Hannah Lawrence - Professional triathlete, US university scholarship runner, pilates instructor and mum.
Description: Neutral, Maximal Cushioning everyday training shoe. Great for: Long endurance runs and recovery runs and also for triathletes (or anyone) running on already tired legs. Terrain: Road Weight: (size 7 US W) 8.6oz
Getting back into running shape, since the birth of my son last September has been more challenging then I ever could have imagined. I have found that as I have progressed through the journey of rebuilding my body, fitness and strength, I have had to change my training shoes to better fit the needs of my post-baby body. I guess when your body has been through so much change, it makes sense that it will respond differently to training loads and require different elements of support from your running shoes.
I used to run in the Clifton and the Clayton, and loved them! However, this year I found that I was dealing with knee and back niggles that I had never experienced before, and that my legs and joints were craving a more forgiving and cushioned shoe as I went through the hard slog of rebuilding. The Bondi is heralded as Hoka One One’s premium neutral cushioning shoe and boasts the maximum ‘running on clouds’ effect that Hoka One One is so famous for… so I decided to give it a go. To be honest I have never been one to choose to run in such a cushioned shoe. I have always preferred a lighter shoe with a bit more responsiveness and more of an under foot feel of the terrain that I was covering. However, the Bondi 6 although been slightly heavier than my previous training shoes, does not feel like a heavy run. This I think this is mostly due to the Meta Rocker System, which creates a rolling sensation as the foot transitions from footstrike to toe-off, making it feel much lighter when you run then it is because of the way it effortlessly rolls you through every stride. The combination of this unique design aspect of the shoe and the maximal cushioning not only feels like your running on clouds, but also greatly reduces the impact forces or load that occur as the foot hits the ground. This reduces the amount of muscle damage and wear and tear on the body from training and helps you to front up back-to-back days with a reduced level of muscle soreness. With the extra cushioning I have noticed that I have lost a bit of the underfoot feel that I am used to in a running shoe, BUT and it’s a big but! The Bondi 6 is one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever run in! On days that my legs should feel absolutely wrecked, simply put … they don’t. Its been an incredibly hard road trying to get back into shape this year and there have been days when my legs should feel absolutely wrecked and I have stepped out the door and braced myself for the first few steps of the run and the familiar aches and pains of tired sore legs, but with the Bondi 6 I am always pleasantly surprised as to how good the legs actually feel. The plush cushioning and the metarocker design of the Bondi 6 has enabled me to run day in and day out rebuilding my fitness without my legs feeling wrecked. I guess you could say at a time when my body has needed a little extra kindness, the Bondi 6 and its pillow like cushioning has given me that.
Do I feel as fast in the Bondi 6 as I do in the other Hoka One One shoes I have run in? Like the Elevon? To be honest no, but it is by no means a slow shoe and even though in a maximal cushioning shoe there is always a little less responsiveness I still feel that I am able to easily tick the legs along at a good clip. The Bondi 6 is also very stable even when cornering and running down steep downhill. The upper is very breathable and has a very snug form-fitting feel around the heel and mid foot and the perfect amount of room in the toe box. The Bondi 6 can be used for any length run. Either for the longer slower runs or for the recovery shorter runs, or anything in between depending what you want out of your run. I am currently in a build phase of training, and so I have been using the Bondi 6 for most of my road runs, regardless of the length. But as the phase and the specifics of my training develop I will be mixing it up with the Elevon for my faster training days. Personally together I think they make the perfect training dual! The verdict… simply put the Bondi 6 has been brilliant!
We chatted to Caitlin about how they make their relationship work around their heavy training loads and transient race schedules.