I’m going to be honest: I haven’t been working out regularly. I had a baby in early 2018 and scheduling time to hit the gym (or even run outside) has been a challenge. That said, a cool 17 months later, squeezing in a sweat sesh is the head-clearing activity I miss the most. So I mapped out a plan with my spouse: Sometime between wakeup for my toddler (which is 5:30 a.m.) and the time we leave for work, my husband would cover so I could fit in a 15-minute run.
It’s not a lot, I know. But a handful of times a week, it seems worthwhile. And it’s enough for me to clock a solid mile or so.
While wearing my New Balance running shoes—which are a few years old now, TBH—I’ve been hovering right around a 13-minute and 20-second per mile time, according to my beloved the Nike Running Club app. Pre-pregnancy, I was hitting a 12-minute and 40-second per mile stride. I know, it’s not great, but I’m a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of person. That is, until I was introduced to the Hoka ONE ONE running sneaker.
I heard about the Clifton 6 and was curious. The promises for runners were vast. For one thing, the sneakers come with maximum cushioning and minimal weight—meaning they’re designed to offer durable and protective support without compromising your performance or speed. They also come with specially engineered midsoles that help drive you forward as you pound the pavement. The exact wording used was that they help everyday runners “defy gravity.” Yeah, I knew I had to try these out.
I put the sneakers to the test one night after work. My morning hadn’t gone as planned, so I bartered bedtime duties with my husband and was out the door for my 15 minutes, just as dusk was settling in. As I laced up the sneakers, I was instantly impressed by the cushioning. The thickness of the soles made it feel like I was standing on a springboard of tiny, well-constructed pillows. I’m not sure if this is what Hoka ONE ONE means by “strategic high abrasion rubber zones to reduce weight,” but I definitely had a bit of a bounce in my step. I queued up my Nike app and took off.
Credit the weather or my energy that day, but I was in disbelief: My pace improved. It was a cool, crisp night in Brooklyn. As I ran through my neighborhood and down one block to the next, I felt lighter. I also had a sense of being both stable and grounded as I rounded corners. In other words, I felt like I had both grip and traction that made my footing feel stronger and my ankles anchored and secure. Plus, the pitch of the sneaker gave me the perception of being propelled off the earth—a feature that had a serious impact on my stride. At the end of my 15 minutes, I checked the app. My per mile pace had gone down 67 seconds. I had just run a 12-minute, 13-second mile, a major win even for my pre-pregnancy self. And this wasn’t a one-time thing: I hit a similar pace when I ran in the Hokas on two more runs that week.
I love these cool shoes—and how they built up my confidence. I’ve never been one to skimp on workout gear. The Clifton 6 is $130, which is on the higher end, but not totally out there for something that tends to get a lot of wear and tear. However, it does go to show that sneaker tech has come a long way. Not only did I achieve an improved stride when I wore the Hoka ONE ONE, my new sneakers made me feel more empowered to get back in shape. I may even increase my run time to 20 minutes per morning, assuming my morning routine—and my toddler—allows it.