Shoes, glorious (and infuriating) shoes!

I’ve been running since April 2011 and since then I’ve been through a few pairs of running shoes.

I started off with an odd choice in the Nike Rongbuk which is in fact more of a hiking shoe – they did well hiking at 2000m+ in Switzerland back in September 2011 but they were horrors to run in back home! Alongside these shoes I jumped straight onto the minimal bandwagon and got a pair of New Balance Minimus Zero (road) a few days after their 2012 release. I’m not sure that I was ready for a zero drop shoe at this point and ended up selling them in June 2012 after I raced in them once…I regret that decision now as they were actually really comfortable and extremely light weight. If I still had them I’d probably be running in them!

On my return from Switzerland and after retiring my Rongbuks (too heavy, ugly, not really runners) and selling my Minimus, I opted for a pair of New Balance MT110. I read up a lot on these before I purchased them and liked what I saw – brilliant shoes on road, trail, snow and pretty much anything you could throw at them! I still have these shoes and although the tread has worn down significantly I use them for fast sessions on the road and the occasional track session. Honestly, I cannot recommend a better shoe!

Anyway, towards the end of 2012 having pretty much run the MT110 into the ground I needed a shoe that was versatile (suitable for road and offroad) and a little more cushioned as I started to pick up injuries left, right and centre! At this juncture, I turned towards Asics and the Gel Fuji Attack. At the time I bought these shoes I suspected that I had stress fractures in my metatarsals but I was still determined to train and compete for my former club in cross country over the winter.

I trained in all weather on and off-road over the winter in these shoes and I have to say they are pretty nice and responsive – definietely keepers (it’s why I still have them). But as January 2013 came around and my injuries did, indeed, turn out to be stress fractures I just couldn’t keep on pounding away and ignorning quite significant pain. I was getting all kinds of tensions and pains throughout my feet and legs due to my adjusted stride, cadence and footfall. On top of this, I got a new job which for some unknown reason made me hang up my runners pretty much altogether until June!

Now I’m back out there, as this blog atests, training for an eventual Ironman via a 70.3 and a marathon (or two). As I’ve said I still have my MT110 and I still have my Gel Fuji Attack – both very different shoes and both very much designed for off-road and mountain use. That said, I’ll be sticking with the Fuji Attack with their 10mm drop for off-road recovery days and off-road longer runs. The MT110 (4mm drop), being my favourite ever shoe thus far, will be kept back for the occasional fast track or short road session and I’ll probably get another pair of them in the future just for fun, long distance, fast off-road runs!

I’m now in the market for a high mileage, road specific minimal shoe (3-6mm drop). This has led me to a few running stores and I’ve tried on many different shoes!

  • Brooks PureFlow2, PureCadence2 and PureConnect2 (all very comfortable but I just cannot choose between UK9 or UK9.5).
  • Mizuno Wave Ronin 5 and Wave Sayonara (UK9 too tight, UK9.5 pinched top of big toe on treadmill tests – really gutted by this as they were both beautiful, lightweight shoes).
  • Various Asics, including the tri-specific Gel Noosa 7 and 8 (really didn’t do anything for me, can’t explain why, just didn’t like them).
  • Various Nike Flyknit racers (too light for training, too expensive – pure racing shoes).
  • New Balance 1080v3, 890v3 (not ‘minimal’ enough) and various Minimus (can’t pinpoint why but something in my head just said ‘No’).

As you may guess, I’ve been in a quandry about shoe selection! Hence this long post!

I have, however, come to the decision that I am going to go for a pair of Inov8 Road X-233. I have done a lot of research on these shoes and everything I’ve read about Inov8 road shoes in general, and this model specifically, suggests that with the 6mm drop it is perfectly suited for both training and racing. All I have to do now is get over to the London Marathon store in Covent Garden on Tuesday and pray that, when I try them on, they fit like a glove and feel like a dream!

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