running blog

Clive Whaley

Running Shoes

Costume Ready

Day 107 - Marathon Training - Rest & Kit Preparation

Laid out my marathon race kit, double checked accommodation and train times and half packed a bag of stuff I need for Sunday.

My kit looks quite comical when laid out on the floor like this. It's very light and minimal - you would think a really tough challenge would require something more. When our ancestors took on their most demanding physical tests they probably wore half a ton of armour and carried a large sword and a heavy bottle of dragon poison. I am hoping to get by with:
  • Faded Bridport Runner's vest - to be worn with pride;
  • Ron Hill shorts - light as tissue paper;
  • Hilly Socks - labelled with Left and Right of course, so that I know which foot to put them on;
  • Saucony running shoes - a size bigger than they used to be.

Regarding the latter, I was most excited to discover the real reason why I needed to purchase shoes that were half a size bigger than I have done before. In Runners World (April 2017) I found this, "If you're over 40 and feel like your running shoes don't fit like they used to, it's not your mind playing tricks - they don't. Your feet widen with age … some runners will need shoes two sizes bigger at 60 than they did at 40."

This information is both reassuring and worrying in equal measure. It's good to know that my mind is not playing tricks and this 'growth spurt' happens to many older runners. However, what happens if the rate of growth is such that I need a larger pair of shoes at the end of the marathon than at the start? My minimal kit approach goes out the window if I have to carry an extra pair of running shoes to change into at mile 14!

If I had considered running in more elaborate kit i.e. a superhero costume, gigantic pair of nappies or rhino suit (as you do) I could have gained the additional motivation of going for a world record. Inside the booklet supplied to all marathon competitors, one of the most informative sections is the article which outlines the Guiness World Record breakers in the marathon. Apparently 32 world records were set last year in London, in some truly breathtaking 'costume' and 'speed' combinations. I am full of admiration for Greg Trevelyan who holds the record for Fastest Marathon dressed as a Crustacean - he finished in a very tidy 3 hours and 17 minutes. I am equally impressed with Dave Cooke (although he finished nearly 2 and a half hours after Greg) who crossed the line in 5 hours 45 minutes and is the World's Fastest Marathon runner wearing Chainmail. I would be delighted to finish in a time that would have been somewhere between the two of them in 2016. I have to say one of the best ways to help me speed up in the later stages of the 2017 event, would be to respond to the sound of rapidly approaching chainmail from behind me.

No, I'm going to keep the costume simple. Guinness World Record adjudicators please note, I am going for …

World Record for 56 year old male from Bridport, who gets round the course on his second attempt (31 years after the first), with ever growing feet - wearing faded club vest, 'left' and 'right' labelled socks and an expression of hope.

Fat Feet?

It's official - my feet have got fatter! Well more specifically, the front of my feet. Look, I could have said my balls are expanding but that would have just been for comic effect and I don't intend to do that. This is too serious. It's actually quite a traumatic thing to discover in only the first week of my marathon programme and how I discovered it is so mundane. All I did was order a new pair of road running shoes.

I did what I have always done for about the last 20 years - ordered a pair of the running brand Saucony in UK size seven and a half. But when I tried them on it was a real struggle to get into them and they were really tight! They were especially tight around the toes, they felt really cramped.

I opened the laces out till they were really loose and paced about the floor in my living room but my toes couldn't breathe. (I know toes don't breathe but if toes did breathe, they would definitely have stopped breathing in these shoes and started to turn blue and … well, I don't want to talk about it.) This was simply shocking. What on earth has happened. This is the SAME brand of shoe at the SAME size I have been wearing since way back in the previous century and yet my toes were dying.

I hate having to re-package stuff and send it back for exchange but there was no alternative. The Luminous green "Kinvara Sevens" went back with a request for an exchange to UK size 8. I'm even beginning to wonder if the next size up will be big enough. If this is a trend, by the time I run in London in late April, the Cockney phrase "plates of meat" will not just be rhyming slang but an accurate description of my trotters.

