"Run uphill as though wings are carrying you, fly down and still want to keep on going and going, all in one smooth, instictive action..."
After months of sitting on the fence and watching my peers become infatuated with Hoka One One shoes, I finally gave in and bought myself a pair. Admittedly the $80 deal on Mafates through The Clymb had a lot to do with it but I was eager to try them out. Finally, they showed up and onto my feet they went.
"What the hell have you got on your feet?" and "Mom, what is that squeaking noise?" were the startled comments from hubby and boys. Okay, okay - I'll admit that they look like something Michael Jackson may have worn doing the moonwalk and they squeak like crazy walking around on tiled floors but boy are they are squishy! Sort of like sinking into a memory foam mattress.
Problem is, they might be wonderfully soft and squishy but they really don't fit my rigid, narrow, high arch feet. My feet simply flounder around in them and no amount of experimentation with lacing techniques seems to snug them sufficiently mid-foot without cutting off circulation. My heel pulls out of the collar with every step and the rigid material of the tongue cuts into my foot. I even sized down a half-size because I felt that the volume of the shoe might be a problem. Hmmm.
I took them out on the trails and I totally agree that they are not cumbersome and clumsy as they may appear. They are beautifully light and I simply didn't feel rocks under my mid-forefoot. But my feet got very warm in them (perhaps because they are the water proof version), my heel pulling out of them was annoying and my knees and hips ached like crazy. 10 miles felt like 20.
Yesterday, I took them out on the trails again. This time I ran a 6 mile loop in my Brooks Cascadias and then switched to the Mafates. In the Cascadias, I felt every rock; I did not feel them in the Mafates. Admittedly the Cascadias have way too many miles on them and are pretty much done. But I had the same experience with the Mafates that I had the weekend before - unpleasantly warm feet, rubbing from my heel pulling out of them (thank goodness for Hydropel) and I was strangely tired with aching knees. I switched back to the Cascadias for loop 3 and immediately noticed the difference in cushioning but they fit my feet like gloves and the knee pain went away.
Thinking about it, running in the super soft Mafates is like running on a Bosu ball. HAve you ever tried one legged squats or hops on a Bosu? You wobble like crazy and it's not pretty to watch. That's how I feel running in the Mafates. My foot is never stable in the shoe so I'm constantly engaging stabilizer muscles in the lower body to maintain balance. I think that's why I feel so darn worn out after just a few miles. The Cascadias fit me so well that I barely notice them on my feet, while I'm constantly aware of the Mafates.
Am I discounting the Mafates? No, I'm eager to try them late in a long race, perhaps at Javelina Jundred in November when my feet are swollen and tired. Perhaps then I'll really appreciate the cushioning but for now, I'm ordering more Cascadias.