Following last week’s poor outing at Grim, Monday saw weary legs and a knowledge that new trainers were high on the agenda to allow ongoing joy and recovery in my running. The blisters from the old Asics Cumulus 11′s, along with their involvement in both the metartarsal bursitis (the marvellous woman in the shoe shop was familiar with the condition and reminded me of the name) from January and the stress fracture last year, to say nothing of their mileage being somewhere near the 500 mark, meant I promised never to run in them again. They show signs of wear in all sorts of odd places, despite still being comfortable for a short burst. And the New Balance trainers I want to use for races simply aren’t comfortable enough to increase my mileage as I want to without risking either discomfort (most likely) or injury (no reason to suspect they might but I’ll not give them the chance to!).
So, what with Jogblog demanding new shoes (hers are all low mileage but caked in mud and allsorts from her winter outings and seem all stiff and aged beyond their years so give blisters and discomfort whenever worn), we determined to pop to Sweatshop in Maidstone and pick some up. So, as soon as I got in from work, we went.
The old Asics were worn for the assistant to see how bad my equipment/running style/injuries are/were and I held an open mind as to what I’d end up wearing. Having loved several pairs of Nike Pegasus, as well as some Asics Cumulus 10′s, I’ve liked some Saucony Pro Grid Triumph 4′s, got on ok with the Cumulus 11′s but have little “brand loyalty”. If it fits, feels right and works, I’ll try it.
An outing on the treadmill in my worn Asics, however, had an odd outcome. Since April 5th (my last analysis with the podiatrist resulting in some odd insoles to help correct me), my gait seems to have recovered somewhat insofar as the assistant stated (and I quote proudly) “Your gait is beautiful”…”but”. Ah. “But”. As ever, there’s a drawback.
This but referred to me continuing with an odd left foot “shuffle”. From a stable, symmetrical upper body, my right foot does everything well and flows through the stride, footstrike (just touching the heel for balance before landing on the forefoot for a roll-through and power off) and follow through nice and smoothly, symmetrically and without incident. My left foot now does a nice strike, follow through and power off (it lifted instead of powering in April) but, just before landing, is rotated a fair way in, presenting the outer foot strongly to the ground which is corrected as it strikes, leaving and odd rotation and lack of efficiency as it goes. To say nothing of risking injury as mileage will increase.
The result was for the assistant to suggest some mildly stable shoes to try and assist the correction and recovery.
The upshot was the unveiling of the ugliest pair of trainers I have ever seen. Period. And I’ve seen Jedward with some nasty ankle boots that made those from the ’80′s look cool. They were Nike sickly sicker than a parrot, must be blind special editions, I think. Definitely Nike, though. Looked like a cross between infant school plimsoles, shiny brogues and some vomit getting into the colour factory. I never thought I’d try to dismiss functional footwear on looks (considering they’ll be filthy in 50 miles anyway), but I was close.
Until, that is, I ran on the treadmill again.
Shit is all I could say. Looking at the video, they transformed my left foot waywardness into that of the marvellous right foot. All oddness in the footfall was gone. Full efficiency recovered. Unbelievable was my astonishment. Could a pair of shoes really be so good? Well, there was a but. The heels of the shoes felt a bit odd. My feet seemed a touch “socketed in” which, while not unpleasant in itself, was a worry knowing what the Saucony’s did to me (blisters the size of planets for the first few outings) while getting used to them.
Was there an alternative, I asked?
The shop assistant said maybe. She went to get some Asics but came back with some Adidas. The shoe company responsible for shodding many a chav, fashionista and grumbot. I’d looked at their website for options and their running range includes flip flops, for goodness sake. Apart from Cathy’s Adizero limited editions, I’d not considered them much.
Still, I tried them on and…well. I think I was in lust. They felt just superb. The right shoe seemed to envelope my foot to the point where I smiled before even lacing them up. Slight padding but good evenness around the sole of both feet felt ok as I walked around the shop before an outing on the treadmill showed they were 95% as good as the Nikes at eliminating my foot rolling oddness. But I was instantly able to settle into a comfotrable stride, flowing with the rubberised roller’s surface with each stride that bit more naturally than the Nike ugly ducklings. They turned out to be Adidas Adizero Tempo shoes, are see through from the sides (doesn’t bode well for the winter!) and weigh next to nothing.
I parted with my cash before I could change my mind and think about things further.
Which made the rest of the week doubly annoying in my thwarted efforts to get out for an outing. More shopping on Tuesday, a tired lack of time on Wednesday, a puncture on the pushbike exactly half way to work on Thursday (resulting in inner tube purchase and repairs in the evening), a cycle home of Friday and massive lack of energy on Saturday (along with motorbike puncture repair and bits to steal my time), meant this lunchtime was my first running opportunity.
And well worth the wait it was.
The shoes simply slipped on and encouraged me to run. Simply getting out was nice, heading towards the fields was nicer, but every footstroke was a smile. No pain. No fuss. No worry about whether the next step will hurt. Enjoyable running.
The route was to be an approximate 4 miles (next proper outing is Crisis, so no need to get up to half marathon distance just yet), so the Greensand Way was abused before half a mile on road mixed with the inevitable climbing over a million stiles to reutrn home rounded things off. Well, a lap of the garden fully rounded things off, but the running was all good.
A couple of hours have now passed and I feel fresh as a daisy. No leg, foot or any other pain, in fact. It’s simply remarkable. And thanks go in massive amounts to Orsi (the assistant) in Maidstone Sweatshop who put me in such shoes. Everyone else has always recommended neutral shoes so either I’ve changed or they’ve been wrong…whichever it is, it’s good to use someone so good at suggesting something I’d never have found myself. All backed up with a 30 day return guarantee should they turn out wrong when at home (be a laugh to see if they allowed Gary “Local Adventures” to return a pair after 30 days and 435 miles, though…maybe that’d be a test for them!).
So shoes that fit like a glove but work like shoes, a nice outing and something to look forward to. Just got to hold back the enthusiasm for another outing long enough for my foot to not go into damage limitation mode again.
1232.46 miles to go. And looking forward to every one of them.
Oh, and do I spy Juneathon around the corner? Yippee!