Monday, 30 January 2012

Shoe shopping.

Usually, I hate shopping but as soon as you add technology to the mix:  I'm in.

I've done over 1500km on my old pair and I needed some new ones.  At the 24 Uur van Welle last year, one of my team mates (Thanks, Dirk!) recommended Runners Service Lab who have three sites in Belgium at Antwerp, Gent and Duffel.  I opted for the one in Antwerp as it's less than 30 minutes from work.

Until now, I've always been a little sceptical about just how much benefit there is from technical running shoes.  But not any more.

The set up is like this:  They have an indoor running area all set up with cameras and an array of pressure sensors.  To start with, you run up the track barefoot and then they play back the video.  It was very interesting to see just how markedly I pronate (Do yer own googling, OK?).  Even more fascinating was looking at the way my feet strike the floor and the areas taking all the pressure.  Additionally, they are able to show on-screen a trace indicating how much correction is needed.  Geekgasm ensued.

There then followed a discussion about what kind of distances I run (long) and over what terrain (75% road, 25% trail).  The assistant conjured up three pairs of shoes from the ludicrously large stock and the process was repeated for each of them.  By a happy coincidence, the best correcting shoe was also the most comfortable so it wasn't necessary to dig deeper into the range available.  I paid and left with shoes I have confidence in.

The cost?  Nothing.  Well, OK, the shoes themselves are at RRP and, while I could have bought them discounted online, the value add here was absolutely worthwhile.  I would love to know if there are other places offering the same services outside Belgium.