Friday, April 19, 2013

Maximalism

Hoka One One shoes like mine, from the Hoka website
There's been a lot of talk about minimalism in the past couple years. Running shoes are a changing, some piecemeal, some radically. The 2009 book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, seems to have been the catalyst. I absolutely loved that book. I thought the minimalism information was fascinating, but the storytelling was even better.

In some ways, I've been a minimalist from day one. I never carry a cellphone, a water bottle or anything else that I can get by without. I wear as little clothing as I can legally get away with. I don't even have a working GPS device. I try to run from home rather than drive to a run whenever possible - this even though my nearby running routes are devoid of large parks, trails or tracks.

And I do like light shoes; I've been experimenting with a couple different models. I'm generally fine with the minimalist movement, so long as we don't go too far over the crazy-cliff. Some cushioning is a good thing, I say.

But in other ways, I'm at the other end of the spectrum. Even though I'm reevaluating this, I generally prefer high mileage to the alternative. I run as many group runs and races as possible. And I wear Hoka One One shoes.

The Hokas certainly look like the opposite of minimalist shoes. There is an enormous amount of volume in the midsole. They're simply huge! The heel to toe drop, however, is four millimeters, the same as for many of the 'barely there' models. And they're relatively light in weight. This always comes to a surprise to anyone trying them on.

Even though I've got nearly 400 miles on my Hoka One One Stinson Evo's, as far as I'm concerned, the jury's still out on them. I don't wear them every day, but when I do, I have the sense that my body doesn't take quite the beating as it does for shoes of less cushioning. I'm not even entirely sure about this point, however. When I wore them for the Buckeye Woods 50K, as well as several training runs before and after that, I appeared to wind up with knee problems as a result. There was a suggestion that I try wearing an orthotic with them, and I've been doing this for the past couple weeks. This does appear to be helping to stabilize them, and my knee is better, but as a result, the shoes have taken on more weight. So instead of being bulky but light, they're bulky and heavy. Bottom line: ask me in another couple hundred miles.

Other ways in which I'm more maximalist and minimalist can be illustrated by some of the things I've been heard to say from time to time:

"Give me all the carbs that you removed from that low-carb meal"
"Give me the gluten that you removed from that gluten-free meal"
"Give me all the darkness, heaviness, hoppiness, maltiness, etc., that you removed from that beer in order to make it a 'light beer'"
"Give me the thickness that was removed from that thin pizza crust"

And so on.

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