Wednesday 7 September 2011

A visit to Sweatshop

If you have been following the blog you would have read that I was selected as 'Riddlesdown parkrun - Sweatshop runner of the month' for the month of August 2011. The prize was a free pair of running shoes from Sweatshop.

Brooks T7 / Nike Free 3.0 / Brooks Green Silence
I decided that it would make sense to go through their website and see what shoes they stock so that I could check out reviews and the like. As I am looking to use 'less shoe' in the future I focused my attention away from the standard road shoes with the very built-up heel. I ended up with a mixture of minimal and racing shoes on my list.

My Shortlist
  • Adidas Adizero Adios
  • Brooks Green Silence
  • Brooks T7 Racer
  • Newton Gravity
  • Nike Free 2
  • Nike Free 3.0
  • Nike Lunar Racer
  • Saucony Progrid Kinvara
Bluewater Sweatshop
Upon arrival at the Bluewater Sweatshop store I whipped my voucher out of my pocket (in my head I heard a fanfare) and presented it to a member of staff (I forgot to ask his name, but he was extremely helpful).
He asked what kind of running mileage I put in per week, what shoes I usually run in, and if I was training for anything specific. I showed him my list and he went to check which ones he had in stock. The Newton Gravity, Nike Lunar Racer and Saucony Progrid Kinvaras were all out of stock. I was especially disappointed that the Sauconys were out of stock as I had read lots of good reviews and was looking forward to trying them.

Adidas Adios / Brooks T7
Round 1 - The Fitting Test

  • Adidas Adizero Adios
 As I have mostly worn Adidas in the past we started there. I liked the look of the Adidas Adizero Adios but when I put them on I found they were very tight around my foot, rendering them unwearable.

  • Brooks Green Silence
These felt much better, nice and roomy inside. From the initial fitting these were probably my favourite - I instantly put them through to round 2.

  • Brooks T7 Racer
Initially I wasn't keen but they started to grow on me as I walked around in them - Another pair on into round 2.

  • Nike Free 2
These are advertised as minimal running shoes, but I didn't like these. They were too wide and just didn't feel right. They went back to the store room.

  • Nike Free 3.0
These I liked, although at first I hadn't done the laces up tight enough and they moved about quite a bit. Once I had re-tied them they felt really good. These are more minimal than the Free 2 and are actually advertised as a barefoot shoe (I have reservations about that term being thrown around, but that's not for this post). I liked them so they also went through to round 2.

Getting there
In addition to the above shoes I also tried a pair of Adidas Adizero Boston 2 - They were very comfortable, and I loved the colour (green). They came in slightly lighter than my current Adidas Ride 2. The problem was that they have a standard-style raised heel, so they were not what I was looking for. Had I not been looking for a minimal shoe I could have easily walked away with these (excuse the pun).


Round 2 - The Treadmill Challenge

The best three pairs of shoes went upstairs to face the t(d)readmill challenge!
  • Brooks T7
  • Brooks Green Silence
  • Nike Free 3.0
I hadn't run on a treadmill for quite a few months so this was always going to feel odd.

I started with the Brooks T7 Racers. They were ok, but something wasn't right. I still can't put my finger on it.

Brooks or Nike?
Second up were the Brooks Green Silence. I've been thinking about how to describe the feel of these, the best word I can come up with is 'clumpy'. It shows how important it is to run in shoes before making a purchase.

Lastly, I slipped on the Nike Free 3.0. They were very soft with virtually no support. You could easily bend them right in half. These were exactly what I was looking for.

The Winner

Nike Free 3.0

I have given them a test run (only 4km) in the real world and I love them, they are so light that I had to look down to check that I hadn't lost them on more than one occasion! They are my second pair of shoes in the minimal category. The advice is to go for a slow transition as shoes from this category can change the way in which your foot strikes the ground, which will in turn put more pressure on the calves and Achilies. If you jump straight in it is likely that you'll over-use the above areas and that could result in injury.

Nike Free 3.0
Thank you to parkrun and Sweatshop for my prize!

Also, thank you to Dani and Matilda for being so patient and for taking the photos (which you can click on to see a bit bigger) in the store.

Oh, and this time we only spent 8 hours in Bluewater!


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