fairweatherrunner

running blog


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New shoes

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The nice thing about marathon training is ‘having’ to get another pair of shoes so that I have two pairs to alternate and don’t get to marathon day and find my only wearable pair of running shoes are worn out.  When I noticed one of my current pairs, which I rotate for road running, was falling apart I took the opportunity of the Sales to get some new ones. (Yes, I know I’ve got many other pairs in the hallway – but only this model is right at the moment. As many of you will understand!)

I’ve worn them for short walks and cycling to wear them in this week but needed a suitable opportunity to run in them for the first time.  My midweek runs are beginning to increase in distance to make sure I get the miles in because I’m using BMF classes for 2 or 3 of my ‘runs’ each week. BMF is great for leg  strength (with all those squats lunges and burpees etc)  and for getting in some  flat-out sprints and fast paced short runs but the overall miles covered (about 3 miles a class on average) doesn’t give me excessive time on my feet in the marathon bank.

So today I bravely  went for an 8 mile run in my new shoes,  They were absolutely fine. They just felt a bit more cushioned and springy (can’t be a bad thing) but otherwise similar to my old pair which are pretty much the same model.

What I was worried about was forgetting to pick up my water bottle on the way out.  I needn’t have worried because plenty fell from the sky! (and the water fountains worked.)  At least running in the rain made me run at a good constant pace without really noticing.  I am now asking very nicely of the weather gods,  if they have any significant weather in mind for marathon day please can it be rain and not a heat wave!

Janathon day 16  8.21 miles run.


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Puma Faas 600S

A while ago Puma Running offered me a pair of their new Puma Faas 600 S running shoes to try. Great timing because from what I read they sounded like they might be just my thing and very useful for my marathon training long runs this winter. Plus if (2.30.46) marathon runner Susan Partridge trains in them they should be good for my more modest training attempts for sub 4.30!

They appealed to me because they are light weight and flexible yet offer a certain amount of stability and cushioning. I have got used to running in fairly minimal running shoes or racing flats, preferring less shoe (basically I hate heavy shoes) as most of my runs are short but last time I ramped up my mileage for marathon training I became aware that I needed a bit more support and cushioning for those far too long, long runs.

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My first impressions walking around in them were good, comfortable, light weight and flexible with sufficient height in the toe box for my toes to flex. A good fit around the heel but I did have to re-lace them to make sure they were plenty wide enough for my feet which are now used to splaying out..

As often the case with new shoes the first few runs I was not sure, mainly because anything different or new feels strange. So I wore them a lot more and got them soaked and muddy at BMF and they began to feel better and part of my feet.

They are not as responsive for a flat-out sprint as some but the more I mould them to my feet and get used to them the less I’m aware of that. I found them smooth and stable for pavement and road runs and surprisingly, for a road shoe that didn’t look very grippy, good on wet grass and mud.

The shoe Is an 8mm drop, to encourage midfoot striking and described as an every day running shoe. As a midfoot striker who runs in shoes from 4mm to 9mm drop they felt pretty good and close enough to the ground. They are lightweight for their stability and cushioning (only 50g or so more than my usual (Adios, Kinvara, Green silence)). My only minor problem as been the tongue slipping off centre because I don’t quite get a perfect fit around the upper but they have been the first pair of shoes for a long time which have stayed laced up when I forget to double knot!

A very good everyday running shoe. The big test will be whether these are still on my feet in 6 months. I certainly intend to use them for my long road runs when I start marathon training next week rotating them with my old shoes on short fast runs. I am also interested enough to look into the other faas models when I come to replacing other running shoes.

Product information…

“The Faas 600 S has a distinct Midsole and Outsole that offers greater stability and forefoot flexibility, a distinct women’s last for a women’s fit, and an upper pattern with a sexy and more anatomic shape. Built for the slightly more traditional stability runner who heel strikes, the NEW Faas 600 S is at an 8mm Heel to Toe Drop which encourages runners to midfoot strike. The shoe features PUMA’s innovative one piece midsole Faas Engineered Stability technology that is one of its kind in the industry.

RRP: £85 Stockist: Sportshoes.co.uk or ProDirectRunning.com”

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Salomon Sense Mantra

After a bit of a disappointing first impression, these running shoes get better and better.

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When Fitness Footwear offered me a pair of Salomon running shoes to try I thought twice as I’d not found other Salomon models right for me in the past but a read of the Fitness Footwear and Salomon web sites I found that one of their newer shoes, the Sense Mantra might be right up my street and address some of the reasons why their other models weren’t for me in the past.

