So what's been going on? Well amongst other things I've had a complete batch of new footwear in recent weeks. Shoes that I've never tried before and at present the only pair of Nike Pegasus I run in are reserved for Braunton Burrows because they're already full of sand which, lets be honest, you can never get rid of.
I recently did some lab testing for some studies at Exeter University and this gave me the opportunity to go see Exeter's own specialist running shop (should I plug them?). The first thing you notice with any specialist is that they don't seem to have the greatest choice of footwear which can be a bit disconcerting, but then of course they don't sell basketball/squash/tennis/gym/general leisure gear, just running gear. The biggest problem for me is that I have big feet so the full range is never available and hence my choice is further limited. There was no need for any huge gait analysis session, I'm neutral, I've always been neutral and one look at the soles of my current trainers confirmed that nothing had changed. The only real FAIL was that their easiest sell in the world (a new pair of Pegasus) wasn't available in my size. Many shoes were tried on and I was finally down to a pair of Asics and a pair of Saucony, walking and jogging in and around the shop with a different shoe on each foot trying to decide which felt best.
I left the shop with a (singular) new pair of trainers, as did Shelly, the only problem was that I was in Exeter again for testing a week later and this time I left with 2 pairs, both which I'd tried on and knocked back on my first visit. 3 pairs, 3 different makes! Nobody can say I'm bias at least.
So .............. meet the new running shoe family.
The middle pair are - Saucony Jazz 12's - These were the original purchase. An educated/recommended choice as an alternative to my regular Air Pegasus. I've had them a couple of weeks (hence they're dirtier than the others) and so far so good. I've run comfortable 16 & 17 milers in them with no blistering or any real 'breaking in' problems. The only small issue has been a hot spot on the outside edge of my little toe, but I'm prone to butchering my feet so it may be something I did rather than the shoes. They've had a week off, if the toe problem returns when I'm back in them then I'll have to look again, but if not then I genuinely really like them. First impressions ------- a solid 7/10
Next along are - Nike Zoom Marathoners - a bit of a risky purchase (but with 20% off). I was a bit put off by their spangly looks and their odd sole design which are smoother and 'pure road' where most shoes have more general purpose lugs. They also felt a little tight. I was however looking for something specifically to run road Marathons in with Wolverhampton on 6th September and more importantly IM Florida on 7th November. These are lighter than Pegasus and supposedly designed for the job and surely, surely, surely all Nike sizing will be the same, when it comes to running in them a UK 12 Marathoner will size the same as a Pegasus! You'd think so wouldn't you? It seems not though. So far I've only run twice in them. My first run was a 12 miler by the end of which the big toe on my right foot felt as though it was about to burst through the toebox of the shoe. My second run was a 9 miler, this time my toe felt fine but my heel was struggling. There's no twinges or tweaks coming with them though so I'll persist a while longer to see if they just need bedding in. First impressions though ------- a poor 4/10
And finally, sitting on the outside edge of the picture shining and glistening like only a pair of ego massaging racing flats can (or should) are the - Brooks T6's - again these felt a little tight in the shop but the next size up swamped me. The thought that a) most runs would likely be triathlons with no socks taking up space, b) I won't be running long in them so any size issue would only be for a short period of time and c) Shelly wasn't there to curb my spending meant I also took the plunge with these. It seems an odd thing to say, but after running for close to 20 years I've NEVER owned a pair of genuine racing flats and I was quite excited to get these home. I've only run in them once so far and it wasn't really the best introduction for them. It was my first ever track 10k with a clubmate (Tim) at the end of a 40hr period where I'd already done 10hrs of training including finishing a 36mile TT on the bike just 40mins earlier. My legs just died on my after 10 (of 25) laps and I struggled round to post a 36:55 and getting caned by Tim in the process. Having said all that, for those first 10 laps I felt supremely comfortable cruising at the front with Tim hanging onto my shoulder, the shoes felt fantastic and even on those later laps when no doubt my form would have been struggling and any problems with the lack of support would have been highlighted the shoes felt great. So far so good. I'm debating whether to use them for the Sprint Tri tomorrow but they haven't actually been on the road yet. I'll probably decide 10mins before the race. First impressions - 8/10 (only one run in though).
Blimey, I was going to talk about my training but I've rambled on so much I'd better not bother.
One last thing on the shoe issue though ............ I'm getting known as a bit of a Newton basher. I have NO problem with Newton Running Shoes, I've never tried them so I can't really comment on them, my neutral style may even be perfectly suited to them. My main beef is the aggresive way that Newton gets rammed down your throat as if it's the be all and end all of running, this gets me on the defensive and I can't resist stiring the pot by answering back. If Newton suit you then fantastic, they can not and will not be suitable for everybody though. They're far too expensive for me, costing almost as much as the combined 3 pairs above and I've no wish to start my running from scratch. I don't get injured (touch wood) so why change.
I recently had an encounter with a Newton Rep, it was great fun, a bit like when the Jehovah's Witness come knocking on your door to preach AT you. Every other brand is wrong, only Newtons will do. NO!!!!!!!! "Craig Alexander won Hawaii wearing Newton's" was my favourite comment. "So he wouldn't have won wearing any other brand?" was my reply. "Possibly not" was the reply from the poor deluded fool. Does he really think we don't know how sponsorship works? Newton sales experience 2/10 (preach and seemingly think we're all ignorant)
Compare that to a recent encounter with a Saucony Rep in Exeter. Perfectly friendly, helpful, full of useful advice WITHOUT slagging off every other brand on the market. That was the day I did actually leave the shop with a pair of Saucony but there was no pressure sell, Shelly was torn between Saucony and Adidas (Adidas won). He was more concerned with making sure we were running full stop. Saucony sales attitude 9/10 (helpful and appreciative that runners aren't stupid)