Having only been running for around three years it occurred to me that getting a professional shoe fitting might be useful. In my defence I have had run training and so my technique isnt too bad but the difference a bike fitting made to my rides was significant. Surely this might also be the case for my feet?
Running Free is situated 5 minutes up the road from Ashely Cross in Poole. On walking in you can sense the nice, friendly atmosphere and I was greeted by two staff members who were serving customers at the time. Julius came over introduced himself, asked what I wanted (“A long overdue shoe fitting”) and then led me straight over to the fitting area. We took a look at my current pair of running shoes and identified my pattern of wear around the outside of the sole and fairly even from back to front to show a mid-sole strike pattern with signs of over-pronation.
I went on to receive a gait analysis aided by a slow mo’ video of me running on treadmill using a pair of running shoes with zero arch support. This confirmed my overpronation and we went through a review of the different types of shoe they stock (Brooks, Mizuno, Asics, Salomon, Nike, etc…) and the way in which each shoe would work with my biomechanics.
Julius was very methodical in reviewing the benefits of different types of shoe and described in detail how they were made and the materials in use. As we chatted I talked about the blog and Ollie, the owner, stuck his head out of the stock room and asked ‘So, you’re a blogger are you’!? Ollie’s knowledge of shoes, running and training methods was simply astounding. He only intended to pop in to the shop on the way to watch the rugby but quite happily spent 20 minutes with me and Julius. We revisited the videos of my gait analysis and he was still there, 40 minutes later, when I left!
After the re-analysis, a review of my injury history and training plans leading up to my Half IM (with Ollie’s additional insight) I tried on around eight different pairs of running shoes. Each time we reviewed the affect each shoe had on the way I ran – the differences were remarkable. It came down to a decision between the extremely light and responsive Mizuno (with it’s ‘Wave’ system designed to disperse the weight of your foot strike across the sole) and the Asics a heavier, really well cushioned run. I was stumped…I kinda wanted both!
In the end Asics GT2000-4 won the day. I was shopping for a training shoe and as my mileage steadily increases I want to avoid the injuries caused by the repetitive impact of my foot hitting the road. Despite wearing the most cushioned sole I’ve ever owned, the ride is surprisingly assured and responsive. It also helps that the rubber compound they’ve used provides superb grip; better than the Mizuno. I think I may return and purchase the Mizuno for racing as the weight difference is noticeable but I wasn’t surprised to learn the Asics is the most popular shoe they stock.
The experience with Running Free was excellent. I feel as though I gained a huge amount of advice and expertise to help find the right shoe for me. All the staff made me feel really welcome (they didn’t even mind taking a few photos!) and the knowledge and time taken made the difference for me. If you’re running 60/70km a week or more, getting a professional shoe fitting will save you from injury – I’m sure of that.