Friday, 30 September 2011

THM Observations and stuff

I promise that this will be the last Tonbridge Half-Marathon 2011 related blog post. I just had these notes floating around and wanted to stick them on the blog.

Observations during the race:

During the race a Father and Son went past me on their bicycles. The boy said to his Father 'why are there so many people running down the road?'. I didn't catch the answer but the question alone made me smile!

I almost got hit by a falling acorn, it made an almighty sound when it landed on the floor.

One of the hills near the end was so steep that I'm sure walking would have been faster.

I was so hot at some points that I had to pull my shirt up to let in some cooler air. The race number doesn't help, it blocks most of the ventilation on the front of the t-shirt.

I usually run with the music of John Martyn on my headphones. He was still there even though the headphones were not.

Throughout the race me and another runner kept changing places, and it went on for ages. He would be faster on the hills and I would pass him back on the flat. The very last section was flat, I finished a minute ahead of him.

Leigh is quite a pretty little village. I had never been through it before.

Some people on bikes were trying to cross the road at one point. They almost blocked the entire road. I wasn't going to stop, fortunately they gave way.

Just before a particularly steep hill a spectator shouted out something about it being a hill of doom, or hill of terror, or something similar. They were right.

The water stations were all manned by children, they were really enthusiastic, I remember the last station I passed a lad shouted out 'you're doing well, not far to go' - It really helped.

When we passed a gathering of people cheering, I noticed that my pace quickened.

After the race someone that looked like a marshal asked me and the wife where the toilets were.

On the results page I spotted that the guy in his 60's that gave me a good thrashing at Riddlesdown parkrun was also running, he was three minutes faster than me.

When I saw the last placed runner (I was at 16k, he was at 5k approx) there was a car behind him, I assume it was back-marking. It looked like an F1 safety car.

When I was picking up water from the table at the end of the race some of the cups were empty. I thought someone was playing a cruel trick on me.

Right after the race I swore that I would never enter a half-marathon again. I'm now considering entering the Paddock Wood half next April.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Half-Marathon Recovery (a work in progress)

My first half-marathon was tough on my body. I thought I'd write about my post-race aches and pains. It may not be very interesting to anyone else but it will provide me with a good source of information for when I race my next half (or any other longer distance race).

The most unexpected pain that the course inflicted on me is in my toe next to my big toes on both feet (does that make sense?). I'm putting this down to these particular toes taking a bashing inside my shoes on the downhill sections of the course. They hurt most when I press down on the toe nail (or if my socks do the same).

In the days leading up to the race:

  • Left hamstring had been slightly tight.

Sunday 25 Sept - During the race:

  • IT band twinged every so slightly every now and then. (possibly due to downhill sections).
  • Towards the end of the race the ball of my left foot began to hurt (This is new).
  • My right shoe rubbed the top of my foot near the ankle (not the first time it has done this).
  • I did not have any problems with my left hamstring during the race.

Sunday 25 Sept - Post-race:

  • Left hamstring felt tight straight after the race.
  • Two of my toes were hurting, one on each foot.
  • Ball of left foot was still hurting.
  • Extremely thirsty.
  • Extremely tired.

Monday 26 Sept - Rest day:

  • DOMS in hamstrings (plus left hamstring still tight).
  • DOMS in quads.
  • DOMS in calves.
  • Toes were still hurting but not as much as the previous day.
  • Underside of left foot still slightly tender.
  • Still quite tired.

Tuesday 27 Sept - Ran 5.6km at easy pace:

  • Left hamstring was still tight.
  • Toes were still hurting - I stubbed one on the rug and now it hurts more.
  • The DOMS was still present. Fairly mild. When I say mild, I mean mild for me. I lift weights so am used to having DOMS somewhere in my body almost all the time.

Wednesday 28 Sept - Ran 12.3km at easy pace:

  • Left hamstring was still tight - Running uphill seemed to make it feel worse.
  • Toes were still hurting.
  • The DOMS had pretty much gone.

