Once I became a serious runner in 2003, I always had serious shoes. Variants of structured, semi-structured, arch supported or neutral shoes but always highly cushioned and usually highly expensive. There is only one thing that can make a running shoe more expensive and that is the orthotic you put in it. This was particularly true in my case when I booked a flight to Belgium for a custom fitted pair of orthotics in late 2011. The process involved running up and down a track (barefoot and in a variety of shoes at different speeds) while being videoed and having pressure plate measurements taken. It is ironic now to look back at the videos to notice that the pronounced pronation in my right foot was all but gone when I ran barefoot. Had I understood what I was observing at the time, I might have saved my money and gone barefoot or at least held onto my original flat-soled Umbro shoes. Six years later, when I embarked on an almost uninterrupted 3 years of consistent running, there was lots of barefoot training and the shoes I did use for training or to run my fastest ever times were light, comfortable and very cheap.
I began to write this book in 2017. The World Championships were on in London that year and I came across an interview with a member of the refugee team. Below is an extract which perhaps best highlights the scale of misunderstanding when it comes to running shoes…
Come back Monday May 10th for an extract from Chapter 7: No brain no pain. Pre-order the kindle version of the book now on amazon, out June 28th 2021.