New challenge, new trainers!

As a birthday treat to myself I thought it was about time I got myself some new running trainers. My trusty Karrimor trainers have done me well over the last couple of years but as you can see from the picture below the heel cushioning has worn away to the plastic, making them uncomfortable and causing my heels to crack which isn’t much fun. It’s a shame as the rest of the trainer is in pretty good condition considering they have also done two Tough Mudder’s and other off trail running.

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I’ve now decided to have two pairs of trainers – one off trail pair and the other for my general road running. I thought it was best to have two separate pairs so I don’t ruin my road running ones, especially as off trail means many different surface types including mud, water, rocks and grassland. Also, off trail trainers give an added sense of security knowing that they are specialised for variable surface types  and helps give peace of mind knowing that I won’t be slipping all over the place with the potential of ankle twists and breaks. I therefore purchased a pair of Merrell All Out Crush trainers that are specialised for Tough Mudder events and there’s a perfect woodland area not too far from me which I can’t wait to get out and trial them on!

To choose a pair of running trainers that will see me through training for the marathon and the marathon itself I went into research mode. I’ve seen a lot mixed articles and comments about the importance of getting your gait analysed before purchasing a pair of running shoes and the science behind it all. I’ve never done this before and tended to agree with a lot of articles that your gait can change over time and even during your run as you can change gait with differing pace and stride.  This makes it difficult to confirm your exact gait, especially as it is tested on a running machine which is very different to road and off trail running. I therefore decided not to go for a gait test and to just trial the trainers to see if they work for me. If I start getting a lot of injuries then I know something might be wrong with the trainers.

When running I do tend to strike with the heel more now as I have had achilles tendon and calf problems in the past (touch wood I’m injury free at the minute!) so I know I’m after a trainer that has decent heel cushioning and of course good comfort overall. For longer distances it can be useful to have a light trainer but then a slightly heavier trainer can help build strength in the legs which will support with me training up to the marathon distance, so I’m not too fussed on having an ultra light trainer. At the moment my runs have tended to be short runs of between 5 and 10K. Of course for marathon training I will start to progress with longer distances and take part in half marathons but long term I think the London Marathon will be my one and only marathon and therefore I won’t be looking to purchase specialised marathon running trainers.

My research started with checking out reviews on the comparison site RunRepeat. It was the perfect place to start with not only reviews on a vast quantity of trainers but it also gave excellent product descriptions. A simple click on the most highly rated running trainers gave me plenty of options. Instantly, I was drawn to the Nike Free RN Distance trainers. It might have been the insane sprinkling of bright colours on the trainer that drew me in like a magpie to shiny objects but I did like the general look of them so congrats to Nike for excellent marketing and product design, it certainly worked on me!

More importantly, are the trainers as good as they look? Expert reviews say yes with a 92% runscore of which the average user score is 4.7 out of 5. This now interested me more as you can’t beat actual personal reviews on a product. These reviews are from people who have tried and tested the product over numerous months, distances and on a variety of different surfaces so are the ones I prefer to trust.

I then popped over to the Nike website for more user reviews and to find out more about the trainer. The user reviews were extremely positive with people mentioning that it was a great shoe that “combines more cushion, with a lower drop and an exquisitely soft upper for a shoe that is exceptionally comfortable”, that ticks the comfort box for me. Vitally, one user who was also training for a marathon said that after doing an 18 mile run the shoes had “provided much more support than originally thought”.  Another user had worn the trainers over a couple of months for distances between 12-27 miles and says that “the running feels great”. I’m happy that reviews are stating that the trainers are fit for long distances so that helps ticks another box. Lastly, users have positively said that the trainers are “superb with cushioning on the heel when I strike the ground and great ankle support”. It’s sounding more and more likely that these trainers will suit me.

It’s always good to look at the competition so I went back to RunRepeat and looked at trainers made by Saucony, Asics, Mizuno, New Balance and Adidas. None got me as excited as the Nike’s. There were other Nike trainers that scored impressively but were made more for short distance runs and lacked the mix of comfort and support. My decision was made and as an extra bonus I found the Nike Free RN Distance trainers in the colour style I wanted on sale! Get in!

The trainers arrived yesterday and I was like a little boy at Christmas. I speedily tore open the parcel and opened the lid of the box in awe. I was greeted by an almost reptilian style patterned, glorious bright pinky-orange pair of trainers with an electric blue trim. They are stunning to look at and people will certainly see me coming! More importantly, when I put them on they felt like pillows on my feet! They were so comfortable and supportive but the big question still remained – what were they like to run in?  Simple answer – very impressive! I only did a 2 mile run as with any new trainers it’s best to work them in, so only time will tell if they end up giving me problems but the very early signs are good.  They are a great deal lighter than my old pair of trainers and as they are from the Nike Free range they do have a more natural feel to them with less padding and support on the top and down the sides of the shoe. This is going to take a little getting used to but I already noticed that with the excellent cushioning and support on the sole it’s making me run at a slightly faster pace. This could just be excitement of having new trainers so I won’t get too carried away just yet. All in all I’m very happy with my choice and am eager to see how they perform on the longer runs!

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On a separate but another exciting note my Meningitis Research Foundation London Marathon fundraising pack has arrived and over my birthday weekend my fundraising total reached 5% and now sits at £117! This is a great start so thank you to those that have donated already, your names proudly sit under the Sponsors tab on the blog.

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Donations are always welcome and if you would like a sponsorship form I have plenty of copies, alternatively donations can be made on my JustGiving page, thank you!

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