Tag Archives: trainers

My Secret Shoe Fetish


With thanks to Laura Joint http://www.laurajoint.co.uk/ for all photographs

Fresh and raring to go

Fresh and raring to go

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?

The Long Run

The Long 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.

Pyramid training

Pyramid training

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.

Group stretches

Group stretches

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.

Rest and recovery

Rest and recovery

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.


Hitting the heights

4 trigs start cw

Photograph by kind permission of Chris Woodcock

The first running event I took part in was about 15 years ago – the Cardiff 5km Race for Life.

I did it with a friend. Neither of us were runners – nor even at all athletic.

Afterwards we celebrated by eating lots of cake and immediately hung up our trainers again.

Around the same time a new fell race was launched in Sidmouth, called The Four Trigs.

20150208_094114I remember reading about it in the local paper. The description of the route was terrifying. A gruelling off-road, self-navigating course that takes you from sea level to 800 feet hill tops many times, including four triangulation points. A total ascent of more than 3,400 feet in 17 miles.

I marvelled at those fit athletes who could undertake such a challenge. I thought they must be super-human, never remotely imagining me ever being that capable.

Sure, I knew how to lace up a pair of trainers and jog along a short, easy route. But running, really proper, hard running – no way!

Back in 2000 I was working as a reporter. My friend too. She wanted to be a writer of fiction and was trying to break into that hugely competitive and tough market.

I met up with her just last week and we chatted over old times, fondly remembering the challenge of our Race for Life run all those years ago.

20150208_104238Belinda, who never really got beyond that first race, exclaimed: “Crikey Jo! Look at you now, you’ve gone on to run 46 marathons.”

It’s still a feat, I can’t quite believe.

I marvelled at it again yesterday, when enjoying every step of those 17 miles of the Four Trigs – the fourth time I’ve run it in recent years.

Not superhuman. Just me.

Oh. And Belinda?

Well, she hung up her trainers, yes. But she kept up with her writing and went on to become the best-selling novelist Belinda Bauer, author of five critically acclaimed novels, ‘Blacklands’, ‘Darkside’, ‘Finders Keepers’, ‘Rubbernecker’ and ‘The Facts of Life and Death’.

‘Blacklands’ won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year in 2010 and ‘Rubbernecker’ won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award in 2014.

20150208_132746Another step. Another stroke of the pen. And one day you look around, and think wow, what a view!

If I can do it. If Belinda can do it. Whatever it is you want to achieve, so could you.

With thanks to Nick Keast and Sidmouth Running Club for a fabulous event; to event sponsor Hayman’s Butchers; and also to my running pal Jane Hemsworth 20150208_132716for her lovely company en route.

To see the ups and downs of the 4 Trigs via my gps recording…..