The Average Mark Shoe Review
Hi, I’m Mark, and I run. Does that make me a runner? Yes! Does that make me an elite runner? Far from it. I’m just an average Mark doing average things. I’ve never qualified for Boston and or racked up triple digit kills at a Ragnar Relay. The only thing I have going for me is that I am incredibly good looking and persistent. One of those statements is true, I’ll let the reader decide. So, if you’re an average Joe, Jane, or Mark like me then you might enjoy my shoe reviews simply because they are from the perspective of the tortoise, not the hare!
I’ve never done shoe reviews before, and the last thing I need is to sound just like every other shoe review out there. I also don’t need to talk about things that only podiatrists and people with dictionaries know about, like lateral and medial sides. I’m going to use Average Mark language for this review.
Hoka One One Mach
There are two kinds of shoes in this world: running shoes and shoes that are not running shoes. When I buy shoes that are not running shoes I buy size 10 ½, except when I buy Chucks because Chucks don’t come in half sizes. It has also been a long time since I have bought anything but running shoes. That being said, when I buy a running shoe I reach for size 11. This has to do with needing a little extra room for those long runs when my feet heat up. This has nothing to do with the amount of hair on my feet, by the way, and is probably more closely related my feet being angry at putting so much work in. The Mach runs a bit long. The size 11 was too big for me, but the 10 ½ gave me the fit that I’m used to.
Don’t call my feet fat (unless you are calling them phat), but I often find when I put on a new pair of shoes that I have to loosen up the laces quite a bit. This is probably more due to my phat feet than the shoe, and the Mach was no exception. I had to loosen the laces so much it was hard to get my double knot in. That being said, after a few runs it seems there is more shoe lace available. So either Hoka invented a shoe lace that grows over time, or the shoe is loosening up as I use it more. I personally think it’s the former but many of you may suspect the latter. Take your pick.
I have average Mark toes, unless you ask my wife who thinks the callus on my big toes is disgusting. Personally think it is beautiful, the result of miles and miles of hard work. But that’s not the point. The point is that I don’t have long toes and I don’t have either fat or phat toes. Just regular toes that don’t like blisters and do like having lots of room in the toe box. The Mach didn’t disappoint. I have lots of room to wiggle my toes and I don’t feel cramped at all.
The drop on the Mach is deceiving. When you look at any Hoka it looks like you are standing on a platform so large that goldfish could be swimming in it. However, when I put them on I wasn’t an extra 4 inches taller. The feeling wasn’t awkward at all, and the 5mm drop is just enough to keep my Achilles tendon happy. I personally enjoy shoes with lower drops, but they tend to aggravate my Achilles tendon. Speaking of Achilles, every time I read the Iliad I root for Hector when he duels Achilles. The outcome never changes. I wonder why. In any case, my Achilles tendon feels great in the Mach.
I’ve taken the Mach out on several runs now. It doesn’t take long for me to decide that I like a shoe, and I loved the Mach from the first step. The Mach definitely passes what I call, “The Smile Test.” This is the test where about a mile or so into your run you find that your cheeks are hurting and you wonder why. Upon further examination (and remember it takes you a while to think about things when you are running because the oxygen just isn’t getting to your brain. I often try to do complex math proofs when I run, but I never complete them), your cheeks are hurting because you are smiling while you are running. The smile test means that you are like a kid that just put on a new pair of shoes at the department store (where my mom took me to buy them when I was a kid) and ran around the store because new shoes make you faster. You’re enjoying the run and not thinking about your feet. The endorphins are moving and you are happy. That’s the smile test. The Mach passed it with flying colors.
One thing I always look for when I run is ground feel. It sounds stupid doesn’t it? I don’t really know how to explain it other than this: I want to feel the ground under me while I run. I first discovered ground feel when I put on a pair of Pear Izumi N0’s. Nothing says feeling the ground like wearing a racing flat. Unfortunately flats aren’t the best thing to wear (for me, anyway) when you are putting in lots of miles at tortoise pace. But I do like to feel the ground! And getting a little cushion doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice feeling the ground. The Mach delivered in this aspect. I felt the ground under my wonderfully (or hideously, depending on your point of view) callused feet and enjoyed the run.
The Mach is responsive as well. This might be more mental, but it felt at times that the sole of the shoe would spring back to shape as I ran, propelling me forward. This became especially helpful as I got tired and my form started to fade. It was a little extra oomph to get me to the end of my run.
The Mach has a slightly wider platform on the sole than I am used to. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, I’m just not used to it. In fact I was surprised that I could still feel the ground through the wider platform. I’ve heard that the wide platform is helpful to those who need a support shoe, but I’d ask your shoe consultant about that. I just run, if you can call it running. Some people might call it more of a bouncy walk.
After run feel
Sometimes the bad parts about a shoe don’t show up until after the run, when you wonder why your foot hurts or you suddenly have a rash that looks like Gorbachev’s birthmark your foot. Now, the rash could most likely be explained by your behavior at the staff party where your co-workers kept buying you drinks and you don’t remember anything after somebody yelling “Platypus!” But sore feet could be attributed to the shoes.
Bottom line, my feet felt fine after running in the Hoka Mach.
I’m not going to give a fancy point or star rating. I’m simply going to compare the shoe to a song, and you can make the comparison you wish. It’s pretty obvious from the review that I like the Mach. In any case, if the Mach were a song, it would be “Time For Me to Fly,” by REO Speedwagon, not because the Mach is a break-up, but because it made me want to fly. Take from that what you will, because, “that’s just how it’s got to be”. I sing a stirring rendition of it, if I do say so myself, so if you ever see me out on a run feel free to stop me and ask to hear it.
In the opinion of this average Mark, the Mach is a great shoe to wear on race day. I’m not like other runners that have shoes for training, shoes for racing, shoes for sleeping, shoes for eating, shoes for walking, shoes for biking, shoes for showering, etc. I train in what I race in, and the Mach is a great, responsive shoe to train and race in. Responsive is the key word here, and personally I’d take it to a race over a Clifton or Bondi any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
Follow Mark on Strava – https://www.strava.com/athletes/6806611