Thursday 29 Sept - Ran 5.3km at easy pace:

  • Toes were still hurting, but noticeably better.
  • Hamstring still tight, possibly slightly better. Avoided hills during the run.
  • No DOMS at all.

Friday 30 Sept - Scheduled rest day:

  • Toes almost completely pain free.
  • No noticeable tightness in hamstring but had complete rest day. Will continue to take it easy.

Saturday 1 Oct - Parkrun 5k (tempo run):

  • Toes (right is back to normal / left is 99% normal)
  • No noticeable pain in hamstring before the run, the tempo pace was about as fast as I could go without risking turning the tightness into something worse. Sat in cold bath once home, felt fine but will keep runs at easy pace throughout the next week.
Sunday 2 Oct Ran - 17.4km at easy pace

  • Hamstring felt fine during the run but I did take it easy and I avoided hills as much as possible.

Monday 3 Oct - Ran 5km at easy pace

  • Hamstring felt worse today. Decided to not run for the next few days.
  • Used frozen peas to ice the hamstring during lunchtime.
  • Used a freeze on the hamstring patch in the evening
Tuesday 4 Oct - Rest day

  • I did not run. Hamstring felt ok, but still clearly not right. Needs more rest.

Wednesday 5 Oct - Rest day

  • I did not run. Hamstring felt ok, but still not right.

Thursday 6 Oct - Scheduled to run short and easy

Run if feeling ok, if not rest and ice.

Friday 7 Oct - Rest day

Rest and ice.

Saturday 8 Oct - Parkrun (Race if possible)


With the exception of the tightness in the hamstring I have completely recovered from the half-marathon. The hamstring issue was not caused by the half-marathon.


Monday, 26 September 2011

Tonbridge Half-Marathon 2011

The Race:

I was awake and filling myself with toast just before sunrise. I wanted to make sure I ate something but didn't want to eat too close to race time. Once I had done that I had time to kill so fired up the laptop to do a bit of early morning tweeting. Thanks for all of the good luck messages!

Once I had managed to drag the two ladies in my life out of bed it suddenly dawned on me that race time was drawing near. We only had to walk down the high street to get to the start line but we were cutting it extremely fine. We arrived at about 9:43 (not that I was checking my watch or anything). I immediately said my goodbyes and went into the start funnel. The wife whipped out our lovely camera so she could capture lots of photos for the blog. As usual I am extremely grateful.

waiting to start (aka the sun always shines on 7t)
There was supposed to be a system in place where runners line up in certain zones, each zone corresponding to an estimated finishing time. By the time I arrived the funnel was already backed up to the 2:30 zone. I did my best to filter through to the sub 1:45 zone but could only get as far as the back of the 1:45-2:00 zone. Not the best starting place for me, but I was happy enough to had got that far considering my non-early arrival time! To be honest, I think a lot of runners were ignoring the system. Another thing quite a few runners were ignoring was the ruling that personal music players were not to be used during the race.

Wrapped up in my own pre-race nerves while the speeches took place I fiddled with my phone, making sure my GPS tracking app was ready for action. Dame Kelly Holmes took hold of the mic and got a really good reception from the crowd. The people of Tonbridge really love her and it showed.

dame kelly holmes
Then we were off, or at least the people at the front were. From my position it took 22 seconds to shuffle through to the start line, I know this because I started my stopwatch when the air horn was blown. In retrospect I should have started it from the start line, but it didn't matter because I only used it as a rough guide while I was running.

The weather was amazing, although not necessarily good for racing. Most of the course was in direct sunshine, so when there was a chance to escape into the shade, I did. I had taken a bottle of Lucozade sport with me. I shouldn't have bothered because I couldn't drink it on the move. I managed a few sips but my stomach wasn't happy with receiving liquid while running at race pace. I should have just thrown the bottle away at one of the water stations but I kept hold of it in case I needed it later.

