The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!
I once read a little interview with European Cross Country Champion, Hayley Yelling, in which she said words to the effect that having new socks was a great way to make a run feel special. There is certainly something in that, the soft feeling of a new pair of socks is so lovely before they have been washed and start to get a bit rough and before your crappy toenails have managed to wear a hole through them. Also it’s a fairly cheap way to add a little happiness to your running life. But new shoes, well new shoes, they are something really special.
There is always a certain level of apprehension when buying new shoes. They might look great, there’s that excitement about trying them on, walking around in them, even running on the treadmill in the shop in them (usually wearing the most inappropriate clothing if you are as disorganised about these things as I am). Sometimes you know immediately that they are going to be rubbish and you’ve hardly even got them on before you ask the shop assistant if they’ve got something else but then sometimes you get that snug, slipper-like feeling in a shoe and you know it’s “the one.”
But there is still the real test, a proper run in the shoes and then the ultimate test of wearing them for training over several days or weeks to see if you develop any unwanted niggles. So many times I’ve had that excitement of taking the shoes home but then they have failed me at one of the final stages.
It’s a bit like running a clinical trial on a drug. The lab where I did my PhD developed the drug, temozolamide, for brain tumours. However, temozolamide was one in a series of potential drugs that they synthesised. I believe that the forerunner was a drug called mitazolamide developed by my PhD supervisor (and university running partner), Malcolm Stevens, and his PhD student, Rob Stone. I think that they came up with a snazzy name for it like Azalastone or something, which was kind of a combination of the chemical name and the name of the chemist who made it. Anyway, mitazolamide was pretty brilliant in the pre-clinical work and in the early clinical trials and Malcolm got some artwork commissioned around this new invention in the anticipation of it being a big success. The picture was like massive prehistoric stones cut out in the name “Azalastone.” However, mitzolamide/Azalastone, with all its promise, failed the test due to unpredictable and idiosyncratic toxicity. I think that Malcolm got a second piece of artwork commissioned in which the the stone in the picture is all crumbling and falling down – or perhaps I just imagined that!
Anyway, it’s just that shoes are like that, you think that they are going to be perfect, you love them, you care for them, you make sure that you run round rather than through muddy puddles in them and then, a few weeks after you get them, you get a little twinge in your knee, or your shin begins to hurt or that plantar fasciitis flares up and you know that those shoes are to blame and they have failed the ultimate trial.
I’ve had my fair share of shin splints and plantar fasciitis so I am always slightly worried about new shoes, even shoes that I’m not going to run in because walking around can be just as bad as running if you have the wrong shoes.
So, I’ve been looking for a decent pair of trainers to just wear around to replace a lovely pair of Adidas trainers that I wore for several years in the lab. Sadly, when I wanted to buy some more after I practically wore off the bottom of them, they didn’t stock them anymore and I bought an inferior pair, which were OK but never looked as good. I don’t want to run in the shoes, I just want them to be comfortable, look good and not cause me any injuries. I might run in them, but just to kick a ball around with the kids or run on the beach with them.
Anyway, this week I had a good look on the internet and I splashed out and bought a new pair of Adidas ZX Flux because I thought that they looked pretty cool in the pictures and since I didn’t need them to run in so thought it was worth the risk of getting them online even though you can never be too sure about the sizing. When I got home from work today, I found that they had arrived!!! How exciting is that? So, with great relish, I carefully took them out of the box and tried them on and – they fit, and they feel GREAT!
But what if they aren’t great, what if, after a few weeks wandering around in them, I find that my feet hurt? I’m a bit worried about the drop from the heel to the toe – is it too high? Are my feet going to move around too much in them and cause my arches to fall and my shins to hurt? What if?? So, with all the excitement over the new shoes, there is also a certain amount of worry because I really like them and now I don’t want them to be anything other than perfect.