Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New shoes - Monday the 2nd of May, 2011

As my long Monday run was put off to go shopping with The Wife, I ended up buying myself a new pair of shoes (I suppose if I'm not out running, it's on my mind). So armed, or... footed (!?) with the new Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves I headed out on gentle 4-5km jaunt along the waterfront.

20110502 Pre-dinner new shoes testing
A darkening sky and threatening clouds. But I wasn't particularly worried. The clouds had been like this all weekend without a single drop of rain thus far!

20110502 Pre-dinner new shoes testing
Hong Kong's famous harbour lights are getting fired up

20110502 Pre-dinner new shoes testing
At the turn-around point, things quickly getting darker

20110502 Pre-dinner new shoes testing
I stopped to ask this woman if I could photograph the back of her shirt. I thought it hard a certain silence-of-the-lambs-ness about the nonsense phrase!!!

This route is only a quick 4km+ in around 20mins, so I can't come to any firm conclusions on the shoes yet, but I'll soon take them out on the trails and get some good photos of them.

Here's my first wear impression of my first pair of "barefoot" shoes:

- I've read a lot of "barefoot" literature, about gait and stride, and assumed that I'd have to modify my gait quite a lot, requiring a long time to adapt to these shoes. I'm not sure if my first 4km is a long enough run to judge from (especially seeing as it was flat, etc), but I had to make very few changes to my normal stride, basically just pushing my cadence a little higher (which I naturally do for a faster pace anyway). I didn't develop any soreness on the sole of my foot, no extra calf fatigue and just a small amount of fatigue in the toes of my right foot. I tend to run with a very compact stride for my height anyway, and possibly my years of running in Asics "performance" shoes (less cushioning than most "training shoes"), has pushed me towards a more mid-foot strike.

- Despite only being out for 20mins, I developed two blisters (which incidentally also burst while on the run) both on my right foot. One was at the heel of the shoe and I'd put this down to me not being used to going sock-less. The other was just on the top of my big-toe metatarsal area, right where the tongue meets the toe-box. I'm much more worried about this second one, as I've seen numerous reports on other blogs online, reporting blisters in this area. This seems to be a design fault in the shoe, and I'm not sure how I could fix it short of wearing socks.

I'd probably prefer to continue to wear these sock-less, but that's seeming less and less an option. Firstly, developing blisters on a short, flat 4km run doesn't bode well for something 20km+, and secondly The Wife, is worried that if I continue to wear them sock-less, they'll develop "The Stink". I've seen this reported elsewhere and despite Merrell's repeated assertion that they're treated with some anti-fungal, anti-smell type thing, climbing shoes I've had in the past tell me that there's almost nothing that's a match for heavy activity in Hong Kong's sweaty summer. So, we'll see how that goes.

More photos and comments as soon as I can get these things out on the trails!

Until then, hope everyone is getting out and living it up!
~ Joe

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