The course was really nice, but it felt hillier than the google maps hill profile that I had been studying for weeks had suggested. Once I got into some clear air I locked myself into a comfortable pace and admired the beautiful Tonbridge countryside. Living in the centre of the town it's sometimes easy to forget the beauty that is just a few minutes away.

course map
 I continued like this until I reached the village of Leigh (pronounced: Lie), where the reception was amazing! People had lined the streets and I waved as I passed them. I think I saw a gazebo on the village green. It was like a mini summer fete! Then the route took us on a huge loop before returning to Leigh to start the final 4 mile stretch back into the centre of Tonbridge. Just after this point I saw the last placed runner. He had just reached 3.5 miles (just over 5km) as I was approaching 10 miles (16km). He was going to be out there for a very long time. (In the results he is listed but doesn't have a time, I think they packed away the timing gear before he got back).

It was on this last section that the course took it's toll on me. At the 10 mile mark I remember thinking, this is good, we can have a nice sprint finish. But somewhere in between that point and the 11 mile mark I had completely changed my mind. All of a sudden just keeping going got considerably harder. I passed a couple of people that had resorted to walking and one that looked like he was about to see his pre-race meal again.

During my long training runs I had always wondered what the end of this race would be like. I had imagined myself smiling and sprinting towards the finish line. 'Bring it home' was always the phrase that came to mind. But today none of that happened. At 12 miles I was done, everything had gone. I had no energy, no smile, and my feet were hurting. The easiest thing to do would have been to stop. I honestly wanted to. I would never have forgiven myself if I had slowed down to a walk, let alone stopped completely.

approaching the end
I pushed on. The route came off the main road and onto a narrow country lane. Towards the end of the lane some people had gathered and were encouraging the runners by pointing out that the finish line was only three minutes away... My thought was 'I have to keep running for another three minutes? Oh crap!'. Then I reached the end of the lane and out onto the final 300 metres.

The 'bring it home' from my training runs didn't even cross my mind. I enjoyed and was thankful for the cheers from the crowds but everything I had went on trying to stay upright so, and I feel sad to admit it, I didn't interact with the crowds at all at this stage of the race. I was completely focused on reaching the finish line. Then, at last, I could see the blue timing chip mats on the floor up ahead. In the past I have commented on being glad to reach the end of a race, this was no different.

the end of the race
I crossed the line, relieved that I could finally stop running.

As expected, Dame Kelly Holmes was there to present the runners with their medals. She may have said something to me but I honestly can't remember. Everything was fuzzy. I needed some water, and I needed it straight away!

the wife tried to get a photo of dame kelly holmes giving me my medal
 I was glad there were marshals to tell me what to do because, with my mind in its current state, I had no idea. At some stage someone removed my timing chip, then I wandered along the finish area and saw some volunteers holding out goodie bags, so I took one. I was very specifically told 'there is water in the bag'. I must have looked like I needed it!

I left the finish area and went into the school grounds adjacent to the finish line. And there I saw a whole table full of cups of water. I took one, then another, and then another. Thirst partially quenched I turned around to find the wife and the baba approaching me. I presented the wife with the many things I had accumulated since the end of the race. The I popped back to grab another cup of water!

still a tad confused (why am i wearing a medal?)
I heard an announcement that the first batch of runners' times were now online. Unbelievable. So impressive.

After a brief sit down on some steps to rest (which I thought may be my final resting place) the wife showed me something special she had managed to get while I was running (see photo below).

a message from dame kelly holmes
We then went off to pick out a souvenir tech t-shirt, which were being sold for £12:50 each. I really didn't have much brain power left for shopping, but I was faced with a decision. They had lots of different colours to choose from. There was a really nice green but that was only available in the women's fit. I then narrowed it down to a deep red and a navy blue before finally scrapping that idea and going for a royal blue one.

Now for some stats:

I checked my stopwatch at each mile marker, these are the ones that I can remember. The times below reflect what my stopwatch said, which was based on gun time and not my chip time, not that it really matters.

