In a little over four weeks – 16 November 2014 – I will be running a marathon. I’m travelling to Istanbul to run the only marathon that crosses two continents (Europe and Asia) and I’m aiming for a Personal Best. This will be tough given that I ran the New York Marathon in 2013 in 3hours 36 minutes, but I’m going to train as smart as I can, have the most efficient kit and treat my body nicely on rest days.
I’ll be updating this training diary regularly – at least twice a week – with details of things I’m trying to improve my running. Each blog post will focus on a different tactic. In my first blog, I wanted to start with trainers.
Trainers are a subject close to my heart because I learned the hard way. In 2009 I ran the London Marathon with an inflamed Achilles tendon. This was because I trained for the run in some Reebook classics. I’m not even sure they were sports trainers, but back then I thought all trainers did the same job.
How wrong could I be? It wasn’t until the doctor slapped his forehead and laughed out loud at me that I realised I could have avoided my Achilles injury with better trainers. I felt so dumb!
My injury occurred 3 weeks before the marathon and while I did go and buy a pair of proper trainers (more about that later), the pain was so bad I could hardly put my foot on the floor. My pre-marathon training consisted of watching my diet so the lack of training wouldn’t make me heavier, putting my feet up with frozen peas up every night and taking a lot of ibrurpofen. On race day, my mental determination powered me round to get a time of 3 hrs 56.
Some people would give up with a sub 4 hour marathon, but I knew I never gave that race my all. I was injured, my trainers hadn’t been worn in and I had no idea about how to pace myself during a race. So, I vowed to do it again.
In New York I ran 3 hours 36 minutes thanks to speed training at Barry’s Bootcamp, (below), a London gym that mixes treadmill sprints at 12.5 mph with resistance and weight-based work on the floor to strengthen muscles. My legs started to feel what it was like to run an 8 minute mile, which I’d need for a time of 3 hours 30, and I managed to get up to 19 miles in a pre-marathon training run.
In the New York marathon hydration was a big issue for me as there is an art to sipping water from cups as opposed to bottles (and I’ll blog about that in a separate post). My trainers, Ascs, kept me injury free but I started to wonder if Asics was the right brand for me.
I think there is a lot of trust involved in buying trainers. I bought the Ascics in a sports store after walking in and saying ‘I’m running a marathon and I have no idea what to buy.’ If you went to a garage and you said the same thing they’d probably try to sell you the most expensive thing without really caring if it suits you. Now I’m not in any way implying that’s went on in that sports shop as they did film me running on a treadmill to assess my gait (apparently I’m neutral) and measured my feet with a very technical electronic device but I was only given the choice between Asics or Brooks. And as Asics had slightly more cushioning and I had the history of injurt with my Achilles, I went for the Asics.
However, I started hearing things about Adidas Boost trainers, which also promised to offer cushioning. Why did I not get offered those? Also, why did I not get offered Nike? I did some research online and found some information about Adidas Boost that enticed me:
- Three-times more temperature resistant than the standard EVA foam commonly used in most running shoes over +40 to -20 degree tests. Guaranteeing a more consistent running feel.
- Upper arch with adidas Techfit technology, providing optimal comfort and support to the entire foot while in motion.
- Energy capsules in the midsole store and release so efficiently that performance benefits will be noticeable from the moment you set off.
So I got some Boost 2.0. How amazing is the packaging? (It gave me a pyschological boost!)
I’m pretty sure they worked immediately to boost my physical performance as well. In fact, I had a result within 30 minutes of tying the laces for the first time. I did a 5k race in 22:54 which is a PB by 12 seconds and the only time I’ve cracked the 23 minute mark.
Of course, this could also be down to the fact I’m also training hard so I’m getting quicker. Therefore,I put the trainers to the test the following day when I did a 17 mile run. I could definitely feel more bounce in the heel, which boosted me psychologically as it was such a new sensation. I haven’t fully worn them in yet, and I’m not sure if I will have to change my running stride to take advantage of this heel boost (eg kick back more and lift my leg higher at the front) but it’s something I’m working on. I’ll keep you posted.
If you like these trainers, they’re currently available at Wiggle in pink and black or turquoise and white.