It’s rare that I’ve tried on a running shoe and have no notes. But that’s how I felt with the Hoka Mach 5s from my first race in them: During my easy warm-up miles, they felt soft and light, and when I picked up the pace for a few intervals, I was surprised at how bouncy they were. and how easy it felt to hit some fast beats for me. I’ve been in love ever since, especially since they’re versatile enough for just about any type of race.
So when I learned that Hoka was adding a plate to the fan-favorite shoe, I was intrigued, especially since I’ve also enamored with the emerging category of “supersneakers” or shoes with (usually carbon) plates intended for training rather than racing (like New Balance’s Fuel Cell SuperComp Trainer and Nike’s ZoomFly). In other words, you get the fun propulsion of a fast shoe, without the guilt of “wasting” your faster, more expensive shoes or “cheating” on all your training runs. Hoka’s new Mach X ($180) seems to be his answer to super trainer, so he obviously needed to get it out for a few spins.
Available sizes: 5-11
Weight: 8.0 ounces (width)
Drop from heel to toe: 5mm
- It is not as propulsive as other silver trainers.
- slightly bulky
- Small toe box for wider feet
What’s new in the Mach X?
As with its little sister, the Mach 5, I immediately knew that the Mach X was going to be a versatile shoe. That’s because unlike most other plate training shoes that use a stiff carbon plate, which is highly propulsive but can feel somewhat aggressive and impossible to easily log miles, the Mach X’s pebax plate is much more subtle and flexible.
Depending on what you’re looking for in a shoe, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Other than a bit of added agility and propulsion, I barely noticed the plate, and while I liked the smooth, comfortable ride, it didn’t feel much faster than the Mach 5. This could be because it’s a bit bigger than the Mach 5. , with 1.2 ounces of added weight and 10mm of added height and cushioning (for a total of 39mm in the heel and 34mm in the forefoot). It’s also relatively wide, making it stable but a bit bulky when it comes to picking up the pace. But with added stability and damping, the Mach X is a cut above the Mach 5 for me on long runs.
One thing I did miss about the Mach 5: the EVA outsole, which is one reason the shoe feels so soft despite its relative lack of cushioning. The Mach X’s rubber outsole is certainly more durable, but it feels firmer upon landing.
What a podiatrist has to say
I asked Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a podiatrist who owns two running shoe stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania, what he thinks of the shoes so far, and he, too, has been impressed with their versatility, adding that he could see the shoe working as a daily footwear. trainer, but also for pace runs or even races. He’s also a fan of the dual-density foam (it has both the more traditional EVA foam and the softer peba foam used in Hoka’s super racing shoes, the Rocket X 2) and plate, “which come together at the forefoot to provide very quick movement. and a responsive power return on takeoff,” he says.
“The shoe is a bit more aerodynamic than the traditional Hokas and they are quite comfortable,” he says.
But those with a wide foot or bunions should take note, he cautions: The forefoot is slightly tapered, which I noticed after a few miles when my toes started to feel compressed. (Runners with wide feet may want to consider going half size; otherwise, unlike many Hoka shoes that tend to run large, they feel like they fit true to size, Mendeszoon says.)
His only other note for the Mach X? Could be more breathable. I’m pretty sure I agree, though I’m hesitant to judge breathability in the 80-degree, 90-percent humidity weather I’ve been running in.
Who is the Mach X suitable for?
I could see myself pulling out the Mach X for anything from a long run to a pace run to possibly even speed work. While the plate is flexible enough that the shoes will work for easy miles, I’d probably stick with something without a plate (like Hoka’s Clifton) for slow miles and save the Mach X for faster runs.
Although Hoka seems to want the Mach X to be a shoe that bridges the gap between training and racing, personally I probably won’t be running in it, it just doesn’t have that small springboard running feel that makes me feel my fastest when wearing shoes. really, like Hoka’s Rocket X 2. That said, the Mach X is a great sneaker alternative for those who don’t like carbon plates, or who want a more stable “super trainer” that can also work for slower miles.