Your feet carry you thousands of miles during your training. You demand a lot from them…they have to navigate the uneven half-lit terrain during your 5:30 AM interval workout on the trail near the lagoon. They faithfully pulled you to a half-marathon PR last summer. And of course how can you forget their dedicated performance at Ironman Arizona a few years back when they weathered the tough 140.6 that the desert dished out and brought you through they finish so you could hear Mike Reilly shout, “You are an Ironman.” With all the camaraderie and loyalty your running buddies have provided you, don’t you think it is only fitting they get the perfect fit? Here are the top three shoe brands the Tri world has to offer your fearless fliers. So time to read up, grab a pair of socks and take one of these new kicks for a spin. After all, fall Ironman season is just around a corner, and you my friend have some distance to put in.
Zoot, formerly known as a “race day brand,” has brought its A game to the table and is now taking the Tri and running world by storm by providing everyday trainers that give the athlete’s foot stability, cushion and flexibility while encouraging a natural running form without a zero drop or extreme sole. Shying away from riding the waning trend of the “minimalist revolution,” this true-to-form line has continued to bring endurance athletes one of the most reliable and comfortable trainers in the industry so that when toe meets starting line, the question isn’t “How fast am I going to race?” but instead, “How much faster am I going to race?” According to new GM of Zoot, Erik Vervloet, “Zoot has never been a brand to chase fake technology or trend. Instead holding themselves to the standards that Ali’i drive demands. For thirty years Zoot has done one thing…innovative solutions for the most demanding endurance athletes. While our bread and butter has always been race day, we are very excited to bring running shoes for the other six days that end in ‘y.’ Whether you are going long and slow or tempo and track, Zoot makes the perfect shoe for you. Light, fast, comfortable and cushioned. What else could you want?” This company gets kudos from me for paying attention to detail when it comes shoe fit and comfort. Who wants to feel 500 stitches barricading their way into your foot when you force on a racer after you get off a hundred mile plus bike through the sweltering lava fields of Kona? Barefit technology allows the athlete to say goodbye to annoying foot chafing and instead allows total freedom from bothersome and bulking stitching. Move over Princess and the Pea…there is a new comfort revolution taking place! And with models ranging from $110-$150 as compared to $150-$175 for most trainers in their category, you racing budget gets a little breathing room.
Newton, known as the shoe that “supports a natural running motion,” might intrigue those of you who are attracted to a minimal drop shoe. This type of shoe is designed to encourage and support your body in it’s natural running form. The biomechanical sensor plate in the shoe means less padding is required and allows for an interaction between the foot and ground. When the foot makes contact with the ground, it sends a signal to the brain which signals back to the muscles to perform. Bottom line…less stuff means a more innate running pattern will take place. A great feature of this line is that every shoe accommodates orthodics. Another cool feature of the brand that is named after the man who laid the foundation for classical mechanics, is that all the outsoles and laces are built with recycled materials. Now that is something Sir Isaac himself would be proud of. Gold stars for going green Newton! Buying a pair of Newton’s will cost a little more. With models ranging from $149-$175, you might want to ride your bike to work instead of driving to save your pennies. But if you are a mechanical stickler, then it is worth the extra pedal power!
Hoka One One is the new kid on the block. And with a name like that you think a lot of bullying might be in store for the newbie. Well, sticks and stones might break bones, but the oversized running shoe from down under will be laughing all the way to the bank. The brand combats the minimalist approach, and in fact has chosen to run in the opposite direction by constructing a shoe that is “oversized.” The Hoka One One is the Humvee bad-to-the-bone version of running shoes. Super-size me baby! That is exactly what the designers did when they created a trainer that has 2.5 times more midsole than other leading running shoes. What does this equate to? How about a 30% softer mid-sole than other shoes. With all this super-sizing going on you are probably thinking that although the Hokas offer stellar off-road capabilities and make you feel like a warrior of the road with that extra cushioning, they must weigh what the mighty military four-wheel drives do. You my friend are mistaken. How the geniuses were able to create a shoe that is this size but yet remains 15% lighter than it’s rivals is beyond me. All I know is according to multisport icon Paul Huddle, “I haven’t been able to run back-to-back days or gone past 1-hour in about 5-years. Since putting these on, I’ve done both. I got to run 1:50 a couple of weeks ago with my wife and am actually considering an attempt on Boston qualifying. When running has been the backbone of your endurance life and then taken away, it feels like such a gift to have been granted a few extra ‘real’ runs.” Scott Tinley, World Ironman Champion even says, “Generally, I think the Hoka is a great addition to any athlete’s closet and for those of OBR (old beat-up runner) who want to eek out a few more miles before the GFLS (Great Finish Line in the Sky), they are heaven-sent.” The goal of the shoe is to create a softer running “ride,” allow for more traction and a better running posture with the build of the shoe. So if you want to add one of the mightiest members of the industry to your training fleet, I say run, don’t walk, to Nytro and pick up a Hoka One One. With all the extra miles you will be able to run in these, who knows, your new nickname might be “commander.”
So there is the skinny on all the good stuff that these stellar companies have going on. After all your feet do for you shouldn’t it be all about the shoes? Happy training!