Look what I found in the back of the wardrobe!
(Yeah, they don’t look like much, but they are – I promise.)
Back in early 2008, I took up running. I’d been losing weight steadily for over a year, but I’d reached the point where just watching my portion sizes wasn’t enough any more. I joined a weight loss site, joined a gym, started counting calories (and quickly discovered how much more I was allowed to eat when I spent more time at the gym). I started out running on the treadmill, delighted when I finally managed to get my asthmatic lungs to co-operate by breathing properly, and quickly progressed to the great outdoors. Like many beginner runners who stick at it for more than a couple of weeks, I was hooked on the buzz running gave me.
Then the problems started.
One day, I came back after a run and discovered I had a sore knee. I thought I must have twisted it awkwardly, and ignored it, but over the next several days, it got worse, until I had to admit I’d developed an injury. I asked my friends on the weight loss site, and soon learned where I was going wrong.
You’re not supposed to start running in whatever pair of old trainers you have to hand. You need proper running shoes! Duh!
So, one rainy afternoon – we lived in Cornwall – I took myself off to the nearest specialist running store, over 70 miles away, to get fitted.
After walking up and down the shop in my socks a few times, the assistant told me I overpronate, which is a common problem, and means I roll my feet inwards too much with each step. I needed a pair of support shoes to correct the excessive movement.
The first pair of running shoes I tried on were made by Asics and cost £75. I put them on, and they were the most comfortable trainers I had ever worn … which I figured was fair enough, considering the price tag. I walked around the shop for a bit, grinning, and would have happily taken them home with me. But the assistant offered me another pair to compare.
These were the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 7 and they cost £10 more, at £85. I was still looking at the Asics trainers as I put them on … and it was like sliding my feet into a comfortable pair of old slippers. In that moment, I fell in love – with a pair of running shoes. I walked around the shop, jogged a few steps, forgetting the pain in my knee. £85 for a pair of running shoes that felt like slippers? It was a steal.
Later that year, I bought another pair. I found them on eBay, and got a deal.
The trouble is, things never stand still, and companies can’t resist tweaking a winning formula. The Brooks Adrenaline is still the most popular support running shoe, and it’s now into its 16th incarnation. I have a pair of 10s and a pair of 11s (I think), but neither of them are quite up to the standard of my first 2 pairs of 7s. The shape is slightly different. The sole is a few millimetres shorter, and they don’t have the long lines of the earlier models. They’re more compact, more like other running shoes and trainers, and they close a tiny bit lower on the foot. The 7s lace right up to the ankle, making them feel safe and secure on the foot, even if they’re not laced tight.
After my worn out 10s left me with a sore right ankle, and my worn out 11s left me with a sore left ankle, I developed a probably-not-very-cunning-plan to mix and match, wearing a 10 on my left foot and an 11 on my right foot. Then, this morning, while I was looking in the wardrobe for something else, I found them!
My second pair of 7s, buried right in the back. I thought I’d got rid of those long ago.
The cushioning is pretty much gone – I wore them for dog walking for a year, and that was after they’d already been demoted from running shoes to everyday scruffing around shoes – but you don’t need cushioning on the cross trainer. Your feet never leave the platforms, so you don’t need protection against your feet hitting the ground with 3 times your body weight at every stride.
I slid my feet into them, and felt that familiar, old-slipper feeling. And the hardened support sections in the soles felt secure under my arches, tipping my feet into a normal, upright position. (I should probably add, at this point, that I’m knock-kneed, and my feet naturally tip inwards, even standing still.)
An hour later, I was on the cross trainer.
It’s too early to say what difference it will make – if any – to my ongoing injury problems. Unless my ankle gets dramatically worse, I’ll carry on wearing them to work out, and see if it gets better. My original pair of Brooks Adrenalines, when they were new, allowed me to continue running while my knee healed.
As for what I’m doing now? Well, I’m scouring the online stores, of course, looking for another new pair. Even if they haven’t changed much from the 10s and 11s, a new pair will give me the comfort and support I need to not get injured.
And if they have changed? Well, there’s always the chance they’ve reinvented (going forwards, obviously, not backwards) the long, low shape of the earlier models. I won’t know until I have a pair in my hands.
Maybe I’ll start running again. I love running.