Short answer: They're called Hokas.
Long answer: Several months ago, my beloved Brooks Cascadia 6 shoes passed away after faithfully serving for almost a full year...
I remember being repulsed by their abysmal colors at first. Silly to care, I know, but as unprecedentedly drawn as I am to certain color combinations, my senses can be just as deeply offended by others.
As the months passed, I learned to see through the Brooks' turquoise and neon-lime-yellow exterior. Their roomy fit was a kind yet unassuming embrace. Their tread gave generously until self-sacrifice rendered it, in part, imperceptible. They were exceptionally breathable, dried fast, and had reinforcement in all the right spots (and not in any of the wrong spots).
Best of all about the Brooks is that not only the packaging but the shoe itself has some greenness to it. It's made largely of materials designed to quickly biodegrade when the time comes. I appreciate the entire chunk of their website devoted to promoting this aspect of their design and company, and I'll probably buy from them again sometime because of it if they continue to improve.
Unfortunately, after several months, a nagging discomfort in the right mid/forefoot became increasingly evident. Even after some time off and a summer of greatly reduced miles, it was immediately present as soon as I hit the trail.
This went on for most of the year and I was never sure what to do about it, so I ignored it. It did the same to me, and eventually worsened.
At long last, I ended up trying Hoka One One shoes. These have a low heel-toe differential while also being massively cushioned. This was the only shoe on the planet that I could find that has cushioning AND a low differential. (If anyone knows of any others, please, pretty please, contact me through the Comments below!)
|These shoes....are....HUGE. Scout took this pic, incidentally highlighting just how huge they are.|
I've been alternating two pairs of Hoka Mafate 2, in two different sizes (long and unimportant story...) one with Powerstep insoles, one without, just to see if anything happens, both in terms of toe destruction and insole affect. Nothing has yet. Neither fits very well; both seem to chomp on the toes and nails a good bit. I am not a big insoles person, by the way, but I get these ones for free and they take up some room, so I don't mind them. Plus they are part of my "train your feet to be able to run in anything" philosophy.
The tread is extremely aggressive and at first I thought it was too much. I changed my mind though. It's pretty great.
|They are unhideable, even with overly-long jeans...|
I don't think I stumble or twist ankles any more often than those who I run with (though now that I've said this, I'm sure my downfall will be all the more tumultuous). People ask about this a lot since the soles are just so huge. Not only are they tall, they're also wide and bulky-looking. Their lightweight is all the more shocking.
|Look at the pretty ice crysta---- ZOMG ITZ A HOKA!!! AAAH!|
The company's motto, "time to fly", is apt. These shoes feel hungry to run trails. They are marketed as minimalist shoes and, though they certainly aren't traditional minimalist shoes, they really are, in their own right.
I have yet to warm up to their awful colors: bright teal and white. I admit to missing that relatively, well, tame Brooks color scheme. And don't get me started on the weird profile. They are ridiculous looking and everyone comments on them (mostly gasping and pointing). Runners and non-runners do it. In fact, now, when I meet someone and they don't comment on them, I am sure they are just trying to be polite...!
Once the questions stop, they're a delight in which to run. I hope the company keeps working on the design, because they got a lot of stuff right. They've got an impeccable launch and landing.
|"Should we tell her we don't want to be seen in public with those?"|
And while I usually don't give a fuck about the appearance, I do wish the shoes were invisible. Surely that is not too much to ask. Otherwise, I dig them. They're not for everyone, but no shoe is.
~3.06 mile run
~Night, alone, hills, cold. Sidewalks mostly. 26 ish degrees.
~Hokas, pants, LS shirt, grid fleece LS shirt, beanie, MJ gloves, scarf. Why am I so cold? Was outside/cold for a few hours beforehand actually..