On the trail of trail shoes

Lots of people I know (in real life and via blogging/twitter) are great enthusiasts for trail running. I have never knowingly run a trail. Well there was that time I got lost in a wood during Juneathon, and Ginge periodically makes me run through a field or two, but I don’t think those experiences count for much. Despite this, I find that I have a strange fascination with having a go. I love the idea of running through wooded glades, bounding giddily across the countryside and coming home all knackered and muddy. Having said that, I like the idea of lots of things, it doesn’t mean to say that I’ll actually do them.

The point to all this is that I decided to invest in some entry level trail shoes so that I could have a dabble, but not waste too much money if they end up living in the bottom of the wardrobe. At Saturday’s Parkrun, we were handed a flyer for 20% off trail shoes at Sweatshop, which combined with the £5 voucher for doing the Folkestone Half, seemed like A Sign. And so on Sunday, I popped down to my local branch.

At this point I will confess that I’m rubbish in running shops. I’m fine if I’m buying a top, but if I’m looking to invest in something more complicated (like shoes. Or a hat.) it’s as if I’ve only ever heard about running from the friend of a friend of someone whose sister’s mother-in-law’s, cousin’s nephew’s godmother’s next door neighbour once ran a fun run dressed as a chicken.

I will admit, on this occasion I was a bit of an awkward customer. Let me explain. Leg-wise, I am a bit of a wonky donkey. (I over-pronate, my ligaments are a bit lax, bits of me stay still when they should rotate and rotate when they should stay still… Trail shoes are not renowned for support, cushion or stability). I was looking for something at the lower end of the price scale and I have have no experience or knowledge about trail running (as I’ve already said). Ideal trail shoe shopper, I am not.

So I explained what I wanted (as well as I could do) and off the assistant popped to bring out a couple of pairs, which is where it all went a bit self-service. Unfortunately, he was caught up with a phone call while bringing me my shoes, so I just helped myself to them. The first pair of Adidas were far too small (in a bloody 8! For what kind of hoofed creatures are these people making shoes?) and far too pink. The second pair were Inov-8’s and felt lovely, although something wasn’t quite right. I was brought a pair of men’s Adidas, shown how to use the treadmill and off I went, wishing all the while that I had worn either (a) a sports bra or (b) a more modest top.

After a couple of minutes on the treadmill, the Adidas had set off my hip and knee more than the whole half had done. I figured that this was A Bad Thing. Off with the Adidas, on with the Inov-8s. These were lusciously comfortable, except…. they rubbed around my ankles. Bah. Last chance saloon was a pair of Asics, but these were way too big and didn’t even make it onto the treadmill. At this stage I decided that trail shoes and I were not to be acquainted.

I bought a top.