I realised the other night that the cause of my persistent underfoot blisters was the unusually high arch in my Brooks trainers. Despite the fact that they cost me £130, and hands down the single most expensive piece of footwear I have ever bought, they are completely useless to me.
With this startling revelation reverberating around my head and with the London tube drivers going on strike forcing me to take a bus, I spied from the window of the 149 a Sports Direct. I leapt of the bus, and headed in.
I hate that place. They are by far the worst designed stores on Britain’s high streets; overcrowded, and full of ‘sports’ wear, in the same way that WWE is ‘sports’ entertainment; it’s got little to do with sport at all. Not that I’m picking a fight with The Rock.
Sports Direct does, however, have a pretty good range of running shoes at pretty good prices, so I do tolerate them from time to time. They also own many of the brands they sell, and so have a fair few ‘exclusives’, even if their pricing strategy is full of false markups, complying with the letter of the law, but not the spirit.
Unfortunately, I hit them just before closing time, and was told that they couldn’t get any shoes from out the warehouse for me, and I would have to take a ready boxed pair from one of their mountainous displays. I grabbed a couple of pairs, almost at random, paid and headed out the door. I was that desperate to run.
I picked up a pair of Nike Downshifter 6’s and a pair of Karrimor D30 Elite’s, not having the chance to try either one on.
I got home, ate some of Kasia’s amazing homemade soup (She really should start a food blog), a skype call and a bit of Terraria with my son, and then headed out the door around 9:30
Wait. No. Before I headed out the door, I put on my new Nikes. And immediately took them off again and checked the size. A UK 11. I’m a UK 11. Then why are they so small? How is it that shoe sizes seem to be open to interpretation and not standardised? The Nike’s are going back to the shop as soon as I have time.
I had marginally better luck with the Karrimors. They’re a transitional shoe (more on that in a second), fit nicely, are very light, but they’re just… I don’t know. They don’t feel like a good shoe. I want to say poor quality, but I can’t quite put my finger on which specific quality is poor.
I’ve had Karrimor shoes in the past, and for a long while, I would run in little else. So it’s not a snobby brand thing; maybe it’s just the minimalism of them. They don’t have a dual layer upper, just a mesh that you can see clean through.
Out the door and into my run. no idea how long I’m running for, probably as long as my ankle will hold up (remember, I wasn’t supposed to be running this week…). I manage four and a half one-mile laps before deciding enough is enough. I trudge back the half a mile home. Usually, I’d run the last half in a stop-start fashion, putting in some sprints while I still have a little energy. I hit my standard 7:30 / mile on the nose on each of the four laps. Consistency is everything.
But tonight I just stopped and walked back. Why?
As I mentioned above, the D30 Elites are a transitional shoe; their designed with less padding, and have a relatively shallow base. As such, when moving to a barefoot style of running, you work different muscles. My calves have never hurt like they do today. The ankle held up, but is again sore, so it’s strapped up with Rocktape this morning, just as a precaution.
And the reason I wanted a transitional shoe in the first place? Because I’ve also ordered these:
I should be able to try them out at the weekend – who knows whether it’s going to be a worthwhile experiment or not? Barefoot Ted would certainly approve…