So I was excited and couldn’t wait to try them out as Salomon have a great reputation and many people swear by them for BMF classes. The Salomon Sense Mantra is part of their door to trail range, has a reduced heel toe drop and is described as a ‘Light weight training shoe for midfoot strikers who want natural motion, protection and neutral cushioning for high mileage training.’

They arrived, I put them straight on to potter about indoors and was a bit deflated. My first impression was that they felt very straight, stiff and inflexible and the quick pull lace system was hard to get a good heel fit so the overall impression was that I was wearing a lot of shoe. I didn’t run in them straight away and put them to one side for another day. Meanwhile my cheeky son borrowed them over the weekend and suggested they were great for him! When I tried them on again after this they felt much more flexible and foot hugging so I lent them to him to wear-in for me before I ran in them.

I found them more and more flexible and comfortable with wear, the 6mm drop is ideal for me and felt natural. Once worn in I also found I could get a better fit with the lacing. They are lightweight with a roomy toe box and very stable, I tested them doing single leg squats and had no ankle wobble at all! I ran on road and a bit of ‘trail’ within the park, they felt light and comfortable and had good grip on road, path and grass. I need to take them for a run somewhere a little more off-road than the park, their toe protection and stability would make them a great choice for running more challenging stony conditions.

Some running shoes feel great at the first try-on and later disappoint after weeks of running. The Sense Mantra feels better with each wear. I think by the time my son outgrows these shoes, they will be worn-in and about perfect.

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TevaSphere shoe review

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A couple of weeks ago I went to Hampstead Heath for the launch of a new running shoe from Teva, the TevaSphere.

An outdoor cross trainer/running shoe which has been ‘designed to meet the performance needs of the outdoor athlete. With a first-of-its-kind spherical heel and pod-arch system, the TevaSphere technology delivers a more natural point of impact, efficient transition and superior stability on varied terrain‘.

Teva want to offer a minimalist style shoe for runners which will not require them to change their stride and adopt a forefoot strike.

with TevaSphere we are delivering a technology-based solution that addresses the shortcomings of both minimalist and over-supportive athletic shoes.” Participation in non-traditional outdoor sports such as adventure racing, obstacle courses and mud runs is steadily on the rise. In an effort to meet the demands of this growing group of consumers’,

001I like that they aim to give a minimalist style shoe but with protection and support for both heel strikers and mid foot strikers. As a mid foot striker who heel strikes when tired, I have picked up a few injuries running long distances in minimalist shoes. The shoes’ distinctive ‘pods’ at the mid foot act as guard rails giving support where needed making the shoe suitable for all types of runner guiding the foot into the neutral position.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve run in them many times, on pavement and road, hard paths, grass, mud and snow during easy everyday runs, British Military Fitness classes and even a speed session. They fit well and are comfortable both with my orthotics and without. The women’s model has a narrow heel and a wide roomy toe box (I have wide feet) although maybe not as wide as some barefoot shoes which let your toes completely splay out.

They have a minimalist feel with a fairly low heel toe drop so felt natural running on the forefoot and quite fast. I’ve enjoyed a few sprints at BMF in them and a reasonably fast mile during speed work. I don’t like over squishy cushioned shoes and like that these are quite firm. They are maybe even a little too firm for my taste on tarmac and wouldn’t be my first choice of shoe for many miles of pavement pounding. I did however find them really good shoes for running in mud and great in the snow.

A lightweight, low profile, stable shoe for off-road which feels secure on uneven ground and gives reasonably good grip. Great for BMF classes with lots of stopping and starting, backwards and forwards and sideways moving on grass.

You can find more about Teva’s products here.

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Hampstead Heath

I went on an outing to Hampstead Heath today.

I was very lucky to get an invitation to the launch of a new running shoe. From the press information it sounded like my kind of shoe plus the afternoon was going to include a bit of a trail run on Hampstead Heath. I’m rather partial to a bit of running shoe chat and enjoy trying new innovations and models and have always wanted to run on Hampstead Heath. Win Win!

Teva the outdoor footwear people (best known for their sport sandals and hiking boots) are launching a running shoe ,the Tevasphere, in the UK this March. We had presentations from Teva and from the independent sport science lab that helped develop the shoe. Then we put on a pair and went for a trail run on Hampstead Heath where we got up to our ankles in mud and ran up some hills. (I might be training a bit too much on the flat!)

I will post a full review with photos and all the information very soon when I’ve got the photos, had a couple more runs in them and put them through their paces at a British Military Fitness class. I also need to get them cleaned up for another photo. From first impressions I think I’m going to like them.

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New Shoes

Janathon day 10.

2.79 mile trail run plus an extra 2.2mile dash around the block because I was feeling keen after a very good afternoon.