It did get me thinking what could have caused this unnatural and very specific growth in my anatomy. The logical thing was to examine what had changed recently that may explain this phenomenon. And I have two highly plausible theories - one running related - and one diet related. In the running category, is the fact that, like all trendy runners these days I try to run much more on the front of my feet. The old days of 'heel striking' are frowned upon in fashionable running circles and although a hell of a lot of people still do it, to admit to it, is a bit like silencing everyone at a party to announce that you club baby seals.

So my first theory is that my persistent attempts to run on my balls (stop it … stop it …) - to run with my weight more on the front of my feet - has resulted in specific front foot expansion - they've squidged out like something out of a Wallace and Gromit animation. If this is true, I just hope the replacement shoes will hold it all in.

My second theory is that a recent short lived, but drastic change to my diet may have caused weird and specific toxic effects in my extremities. You see, I am in a minority of one in my family in being a meat eater and for a few, mostly relaxing days over the festive period, I joined the rest of the tribe in a Vegan inspired Christmas dinner. I have to say it was delicious and, as a runner, I am never knowingly underfed, so I really went for it. Although I am no stranger to large quantities of food, especially on the 25th of December, I did consume several ingredients that I don't often sample and some that I have NEVER tried before.

It's perhaps not that surprising that, after three generous plates of walnuts, chestnut puree, onions, parsnips, cabbage, broccoli (and a dozen other secret vegan potions) washed down with several glasses of alcoholic fizz - that, well … As delicately as I can put it, over the next 24 hours, I personally generated sufficient reverse thrust methane gas to propel me from rural Dorset to the London Marathon finishing line (4 months later) without any training WHATSOEVER.

However, that's not the point. The point is, could it be that this radical change in diet has all gone to my feet? The gaseous element has long since gone, but the rest of it had to go somewhere. We may never know but the new shoes have been 'returned to sender' and I hope the replacements arrive soon … and that they fit!

Oh, and I did my first Gym session today as part of my training plan. That went OK. It's my feet that are bugging me.

Perfect Fit

Marathon Training - Day 33 - 5K at tempo pace

Got my replacement running shoes some time ago but it has taken me a while to try them out. This is because:
  1. I've been injured
  2. I've been running 'off-road' a lot and these are road shoes
  3. I wanted my first test of the new shoes to be a relatively short run, on the road, in daylight
It took a while for all these conditions to be granted but today was the day.

Just to recap - I had ordered a new pair of road running shoes but they were too small. This was despite the fact that I had always worn UK size 7.5 in Saucony Shoes. The suppliers did not have any size 8s left in that model and I struggled to find them anywhere else at a reasonable price. I ended up going with a different supplier and a different shoe. For the shoe geeks, I went from a Saucony Kinvara 7 to a Saucony Zealot ISO 2 - the latter being a bit more expensive at £90.

My theory for why I needed bigger shoes was that my feet had got fatter (!), particularly at the front. And my preferred explanation for this, is that I now have such perfect running technique - always zipping along on the balls of my feet, that they have actually splayed out a bit at the front - hence the need for a bigger shoe. Anyway, enough of this rubbish. The new size eights were tried on. They immediately felt comfortable and a good fit - so far so good, but what about running in them?

Well they were great! First time out in a new pair of shoes and half way through I completely forgot I had them on, which I guess is the ultimate test. The weather was great (sunny and dry) and I chose a flat route on the pavement down to West Bay and back. Specifically my programme called for 12 minutes easy, followed by a 3 mile 'tempo run' (I made it 5K) and warming down with another 12 minutes at easy pace. I don't think I'm in great shape at the moment but I ran the 5K in 21:33 which is pretty good by my standards, especially for just a training run on my own.

One thing about the shoes was a subtle but noticeable sound as I pattered along the streets - a sort of Slap, Slap, Slap, Slap. They do have quite a wide forefoot (is that what you call it?) in a tasty shade of blue and my feet were enjoying this accompanying rhythm. I think this is a good thing. I only hope it doesn't drive me mad in the coming weeks. After all, these may well be the shoes I actually run the marathon in. Indeed I hope they are, because I don't want to have to shell out for another pair before London.

A really good first test - light and comfortable, assisting my 'zippy feet' to forget I even had them on. What adventures lie ahead for these brave blue laced warriors as they pound away the many miles between here and The Mall? Slap, Slap, Slap, Slap …