responsive, well-cushioned, mildly aggressive trail shoe. I won’t take this out on technical trails, but it does well on many of the more tame local trails, and works well as a hybrid shoe on the roads as well.
Altra Paradigm– These shoes are Altra’s initial answer to Hoka and they certainly deliver on cushioning. The same foot-shaped toe box and comfort held true for this style, although the ride is considerably firmer than Huaka, which took me a bit by surprise at first. Now that I’ve broken them in a bit, I’m enjoying the firmer ride. The added cushion still lessens the strain on my feet and legs, and I am able to enjoy the wide toe box, which fits my feet better than any other brand!
Montrail Fluidflex– This shoe guided me through the second half of my 24-hour adventure in Arizona. Since that race, I’ve been addicted to the fit and feel of this shoe. It manages to be both incredibly light and still offer support, a soft but structured ride, and durability. It’s probably the ultimate hybrid shoe, and has become my go-to shoe for just about any occasion. The all mesh upper drains really well, but has been a bit chilly through the winter snow. The next pair (or the now updated Fluidflex 2) will no doubt be arriving at home shortly. **update- the Fluidflex 2 proved to be just as spectacular and these shoes will be staying in my arsenal for the foreseeable future! *** update 2- I’ve given the Fluidflex ST a whirl, and am enjoying them as well, although the added stiffness that comes with a slight stability shoe isn’t quite as flexible and comfortable as the Fluidflex, so I’ll be returning to the original once I’ve put the ST’s through their paces.
Altra Lone Peak 1.5/2.0- I was looking for a light-weight trail shoe, and the countless positive reviews left me eager to give the Lone Peak a spin. The shoe has not disappointed, and have given me some great trail miles, including some lovely Lake Superior solo miles, and an enjoyable 50K in Nebraska. The tread holds up well on single-track and tackles roots and rocks well. The upper is light-weight but durable, and the wide toe-box is all the more comfortable when hitting the trail. I’m a fan of the bright red color, and the velcro patch for gaiters on the heel is a nice touch.
*Update- I’ve retired the 1.5 and have added the 2.0 to my trail-running arsenal. The updates they made are quite welcomed, as the shoe offers a bit more cushion, while still being an amazingly comfortable and capable ride on even the toughest trails that the east coast has to offer. Thank you to Altra for a wonderful update!
Montrail Mountain Masochist– The proved to be a great choice for my 50-mile trail race. They are a lighter trail shoe with a strong sole, and the mild pronation control I need to keep my stride in check!
Salomon XR Crossmax Guidance CS– I picked these up as an added pair of trail and winter running shoes. They do a decent job of helping with pronation control, and are fairly comfortable. They seem a bit narrow in the toebox, and a more rigid overall, especially compared to the Mountain Masochist. The quicklace system takes some time to get used to, and in my experience, it isn’t actually any quicker than regular races. I also love the all-weather protection and water-resistance, which is great for winter running.
Merrell Road Glove– I am not currently running in these shoes but rather wearing them for daily use. The transition was pretty easy and I’ve really enjoyed the fit and feel. I bought them with the hope of strengthening my legs a bit through a more forefoot stride, and they seem to have given me some of that strengthening as well.
Altra Provision 1.5– I loved the Lone Peak and decided to give the Provision 1.5 a try. The original Provision was a bit lacking in cushion for my taste, and left me feeling too much of the road. The 1.5 adds some cushion and a bit more support, while keeping the same great, wide toe box and lightweight design. It comes with a wedge you can put in for extra stability. I originally thought I’d need it, but found the fit much better in a more neutral position. My main issues with the 1.5 is the smooth tread, which offers about as little grip as any shoe I’ve run in recently. I’ll opt for something with a bit more tread in wet or snowy conditions, but this shoe does offer a comfortable zero-drop ride.
Hoka One One Clifton– Once I ran the Huaka’s into the ground, I thought it was time to give the Clifton a try. They are about an ounce lighter, and the midsole material makes them a bit softer. The upper is thinner and more breathable, and they came with a traditional lacing system, as opposed to the locklace system of my previous Hokas. I broke them in on a 28-miler, and it only took about 5 miles before these shoes were feeling comfortable and I could barely tell I had them on. I’ll be excited to see how they hold up on longer distances and over time.
Hoka One One Huaka– These shoes have ended up being more of what I envisioned in the Hoka experience. They are much lighter thanks to some new midsole material, while still offering the same maximalist feel. They are firmer than other Hokas, but still offer a comfortable ride, and the soles of my feet are just as comfortable at the end of a long run. I still need to give the Clifton a try, but for right now, these are holding strong in my arsenal of long trainers, while also possessing the speed for a 10K or a 1/2 marathon. ** update- these proved to be fantastic long-haul trainers, and I logged 635 miles on them before more-or-less retiring them.
Hoka One One Stinson Evo Trail– This is my first foray into the cult of Hoka that has been sweeping the ultra-running community. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the durability of these shoes, despite reading complaints about the soles breaking down quickly. I’ve managed to log several hundred miles on them with minimal wear, and the comfort is definitely as reported. You truly feel like you are running on pillows, and the soles of my feet have never felt better at the end of a long run, ranging from 10 miles to 100K (Backroads 100K). However, the weight (approx. 10.5 ounces, size 12) seems to be a bit much for me, especially considering my love for the Fluidflex. Additionally, I haven’t acquired the confidence to take these shoes out on more technical trails without fear of twisting an ankle due to the higher stack height. I’ll most likely be trying out a few of Hoka’s more recent and lighter offerings.
Mizuno Sayonora– After they retired the Wave Elixir, Mizuno replaced them with the Sayonora. These shoes utilize a new foam in the sole, but the same wave plate design. They have the added bonus of being even lighter (7.9 ounces) than the Elixir, and have less of a heel-to-toe drop (10 mm). I broke these in with my first official back-to-back marathons (after a few training runs) and they are amazingly comfortable, and hold up incredibly well for shorter speed work all the way up to marathon-distance runs.
Mizuno Wave Musha 4- After searching for a lightweight shoe for speed work and shorter distances, I settled on the Musha. The 9mm heal-to-toe drop still provides a bit of cushioning, and they are wider in the toe box than some other racing shoes I tried on, which was a plus for me. They provide a bit of stability to account for my over-pronation as well. The stock laces don’t stay as snug when laced up as I would like, so I’ve replaced them with speed laces.
Mizuno Elixir 7/8- These are my everyday training shoes, and I love them. They provide excellent support, along with accommodating my mild pronation. I just put over 700 miles on a pair of these before I finally started to feel them breaking down! I went through several pairs, and Mizuno has recently retired them so I’ll probably find some on clearance, but they are sadly being retired from my rotation as well.
Mizuno Wave Ascend– I picked these trail shoes up at Marathon Sports in Boston, and ran in them for my first 40-mile trail race at Clinton Lake in Kansas. They held up really well, and were extremely comfortable. Having run in other trail shoes since, I can recognize that they are actually a bit heavier than I like. In addition, the padding means I am not able to feel the trail under food nearly as much as I would like. However, they are still a solid choice for runners who are looking for a comfortable ride out on the trails!
Northface Single Track
Mizuno Elixir 6
Pearl Izumi Syncrofloat III
Brooks Ghost 3