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Mizuno Wave Rider 16

Lets talk about running shoes.

I’m fed up will blogging about my hurty ribs and inability to run any distance or fast and keep up with my target Janathon mileage. Especially as rather embarrassingly my injury was caused by over stretching over the arm of the sofa to get the TV remote!

So… Back in December I got a rather nice email from Mizuno asking if I’d like to try any of their Spring Summer 2013 running shoes. Very exciting, especially to see that Mizuno are adding a minimalist running shoe to their range. Their new Evo was unfortunately out of stock so in the mean time I was offered the Wave Rider 16 to try. I’m so glad I did try this shoe, it might be the one I’ve been looking for for a while. It’s certainly the shoe I’ll run everyday of January in.

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For the past few years I’ve run in either Saucony Kinvaras or Brooks Green Silence. I have recently had problems with both. The Kinvaras giving me black toe nails but the size up in the new model is on the large side and having too high a heel counter rubs my Achilles. Brooks have discontinued the Green Silence.

Also towards the end of my marathon training I had a bit of a shoe tantrum realising that although I normally mid foot strike, on long slow runs, when tired, I heel strike. I was getting tight calves, painful achiles and beginning to pick up general injuries. I thought that maybe I should revert to a more traditional cushioned running shoe for long runs and high mileage.

I tried a few models. All felt wonderful and comfortable when tried on and walked in and even on short runs having nice wide and spacious toe boxes. However, when running in them they began to either feel like I was running on a mattress, unable to feel the road (hard work) or had a prominent heel so when I did pick up the pace and run on my toes/midfoot the heel appeared to get in the way. I gave up trying and reverted to my Brooks for my marathon and searching the internet for discontinued stock in my size.

Then I got the Wave Rider 16s. They are a great fit for me. (But then I’ve found that with Mizuno in the past) a little more substantial than the Kinvaras and Green Silence offering heel cushioning when I need it but with very little extra weight. Light weight is probably the main reason I wear minamalist shoes!

What I liked best about the Wave Rider 16s is the responsiveness. There isn’t too much shoe under the midfoot like many cushioned shoes. I can feel the ground and that I’m getting something back for my efforts. I am not aware of the heel when running on my midfoot and they feel better and better the more I run in them. I’m sure they’ll be good for a bit of speed too, such a shame my ribs weren’t up to my 10K race today to put them through their paces.

A great shoe. May well become my workhorse, keeping minimalist shoes for trail and short fast runs. Thanks Mizuno.

Janathon day 6. 3.27 miles run, the same route as Friday, fortunately over 5 mins faster! Ribs on the mend….


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Taper tantrums

Sorry there’s no write-up about the Great South Run yesterday, I’m afraid to report that I was a No Show. I made the sensible decision earlier last week not to run it. I’ve had ongoing Achilles niggles for the past few weeks and I knew that I would not take it easy but end up trying to beat last years time and 10 miles at decent pace on hard tarmac would not be good for my Achilles nor leave me in fresh enough shape to run Rutland Water Marathon at the weekend.

Apart from that one sensible decision, not to race but to stick to easier paced taper runs on soft surfaces, the rest of my taper so far has been full of tantrums! Well not real tantrums but sometimes I wish I could have!

My first tantrum was about shoes.  I know, less than two weeks before a marathon this isn’t ideal but the seed was sown when both sport massage therapist and BMF instructor suggested my shoes are worn out.  I’ve also been reading far too much about injuries and running shoes and have self diagnosed that the probable cause of my pain was overdoing it in low drop minimalist shoes. (Particularly my two half marathons in 2 weeks) which has put my tendon under strain.  Whilst I mid foot strike most of the time, when my legs are tired my form slips and I heel strike, particularly in ‘long run shuffle mode’ putting impact on my legs when wearing shoes with less cushion in the heel.

So I then I read that more of a heel lift would ease the strain on the Achilles so pulled out my Mizuno Wave Creations with a more cushion and a bigger heel toe drop and wore them to BMF.  They seemed good,  my ankle was less sore, however with orthotics they are now about half a size too small and my toes touch the end. NO way can I run a marathon in them and keep my toes!  Panic stations!  So I’ve faffed and panicked trying to get hold of a pair a half-size bigger and wondered how I can wear them in and wasted days staying in for next day deliveries which don’t arrive.

Tantrum 2 was my last longer run before Rutland instead of GSR. I aimed for about 8 to 10 miles at easy pace and set out on a new bit of cycle path on Sunday lunchtime.  I was over dressed, the cycle path was too long straight and boring, I was huffing and puffing, I hated the shoes I was running in which felt like I was running in treacle, my head wasn’t in it and my ankle was beginning to ache and burn so I rang my husband to collect me after 5 1/2 miles.  I came home in a very despondent mood complaining about everything and anything.

