While the less sensitive of my mates, which is pretty much all of them, are wont to describe me as the most hard-bitten, cynical old ad man on planet earth, there is one area in which they are gleefully united in regarding me as a dupe, a rube, a sucker to the marketing spiel of corporate America. Or if you want to be strictly accurate about this, corporate Japan.
And that is when I am forced to admit, arm up my back, naturally, exactly how much of my hard-earned wonga is spent annually on running shoes.
I won’t trouble you with the sum itself, just in case my good lady wife should happen across this post: but suffice it to say that the sum is not inconsiderable.
The reason being that even though I have swapped intensity for endless mileage these days, I am still a firm believer in retiring my running shoes once they’ve done about 400 miles or so. Which, when you consider that my favoured Asics Gel Cumulus shoes cost about £89 in a running store, or £55 if I find my size in one of the sports ‘sheds’, can start to run into serious money fairly quickly.
My non-running, couch potato friends find it hard to credit that a pair of running shoes costing £90 can be all out of ideas after just a couple of months training, but that, I’m afraid, is how it is. And I can prove it too.
Now, as I’m constantly in training for one race or another, I’ve generally got about 5 pairs of running shoes on the go. That’s two pairs of trail shoes, one fairly new, and one that I’m prepared to destroy in an hour and a half during Hellrunner; plus a new pair of Cumulus, a pair with about 1-200 miles on, and a pair with about 350 miles on them. They all get miles logged in a diary, so I don’t risk injury by running in them when they’re too broken down, but to be honest, the diary is pretty much redundant these days.
That’s because if I put my three current pairs of road shoes next to each other, the difference is immediately obvious. The newest pair aren’t just shiny and new, with a whiteness that would have invited massed stamping were I still at school, but the soles have a good half inch of springy, bouncy foam that makes me feel like I’m running on air.
Pair 2, with 150 miles on the clock are still pretty bouncy, and bear the indentations of my feet, making them the perfect shoes for any marathons or half marathons that might appear on my schedule. And pair 3, if I’m honest, are squashed nearly flat, and are virtually ready to be consigned to gardening leave, lest they be the cause of my next major injury.
Now, I know people who can get a lot more mileage out of shoes than me. But the mileage they achieve is in direct proportion to their body weight. So the 9-stone whippets are managing 6-700 miles between shoes, while, as previously noted, 14-stone biffers like me really have to resign themselves to forking out for new shoes on a more regular basis.
It isn’t hype. It isn’t marketing nonsense. You really do need to change your shoes when you’ve run them flat.
And having bared my sole on this most sensitive of subjects, I would also like the record to show that if Asics wish to relieve the pain on my poor, long-suffering bank account, I for one am not to proud to accept a new pair of Gel Cumuluses (Cumulii?) on the house. Size 13, if you’re asking…