With thanks to Laura Joint http://www.laurajoint.co.uk/ for all photographs
When I began running more than 10 years ago I was confidently sure one pair of shoes would see my somewhat non-committal exercise choice to its full.
I’d jogged around my first few Race for Life 5kms in an old pair of trainers, but signing up for a half marathon, I realised I needed to seek out something that was a bit more fit for purpose.
I was dazzled by the choice in the shop. Had not a clue what to even try on, let alone buy. But with the help of the knowledgeable, friendly assistant I settled on a pair of Saucony Jazz trainers – so new, so well-made, so unworn – surely they would carry me all the miles my legs would ever want to run?
I loved those trainers – over the next few years they took me around the Exeter Great West Run three times, a number of local 10kms and many more training miles besides.
My running was a bit sporadic in those days, so they’d have bursts of wear, then get to rest up in a quiet corner of the wardrobe for weeks on end.
When I decided to run the 2005 London Marathon to celebrate being 40, I dug them out and was surprised, but also quietly proud, to see that my legs and my desire for running had outlasted my shoes – now sitting there without any tread, looking rather sad and forlorn.
Seeking out pair number two, there seemed to be an even wider selection to pick from, in a range of bold colours, and with different support.
Those Jazz shoes had served me well. I decided to stick with what I knew and go for another pair of Saucony’s. They became my new favourite shoe, taking pride of place in the wardrobe. My old Jazz trainers still loved, but now saved for walking or gardening.
London was tough. Tougher than anything I’d ever done. I was on my last legs by the time I reached Birdcage Walk, but my shoes gave my feet enough support to cross the finish line. I never intended to run more than one marathon, but something about the whole experience clicked, not least that I developed a shoe fetish.
Each time I wore a pair out, I’d get to savour the delight of unwrapping a new gleaming bright pair from their box, the excitement of putting them on, tying the laces and trotting down the road in them for the first time.
My Saucony’s have taken me around several big city marathons – London twice, along with Paris, New York, Rome, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Barcelona and Palma, three times.
They’ve pounded 26.2 miles around the quiet country lanes of North Dorset, Kent, Somerset, Suffolk, Pembrokeshire, Devon and Cornwall.
I’ve ventured into trail running in off-road pairs as well, completing The Grizzly three times, and Hadrian’s Wall, along with the Cheddar Gorge, Beachy Head and Bath Marathons.
I’m now on Saucony pairs number 12 and 13 – the gorgeous Guide 8 in white and twilight, with pink soles; the off road Peregrine 5 a deep shade of purple, red and green, with red soles like flat, comfortable Louboutins.
I’m excited already about breaking in gently those new Guide 8s to wear in my, what I hope will be my 50th marathon, Edinburgh on May 31st, three days after my 50th birthday.
My old pairs, in various stages of wear, still fill the house, and continue to be used – driving my husband mad as they cluster inside the front and back doors, or wet and muddy, sit drying on an outside step.
I probably own more trainers now than everyday proper shoes – certainly more than shoes with heels.
You see a secret shoe fetish doesn’t have to be all about stilettos.