Tantum 3 my husband has developed a stinking cold manflu.  I am staying as far away as possible, obsessively washing my hands every 5 minutes, opening all the windows, overdosing on vitamin C and zinc and eating as many anti-oxidants that I can, and Jaffa cakes.

Don’t worry, as we get closer, sanity is returning.  I have to keep reminding myself I’ve made it round 24 miles OK.  I have several pairs of running shoes to return to the shops and will no doubt end up wearing one of the pairs I’ve trained in. And if I catch the cold or my Achilles pulls me up there are plenty of other marathons.


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New Shoes

it’s that time of year again….

time for Juneathon!

Have you signed up yet?

So in anticipation of running 100 plus miles in June I finally got myself organised for a decent running shoe fitting and some custom orthoics. I went to Profeet where I could get advice on new running shoes as well as get some custom-made orthotics.

Its been a while since I last went to a running shoe shop for a proper fitting. I’ve been buying my shoes on the internet and have been nervous about going to a shop because I’m totally wedded to my Saucony Kinvaras and have been afraid that any advice would be to return to something a little more supportive (heavy,stiff and horrid!) for pronation, flat feet…

Old Shoes

Fortunately I needn’t have worried. I’m running fine in my Kinvaras (with a bit of added support from insoles), and as I prefer lighter minimalist style shoes there is no reason not to continue to run in them even up to marathon distance.

My hour session included giving details about my running and injury history (with a cup of tea), being filmed running in my current shoes and then barefoot on the treadmill. Then a couple of barefoot runs over a pressure pad. Next was an examination of my feet and ankles to check flexibility and range of motion before impressions of my feet were made to make custom orthotics taking into account where I needed support.

The feedback was; I have normal arches, very mobile toes (my left big toe has joined my glutes in being characterised as lazy and is not engaging to give me a good toe off! Only those bits?). I pronate slightly when barefoot but was fine in my current shoes with insoles, my Achilles niggles could stem from tight calves because as a midfoot striker my calf muscles take a lot of strain. I need to continue to work on hip and glute strength for hip stability. I was given some suggested exercises to strengthen my calves, hips and glutes and encouraged to make sure good stretching and foam rolling were part of my routine.

Instead of buying a new pair of Kinvaras I decided to try other minimalist running shoes while I got the chance and was recommended the Brooks Green Silence. They felt really light and were good to run in on the treadmill.

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So I settled on these as a change. They are a slightly wider fit which suits me and are cheaper than the Kinvaras, a big benefit knowing that one downside of minimalist shoes is they wear out quicker!

I’ve worn them in round the house, to BMF for a few sprints and for 2 longer runs this weekend. With orthotics they fit very well and are very comfortable. My only issue was getting the asymmetric lacing right at first but once sorted after 3 stops yesterday all was well.

So far so good. All set for Juneathon!


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Fairweather running shoe friend.

A grey damp day in London today but I was keen to get out and run after being in the house with four teenage boys and two Nerf guns. The joys of half term! So when they took themselves off to the cinema I grabbed the opportunity for some me time. Thank goodness they are old enough to go on their own these days, although I have to confess, when they were little, to using the hour or so of quiet in the dark of the cinema to close my eyes for a short while.

My next race is the Great South Run on Sunday and I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.  I’ve had a few good runs recently including one at average pace 8.54 min per mile for 4.8 miles on Tuesday and a more modest paced 6.2 miles today. I don’t know whether I will be able to race the 10 miles at my target pace and finish in a time close to 1hr 30 but I am happy that my fitness is getting back to pre injury levels and confident I can have a good race and not just aim to get round.

I have enjoyed running recently in the new running shoes which I received last week. I havent run in Asics for a few years and am finding the Gel Nimbus 12’s very good.  I had found some models a bit narrow in the past but these have a nice wide toe box and plenty of wiggle space. They are light enough for my tastes, cushioned without feeling too removed from the ground and my Orthotics fit well with them.  I have been very enthusiastic about them and ready to declare them as my new BRSFs (Best running shoe friends).

However,  being fairweather by name I am also a fairweather friend to my running shoes.   Also being indecisive, fickle and a bit of a shoe floosey! I decided to grab my OBRSFs (old best running shoe friends), my Saucony Kinvaras, today and slipped in my orthotics for the first time and headed off for my run.  Ooh they felt good!  (Might have to ask for a new pair for Christmas).  Oh dear,  now one of the major pitfalls about being lucky enough to have too many current pairs of running shoes is I might still be trying to decide which pair to race in when the gun goes off!