running shoes

Prague Castle

Run in the Sun in Prague

It’s been two weeks since we took a trip over to Prague and, as with many holidays, I took my running stuff with me. It was my hope to get out and run a couple of times whilst we were there, but I was enjoying some much-needed relaxing so much that I only went out the once, but what a wonderful run it was. Instead of running more I decided to use some time to relax and sleep during the day. Coming back from Prague it seems that this recovery week has allowed me to go into the last few weeks of marathon training feeling really strong, a far cry from last year!

As for running in Prague itself, it was wonderful, it’s such a beautiful city and you can spend so much time looking upwards at all the incredible buildings that you don’t look where you’re going. We must have walked 10-15 miles or more over the course of the week, so there was a lot of time spent on feet as well as the single run. Our hotel was based in the new town and one area we’d not actually seen much of was across the river and around the park you can see from almost everywhere in the city due to it being the only notable hill. The first mile was spent working my way towards the river, very stop-start at the various road crossings, but mostly down a very gentle incline to the first piece of notable scenery, the Dancing House.

Dancing House

Dancing House

The dancing house (also apparently referred to as ‘Fred and Ginger’) is directly next to the river, and the bridge crossing it lends itself well to taking photos.

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

As you can see, the weather was perfect! Crossing the bridge I was in a part of town I’d not seen before, and, without the benefit of live maps on my phone (data roaming costs suck), I tried to find the park. Somehow, I managed to find the wrong park at first, when I go to the top of a short and sharp rise and didn’t seem as high above the city as I’d hoped, the view was still pretty good and certainly beats the roads from Southampton.

First view of Prague

First view of Prague

A quick check of my handy travel-map and I’d worked out where I was in relation to the big park, so I headed straight towards it and directly at a large brick wall surrounding the park without any kind of entrance, I had to follow it back down the hill virtually to the height of the river again before getting inside and seeing this was where the real hill was.

Up the Hill

Up the Hill

The path zig-zagged up through the trees and (with a little bit of walking due to the steepness of the gradient) I made it up to a point where I had a first real view of the city back towards our hotel, where my lovely wife was having her afternoon nap.

Zig-Zag path

Zig-Zag path

From here it was on-wards and up-wards until I found a place to get a real panoramic view of the entire city.

Prague Panorama

Prague Panorama

I was high enough up the hill now to be nearing the top, so I followed the old town wall and got some more beautiful views of the city as well as the ‘pretend Eifel Tower’ that I went up with Becca the following day. It’s a lot smaller than the Eifel Tower, but as it’s mounted on the top of an existing hill, it doesn’t need to be that big to have some incredible views.

View through the wall

View through the wall

Not the Eifel Tower

Not the Eifel Tower

A little bit further along the path at the top of the hill and after heading down the hill and back up again I was able to get an incredible view of Prague Castle, which is located on the same side of the river as the park.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

Then came what I thought would be the best bit of the run, DOWN THE HILL! Sadly, because it was so steep and cobbled, I wasn’t able to bomb down the path as quick as I would have liked, I also had to avoid large groups of tourists and schoolchildren struggling to walk up the hill the other way that I needed to avoid. I worked my way towards the castle and then back over the river along the famous Charles Bridge. Where, although it was tempting to have a caricature drawn of me by one of the 150 (approximate number) artists on the bridge, I didn’t want to tempt fate by putting the rendering of my already prodigious nose in the hands of a caricaturist!

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

Back on the flat I was able to cruise back alongside the river back to the Dancing House and then retrace the way I’d come back to the hotel. The route worked out as just over 10k, and I completed it in a little under an hour, including all the time taken with photos and marveling at the city. This was never meant to be an ‘effort’ run, more of a tourist run, but there was definitely a good hill to put the effort in on (400ft of elevation in approximately 1 mile), so I rewarded myself with a nice long bath back at the hotel.

Prague itself is a stunning city and the food there was both delicious and good value (providing you didn’t eat in the big tourist areas), and I’d recommend a visit to anyone. I’m not sure if we’ll ever go back as we have a long list of other places we want to see first (and I’ll probably want to run around), but I will always remember my run in the sun in Prague.

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Run Length: 10km  Time: 58mins Shoes: Skechers GoBionic

 

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My running shoe addiction!

I have a problem with wanting more and more running shoes, my current collection is below, and all have had various amounts of usage in the last couple of years. I don’t think the amount I have is really acceptable, but I’ll still try to justify it and why I have all the shoes I do!

The collection

The complete collection, all have done a varying amount of miles.

As the above shows, there are 10 different pairs of running ‘shoes’ there, all of them are marketed and sold as running footwear (yes even the sandals). This doesn’t include the various other non-running trainers that I have too, I could have filled the table top!

