When people talk about the reasons why you should take up running, the fact that it’s a free hobby often makes the list.
But is it actually free?
Well, no. Especially not if you want to do it seriously or train for a long distance run. There’s various kit for all seasons, socks that help stop blisters, numerous nutrition products like gels and hydration tablets, sports bras for the ladies (get fitted for one if you haven’t already!) and all manner of accessories like belts to keep your phone safe (can’t miss the opportunity for a mid-run selfie!) and backpacks. That’s not even mentioning the running tech that’s out there like watches, apps for your phone and wireless headphones.
But the most important part? What you choose to put on your feet.
Wearing the correct type of sports shoe is very important to maximising your sporting performance, improving comfort, prolonging the lifespan of your footwear and perhaps most importantly reducing the risk of injury.
The benefits of the correct footwear – Alexandra Sports Blog
In the time that I’ve had trainers actually fitted for me, I’ve not had any of those runners issues you often hear about. Issues like black or lost toe nails, stress fractures or tendonitis. I rarely get blisters and don’t suffer from ‘hot foot’ (those hot spots on the soles of your feet that always seem to start burning first).
With that in mind, I decided to head to Alexandra Sports in Portsmouth. They have 35 years of experience in the running and fitness industry so you’re in good hands there. I visited not to replace my long suffering road shoes, but to buy my first pair of trail shoes. I’ve decided this year to try something different when it comes to my running, so I signed up to Race To The King. The event is an ultra marathon that takes place along more than 50 miles of the South Downs. I’m only doing day one of the event but need the right footwear to help me on my way.
When you arrive at Alexandra Sports for a shoe fitting, you’re given a token to make sure that everyone is seen in the right order. If there is any wait then there’s plenty to look at in store but be warned, you may end up leaving with more than shoes! My shoe fitting was carried out by Angie who is the store manager at the Portsmouth branch. Before they suggest any trainers for you they perform a few tests and ask you some questions about your running so they can understand what they’re working with.
Angie asked me if I have any issues at the moment (I do) and whether I’m training for anything (always!). She got me to stand facing toward and away from her while she looked at my knee and ankle alignment and she also did tests on my ankle strength. She looked at my arches (I’m fairly neutral) and where my toes line up to my knees. While she did all of this, she explained what she was looking for and why. I started to understand how complex your feet can actually be!
The next step was literally to get me to take some steps. Angie asked me to walk on a treadmill so she could film me and look at the way my feet fall in line with my ankles and knees. The footage is fascinating to watch back, and they analyse it with you to make sure you understand what they’re seeing on screen. Angie explained everything in a way that I could really easily understand.
Next came the fun part. Trying on the shoes! Angie suggested two brands to me and got me to try them both on. One of the brands was Brooks, which I currently wear for my road trainers, and the other was Saucony. When you get to this part try not to look at the shoes. We instinctively judge them based on what pair looks better (well, I know I do!) so don’t look down! Try and judge them on how they feel on your feet.
One of things I love about Alexandra Sports is that they get you to run outside. You’re able to actually test what they would feel like in training out on the pavement rather than just a treadmill. Angie really took to the time with me while I did this and even got me in one of each shoe so I could feel the difference.
At the end of my shoe fitting, I decided on the Brooks. I’ve had this brand in the past as well – apparently I have Brooks shaped feet, so it’s nice to know that I could probably just go and buy them again in the future. The advice given by Angie was really thorough and she left notes on my account for the next time I’m in store. I can’t wait to try out my new shoes and hopefully they will give me some trail running success (which of course I will be blogging about)!
Of course that’s not to say trainers are your miracle cure that are going to make you super speedy, or see you on your way to the Olympics. You need to add strength training, core work, stretching and maybe even the dreaded foam rolling for long term success but getting fitted for trainers is a great start.
Head to Alexandra Sports in Portsmouth or Winchester at least 45 minutes before they close and treat your feet.