Many chiropracters, acupuncturists, epidurals and natural remedies later saw me destined to a life of chronic pain and inactivity. One day whilst walking past a sports shop I was struck by a bolt from the heavens, well, in reality I saw my answer on the shop wall; Asics Kinsei 2, the shoe as recommended by sports physios, yeah recommended but did they ever wear them? Remember the old seat belt ad, "Clunk, click with every trip" well that could have been written for the space age, "most technically advanced" shoes, they most certainely clunked and clicked. Every time I ran I could be heard either by the loud heel slapping or the calf ripping that the outward splaying, oversized lugs perfomed on me. The final insult was when the plastic bondage structure broke free and tore the skin off my ankles!! Did I buy another pair... well, cheer up , despite my ranting I was running!
As my wounds healed and my times improved I decided I needed to trade my kinsei for something a little less armoured, shoe reviews in hand and expert advice received ; I was an overpronator which meant I needed the Asics 2140. Soon I could be seen running halfs and finally training for a marathon, now one season back into running I was flying through my shoes, wearing the heels down to within an inch of their rubberised lives. Pain free, never, but running would send the endorphins kicking any back pain deep into submission, running became my time of relief. Hey, back to my worn out shoes, time to read the reviews and see what rubber smelling high tech offering was out there; time for a change as my asics were giving me serious blisters and my stock of tape was running low. So onwards I trotted and duly had my gait analysed; well sir, your left foot is neutral but your right overpronates, so you will need to wear overpronation shoes.
I had read about the Mizuno Nirvana and well frankly Runners World made them sound like Nirvana and they did seem to stop the old torn foot syndrome and they saw me through my first marathon in 3hrs 55 minutes. Nirvanas gave way to the Inspire and marathon to my first ultra distance, the 48 mile ITEX round Jersey walk, but the quest for paradise continued.
Reading Born to Run was my moment of enlightenment, I didn't need all these reinforced, structured high heeled monsters, I could run barefoot! Ouch! I couldn't, well I could and my heel strike gave way to a dainty fore foot but so did my achilles tendons and calf muscles. Bare foot ... schmare foot, but could there be something in these minimalist shoes.Browsing in a local outdoor store I found Inov8 and after some research bought a pair of Roclite 218 GTX
and immediately fell head over heels with the sensation when running off road and so went experimental and bought the Flite 320 pk for road running. However in the back of my mind there existed a niggling doubt, spawned from reading product reviews, I needed support and cushioning. These flimsy plimsoles would never protect me over a long distance, so I bore my Inspires for my second marathon and would have done so for my next ultra distance but by now they stunk. In true pioneering spirit I risked shodding my trotters in my Roclites for 44 miles of trails and survived blister free.
So, please don't tell me I need to wrap my feet in cotton wool and chicken wire, trussing them up like some turkey at Christmas, because my back needs protecting or my over pronation will get the better of me. Hell no! I don't overpronate anymore, my arches have risen like phoenixes rising from the ashes. I have started barefooting again, but gradually and now you can see me skipping lightly in my new banana shoes, the Inov8 255Road x.
With only 255 grams of material to cushion me and a 9mm differential, these are minimalist heaven! On first inspection I was taken aback by the curved shape of the last which results in a wide toe box but hey they are incredibly comfortable, my toes can wiggle to their webbed hearts content (Yes they are webbed and so Vibram 5 fingers are not on the cards). Now I proudly trot out the door knowing that I have at last found my sole, and this weekend when I pound some 20 miles I will be wearing my Road X or my Roclite 295, which I have yet to tread in, I know that my feet are working to protect me and my aching back will be ok.
I can tell you it has been a journey, from sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural and the prospect of never running seriously again for fear of injury I am now able to run and run and run. Free from pain, no, but better than I was. If you had told me when I first bought my Kinseis that I would be training to run a trail race of 103 mile with anything less than armoured plating strapped to my feet I would have probably eaten my shoes, which in hind sight would have been a blessing.
Thankyou to the guys at Inov8 for creating a range of shoes that frankly are just well, soleful!