Ok, so Marilyn Monroe wasn’t referring to running shoes, but it’s amazing how the right pair of trainers can make a girl (or boy!) feel unstoppable!
Now that I’m finally able to start running regularly again and focus on my transformation to Running Princess version 2.0, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with shoes (I know, I know, not that uncommon for girls, but I mean running shoes rather than high heels!). In January I had my gait checked and was fitted with a traditional pair of neutral shoes which would allow me to land on the mid to forefoot if I chose to, rather than be forced into a heavy heel strike which, I suspected, was a contributing factor in my ongoing injury problems. As I started to run short distances in them in order to gradually build my strength and condition my legs and feet for a different footstrike pattern, I was struck by how light they felt in comparison to the heavily cushioned, highly supportive shoes I had been used to. Running more naturally felt easy enough and I found the shoes very comfortable. I began to gradually build from just 1 mile in small increments in order to allow my body time to adjust.
But running in a neutral shoe suddenly opened up a hitherto inaccessible world of bright, colourful shoes offering an assortment of promises to the neutral/natural runner. The thought of a light, bright, girly looking shoe really appealed and I began to do some research. I had been wearing the Nike Free for my gym workouts since last summer, but as someone who has always worn Brooks shoes, I was particularly interested in their Pure range as a more “transitional” shoe for the forefoot runner looking for a lighter, more responsive ride. Furthermore, my dad has also been making the transition to a forefoot strike and has had success with the Skechers Go Run shoe. All of these shoes offered something completely different to the more “traditional” shoes I had become accustomed to (and I don’t just mean the fact that they come in lots of bright, eye-catching colours!). The thought was therefore firmly embedded in my mind that my next pair of running shoes would likely be one of these models. And that next pair of shoes came around sooner than I expected!
A couple of weeks ago staff from a nearby running store visited my gym to carry out video gait analysis. I got talking to them as they had noticed both my shoes and my running style and as luck would have it, the conversation turned towards the Brooks Pure range, the very shoes I was most interested in! One of them (who currently runs in the same neutral shoes as me) mentioned that she had just ordered a pair of Pure Flows. Out of interest, I had the video gait analysis done and it was suggested that the Pure range, most likely the Pure Flow, would indeed suit me. I found this to be a really useful conversation, as it’s one thing to read about a shoe online, but since everyone is different, talking to those who know a bit more about them and, most importantly, having a chance to try them on, is invaluable. The details were duly written on a card and the enticement of a 15% discount if I bought a pair within a month was added to the mix.
And as luck would have it that weekend brought with it the opportunity to visit a branch of the running store in question, so I set off with the intention to try on both the Pure Flow and the Pure Cadence which had also been suggested as a possibility. I knew that if I liked one of these pairs then I would buy them as the chance to save 15% on a £100 pair of running shoes is certainly not to be sniffed at! Both the Flow and the Cadence felt light and comfortable, although the Cadence seemed to have a bit more weight to it, probably due to the way they wrap the midfoot to offer a little more support. I was filmed on the treadmill trying both pairs of shoes and since there was no real discernible difference in the way my foot landed in either pair, it really came down to what I felt the most comfortable running in.
So what can I say? Reader, I bought them: a light, bright pair of Brooks Pure Flows in diva pink! To date, I’ve run in them 3 times and been very impressed. They may be light, but still feel like a reasonably sturdy shoe. They even felt good running in a swirly snow shower today! There’s enough cushioning on the mid/forefoot to make my landing feel comfortable and springy, yet they still allow a heel strike which I find useful when running downhill. I actually experimented with a heel strike whilst running on the flat as I know a high percentage of marathon runners revert to a heel strike in the latter stages of a race as they begin to tire and I was interested in how these shoes would respond. I found that unlike with a more minimal shoe, a heel strike feels perfectly comfortable, but the curved heel shape of the Pure Flow immediately shifts the weight forwards to the mid/forefoot, reducing the impact on the heel and propelling the body forward. Ideal! I feel like I can run long distances comfortably in these shoes and am looking forward to the day when we can bound off for a nice long Sunday morning run together around the quiet country roads and really test them out. Until then, I’m simply content that both my recent new shoe purchases seem to have been successful and that I’m able to run even the shortest distance again after all the time spent sidelined with injury and illness.
So far, my princess pink shoes have made me very happy. I may not have conquered the world (yet!) but this girl is certainly enjoying conquering the miles and pounding the pavements again. When it comes to running shoes I could certainly give Imelda Marcos a run for her money and I know I’ll find the lure of more pairs of bright colourful shoes hard to resist, but fingers crossed that this time I have indeed found the right shoes. After all, I owe it to Marilyn!