1 mile - 0:08:00
2 miles - 0:14:32
3 miles - 0:22:30
6 miles - 0:44:??
8 miles - 0:59:53
10 miles - 1:15:??

In addition I have checked my GPS km splits and I am very pleased with the way that I held quite an even pace right until the end. I won't list them here but you can take a look at my runningAHEAD log for the km splits if that kind of thing interests you.
  • Overall: 98/820 (or 94/820 if you go by the chip time) Top 12%.
  • Gender: 80th / 514.
  • Senior Male: 46th / 233
  • Age Grading: 59.55%
  • Steve/Steven/Stephen: 3rd/20 - I'm pushing my luck here.

My Time: 1:39:42

Other things:
  • There was a race programme. It had a list of all of the competitors names. That was a nice touch.
  • The race director stayed in regular contact via email in the run up to the event and sent an email out the day after. I liked this.
  • The race pack included everything required to race. Meaning that I could just turn up and run without having to queue to collect the timing chip on the day. 
  • In my opinion the event ran very well. There were loads of marshals, the course was clearly marked, the volunteers/marshals were all very friendly and offered loads of encouraging words as I passed them.
  • The results were available online almost instantly. This was impressive.
  • The only piece of information that I didn't see on the website or in the race pack was whether the course would have mile markers, kilometre markers or both. In the end it was mile markers, which I thought it would be. I would have preferred to see both, I love to check my splits as a go around.
  • The goodie bag wasn't as good as at some other events. But this event did have a much more reasonable entry fee, so it makes up for the lack of goodies in the bag.
  • My only real disappointment was that my name was not called out at the end of the race. I heard a marshal radioing my race number to mission control and was listening for my name but I didn't hear it, neither did my wife. I had been looking forward to that.

Are you still here?

Thanks for sticking with it, I know it was long.


P.S. I enjoyed it thoroughly and will definitely be back next year! 

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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Riddlesdown parkrun thirteen (RDp13)

Joining me for today's parkrun was a good friend of mine, Terry. He is pretty new to running and had only run the full 5k four times before today.

With me running my first half-marathon the following day my original plan for the day was to run at about half-marathon race pace as a warmup for the following day's race. After a bit of thought I decided to scrap that plan and complete the whole parkrun with Terry. After all, it was his first event and I hadn't seen him for ages. It just felt wrong to go off and do my own thing.

Race director, Nicki, was out on the downs at 7am this morning with a rake trying to clear the pathways of the remains of the Riddlesdown harvest, which had resulted in large clumps of grass either causing or covering potential trip hazards.

nice easy start
We lined up at the back of the start funnel. We then had a moment of silence in memory of Mark Burtwell, who passed away recently. I didn't know him personally but he was very well known over at Banstead parkrun, and also a member of South London Harriers running club.

Then we started.

We moved off at a nice slow pace, easing ourselves into the run. With just under six minutes on the clock we hit the 1km mark. The pace was nice and easy and we chatted about this and that. I occasionally chipped in with some course or time information.

pushing hard
By the time we reached 2km we had increased the pace slightly and we were gradually picking off other runners.

We passed the half-way mark, I can't remember what our split was but we were faster than I thought we'd be to this point.

We looped back around and just after 3km I pointed out a runner that we decided we could catch before the end. At this point our ongoing conversation was halted in favour of increasing the effort. We actually caught him at the 4km point, so were very pleased with our progress.

pushing to the limit (and beyond)
After we overtook him I noticed that Terry didn't want to slow down again, from this point we continued to push the pace. Near the end I pushed slightly in front of Terry to give him some space to judge his own finishing straight pace. He pushed very hard and needed some alone time for a couple of minutes after the race.

We crossed the line in 45th and 46th positions. Our official times were 27:29 and 27:31.

post-race chat
 Our approximate kilometre splits were:
  • 0-1km 5:55
  • 1-2km 5:37
  • 2-3km 5:30
  • 3-4km 5:33
  • 4-5km 4:52
Overall, a nice easy pre-half-marathon warm up run for me and a really impressive first 5k performance for Terry. Hopefully he'll be back soon!

all over for another week

After the race we went to the good companions pub for coffee, cake and bananas!


