Sunday, August 22, 2010

Running Right.

Being the supreme athlete that I am and very conscious that 2012 is just around the corner, I thought I'd better get myself a new pair of running shoes. I have been running, on and off, since I was at school, and that was so long ago even my memories of that time are in sepia!

To date, I have not exactly put much investment into the area of running shoes. I guess I've always seen such items as little more than up-market plimsolls, and so I've never exactly lashed out more than about £40 (or less) for such items. Well, the last pair I bought must be about 4 years old. However, given that time seems to rush by much more quickly when you get to my age, it was probably more like 5 or 6 years ago when I bought them. To say they were in need of  replacing would be an understatement. They were visibly rotting on top and coming apart at the seams. The soles were very worn and the inside was characterised by the dried sweat of innumerable miles of running.

Of late, it has been suggested to me that I am becoming a bit of an embarrassment when competing in running events. Of course this revelation was quite a shock to me, but then, when I thought about it I decided there might be something in this. I have been wearing, for example, just about any old tee shirt which found its way to the top of the pile. Given that I'd never paid more than 3 or 4 pounds Stirling for a tee shirt in my life, I found it hard to accept that I should start spending upwards of £15 plus for a running vest. I have to say, that I was rather shown up by my eldest son in the last event we ran in together. He wore a really smart blue Nike top and if I am honest, I did look rather like someone dressed in the attire of a destitute disposition. Anyway, as it was my birthday recently, I was given a couple of proper posh running vests, all swish with very flowy material. I have to say, I am now a convert to paying extra for quality. Running in the vests is a joy, they seem to breath, with the feeling of the air flowing around my chest. Also, they do not get heavy with sweat! No doubt they will also last longer, though I do have a tendency to keep wearing clothes until way past their "use-by" date.

Today, we headed into Cambridge where I was determined to get myself a pair of decent running shoes. Now, for a long time it has been recommended to me that I should visit "Advanced Performance". The name appeals to me because, as stated I am an advanced athlete, if only with respect to my age! I suppose one thing which has been putting me off was the idea I might have to spend more than £40! Even so, feeling enlightened by the experience of my wonderful new running vests, I decided to throw caution to the winds.

Advanced Performance is different to any other sports shop I have ever visited. It is different because you get personal attention from a sports expert who is genuinely interested that you, the customer, get the best possible product available to suit your needs. This is achieved by being invited to try out various running shoes and running with them out on a tread mill. Your feet are being videoed as you run and it is then a matter of reviewing the action to see how your gait is out of true from the ideal. After repeating the process several times, you then end up with a pair of trainers which best compliment and correct your running style to achieve the best performance. In the end I had a choice of three pairs of shoes to choose from, all with similar characteristics. The final decision is based upon comfort (it should not be upon price) and looks, or any brand preference you might harbour. To make my decision I was invited to leave the store and run up and down the road. I liked the Nike shoes the best, so that's the pair I bought. They cost me a lot more than £40, but I will know it is worth it when I will no doubt burn up the opposition in my future races and bring home the medals!