Category Archives: Kit

New shoes? Are racing flats worth it?

I’ve been struggling for a little while now – I’ve got a problem.

I haven’t bought any running shoes since… since… well… I can’t even remember, it was that long ago! (I’ve just looked, it was April… four whole, long months without buying any running shoes.)

So… I’ve been trying to identify a need for some new shoes.

I have road shoes…

IMG_0542 (Small)ASICS Gel Nimbus 17
First run: 11 November 2015
Total runs: 47
Total miles: 229

These were my first shoes in quite a while that weren’t made by Brooks – I was pretty suspicious of them to start with, but I’ve got used to them now!

Brooks Glycerin 13IMG_0543 (Small)
First run: 30 April 2016
Total runs: 34
Total miles: 155

My third pair of Glycerin’s, after a couple of pairs of Glycerin 11s. Unsurprisingly given that, I love them, and plan on replacing them like-for-like.

… and I have hybrid trail shoes …

IMG_0544 (Small)Brooks Cascadia 9
First run: 4 June 2014
Total runs: 64
Total miles: 249

It was genuinely a coincidence that these ended up being Brooks – they were, in fact, the only trail shoes in the (pretty crap) running shop that I went to. (They also need cleaning.)

… and I also have more aggressive trail shoes.

IMG_0545 (Small)Salomon Speedcross 3
First run: 12 April 2016
Total runs: 6
Total miles: 22

These were bought after the Cascadia 9s… under-performed on a couple of runs. Nothing too dramatic, I just realised that I needed something a bit more robust for some of the terrain I was going on.

So anyway… I generally find that for me, around 350 to 400 miles is the limit for a shoe, which still leaves at least 100 miles in each of my current pairs, so I’m obviously not going to be replacing any of them anytime too soon. Which got me thinking about racing flats.

hyperionNo, no, I don’t mean contesting apartments, I mean the lightweight running shoes. Like… to pick a racing shoes completely at random… the Brooks Hyperion. They weigh just 181.4 grams – that’s compared to the 320.3 grams of the Glycerin, and 353 grams for the ASICS. Per shoe.

And that matters (apparently). Top running coach boffin Jack Daniels worked out that 100 grams per shoe makes running about 1% harder, or adds over 1 minute during a marathon. (The Run S.M.A.R.T. Project).

Now, I don’t run marathons, and I’m not even sure that I would fancy a lightweight shoe during a half marathon. But what about a 10k? How much difference could it make?

I tend to race in my Glycerins, so we’ll start with a weight of 320 grams. The Hyperion is 181 grams, so a difference of 139 grams. So, with some ballpark maths: if 100 grams gains just over a minute, let’s say 1.2 minutes, then 139 grams will gain about 1.6 minutes. A 10k is roughly a quarter of a marathon, so around 0.4 minutes, or about 24 seconds. Or 12 seconds in a 5k.

Now, some more maths. The Hyperion is around £80. Meaning that I’d be paying just over £3 per second of advantage during a 10k.

You know what, this clearly isn’t going to convince Lolly at all…

Horrible new shoe syndrome

I wrote on Sunday about my experience of buying new shoes. As I mentioned at the time, I tried on five different pairs. The ones I eventually chose had that “laid back in an armchair with a cup of tea” feel of comfort as soon as I slipped my foot in. I was chuffed.

Fast forward a few days, and they became uncomfortable, misshapen, solid lumps of plastic. In short, horrible new shoes.

I’ll start from the beginning. Although I bought the shoes on Saturday, I had never intended to wear them for my long run on Sunday, I thought it better to stick to my old trusted trainers for that run, and switch to the new ones during my “recovery week”. As a result, it wasn’t until Tuesday that I first put on my new Brooks Glycerine 11s in anger. I put them on, and waited. Waited for that cup of tea to materialise in my hands, but sadly the moment never arrived.

Undeterred, I headed out for my four mile run. I took my first running strides, and more disaster. The lovely moulded insoles just felt like all the lumps were in the wrong places. My foot, rather than being snugly held in place, was moving around all over the place, slipping over moulded bumps. My toes leapt up and down, hitting the sole, then the upper, then the sole, then the upper. What size shoe had she given me, a 14?!

Still, I persevered. I got around the first mile, and while my feet seemed to have finally settled into their appropriate dips in the insole, the shoe itself felt inflexible, solid and heavy. What happened to all that cushioning? Instead of a nice running action, my feet were slapping against the floor: I didn’t have to ask people to move to the side of the pavement to let me past, they could tell I was coming as much as they could an ambulance with siren and full flashing blue lights.

Oh for my old shoes, with their lovely, thick SofSole Airr. Come back: all is forgiven!

And yet, I continued. Three miles in, and my left knee was starting to hurt. Despite the fact that this has been bothering me on and off for a few weeks, my mindset was such that it was all the fault of my new shoes. My right foot/ankle/shin/whatever was also aching. Again, not an uncommon occurrence when I was running, but again, it was all the fault of the new shoes. It must have been the new loop lacing method I was trying. Argh: evil new shoes.

I arrived home – I’d done it – I’d defeated them.

I took the blue devils off in disgust and… and realised that there was a reason I hadn’t worn them on my long, eight mile run on Sunday. New shoes need to be worn in. Of course they wouldn’t be as comfortable as my 18-month-old pair that had seen me through just over 400 miles worth of running. No, the moulded insole isn’t as cushioned as the thick SofSole that I was used to. But maybe 18 months of injuries would suggest that while comfortable, the SofSole may not have been too effective at preventing injuries. And so, rather than find a stake and some holy water, I instead tucked my new shoes away on the shelf, and resolved to be patient.

Two days later, another four miles on Thursday evening, and they felt fine. Our relationship may have, almost literally, started on the wrong foot, but I have confidence that we can persevere and make it work.