No doubt if you have been trying to find the best pair of running shoes, you have come across the HOKA Brand.
The HOKA brand was established in France in 2009 and is now one of the most popular running shoes in the United States and the world.
The word HOKA literally means to fly, or to soar, and isn't that what all runners want to do?
I have been using and writing on running shoes for a long while now but the level of cushioning that HOKA shoes have is incredible!
In addition to its well-cushioned design, these shoes are exceptionally light weight, absorb shock properly, and have other notable features that ensure that your feet have a smooth ride when you go for either short or long runs, a full or half marathon, or a trail run.
Another huge plus of the HOKA brand running shoes is that they have a wide toe box which is ideal in avoiding toenail problems, bunion formation and in allowing your feet to move in a natural way.
But you have probably noticed that there are a ton of HOKA running shoe options to choose from!
So, on this page, I will be reviewing the best HOKA running shoes for marathon training and racing!
Let's now move on to a more in-depth review of these shoes.
The HOKA One One Clifton 9 is a running shoe built with all the essential features a marathon shoe should have. I tried it out, and I can confidently tell you that it is one of the most supportive and cushioned shoes I have run it.
It is more cushioned than other shoes before it, and this is due to the meta-rocker design that its midsole is made with to save energy on every transition that your feet go through while you run, and a 3 mm foam that is added to its midsole to give you more cushioning than ever.
And as compared to previous versions of HOKA Clifton Shoes, the HOKA Clifton 9 shoe is made with a reformulated CMEVA midsole that gives your feet a smoother ride when you run.
Another notable feature that I noticed while using this running shoe is the reduction in its weight as compared to previous versions.
These shoes are much lighter than their predecessor models, and at a certain point, I almost forgot that I had them on my feet.
Its heel-to-toe drop, which is at 5 mm, reduced the pressure on the bones and joints on my feet and pushed me forward as I ran.
These shoes also do not need breaking into. They fit me comfortably and were easy to run in immediately after I took them out of the box.
In addition, I noticed that the laces and upper support of this shoe stayed firm and intact all through my runs so you won't have to worry about stopping on the way during the marathon run to tie your laces.
HOKA One One Bondi 8 is the definition of cushioning + comfort.
It is built with a high level of cushioning and maintains a maximum level of comfort even after you run in them for a long while.
It is built with a midsole frame that is softer and lighter than the one used in its previous versions.
It is also built with a heel design that makes it absorb shock properly while you run and maintain your stability.
The similarities that this athletic shoe shares with its previous versions are the memory foam collar that makes the shoe fit properly and make your ankle feel better while you run and an opened mesh upper to improve its breathability and prevent your feet from getting soaked up with sweat while you run.
This shoe is also versatile. Aside from how well it helps you perform in a marathon race, it is great for everyday wear and can help you stay on your feet for long hours without feeling any single pain.
It can also help you relieve pain in your knee, hip, and back.
And although they are expensive, they are worth every single penny you spend on them.
If you are looking for a well-cushioned running shoe that can push you forward in a race, then this is another great option that you should consider.
It is built with a PROFLY midsole foam that gives your feet a very soft, cushioned, and responsive feel while you run. This foam also provides a commendable energy return and protection for your feet.
It also features Meta-rocker technology that makes heel-to-toe transitions swift and easy.
In addition, it doesn't need any breaking in, it is comfortable from the first moment you put them on.
Meanwhile, its outsole is made with tough rubber to provide a lot of traction while you run and push you forward in the process. However, in we conditions, the level of traction is reduced.
The breathable upper of this shoe is built with a slightly wider base as compared to its previous versions and runs true to size.
Another standout feature of this shoe is the Anatomical Achilles tab on it. This tab plays the role of reducing the pressure and irritation on your tendon as you run and hence reduces the risk of your feet suffering from Achilles tendinitis. Here's a list of great running shoes if you do suffer from Achilles Tendinitis.)
The HOKA One One Mach 4 isn't just one of the best HOKA shoes but is also one of the shoes that can be rated close to the Saucony endorphin speed footwear.
This lightweight shoe ticks all the boxes of a perfect footwear for neutral runners, so if you are one, endeavor to get one of these, and you will thank me later.
The HOKA One One Clifton 8 is one of the running shoes that impressed me the most when I used it.
It has a high level of cushioning that kept my feet fresh after I went for a long run. It also has some improved features, as compared to its previous versions from recent years.
The midsole foam on it is 15% lighter than the one used on its previous version. However, it is slightly heavier too.
In addition, the foam used on the HOKA One One Clifton 8 has a rocker shape which made my feet undergo heel-to-toe transitions quickly.
This foam also has a density which I confirmed through the feeling on my feet that its softness and firmness are perfectly balanced.
Believe me, the level of cushioning on this foam is more than enough for you to run a full marathon without it compressing too much and giving your feet a tough time while you run.
From the level of comfort to the looks, the upper of this shoe has a very similar structure and features as the HOKA Clinton 7, its previous version.
The features that differentiate them are the extra padding on the tongue of the former, which also made its lacing area more comfortable, and the smoother material used to create its inner lining.
This neutral shoe is also versatile and can be used for daily training sessions, easy runs, and longer runs like marathons and still handle the pressure properly.
The HOKA One One Rincon 3 is a shoe that was built for pace, and this can be seen from the lightweight, and flexible structure that it has.
It is one of the best neutral stability shoes made by the French shoe company.
The Rincon 3 is properly cushioned to give your feet a soft and smooth ride no matter how long you run and is built with a midsole foam that is firmer and softer than the one used in previous Rincon versions.
It has great traction and its outsole is built with more rubber than usual to enhance its coverage and durability.
The mesh upper of the Rincon 3 is lightweight, breathable, and 100% vegan.
