A better day’s shopping

Last week’s miserable attempts at shopping have been completely forgotten. The mood in the house has changed to giddy excitement, tempered with a little bit of finger crossing and optimism.

Today we ventured north on our biannual trip to the New Balance factory shop at Shap. I love the New Balance factory shop at Shap. Apart from a brief but disastrous flirtation with a pair of Brooks (which turned out to be so heavy and over stable that they put me off running for months), I have been entirely faithful to NB since I started running. Luckily, they forgave my infidelity (honestly it meant nothing, I’ll never stray again) and I’ve been back in them ever since.

As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t really built for running so I need the shoe equivalent of a hug from a matronly dinnerlady – nice and squashy, but also solid and supportive. It turns out that this really narrows my choice of shoes (how I envy all of you with neutral, dainty lady sized feet). My first purchase from NB was a 1225, then an upgrade to 1226, then back to a 1225 because they were cheap on Amazon.

So, today in the shop, I announced confidently that I need a 1226 in a 7 and a half in a B width, but didn’t know where to start with trail shoes. Due the aforementioned wonkiness, it turns out that I have to finish where I start as there is only one shoe for me (obviously there are two shoes, a left and a right, I believe that’s the standard arrangement). I tried on the trails, paced around, prodded my toes, did some nervous bouncing, all the essential shoe-trying behaviours. They felt good, no obvious ankle rolling, comfy around my foot, not too high on the ankle…but my toes were right at the end. Into an 8 I went… Lovely.

749 - my new trail shoes

But all this made me doubt my trusty 1226 sizing. On they went and lo and behold, too snug. “Your feet must have grown” suggested Ginge. “I’m 32!” I yelped back. No problem. Apart from the fact that they didn’t have an 8 in a B width. I was given a wide fitting, which I thought would be ok (what I haven’t admitted is that my trail shoes are a men’s 8 and thus wider fitting), but no. Despite me tightening my laces tighter than a swooning lady’s corset, my feet slid around in them. Another shoe was produced, it had the same stability as my precious 1226s but less cushioning. I peered at them suspiciously. On they went, I paced, bounced and prodded. Something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on what. I paced, bounced and prodded again. My heels felt weird.

The lovely assistant advised me that I should leave it if I wasn’t 100% certain, especially as the 1260 (the uber souped up new version of 1220s) would be in their shops very soon. OK, I sighed and abandoned the quest. This is where excellent customer service kicked in. I must have looked heartbroken because he offered to ring the Keswick branch for me (they will post shoes out), oh and he knew they have had some 1260s in. He rang. I held my breath. No joy. He rang Flimby. They had a 1225 AND A 1260. Or did they? It went quiet. They just had to check something. It wasn’t a B width in the box. It went quiet again. The B width was in the D width box and the D width in the B width box! Panic over. They will be mine!

My beautiful new 1260s. Take care of them Mr Postman.

I finished up with my trail shoes, Ginge got some road shoes and some trail shoes and my shiny new 1260s will be in the post on Monday. Best of all, there was 50% off all shoes, so my shiny new Runners World reviewed 5 star in every category 1260s cost me just over £60 including postage.

I just hope they fit.

573 - Ginge's new trail shoes

Ginge's 1080s - I have taken to calling him Dorothy

New Balance Factory Shops are at Shap, Keswick, Flimby and Murton. I would heartily recommend them for their friendly, knowledgable and generally lovely staff, their range of kit and their bargain prices (even when there’s no sale on). They have not paid me to say any of this, but if they want to send me some stuff I won’t argue.

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.