Fivefingers and Xero Shoes

Left to Right: Vibram Bikila, KSO and Xero Shoes

I’ll run through them in terms of ‘minimal cushioning’ to the maximum cushioning, finishing with my trail shoes. The above shows the most minimal of my running shoe collection. The Vibram Fivefingers Bikila on the left were purchased in America and helped start my running bug. Sadly I’ve done no more than 20miles total running in them as I didn’t really know what I was looking for when I tried them on, and ended up getting them at least a half-size too small. I have an issue with my left foot being a clear half-size bigger than my right, and in footwear designed to be very closely fitted to the foot this causes problems, and I get pain just behind the toes of my left foot when I run in these. I still enjoy wearing them around the house and they’re the perfect beach shoes! Later on I got my second pair of Fivefingers, the black and orange KSO, but I got them a half-size bigger, which is a more comfortable fit, but the flip side of this that whilst they fit my left foot fine now, they’re now a half-size too big on the right, which causes blisters. I do wear them around the house a LOT, and for shorter runs where I want to focus on my running form and landing gently, as these shoes won’t let you land on your heel when running on concrete!

The final shoes in this picture are my Xero shoes, I actually won these in a Twitter contest (yes people really do win these) from www.feetus.co.uk. Whilst they’re designed for running, I’ve only done a gentle 5km in them late last summer, and despite me having run a lot in low-drop shoes by this point, my calves were screaming! I don’t think they’ll be a regular part of my running shoe rotation,  they’re definitely not a winter shoe but they’re great for walking around in the summer.

Skechers

Skechers Go Run Ride and Go Bionic

Now onto the real running shoes. Not many people realise that Skechers make some VERY good running shoes. Their Skechers Performance division has produced some amazing shoes in the last few years and they’re become more and more accepted as a serious running shoe. They’re definitely more than just bum-toning shoes! I got both these pairs of shoes on the same day. The blue Go Run Rides are a more cushioned shoe, and whilst very light, the grey Go Bionics are even lighter as a result of the lesser cushioning and zero heel-toe drop.

The Go Run Rides are a 4mm drop shoe and due to the combination of lightness and cushioning I’ve done nearly 240miles in them (running miles, I’ve walked plenty of others too) and they feel even better now than when I first wore them, in fact, for the first 30 or 40 miles I was disappointed in how they felt, the just didn’t seem to have a nice spring to them. Suddenly, after putting 50miles in them they seemed like they’d been made to fit my foot. They’re now my first choice go-to shoe for my long road runs, and I’d be happy to replace them with a second pair whenever it is that they come to the end of their lifespan.

I’ve done 100miles of running in the Go Bionics and due to the lower cushioning and zero drop nature of the shoes I find that I can only manage around 10miles at a time in these shoes, but they are a definite part of my rotation especially for when I want to focus on my running form, the zero drop just allows me to land correctly. These are by far the most comfortable of my running shoes for walking in, and have a permanent place by my front door, as with the addition of elastic laces (I’m a fan of these), they slip on within seconds and can be worn either with socks or barefoot equally well. My only concern with these is that I’m not a fan of the look, they feel fast, but don’t look it.

After my positive experience with these shoes I have my eye on the Go Bionic Trail shoes and the brand new Go Run Ultra. Skechers performance, but with trail grip!

Inov8 Road-x 233

Inov8 Road-x 233 (x2)

Next up is last years Marathon shoes (the Grey/Green ones), my Inov8 Road-x 233, a 6mm drop shoe with minimal cushioning that got me through last years Brighton marathon. I almost exclusively wore these for my training and the marathon itself and now with over 330 miles on the clock you can clearly see the wear on the heels. It seems as though, despite my best efforts, I can’t help but slide my heel in when I land, most notably on the left foot, which has far more wear and tear than the right. I loved these shoes so much that I bought a second pair in a different colour scheme, in which I’ve done 90 more miles. These shoes just match my feet perfectly, and are comfortable from mile 0 to mile 330m. I’ll just be sad when I final retire the shoes I ran my first marathon in for good.

Adios Boost

Race day shoes – Adidas Adios Boost

Next up are my race day shoes, Adidas Adios Boost, the only shoe in my collection that matches the profile of a ‘traditional’ running shoe, with a  10mm drop. The thing I like about them is the Boost cushioning gives them a real springiness in the heel, but a more firm feel under the forefoot, so they don’t ever feel like that high a drop. I’m trying to keep these in good condition for race days, so they’ve only done 80 or 90 miles so far. I set my Half Marathon PB in them last September, and I’ll be taking them to Silverstone Race Circuit with me this Sunday to try to set another one.

Hoka's and Trail Gloves

Trail Shoes: Hoka Rapa Nui and Merrell Trail Gloves

Finally, my trail shoes, one on the minimalist end of the spectrum from Merrell and the super cushioned (Yet still low drop) Hokas. The Merrell Trail Gloves are what I wore for my first race (The Great South Run/Limp), and were bought in the Lake District on our first wedding anniversary weekend, when I decided that I wanted to do some trail running to make a change from pounding out time on the pavements. Sadly, I didn’t really know what I was looking for in a trail shoe and ended up getting them at least a half-size (possibly even a size) too small, and after losing my big toe nail of my left foot due to it banging against the front of the toe box, I was happy to retire them to be my ‘cutting the grass’ shoes, for which they are perfect!

Finally, my most recent acquisition, my Hokas, these have only done around 60miles in, so are still getting warmed up, but they’re what I’m currently considering best suited of my current collection for the 100km Race to the Stones in July. The combination of cushioning, comfort and with a low drop means they tick all the right boxes. I’m hoping to hit the trails a bit more once the marathon is done and we’ll see how they go.

So that’s my shoe collection, there’s more than there probably should be, but they were all bought to serve a purpose!