My name is Gemma and I am addicted to running shoes. I own 10 pairs. To be fair, three of these pairs were freebies. I have seven in use (for road running, road racing, and trail running) and three are waiting in the wings as like-for-like replacements. I keep track of how many miles I have done in each via an app on my phone.

But just how in the name of Pheidippides am I supposed to choose which ones to wear for my marathon next April? And when should I decide?

My heart wants to run those 26.2 miles in my favourites – New Balance Minimus. These are my road racing shoes – super-light and super-quick. They fit and feel like socks, and there’s not much more to them. I have a spare pair of these.

New Balance Minimus











But in my head I think I should use something at least a bit more substantial. It is a very long way after all.

So how about my Nike Free 5.0 shoes. These are so comfortable. It feels like running on clouds.

Nike Free 5









Or the Asics Gel Noosa Tri, which I love because they look like the 80s threw up on them. They are triathlon shoes officially (apparently you can swim in them) and have a bit more structure, but are still responsive racers and feel great.

Asics Gel Noosa Tri










One problem is that I will be doing my training over winter, when the paths are likely to be icy and slippery, and as I do most of my solo training on the towpath I’ll probably need to wear trail shoes, which I won’t be wearing on race day.

And I guess I should have two pairs of whichever shoes I decide so that I don’t put ridiculous miles on just one and have them fall apart on race day. Two pairs that I can alternate throughout training means both are broken in and ready to go for the big day.

Should I decide now which shoes I want to wear, get two pairs ready and wear them as often as I can through the 16-week training plan?

Should I wear whatever suits for training, and use my chosen marathon shoes for races in the build-up and long runs, so I can be (reasonably) sure they will not cause any problems over 26.2 miles without putting too many miles on them?

Should I buy more shoes??

Should I stop worrying about it and try to calm down a bit?! (I am a bit excited about this marathon malarky – can you tell?!)

I think I probably already know the answer – choose shoes that I know are comfortable, get two pairs, use them both (without wearing them out) and then grab either pair when I pack for marathon weekend.

I’ll put in some longer runs in my New Balance Minimus and see how they feel, and if I’m not sure then I think I’ll revert to the Nike 5 Frees. I only have one pair of these so birthday money in February could go towards a second pair. And the really good thing about these is you can customise them on the Nike iD website. I have already designed these in anticipation.

nike iD








Thoughts and advice, sensible or otherwise, are much appreciated!


The new Asics store opened in Leeds today and I spotted through the wonder of the @AsicsLeeds Twitter feed that they are doing free foot scans and gait analyses over the weekend. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to gather some new data, so off I went.

Asics Leeds











The store is on Albion Street, just opposite Adidas (if New Balance would please open an outlet in the empty shop a few doors down I would be very happy, and very skint).

Asics running kit











I was very pleased with the bright colours. The green is particularly in-your-face. It also made me smile to see the latest version of my favourite Asics shoes – the Gel Noosa Tri – in store. As a friend once said: “they look like the 80s threw up on them” and this has become the minimum requirement for all new running kit. Neon goes faster you know!

But back to the story, I said hello to the lady (whose name I didn’t get – sorry) I had been tweeting with and she put me in the hands of Rory for my foot scan and gait analysis.

First I had to fill in my details, which isn’t as straightforward as it sounds when you don’t understand metric! But thanks to Google I converted from ft and lbs and was able to input my height and weight on the iPad.

Then, off with the shoes and socks (fortunately my runner’s feet aren’t looking too bad at the moment, although I suppose they have seen it all before) so Rory could put  tiny blue stickers on certain bones. This was so the camera had known points of reference.

Feet bones











Then, one foot at a time, into the special scanning box (seen here on the left).

Foot ID and analysis









I can honestly say I didn’t feel a thing! Ha! 3D foot mapping technology is explained more here.

The computer came up with all sorts of figures – foot length, bridge height, toe angle and so on. It seems my feet are reasonably equal, average width blah blah. The 3D image was cool.

Feet stats









Then, for the gait analysis, into some special Asics shoes. They have no support or cushioning etc – just a neutral shoe with dots on the back so the camera has a reference point for determining the angle of your heel.

As with other gait analysis sessions I’ve had (two – at Sweatshop, who said I was “beautifully neutral”) this is simply a few minutes of treadmill running with a camera filming the feet from behind.

Gait analysis









I’m always a bit nervous when I get to see myself run – I don’t look quite as light and graceful and gazelle-like as I think. But then again, I don’t get called Bambi and tippy-toes for nothing.

As expected, the video shows that I land very definitely on my forefoot. And I don’t under or over pronate to any great extent.

In this part the stats I particularly liked were my step rate – 181 per minute, which is what “they” say runners should aim for, and my step length/height – 66%, which is apparently an indication of efficiency, and should be between 60% and 70%.

So that’s all good then.

Rory and I chatted some more about what it all meant, and I got a print out with some of the key information and a booklet to explain things. A nice bit of bedtime reading.

Foot stats











I then went to have a chat to the guy from Science in Sport about nutrition and sampled a few of their goodies. He explained to me what to take and when to take it during a marathon and was very clear in his advice.

Finally, I had a bit of a mooch to get some more ideas for the Christmas wish list. Can anyone say shoe porn?!

Asics shoes









I found all the staff to be very friendly and helpful and had some great chats while I was in there. They have running groups on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, so I will try to get along to a session soon.

Asics Leeds are offering free foot ID and gait analysis over the weekend, and the SiS expert will be there as well to talk about gels, protein bars etc. Plus, get a goodie bag when you make a purchase.

Asics goodie bag











Many thanks to the Asics team for a fun experience. I’m always a fan of running brands that make comfy, neon kit, so Asics get a big thumbs up!