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Running shoes : less, more, how many is enough?

Her – “Now you’ve finished your marathon, can you do something with your shoes?”

Him – “What do you mean, they’re fine?”

Her – “Bernie! Look at that pile!”

Him – “Oh, wait, I see what you mean…”

I’m sure every runner has had this conversation at some point, either (reluctantly) with their partner, or (even more reluctantly) with themselves.

Maybe you have a race coming up. You get a new pair of shoes because your careworn runners are looking ragged, but you don’t throw out the old ones. They’re backup. Insurance in case you don’t get on with your new trainers.

Or maybe you’re upping the mileage so you go to a two-shoe routine, alternating pairs so your shoes can dry out and the foam has time to recover between runs.

Or maybe you’ve introduced speedwork into your runs and you’ve added a speedy pair to your stable. Or spikes for track, or studded for trail.

Or maybe, you’ve done all three…

What constitutes too many shoes, anyway?

What constitutes too many shoes, anyway?

The trainer jumble starts to evolve, spill out of its tidy little storage place, but what do you do? Are you ready to part with the old pairs? Are some of them being worn as utility trainers for gardening or perhaps the cool ones double as casual wear?

It’s a conundrum that all runners have to face at some point. Which trainers need to go to the giant shoe box in the sky, which will pass inspection and live another day.

For me, today is not that day. I’m putting it off and procrastinating. By looking for new shoes.

I’m after a pair of road/trail hybrid shoes which will give me better grip in the muddy parts of the Heath but not feel like running in treacle on the pavement while I’m getting there, while suiting a neutral runner with a mid foot strike. Anyone have any suggestions?
Happy running everyone!


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Running Gear : New Shoes for the Marathon


Every runner loves a new pair of shoes…

I’ve (finally) received the delivery of my shoes for the marathon – a new pair of ASICS-GelExcel33 2. They’re even in snazzy ‘limited edition’ blue and green. Because this will of course make me go faster on race day…




Keen readers will note that apart from the colour difference, these are EXACTLY the same pair of shoes that I talked about buying last time I posted a shoe review. What can I say, I’m a runner. There is one thing I’m NOT going to do just before a marathon and that is change my model of shoes!




So, while these aren’t the fastest of shoes, they seem to work well for me and I have a new pair for the marathon, still full of support and shock absorption. I would have preferred to have had them last week so I could do about 50km in them, but internet deliveries which say 4 days, sometimes aren’t.


However, this is the third pair of these shoes I’ve had, so I know my feet fit them fine and, crucially, they don’t give me any hotspots. Just to be sure I’m going to wear them as much as possible between now and the marathon, along with my 3 easy runs this week, to help bed them in.

Seeing as I’ve had three pairs now I guess I should probably get around to giving  review of them. But that can wait until after the marathon where we’ll see if blue and green do go faster than boring white…

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

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Natural Running : Initial thoughts on the ASICS Gel Excel 33

ASICS Gel Excel 33 counterHooray, just in time for the weekend! A post that is about leaving plantar fasciitis behind!

Well, enough to allow a return to running a few times a week and to clock up about 50km in my new ASICS Gel Excel 33 trainers. I figure now I’ve had the chance to go for a few runs it would be a good time to do a quick review of my experience of them so far.

First off, I rate this shoe highly. Great fit, good cushioning (but not too much), flexible and light, and well suited to my mid-foot to forefoot strike.

When walking the low heel drop feels strange at first, probably because I’ve always had ‘regular’ trainers, however when you are running you don’t notice the heel drop – just the ease with which you can land on your mid-foot and transition forwards onto your toes for the toe-off. I’m not sure these would be suited to pronounced heel strikers, the low drop seems to make it take longer for your heel to hit the ground, which could lead to over-striding. Certainly I noticed this on downward slopes at least.

I will put up a more detailed review once I have done some more miles, but in the meantime these shoes are shaping up to be a good solid pair of high mileage trainers.

Which means (checks to see if girlfriend is reading over shoulder) I’m on the lookout for a new pair of shoes for my fast runs and speed work…

Happy running for the weekend everyone!


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Natural running continues : A shiny new pair of ASICS Gel Excel 33 for me!

