AHOOGA! AHOOGA! Shoe dilemma!

Posted: 28/06/2015 in Uncategorized

Right, so, here’s the thing…

You know all those things you’re not supposed to do with shoes? Like get a new pair just before a race, significantly change the profile of the sole, anything that will affect your running form. You know, those things? 

Occasionally you hear tales of woe of people who’ve tried it – blisters, sore knees, legs flying off mid-race, you know. Chafing, even.

Well, I think I’m about to join that queue of idiots, and her’s why… (Sort of).

Back in the mists of 2012, before I’d been running for a full year, I hurt my knee. It was (thinking back) probably just an overuse thing, combined with a bit more bulk than now. At the time, it felt like a big deal. I nearly went to see a podiatrist about it, but my doctor got in there first and gave me the sage advice that has stood me in good advice all these years later, “really go for it”.

At about the same time, I discovered minimal shoes and slowly transitioned into using them.

The knee got better, the running continued, and to this day I almost exclusively run in minimal shoes, namely Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail shoes. These beauties:


Doesn’t matter if it’s road, trail or fell, Parkrun or ultra marathon, these have done the job. On longer runs I get sore feet, which is the downside, and sometimes a bit of joint pain after lots of road or shingle.

Last week, I won the monthly shoe giveaway at my local Parkrun. I was amazed, and very, very pleased. But what to do – the voucher was for Sweatshop and so I needed to pick from their range – they don’t see Vivos, and the shop seems to be full of Nike and Karrimor all of a sudden, neither of which are really up my street.

A bit of checking, and they do sell a few Salomon shoes, including a few trail shoes. I’ve always liked the idea of their shoes, but they’re too expensive and too waffle-icious for me. But for free???

I went down to the shop, I also had a mild worry in my mind that if I didn’t act quickly, then the ace Gibside Parkrun team might decide there was someone else more deserving. I had a look at the shoes. I tried a couple of shoes. I had a bit plod on the treadmill. I felt for the position of my big toe, I tried a size larger. I fended off some minor-league upselling. I decided that I still thought Gore-Tex in a shoe is a silly idea when you end up in puddles and streams. I bought these.

I also bought some shorts, because I felt mildly embarrassed to get a £100 pair of shoes without producing my wallet. They didn’t have any of the ridiculously coloured ones in my size so I had to get black.

They’re like marshmallows to my feet, used to barely a sliver of rubber between me and the ground. I can feel the  drop from the heel to the toe, which is an odd sensation.

However, I’ve had them out a couple of times now, one average six-mile jaunt and one three-mile Parkrun dash. And they’re canny. No additional pains, less foot soreness. The only downside to date, other than I notice my Achilles’ tendon more simply because it’s not fighting against other aches. Which might be just what I need with a 65 mile run in a fortnight, something to cushion the feet a little?

But it’s a risk – it could go wrong, my leg might fall off, I could end up running in circles. Who knows? 

So I’m planning to get a slightly longer run in before then and that will be the clincher – if they still feel good then I’ll be doing the St Cuthberts Way Ultra in them, if not then I’ll stick to the Vivos and the sore toes.

Fingers (and toes) crossed, eh?


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