The Hoka Mafate looks a little odd. In fact, that’s a lie.. it looks VERY odd. The size of the cushioned sole and the bright colours will be the reason why many people will never try this shoe, let alone purchase a pair. It’s looks will potentially be the biggest stumbling block at point of sale.. and that is a real shame, because this shoe is well worth your attention.
You may think that the amount of cushioning means this shoe is as far from bare foot as you can possibly get. I’ve heard plenty of comments regarding Hoka shoes and how they are going against the bare foot trend but this couldn’t be more untrue. The Hoka has only a 4mm differential (drop from heel to forefoot – see previous barefoot running post to read more), making this a real forefoot running shoe. In fact, it has the lowest differential of all shoes in the store! I recently ran in a trial pair and was immediately struck bow how much I naturally moved onto my forefoot and refrained from heel striking.
Bare Foot V Minimalist
One of the problems which exists is how to define a ‘bare foot shoe’. A low differential (4mm Mafate) is key for enabling runners to land on their forefoot and reap the associated benefits, the problem is that many shoes attain the low differential by reducing the amount of cushioning in the sole of the shoe. In simple terms, most barefoot / forefoot shoes have no cushioning and whilst they encourage a more natural run style, the impact damage caused whilst running long distance can be severe. I noticed a significant reduction in ‘soreness’ following long runs in the Mafate, compared to my other shoes. This difference in ‘soreness’ can only be attributed to reduced muscle impact damage, by lessening the pounding.
One look at the Mafate often generates one common response.. you’ll twist your ankle as soon as you run on rough terrain! Having ran in them, this isn’t the case. I wouldn’t choose them for rocky fell races, but that’s not why they were designed. The shoe is so soft that as you run on uneven surfaces, the sole moulds around stones and rocks and ‘smooths out’ the terrain, therby making them pretty stable. On long, hard packed trails, there would not be any issues whatsoever with stability.
This is where the fun really starts.. whilst they would not be the shoe of choice on very rocky fell races, downhill on relatively good trails are an absolute pleasure. The heel has huge amounts of cushioning, coupled with a rocker which rolls you forwards onto the forefoot following the heel strike. There is no harsh braking, no slapping feet on even the steepest tracks and no painful jarring through the legs and knees. The shoes are massively quicker than normal footwear in this situation, a fact which I have proved recently running with friends who found the ease and speed with which I ran downhill almost laughable.
If you can get past the look of these shoes, they really are worth a try. If you suffer impact related problems in the knees and hips which prevent you doing longer runs, they are definitely worth a try! Call in the shop to try them on the treadmill and check your running technique: www.theendurancestore.com
The check out the Mafate go here: http://www.theendurancestore.com/section.php/151/1/hoka-trail-shoes
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