by Nicola Davenport
Professional athletes wouldn't dream of running in a shoe that doesn't enhance their performance, but making sure your trainers fit properly shouldn't just be for people who run for a living.
We headed down to Run and Become, the specialist running store with branches in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, to find out more.
Run and Become offers natural gait analysis to all customers as part of the service - no extra charge, but make sure you factor in an hour or so for the process. Ring ahead to book a slot.
Here's what happens, and why.
First, you're asked about your running story - how long you've been running, how often you run, goals, and any issues you have - injuries, for example.
Next, you run a few hundred yards on the flat, backwards and forwards, while a trained analyst from the store observes how you move, how your feet fall, movement in your hips and knees. In fact, how your whole body aligns while you run.
This allows them to recommend the best type of running trainer to suit your style of running or whatever exercise you do.
Then it's into the shop and time to try on shoes.
It turns out I'm a neutral runner - I don't pronate (my foot doesn't 'turn over' as I run) - although my ankles do rotate. Sounds worrying, but apparently it's not. My foot arches are strong so I don't need to worry about adding extra support in that area, and the ankle movement helps protect my knees. So no need for added cushioning.
So far so good.
My analyst Dipika (who owns Run and Become along with her sister: it's very Zesty, this chain of stores) watches me run in four different pairs of trainers, from a variety of brands. Some slip around the heel area while I run so are ruled out. Which narrows down the field to two pairs.
Now for the run-off. I try each pair again, separately, then we go one-on-one: I wear one shoe from each pair at a time - swapping left and right after each short run.
I find this an absolutely brilliant way of working out which model of trainers feels better.
Dipika and I are agreed - it's the Brooks Ghost 5 that hits the sweet spot for me. I truly feel that I could run and run in these babies. No slippage, chafing, and just enough bounce to keep my feet and legs fresh for mile after mile.
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