Who doesn’t love a new pair of running shoes? The shine, that new-shoe smell, bright white foam…

Ok, ok, I’m getting carried away…

ASICS Gel Excel 33 side view

ASICS Gel Excel 33

As I said in my previous post I have been looking into natural running. Not barefoot running – that is definitely a step too far for me – but natural running. Natural running shoes have a low heel drop, only about 5mm from heel to toe, which encourages mid-foot and forefoot running. This is a lot less than regular trainers which have around 10mm or more drop. They are also ‘stripped’ back and feature less motion control features, thereby not impeding the body’s natural biomechanics.

Given my ASICS Gel Kinsei were well beyond their use-by date I took the opportunity to get myself some new running shoes. Well, that and I just wanted a new shiny pair of trainers! So why after years of running in ‘normal’ trainers have I opted for a completely different type of shoe? 4 reasons:

  1. I have a neutral gait – Meaning I don’t over-pronate or supinate, so shoes with masses of cushioning in the heel don’t provide me with extra protection, just extra weight.
  2. Natural running shoes have a low heel drop – A flatter shoe encourages mid-foot and forefoot running, which is my natural gait. Warning – If you over-pronate then you should approach natural or minimal shoes with extreme caution. They are not designed with motion control or other systems to control over-pronation, so your risk of lower limb injury would be much higher in this sort of shoe.
  3. I am in the recovery phase of plantar fasciitis – This sounds counter-intuitive, however my theory is that my current mileage is very low, making this a perfect time to get into a new ‘genre’ of trainers because of the need to always transition slowly when moving from ‘regular’ trainers to ‘natural’ trainers. Please note that if you are like me and have tight calf muscles then natural shoes will put more strain on them due to the flatness of the shoe. Pay special attention to this and to your static stretching routine so you don’t strain your calves or encourage a spell of plantar fasciitis
  4. Additional foot strength – Plantar fasciitis is often caused or exacerbated by weak musculature of the foot and lower limbs. Shoes designed for natural running encourage your feet and lower limbs to get stronger because of the minimal approach to motion control. My theory is that in the long run if I have stronger feet and lower limbs I will be better able to keep myself free from plantar fasciitis. But it is a long road…

Anyone reading this and thinking along similar lines, I stress again the importance of transitioning slowly. Natural or minimal running shoes are very different from regular running shoes and you will take time to adjust. From my research I have found that all manufacturers of natural or minimal running shoes have noted to add these shoes into a rotation, and keep your regular runners for long distances. This will assist with the transition without needing to drastically cut your mileage and let you get used to the new shoe. I suggest you read this great article from – Safely Transitioning To A Minimalist Running Shoe –

So why did I go for the ASICS Gel Excel 33?

ASICS Gel Excel 33 counter

ASICS Gel Excel 33

Simple really, I tried on quite a number of shoes in the ‘natural running’ style – Newton, Mizuno, Adidas, Nike – but I guess I found the ASICS fit and feel to be what I am most used to and the most comfortable for me. I got my shoes from Sweatshop because they tend to have staff who are runners themselves, as well as the massive benefit of being able to try the shoes out by running on a treadmill in store while the assistant watches you for gait or pronation issues. In the UK another good store Runners Need also have treadmills so you can try-before-you-buy.

A little advice/rant here – apologies in advance – while you will pay more for shoes from the store instead of the internet, go to a dedicated running store where the staff are knowledgeable and you can try the shoes out on a treadmill. Walking around a shop floor for a few minutes is not going to give you an idea of what the shoes feel like when running! And be a nice person, if your assistance has given you good service, useful advice and the benefit of running on a treadmill, buy the shoes from them. Don’t go home and buy the same shoes on the internet. If everyone does that, the additional service which is so important to us all will just disappear. I only ever buy shoes from the internet when replacing shoes I already have and trust, because nothing compares being able to try them on and crucially, try them out, while in the shop.

ASICS Gel Excel 33 sole

ASICS Gel Excel 33

For me, it’s time to start running again as my plantar fasciitis recedes. I will update you here after I have put some miles in my new ASICS Gel Excel 33 and provide a review. In the meantime, safe running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running

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