Thursday, 23 January 2014

The pain of replacing trainers

After running over 650 miles in my pair of New Balance M860v2, I decided it was time to replace them. My knees had started to hurt after long runs - a clear sign that the cushioning and possible stability technology within the trainers had seen better days.

My gut instinct was to get another version of the same model of trainer (M860) - so version 3. I'd done a lot of research and found that version 3 was a completely different trainer. However, since they were the 2013 model you could pick them up relatively cheaply (even at Sweatshop, which is not known for cheap trainers).

During my research I also tried to self-diagnose my gait. I did the wet-foot test and it looked like I had a normal arch; however I couldn't be certain. Given the amount of miles I'd be covering this year I wanted to make sure I chose the right trainers. The best way to do this was to get my running style analysed by the professionals.

NB M860v4 - "Feet Killers"
Although I'd prefer to go to Sweatshop in Reading, it is quite a distance from where I live, and I wouldn't be able to get out there for at least another couple of weeks. There was, however, a specialist running shop in Oxford. 

I popped in there on Monday and they spent approximately 40 minutes analysing my gait and getting the right trainer. I was told I had a collapsed arch and that I needed both a stability shoe and also one that was slightly wider than my current ones.

In the end I opted for another pair of New Balance M860s - the latest version (version 4). I was really confident these would be the right trainer for me. My 3 year old son certainly loved wearing them around the house before I could take them out.

One of many painful blisters on the collapsed arch
On Tuesday night I took them out for a test drive. I ran 10km and I could start to feel pressure on the inside of each foot (where the support is for the collapsed arch - i.e., for overpronators). On the Wednesday morning I went for a 15km run and at the end of the run had severe blisters on both feet in the same location (where the collapsed arch is). They were horrible and painful blisters - some of them were red (not good!). I decided there and then that there was no way I could run in them. My knees felt fine but my feet were destroyed!

I rang the shop on Wednesday morning to ask their advice. They told me that they could not accept a return because I'd run in them, but that if I pop into the shop on Thursday then I could speak to the manager to ask his advice (incidentally he's the one who sold me the trainers in the first place). I was gutted! I'd spent £95 on a pair of trainers that were killing my feet. 
Comparison in medial support

I was in the process of figuring out a way to continue running in them when I got a call from the running shop. They'd spoken to someone in their HQ and, because M860s vary so much in versions, they agreed to either exchange, set up a credit or fund my money. Blistering is a known problem with the later versions of the M860s, especially if you'd previously had an earlier version (like I did). This was a huge relief!

My old NB M860v2 - Medial support is lower
I took my trainers back on the Thursday and they kindly refunded my money.

With the money back in the bank (or at least, back on the Visa card) I now have to go through the whole process of looking for another pair of trainers again.

NB M860v4 - Medial support very high and firm
What I do know is what I need to avoid. The pictures opposite show the difference in medial support between the two versions: v4 has a much larger and firmer support, and that is what was causing the problems. Although I need support, I perhaps don't need (or at least, I am not prepared to have) that level of support.

I've done some research and I've spotted a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 (or the earlier 13) which could do the trick. I'll need to test them out first. 

In the meantime I need to wait until my blisters have died down before trying on new trainers. Therefore I'll be going back to my old faithful...

This trainer lark is more complex that it ought to be...! 

Watch this space for the next installment of the trainer saga....

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