It was time, my friends. After two years of Covid shoes, I needed to get into a decent shop and treat my feet to some love. With all that’s going on in the world right now, it seems somewhat churlish to be splashing out cash on such luxuries. And there’s no way around it; no way to justify it. But running is what I do. It’s not that I’m particularly good at it, but at least a decent pair of shoes will make the taking part that much more pleasant, and hopefully add an extra year or two on to the amount of seasons I have left in the tank.
Trying to get running shoes over the last couple of years was a thankless task. I ended up with a pair of Adidas Boston 8s which are okay, but just okay (essentially, a shoe that tries to be all things to all runners). Then I picked up Decathlon’s own-brand runner, called Kiprun Long; an odd shoe which is quite heavy and strangely ‘noisy’ too, when out on the road. I’m quite a fan of doing my research before I buy anything (not least as I know I am a compulsive buyer, so I rein in those impulses with a bit of Googling). Oddly enough, few if any of the usual reviewers of running footwear have bothered with this shoe. I suppose that may be snobbery. I don’t know. But you won’t find too many online reviews of this own-brand shoe.
No matter; it was just to tied me over as the Boston 8s had sprung a leak (well, developed a rip in one of the shoes, and the other was heading that way). I have put a fair few miles on them, so they don’t owe me anything. But with Declan’s Way looming, it was time to invest in a decent pair to help me over the line. Time to hit the interweb again and see what was cooking.
I was also keen to get to a decent shoe shop, and whilst there are plenty of big sports stores out there flogging all sorts of stuff, it’s rare to find one with a good range (they love Gel Kayano, but apart from those, the selection options can get a little skinny after that.) They are also more in the ‘leisure’ end of the market, nor do the store assistants typically have much knowledge of running matters.
There are, for the discerning runner in my part of the world, probably about three options: WheelWorx, The Run Hub, and Run Logic. As I was heading into Dublin city centre, I had two of those options to browse. As it turned out, I only needed one.
I popped into Run Logic – a compact shop near the quays – and started chatting to the owner, Ash. Ash is from Melbourne and to say he enjoys running might be an understatement. Last year, around March time, bored with Covid lockdown, he announced to his good lady wife that he was ‘heading out for a run’. He came back about nine hours later having done about 90k. He was surprised to find that she was rather vexed. As in, close to calling the hospitals and/or the police. There may have been threats of violence.
My kinda guy!
Anyway, during our varied chats about runs and running, he asked to see the soles of my runners (the Adidas Boston 8s) and then just turned around and pulled a box off the shelf. I tried them on. Hoka Clifton 8s in a 9.5; a size I rarely take. They fit perfectly. I trotted around the shop. We chatted some more. I decided I should try on a few more pairs. He shrugged. Sure. Brooks came out, along with Adidas, and I think one other pair. Didn’t matter. He was right first time. I was sold on the Hokas. I paid my money and headed home.
First run on Saturday along the canal, for about 16k. (Odd one: a ten-miler always sounds longer than a 16k. Discuss). I am smothered with a head cold, and my legs are tired from a few weeks of gym and running, but in fairness, the shoes were great. Lovely fit, plenty of bounce. And at the end of day, to paraphrase our good friend Jim: ‘high-end shoes won’t fix a low-end engine.’
The beauty of any quality product is that it works. You put it on and forget about it. It does the job. If you are spending time thinking about your shoes when you’re running, then something has gone wrong.
If you’re in Dublin, and your feet need a little wranglin’, then call in to see the Shoe Whisperer. Tell him unironedman sent you. (He won’t have a clue what you’re talking about, but he will sell you the best shoes possible).
And now, some dogs on a bed.
If you have residual guilt about the whole middle-class thing, and splashing cash on such fripperies as running shoes, then you can do a few things to assuage that feeling.
Check out https://www.patreon.com/JohnSweeneyRoar and bung him a few quid. He’s out in Kiev right now, as an independent journalist, and his reports are both a sobering reminder of how shit things are in the world, and also a tonic. It’s quite the trick to pull that off, and well worth the price of a coffee to find out how he does it. I think it may be the lucky orange hat.
As the late, great George Michael once sang: “Guilty feet have got no rhythm.”