Running. With Hoka.


You don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself…No no no no…

That’s Fink playing “Looking too Closely“. (Always too closely.)  I’m running on the Mianus River Park trail and the lyrics trigger moments two Saturday’s back.

I grab the shoe off the shelf and wait for help. She’s serving another customer but sees me lurking. She offers up a warm smile and lip syncs: One Minute. She’s 5 feet flat, silver hair, middle aged and a wisp. Or that’s what memory seems to draw. “Kim”, I think.

My expectations for national retailers couldn’t be lower. Less than zero. Salespeople uninformed, unhelpful. Inventory stocks, a slow intravenous drip via IV – on life support.  Size unavailable. Width unavailable. Color unavailable. Brand unavailable. 15% higher priced. Because of me and Amazon Prime,  and my need for it now, right NOW, they fall. Sports Authority. Blockbuster Video. Circuit City. Brookstone. Waldenbooks. Barnes & Noble. Borders. Gone.

Yet, this retail store is Alien in today’s landscape. It starts at the entrance. From the cool feel of the aluminum door handle on the wood grain door to the greeting you receive as you enter – a retail sanctuary. Can I help you? And they actually help…

Hi. Can I try this shoe in a size 12?

She glances down at my shoes.

“No no no no”

She’s telling me: No no no no?!? Really?

“You have a wide foot. And high arches. That shoe won’t work.”

She’s called it exactly right, both times, in a flicker, a 1.5 second glance.

“Are you sure that you’re a 12? Are your toes bumping against the toe cap? Let’s measure your foot.”

Man thing. Couldn’t acknowledge that she’s right and I’m stupid. Tippy toes are purple, bruised, and have been slamming into the toe cap. Damn! She’s right again. Zeke flashes up. Submissive. Rolling on his side. I’m all yours now Dad. All yours.

“Your shoe is 1/2 size too small. Let’s try these Hoka’s.”

Hoka? Come on. This Brand Man rides Asics, New Balance, Nike, Saucony and maybe Salomon. Hookah? Hoka? Really.

“I’ve never heard of Hookah.”

“It’s Hoe-ka. Please try them on, and let me know what you think.”

I slide them on. Unorthodox-Ortho looking beasts with thick white soles. Shoes that Nurses, on their feet all day, would wear to cushion the footfalls. Or, me, 20 years forward, walking around the old folks home, pausing for a breather, admiring the color of the falling leaves – face raised to the Sun, warming. These boats are Heavy, long lasting, trying to impress no one. I couldn’t be caught dead wearing these.

“I’ve had 20 consecutive pairs and won’t wear anything else.”

“You’ve had 20 pairs? Really?”

20 pairs. That could be 7-8 years, same brand.

I walk out slinging a Hoka box under my arm.

Roll forward two weeks. I’m back on the track on Mianus Trail listening to Fink. The shoes cushion the blows from jagged rocks and roots. We’re floating along on a magic carpet ride – surfing on clouds.

Kimmmmeeeeeeeee! How great are you!

Hoka cushioned.

Air cooled.

Shop REI.






  1. Leave it to the barely 5′-ed, silver hair woman…wise beyond our heights…😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Was surfing Zappos when this post hit my inbox, DK. Nodded my head in agreement as I read. My Mecca is ‘Runners Alley’ — friendly, informed, available. Happy trails!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The perfect fit. What a great find. What took you so long? (What takes us all so long? ) ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really hope Judy gets to see this.
    A hooka is a water pipe for smoking tobacco, FYI.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. REI is the exception. Enjoy the comfortable ride my friend. It will bring more smiles to your face than mere branding 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. David, unsure why, but I love this post…you took me with you to REI…now if I can get my husband to try on some Hookahs…he ISaid a COH…..creature of habit.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi David, my husband is a podiatrist and we will recommend the Hoka One One to many of our patients. They are a great shoe if they work for you. They are not for everyone so it is great to try them out in the house before you take them for a run. My husband loves his! It is so wonderful when you find a shoes that feels great! Happy running 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A sign of age, as we decide that comfort is more important than “the look” ha! Difficult to roll over and let go at times, but it’s how we move forward and accept change. 🙏🏻 Great post 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Back in New England for the first time since 2007, I visited a SHOE STORE. A small SHOE STORE. I had my shoes FITTED to my FEET. (Sorry, but all this blew my mind.) Wanted boots, something chic to wear to Europe. Something that wouldn’t hurt my feet walking. Had to concede defeat and go for the clunky Merrills. Light hikers. But you know, many miles later – no pain. Seems I needed a bigger toe box. Who knew? As for the box stores, well – some of that they deserved. The service was declining rapidly. Always out of anything ‘I’ wanted, anyhow. And Borders, well, they deserved something – wouldn’t ever carry anything by local authors (NOT me, NOT on a personal rampage). They had their List. I do miss good bookstores, however – yearn for them, actually. I suspect they will return one day. Aloha, David. Enjoy your new shoes! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. a shoe witch and a powerful and wise one. she was your savior that day.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Or, me, 20 years forward, walking around the old folks home, pausing for a breather, admiring the color of the falling leaves – face raised to the Sun, warming.” Yep, you’re ready. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wispy, and oh so wise. Your ‘confession’ made me smile. Great writing, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love my Hokas (Bondi). On my 6th or 7th pair now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Run Fly Business Life Blog says:

    Late to the party here but glad you tried on the Hokas! I’ve put some serious miles on my many pairs of Hokas and love them. They are one of my go to brands. Great ride and lightweight.

    Happy running!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: