As Metzler points out, a runner's preference for cushioning will vary; one person may gravitate towards shoes like the Paradigm or Bondi while another finds the Saucony Virrata or Pearl Izumi N1 to be right at home. He writes, "Our advice? Take it all with a bit of moderation, visit your local running specialty shop and take time to find out what's right for you."
HOKA BONDI 3 / SAUCONY VIRRATA 2 / PEARL IZUMI N1
As Peter Larson (the Runblogger) points out in a recent post, Hoka is introducing lots of new models into the marketplace (the Challenger, Constant, Odyssey, Valor, and Vanquish). The company is obviously striking as the iron is hot right now, but is there a point where complete market saturation takes place? As Peter puts it, "One of my worries after seeing these new Hoka models (namely the Odyssey, Valor, and Vanquish) is that they are pumping out a lot of shoes without much differentiation between them."
Unlike Vibram and the frenzy surrounding barefoot shoes a few years ago, I have the impression that shoes with lots of cushioning from the likes of Hoka and other companies will continue for the foreseeable future. Time will tell though. Speaking of Vibram, the company recently introduced a new shoe that incorporates a touch of EVA foam to add a touch of cushioning under the feet.
I suppose this new shoe from Vibram brings me full circle. This shoe, though it has very little cushioning, will continue to be the preferred choice for many runners; others will buy models from Hoka and Altra. For the rest of us, there's a plethora of brands to choose from. Cushion is king as it protects us from the force of impact and makes for happy running. Long live the king.
How much cushioning do you look for in a running shoe? Do you gauge it by weight, the advice of a fellow runner, personal research from a website, or a shoe expert from a specialty running store? Is it a combination of sources?