The HOKA One One Speedgoat 4 is one of the best trail shoes and was widely accepted by trail runners all over the world, so its latest version was expected to be much better and the HOKA Speedgoat 5 did just that.
It came with much-improved features that made trail runners not miss the previous model.
One of the improvements which were made on this trail racing shoe was in terms of the weight.
There were several complaints by runners on how heavy the Speedgoat 4 was, and HOKA reduced 10% of the weight in this model and also built it with a lighter midsole to make it more responsive and speedier.
Another notable improvement made on this model is on the outsole. The outsole used on this model provides better traction and this is all thanks to the Vibram Megagrip technology which it is built with. The traction that this outsole provides is active on both soft and hard surfaces.
This outsole is also built in a way that you can use them for a long time.
There is also a slight change in the design of the tongue.
With this shoe, you don't have to worry about your toes getting hurt when you hit them on rocks or roots and this is because of the protective toe rand which covers the foot of the shoe.
In addition, it has maximum cushioning and comfort which you will feel once you remove it from the box. It doesn't require any breaking in.
And for extra support and cushioning, it has a removable insole that is well-padded.
If you looking for a good running shoe that can keep your feet stable all through long distances like a marathon race then this is the right shoe for you.
The HOKA Arahi 6 is a combination of maximum cushioning and stability. The reason behind its high level of stability is the J-Frame technology used on its midsole.
This technology moves from your forefoot to your heel area to even the impact that your feet and ankle feel whenever it strikes the ground and also makes your feet feel more firmness from the midsole.
You can identify this technology by the J-like shape that it forms and the difference in its color from the color of other parts of the shoe.
Also, this athletic shoe gives your feet a balanced feeling from the first moment you put it on and has a 5mm toe drop that pushes you forward as you run.
In addition, it has a wide toe box that allows your feet to move freely in it and a light feeling which helps you run in it for long distances without any stress or discomfort.
It has a high amount of cushioning and a thick midsole which is made of the traditional CMVEA midsole foam to give it firmness.
That's not all, it has a meta-rocker midsole technology that makes heel-to-toe transitions smooth and quick while you are running.
Its outsole is made with a high-abrasion rubber material that can withstand both wet and dry conditions properly.
In terms of appearance, every variation of this shoe has different colors on different areas to give it a very appealing look.
The final shoe we will be reviewing in this article is the HOKA Carbon X 3 — the only running shoe on this list with a full-length carbon plate design.
This shoe was made with a knitted and stretchy upper which is an improvement to the traditional mesh upper used on the Carbon X 2.
Its midsole was also made of a supercritical foam which is also used on running shoes produced by New Balance, Sketchers, and several other shoe companies.
The HOKA One One Carbon X 3 is one of the best road shoes that is fit for a marathon and is a good option you should consider.
Now that we have reviewed some of the best top-quality HOKA shoes which you can use for a marathon race, let's now look at the factors you should bear in mind before you choose one.
HOKA is widely referred to by many as the “King Of Cushioning” and this is due to the remarkable amount of cushioning that each of their shoes has, however, the level of cushioning in these shoes isn't the same.
For example, the HOKA Mach Shoe series is built with a cushioning that is firmer than others and gives your feet a more responsive feel making it better for speed work, while the HOKA Bondi Shoe series are made with extra cushioning in order to reduce the fatigue in your feet when you run for long distances or stand for long shifts.
So, ensure you choose the running shoe with the level of cushioning that you want.
Marathons require you to run for longer distances than usual, so one thing you should make sure you do is to get a great shoe that fits you well to prevent pain, or blistering in your feet while you run, which can distract and frustrate you.
Similar to the case of cushioning, all HOKA running shoes offer great arch support, but the levels of arch support and stability that they offer vary.
For example, HOKA Clinton and Kwana Shoe series are made for neutral runners, so they aren't built with the stability technology called J-Frame, while some other HOKA shoes, such as HOKA Gaviota are built with the technology to provide support on the inside of the shoe to prevent your feet from rolling inside while you run and help people with flat feet that are likely to overpronate.
Using shoes that have a low heel-to-toe transition reduces the pressure on your hips and knees on your hips while you run, and hence reduces the risk of you sustaining an injury in these areas while you run.
HOKA shoes usually have a 5 mm drop from its heel to toe, which is lower than the 8 to 10 mm heel-to-toe drop that is required by the footwear industry, so you can choose any of them with the confidence that your heels won't need more distance from your toes than required.
Although HOKA shoes are usually lightweight, some are bulkier than others and this can differ based on models and gender versions.
For example, HOKA men's shoes tend to be heavier than women's versions, and shoes with maximum cushioning tend to be heavier.
HOKA shoes such as Gaviota 4 and Bondi 8 have a maximum cushion and this makes them bulkier than shoes such as Rocket X and Carbon X which are designed and streamlined for picking up the pace and activities that require speed.
So, ensure you check how heavy a shoe is before deciding whether to choose it or not.
Going for long-distance runs in shoes that do not have plenty of cushioning will put your feet at a high risk of suffering from plantar fasciitis and other forms of injuries due to the shoes' inability to adequately absorb shock and the high level of impact that it puts on your feet and protects your feet.
That is why it is wise to use shoes with a high level of cushioning such as HOKA running shoes for such runs.
There are several running shoes in HOKA's shoe collection that are built with the perfect features to help you perform well in a marathon, and in this article, I have reviewed some of them.
The HOKA running shoes I have reviewed in this article might have different styles and some varying features, but they can all give the best results in a marathon race.
To help you make a good choice, I have also highlighted some of the factors you should consider before choosing one.
Hopefully, these factors and reviews will help you choose the HOKA running shoe that suits your feet best so that you can soar!
P.S. If you need a pair of anti-blister running socks then you need to check this list out!
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