Monday, February 13, 2006

13 February 2006: Shoes

We held our breath and went to Pompey last Friday.

Marathon training is at times hard, at times fun, at times boring (well, the only training you can do is running and that can get old quite quickly) but the last few times it's been painful - pins-and-needles in my feet followed by mild numbness? Not a good sign. So at McDougal's recommendation, Kev and myself hopped in the car and headed off to Alexandra Sports down in Portsmouth.

It's an interesting shop. The first thing you think is that you've taken a wrong turning because to get there you have to drive up through a one-way system in a residential area. And then turn right, there it is: an expensive-looking running shop right in the middle of a bunch of terraced housing. Well, ok, at the end of the street, but still it looks quite out of place. Although then you look across to the road to the park and think "ok, maybe they get some business from joggers". So why did we Southamptonites decide to trek through Pompey housing estates to get to an obscure running shop?

Because they're good, that's why. Doug and a number of other folks declare them to be the best in southern England. And walking into the shop, we began to understand why. Racks of running shirts, shorts, bottoms, sports drinks, timing devices, you name it. And shoes, lots of shoes. We took our numbers and waited for our experts to be summoned from upstairs. Young guy who clearly knew a lot about feet came down and started prodding and poking at my toes and ankles. He then had me walk barefoot around the shop while he watched. Next, up on to the treadmill where I had to walk, then jog, then run, all barefoot. He videod this and not only played it back to me on the computer, but had the computer analyse my walk, jog and run and determined that I landed too much on the outside of my foot when I ran, which would need to be compensated for with my shoe choice. (Which explained, among other things, why my feet had been going numb - thudding the sides of my feet into the ground via a pair of trainers that cost a fiver from the gloriously-named 'PriceLess Shoes' in town was never going to be a good idea.)

So he went away and got three pairs of running shoes that would, in his opinion, be most suitable for me. I tried them - one pair felt a little tight, one pair felt a little wobbly at the back and the third felt like second, only slightly heavier. Ascertaining that even though I'm a size nine foot, I should actually run in size ten given the thickness of my running socks (that actually hadn't occurred to me at any point in my training), I tried a size ten of the first one, and that was that. Snugly fitting, compensating for my foot-rolling style of running and a bargain at seventy-five pounds.

Seventy-five pounds?? How many curries is that?

I asked the prices of the other two pairs. Both over ninety. I'd got the bargain.

So Saturday was the first day running in them. Keep it short, the guy had said, otherwise you'll get blisters - you have to break the shoes in gently. So four-and-a-half miles later on the treadmill, I am pleased to report no discomfort, no pins-and-needles, no hint of anything dodgy going on at all. The PriceLess trainers have run their last training run. From now on I'm a Brooks boy.

So the next question: what to wear for the run itself? I hear there are cheap shirts available...

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