The time has come to either bite the bullet and buy more road shoes or give them up altogether and stay with the neutral off-roaders. The title to the post tells you what I have decided, but can I pull it off?
Today I will attempt my first ‘Park and Stride’ with off-road shoes, despite most of the route being on hard, manmade surfaces. Park and Stride was one of my strategies for building up my distance during the working week when I was training for the 30 mile Mendip Challenge. Normally I go out and run at lunchtime, but given the time constraints it comes to a point where I just can’t stay out long enough to get the miles in.
I live over 20 miles to the south of Bristol and commute in every day by car, so in December last year I decided to start parking outside the city and running the last part in. This was greatly helped by the National Cycle Route 3, some of which runs along an abandoned railway line and some along a canal-side path – so much of it is away from traffic.
Over the months I parked further and further away from Bristol until I was in the village of Pensford and running around 9 hilly miles in, in the morning, and the same back again at night. I always had the fall back that I parked on a bus route, in case I was too tired to run back, but somehow I always managed it. As the days lengthened it became much more pleasant in the evenings and I felt less vulnerable on the narrow sections to heavy traffic passing within inches.
Up until now I have always run this route in road shoes, and it was running these distances that made my left foot feel tight on top (as if the laces were binding my foot) and my right knee tender. It was this odd configuration of tensions, which I had never had before that convinced me me there was a conflict from running in two types of shoes. So surely the problem was with the shoes.
Shod in my off-road Inov-8s I set off once again.
Maybe because I was tired, or maybe because their lugged soles are designed for cross-country, it felt like more work than usual. And ironically my right knee began to feel tender on the outside, even in these shoes. But there was no great jarring and I concentrated on forefoot landing, and avoiding putting all my weight down on the heels. And in all other aspects it was fine, so this will be the way to go from now on, unless my body tells me otherwise.
Later in the week I will try another barefoot lunchtime run, as the blister should be fine now.