Another in the, very, occasional “Running Free’ series.
Yes, there aren’t many of these running posts. A run that I’m actually doing being a hard thing to photograph. But today is a significant day in my running history so I thought it should be marked with a brief post.
Yes, I say that with a child-like delight and sense of wonder. Here’s why.
In June, nearly two years ago, when Sarah and her friend Karen were suggesting that I might enjoy going out and running like them I was horrified, but intrigued enough to give it a go. And though I possessed plenty of outdoor walking gear, I had no sports kit whatsoever. So after a couple of gentle try-out runs (wearing sandals, jeans and a t-shirt) Sarah persuaded me into a shop I’d never considered entering before. A huge chain store on one of those grim out-of-town car-park estate things.
Baffled by choice, I couldn’t help noticing how piled up high and cheap everything was. And guided round expertly by Sarah, I emerged in less than half an hour fully kitted up for my running career. Shoes, tops, socks, shorts and stretchy leggings things with fluorescent stripes down the sides. All for less than £70. ‘If you don’t take to it, at least we haven’t broken the bank’ said Sarah, as I muttered guilty apologies to the sweatshops and blind grannies who’d probably assembled my bulging bag of kit.
Anyway, time passed, initial getting going injuries happened and come October 2011 I was running regularly, confidently, and have done ever since. Sometimes with Sarah, but mostly alone. Three or four times a week, sometimes more. Four to six miles a time, sometimes more. Mostly leaving from our house and running in the roads and parks between here and the river. It’s become a habit, a ritual part of my life, and I wouldn’t be without it. As well as being good for me, it’s deepened my familiarity with and love of the place where we live. All weathers and all seasons, I know what’s going on. When the lakes are iced, when the blossoms are out, when the leaves start to fall.
All of this running done in stuff from out of that initial bag of kit. But eventually I wore my shoes out.
Researching possible new ones I read proud boasts from the manufacturers about these being ‘good for 250 to 300 miles.’ Amused more than horrified I conservatively calculated that my now beloved but much bedraggled old shoes have done roughly 1500 miles.
If you are a runner you’ll immediately see that I under pronate, in fact I supinate. I’d never heard of either of these words until the day before last and I’m not going to clog the blog up with them any further now. But what they mean is that many of us need some mild support to counteract our natural tendency to wear out one side of the shoe or the other. Who knew? These first shoes were picked because they were cheap and I liked the colours.
Researching possible new ones was easy enough once I understood the above and I soon arrived at a list of around half a dozen possibles. And immediately sent off for all of them, knowing I’d be posting most of them back.
No, of course I didn’t. Because this was one of those times where you seriously need a shop and the help of someone who knows what they’re talking about. And fortunately there’s a very good one at the end of our road.
So Tom, at Natterjack Running got out all my suggestions, and a few of his own after he’d looked at my existing shoes. We watched films of me running on the treadmill in all the possibilities (first time on a treadmill in my life). And about forty minutes later I bought what I wanted, the ‘Brooks Pure Cadence’ shoes I’m wearing here.
Top shop, brilliant service and you just can’t do anything like that without a real shop. Sure, I could probably have saved a few pounds on the internet on the shoes I eventually bought. But all the time, knowledge, choice, filming and advice was more than worth the money. Well done Natterkack.
But how did the new shoes do?
Well, only the one run so far. Down the hill from our house, across Smithdown, along to Penny Lane, up the hill over the railway, along Ibbotson’s Lane into the park, through the park and round the lake, up the hill at the end of the lake and across the field to Queen’s Drive, slightly uphill along to Greenbank Road, past Greenbank Park, along and across Smithdown and back up the hill to home. About four miles and done on Saturday in 30m 46s. Today in 29m 31s, first time I’ve ever done this one in under 30 minutes. (Yes, all runs are timed and recorded. I compete relentlessly with myself.)
So, all down to the shoes? Well they felt fast, light, cool, comfortable and immediately perfect. And, fair enough, they cost three times more than the first pair. But I think they’ll be worth it. I’m sticking to this running thing.