Run Shoe Preferences for Training

We’re conducting a poll on run shoe preferences for training right now (most easily found on our Reader Forum); the poll is young, just a couple of days in; but we’re closing on on our first thousand respondents. Enough of you have made your preferences known so that the totals won’t change but slightly.

This is not the same poll we always take. Last year, you all indicated you were about as likely to race in Nike as in HOKA for training and racing. But when it's only training? Not quite so much NIke. Here is where you stand as of this morning.

HOKA doesn’t surprise me. Slowtwitchers were the early adopters of this brand, back in 2011 and 2012, probably even more than the brand’s founders intended, a couple of very talented skyrunners from Chamonix and Annecy who wanted to make a shoe for their own avocation. It is my guess Slowtwitchers are – and will be for some time – more ardent HOKA users than either the population of triathletes as a whole, or the general population of runners.

But the last time I polled you on brands – just brands, not use case – it was HOKA at 22 percent and Nike at 20 percent. If we restrict this just to training, it’s HOKA 25% and Nike 16%. Some of you train in HOKA and race in Nike. Were I HOKA I’d be happy about this, because I spend a lot more money on training shoes than on racing shoes.

What about the other brands? ASICS has staunched its freefall. In 2007, when we first polled this, ASICS had a third of the run market among Slowtwitchers (at least those Slowtwitchers who answer its polls). That share fell steadily and a year ago bottomed out at 7 percent. It’s actually grown in preference share among you all, and I suspect it’s the Glideride and Metaride but I don’t know. Why those shoes? Because they do not conform to the large heel-to-forefoot drop paradigm that defined ASICS for at least a quarter century.

Brooks remains a favorite of women, with models like the Ghost.

My Saucony Endorphin Shift just arrived by parcel delivery yesterday. I’m intrigued with these and have been since I first saw them at the Running Event just under a year ago. I think the Endorphin line may well be a solid seller for Saucony, and I’ll tell you more how I feel about these when I run in them. I was eager to get these before the 100/100 starts (on November 15th).

That said, 3rd place among you all is up for grabs. You see in the chart above how Slowtwitcher brand preferences have trended over the dozen years, ending just before the start of the pandemic. ASICS, Saucony and Brooks – all of which have ruled the roost in technical running at one point or another – are in an almost dead heat, and New Balance is not far behind. This is for the taking, especially because the pandemic has given the U.S. and the World a new appreciation for endurance activity, both indoor and outdoor. This is the time to take market share. Or have it taken from you.

I’m surprised at On Running. I see their ads everywhere, especially online, stalking me around the internet. I really thought this brand was taking off, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in this particular poll, so far. Skechers has had some high profile attention paid to it on Slowtwitch: Anthony Famiglietti’s record treadmill mile and 2-mile over the winter, and of course Lionel. And then there’s Meb. I wish these guys had more of a ground game. HOKA keeps me (mostly) up to speed on what’s going on. Saucony too. They want to make sure we know about what it is they’re up to. And, I must say, On Running.

Skechers? Not so much. It’s as if they see themselves as interlopers in tech running, and haven’t developed the infrastructure to move them beyond the interloper stage. But then, that’s tech running for you. Sometimes it seems as if the whole industry is so busy in a meeting, it doesn't have time to meet its users. Maybe they just don't want to talk to me. I can't hardly blame them for that. But I think it's mostly triathletes. Notwithstanding HOKA's use of this sport to gain it entry into the wider market of tech road running, I find the bike market much more interested in triathlon than the run market is. Anyway...

Mizuno used to attract a significant slice of Slowtwitchers. Not anymore. Newton? HOKA made a shoe with a cushioned forefoot. Newton didn't embrace a cushioned forefoot. cushioned won.