Monday, 12 April 2010


I have the day off work today and I've just worn through the toes of the shoes I was going to run the Highland Fling in so I thought I could mix business (shoe buying) with pleasure by going to Run and Become. Pleasure because running is spoken fluently in that shop. Sadly they turned out to be having a week's holiday.

So no disrespect but 2nd choice was Run 4 It. It was hot and busy and I got queue barged by a couple of men in business suits and an American until I figured out I'd have to put myself forwards if I wanted anything. I asked a harrassed but helpful woman assistant about getting a gait analysis and some advice on what shoes I should be buying. I have remained sceptical about this for a long time because I think that people look for easy answers in a complex world. Everyone who gets a gait analysis seems to come back saying that they've suddenly discovered that they're an over-pronater and they need stability shoes. Everyone who goes to see a podiatrist comes back saying they've got one leg longer than the other and they need orthotics. Its too easy... What if its normal to over-pronate and to have one leg longer than the other, and the body can deal with this?  Like I once read 40% of oriental people are short-sighted. Who originally said how far and how clearly a person should be able to see? Its opinion dressed up as fact.
But I also like trying new things and I was in the mood for a little experimentation so I asked for the gait analysis treatment.

So I took off my socks and shoes and rolled up my jeans like I was going for a refreshing paddle in the sea and walked up and down the shop a couple of times. Then I went for a run on the treadmill. The shop lady asked me if I could run on my heels more because it was quite hard to see what I was doing - so I tried to, but I had to make an effort to lean backwards to do so. When I came off the treadmill she said that I shouldn't be wearing neutral shoes because they don't provide enough support, that I'm an over-pronater (yawn) and that I should be wearing shoes with a bit of stability. Now I was expecting to hear this because I undoubtedly do have a funny gait - it wouldn't strike you as smooth and economical. And I've been curious about how using a stability shoe might go for a while, so I was for going with the flow and letting her recommend something to me. We went for Asics 2150s and they felt fine on my feet and on the treadmill again - although once again the shop woman had to exhort me to heel-strike. When I came off the treadmill she told me that I should try to heel strike or the shoes don't work. Now I feel like a rat for criticising but FFS - alter my gait? To make the shoes work?

Start heel-striking? I'm trying to stop swearing so much but struth, crikey, no I can't help it - that's pretty fucking off the wall advice. Its lucky I don't listen to anyone, but what if someone who believes people were to listen to that? Let the buyer beware, I suppose. I'm going to give my 2150s a go anyway. I'm not going to try to heel-strike though - although I think I do anyway - maybe not on a treadmill.

There was a point to this originally, other than just shaking my head at how stupid people are. Some clever person said that every runner is an experiment of one, and I think that is true.
(Just googled it and it was Dr. George Sheehan, some blurb here )
We have to try things out to see what works. We are not machines. If we've adjusted to running a certain way then we need to alter that cautiously. There aren't absolute rights and wrongs. I've been running since I was 25 which is 18 years now, with 2 bouts of injury bad enough to stop me running, each of about 4 weeks duration, I'm not trying to sell myself anything and I trust myself most.

Shopping does put me in a bad mood though. Why do people even offer their opinions? Next stop was Waterstones where I thought I'd get a map of the West Highland Way (about time I figured out where it is) and get a coffee and something to eat while I was there. I ran into a woman I know and we had a bit of a chat about running just near the counter of the cafe in W's. The guy behind the counter had clearly been drinking too much of his own brew. "I'm sorry for  listening into your conversation", he said, "but are you into running/" "Yes" I said (tolerantly).
"I'm not really into cardio at the moment, I'm working on building up my muscles at the moment", he volunteered. "Good", I affirmed.
"What time of day do you go jogging anyway?" he asked. "When I can fit it in.", I said, not reacting to the "jogging" slight.
"You should go in the morning", he said, "before burns the most fat."
I really don't think he was trying to be rude so I paid for my coffee and went to a table.
But really...Think, before you drink (your own coffee) before you offer an opinion, especially in a bookshop where there's more chance that the people you'll be talking to are keen on thought and reflection.
I'm just going on for the sake of it now. If you live with someone you'll end up like them eventually.


Stuart said...

What? You don’t always run first thing in the morning? And you don’t even TRY to heel strike??

Best bit of advice I ever got was from a non runner (also a smoker) who told me I could probably manage a marathon by doing no training other than a couple of half hour fartlek sessions every week.

Needless to say, I didn’t follow the advice.

Billy said...

Yes, there's a lot of junk science out there relating to shoes and running stores' gait analysis has got to be pretty high up the rankings! Don't listen to me though, I'm crocked at the moment...