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ridelesdowne parkrun twelve (RDp12)

Saturday 17 September:

6:45am - Awake, washed, dressed

Nothing too exciting. Although I did check my twitter feed and found a message from @nickiclarke regarding a threat/offer/promise to follow me around the course with a high pressure water pistol. For anyone that doesn't know the background - I really fancy a RDp in heavy rain. We did have a few spots of rain today but nothing significant.

7:30am - In the car

First stop was the petrol station. When I first bought my current car I could just about squeeze £20 of petrol in the tank. Now it takes way over £40 to fill it - I'm not happy about that, I'm sure most of you have similar feelings about the price of petrol.

8:17am - Arrival at Warlingham School

Change into Kanadia's, get the baby ready for action, hit the loos!

itching to to sign up and get into the 10 club!

8:40am - Warmup on the downs

Not as much as I'd like today, but loosened up well and felt good.

9:00am - Pre-race instructions / announcements

This week Kaye was race director so did the pre-race honours. Included in the speech was a bit about people cutting the corners. I'm glad it has been raised, I'm sick of watching people cut them! Honestly, what does it achieve? You might get a PB but you know deep inside yourself that you didn't deserve it. It'll eat away at you, stay on the course and earn it!!

9:02am - Race Start (0km)

Although I was hanging around at the front of the start line, somehow I ended up starting further back than I had intended. Once the race was underway I had to trample the long grass (it was just a few steps, I'm sorry) to pass some people until I found some clear space to settle into a good pace. I slowly moved up the field and by the time we had entered the trail section of the course I was in the top ten.

9:07am - Passing the wife (1.5km)

When we exited the trail section I had moved up a few more places. A few seconds later, to my surprise, I realised that I was in second place.

9:11am - Half-way point (2.5km)

By the time I arrived at the half-way point I knew that first place was out of reach, so I started to think about finishing second, it sounded good to me. However nobody mentioned that to the person in third that was quickly eating into my lead over him. Just after 3km he passed me. The worst part? He seemed so fresh and relaxed as he did it! grrrr... (I don't mean it! It was well run).

9:19am - Passing the wife (4.5km)

Quite memorable from this week was when I passed my wife on the second lap (she was marshaling) and she was shouting 'GIVE IT SOME WELLY!!' That was brilliant, it totally took my mind off the pain for a few seconds and made me smile! She also took the photos for the blog. ( thanks :-) )

9:21am - Finish Line (5km)

Then before I knew it it was all over. Another RDp completed. My 100% attendance record intact. After hanging around at the finish line until the last person, a gentleman in the 80-84 age group (impressive stuff), came in, I wandered over to the gazebo to have my barcode scanned and also had natter or two about, what else, running!

10:20am - The Good Companions pub

After missing the entrance to the car park due to some roadworks, we had a little detour before finally arriving at the post race venue. We had brought a bunch of bananas so we would have something handy to nibble on this week. We sat around, had coffee and lemonade, there were photos being taken left, right and centre. Matilda was being her usual entertaining self, eating banana skins, playing hide and seek and generally just being cute. Once the results had been uploaded we all had a chance to get our official results early. My time was 19:25 - a new PB (by 7 seconds)!

My stats:

Position: 3rd/63
Gender position: 3rd
Age Group position: 1st/2 (SM30-34)
Age Grading: 67.55%
Time: 19:25
2.5km splits: 9:32 / 9:53

Official Riddlesdown parkrun results page for event twelve

Today's turnout was pretty amazing considering the inaugural Nonsuch parkrun was taking place just down the road. I hear they had an incredible turnout of 199 runners.

So that's it. Another week, another brilliant parkrun.


(RE: the subject - it's not a spelling mistake)

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Monday, 12 September 2011

Tonbridge half-marathon (13 days to go)

It's less than two weeks until my first half-marathon so I thought it was about time to post an update on the half-marathon preparations.

