Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2020: A Tough Year. Joost De Raeymaeker's Year in Review & Run Shoes of the Year

Article by Joost de Raeymaeker

2020 started out with me injured and spending Christmas with my family in Europe, so I didn’t mind putting on some weight and enjoying every moment of it to the fullest. It had been 7 years since we were out of the tropics for this time of year, and it turned out to be the last Christmas we would all spend together.

My father underwent major surgery in March and was recovering in the hospital when he was sent home. He died the next day, right on the eve of covid travel restrictions. Watching a funeral service for your father by videoconference, while you can’t be there to support your family and grieve together is excruciatingly painful.

Running, as always, was my therapy. I gradually bumped up my mileage and since a couple of rest days in the first few months of the year, I’ve been on some sort of a streak since April 14th, averaging around 20km (12.4 miles) per day since then. 

I had London and Chicago on my calendar for my age group podium finishes (let’s be honest there, I want to win the remaining 3 majors in my age group, as I did the first three), but as we now all know, everything got cancelled eventually, so there I was. 

Back to the basics. Running for running’s sake. Establish a good base and fitness to build from when everything hopefully starts up again in the second half of 2021. It also gave me the chance to do any training I wanted. Normally it’s all marathon, but this time I put myself and a couple of local runners through a 5-10k block from Jack Daniels’ running formula. It was great fun, quite different from the marathon grind (although I kept my mileage relatively high at around 85-100 per week) and it allowed me to compete with the Roadtrailrun International A team in the Asics World Ekiden. I was able to knock off 7.2km in 23:09 minutes in the humid heat of Luanda, which made me happy.

Talking about Road Trail Run : I’d done a couple of articles on my marathons for Sam and really liked his approach to reviewing shoes, so I accepted the opportunity to do some more reviews, even though it meant taking care of actually getting the shoes from the USA to Angola.

All this to bring you to my selection of favorite shoes for 2020. So here’s a list with the reasons I chose the shoe. My absolute favorite for 2020 isn’t actually out until 2021, but I’ve already put a fair amount of miles on them, even after my testing finished.

Without further ado, and giving it all away at the start, my shoe of the year 2020 is the Hoke One One Mach 4 (RTR Review). 

It has that luxury car feeling (for some weird reason, I never got my driver’s license, but I can feel the difference in the passenger seat), perfect cushioning, good upper and a great allround ride. If I were to travel and I could only take one pair of shoes, the Mach 4 would be that pair.

2020 also brought us a load of plated “super shoes”. I tested a couple of them and use two or three quite frequently. The Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review) is my favorite tempo run shoe. I don’t think it’s up there for me for the marathon, but it’s such a joy to run in. A fun ride with plenty of bounce and the only shoe I don’t feel my achilles’ in.

However, the adidas Adios Pro (RTR Review) came to shuffle my deck of cards. I was all set on running my next marathons in a pair of Vaporfly Next%, but now I’m in doubt if the Adios Pro wouldn’t be a better choice. I guess my next marathon training block and some of those grueling long fast runs will probably tell which one I’ll pick on race day. I’m glad that between the Next%, the Adios Pro, the Endorphin Pro, the Hoka Rocket X (RTR Review) and the others I didn’t get to test, the playing field has been leveled, so it’s once again down to only the athlete in races.

While we’re on the subject of super shoes. My only real disappointment in that area was the Alphafly. It somehow didn’t sit right with my gait, gave me a huge blister on my first run and since I’ve paid for my pair and only have around 25km on them, I’m actually thinking of selling them.

Below are my answers to the inquiry from the roadtrailrun team for our 2020 choices . The only thing left to say is: bring on 2021!

What is your Favorite Daily Trainer of 2020 and why?

Hoka One One Mach 4 (RTR Review) - A joy to run in, perfect cushioning, a nice ride, good upper, just a millimeter or 2 on the narrow side.

What is your Favorite Recovery Shoe of 2020 and why?

Hoka One One Mach 4 - Same reasons, perfect cushioning. Luxury car feeling.

What is your Favorite Tempo shoe of 2020 and why?

Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review) - It's a fun shoe to run, with the aggressive rocker and a great foam and plate combination, and it's a lot more durable than I initially thought.

What is your Favorite Short Distance Racing shoe of 2020 and why?

Skechers Razor Elite (RTR Review) - The fantastic Hyperburst foam, combined with a small forefoot plate to add stability is just perfect. Just remember you might need to size up. They are very narrow.

What is your Favorite Long Race Shoe of 2020 and why?

Adidas Adios Pro (RTR Review) - This shoe currently has the edge over the Vaporfly Next% for me, because it lets your foot move a little more naturally, in spite of being slightly heavier.

What is your absolutely favorite road shoe of 2020 and why?

Hoka One One Mach 4 - Of all the shoes I tested and ran in this year, this is the one I think of first when I think of going for a run.

What is your favorite apparel of 2020 and why?

Tracksmith Reggie Half Tights - I bought my second pair and simply love them. Light, extremely comfortable and good looking.

What is your favorite tech of 2020 and why?

Not really very recent, but I keep on swearing by my Stryd foot pod. It's still the single piece of equipment I would substitute in a heartbeat if I'd lose it or it broke down.

What is your favorite Brand of 2020 and why?

adidas - They leveled the playing field in the super shoe category, which is a good thing for the sport.

What is your biggest surprise of 2020 and why?

For me, unfortunately, a negative. I didn't like the Alphafly at all. 

What is your overall Shoe of the Year?

Hoka One One Mach 4 - In a year without races, my choice has to go to a daily trainer.

Editor’s Note: Joost recently as on a VDOT02 podcast. Listen to his fascinating life story and how from the tropics of Angola, Africa he trains and how in 2019 went on to win two World Marathon Majors  in his men’s 50 age group setting a PB of 2:26:10 at Berlin then following up a few weeks later with a win at the New York Marathon in 2:28 for his third Majors age group win.

Editor’s Note: Joost recently as on a VDOT02 podcast. 

Listen to his fascinating life story and how from the tropics of Angola, Africa he trains and how in 2019 went on to win two World Marathon Majors  in his men’s 50 age group setting a PB of 2:26:10 at Berlin then following up a few weeks later with a win at the New York Marathon in 2:28 for his third Majors age group win.

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles Road Running Shoes HERE Trail Running Shoes HERE

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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cameron said...

Thank you Joost for your excellent reviews and for sharing your struggles over the past year. I appreciate your honesty and candor and wish you the very best for 2021.

Tomek said...

Indeed, thank you, Joost!