The race has reached its limit of 1000 entrants. It's definitely going to be the biggest race that I have taken part in. Also, they have confirmed that Dame Kelly Holmes will be starting the race.

My race pack arrived in the post last week. It contains my race number, timing chip in a sealed envelope which I must not open until race day (I don't know if I can resist the urge to peak inside), directions and parking information, and a luggage tag in case you need to store things during the race.

race pack contents

The race director has also sent a few emails with further details. I like that he is keeping in regular contact with the entrants. There will be a company selling commemorative tech t-shirts on the day (I had hoped there would be one included in the post-race goody bag). You can pre-order one but as I'm funny with sizings I'll have a look at them on their stand and decide whether to buy one on the day.


I have done six runs of half-marathon distance or greater and been consistent with my five runs per week schedule, apart from one week back in July when my left hamstring was playing up so I only did four. But then I did six a couple of weeks ago, so it balanced out.

My mileage has steadily increased and is firmly in the 50-55km per week window. Last week I had some time off work and that enabled me to put in a 59.7km week. Very happy with that side of the training.

The only part of the training that hasn't gone to plan are the Wednesday speed training sessions. The weekly parkrun races that I have been taking part in have made me nervous about going for too much speed during the week. I have gone as far as a few tempo runs during the week but that is about it.

I'm now in the window where my training plan suggests that I taper. There is one Sunday long run left before the race and the plan is for that to be around 15k. I suppose I should stick to the plan rather than doing the full long run, after all Bob Glover knows better than I do.

All that's left is to get through the next 13 days without doing anything silly, and arrive in one piece at the start line.



Saturday, 10 September 2011

Riddlesdown parkrun eleven (RDp11)

After being caught in stand-still traffic on the M25 after someone's tyre blew out, we were worried that we would not make it to the parkrun at all. That would have been disappointing for me, but even worse was that I had the official photographer in the car. Fortunately the traffic soon started moving and we continued our journey to Riddlesdown for event number eleven!

We arrived with only a few minutes to spare, The wife and the baba (sporting her parkrun t-shirt for the first time) joined the other volunteers. I jogged over to the start line, where I bumped into the race director and reassured her that she did have a photographer for the event.

riddlesdown parkrun's youngest fan? (Photo: Nicki Clark)
Standing at the start line I noticed that there were less runners than usual this week, the official number of finishers was 56.

The race got under way in the usual manner and everyone headed off on their own little adventure around the downs.

first lap (Photo: The wife)
The theme of the day was definitely the weather. It was humid with the occasional blast of wind in places, and it wasn't long before the effects of the humidity started to show. I ran at my normal 5k race effort but was about 30 seconds slower than I had hoped at the half-way point. I was bang on 10 minutes. I usually run the first half quicker than the second and today was no exception.

As I pushed on through the second half, the humidity further took its toll on me - it was very hard work just maintaining the pace, let alone pushing for a sub-20 time!

There were no exciting battles with other runners for me this week. So, alone, I pushed on to complete the course. I have a vague memory of the wife shouting at me for not sprinting down the final straight. I was out of juice and was running as fast as I could!

final straight (Photo: The wife)
I was handed my position barcode and was surprised to see that I was in third place. My highest finishing position so far! This made my finishing time of 20:07 easier to bear, especially as I really wanted to get back into the sub-20's this week. After reflecting on my run and looking at some other runner's times I saw that most people were slower than usual, I think the humidity had affected almost everyone.

My Stats:
  • Position: 3rd/56
  • Gender Position: 3rd
  • Age Group Position: 1st/2 (SM30-34)
  • Age Grading: 65.20%
  • Time: 20:07
  • 2.5km Split Times: 10:00 / 10:07

Official results page for event eleven

We really wanted to stay for a coffee and chat in the good companions pub afterwards but were so hungry that we decided to head back home for brunch instead. We're looking into bringing some kind of post-run breakfast type stuff next week so we are not tempted away again!


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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