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Jonathan Hotchkiss's training shoe dilemma
Posted by: Annie Emmerson
Posted on: Thursday 27th November 2008


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Very few, if any triathletes manage to get by without experiencing an injury or two. More often than not, these injuries may come from inappropriate footwear for the athlete's bio-mechanics/style of running. Pro triathlete, Jonathan Hotchkiss, was unlucky with his injury problem last year, but thankfully a careless error turned into a positive outcome! In his article below Jonathan talks us through how correcting his footwear has turned him into a pain free runner.


I ended the 2007 season and started 2008 in the worst way possible for my first year trying to "make it as a pro"... injured! The injury had been diagnosed as tendonitis in my right hip flexor, though I couldn't for the life of me work out why it had happened. All I knew was that I couldn't run or ride full stop without excruciating agony. Having literally NEVER had a non-impact injury (even when I was a footballer), this was incredibly frustrating and confusing.

After about eight weeks of physio I tentatively began running again, but within about 30 minutes the ache began to return. Determined to battle on through I built back up to 60 minutes over the next ten days whilst on a training camp in Majorca. The ache was bearable, just, but the stiffness and general muscle soreness in my legs was constant and made all my running painful. I just figured my muscles needed to get back used to running again after two months off.

It wasn't until my next run, when I forgot my "long run" trainers, that I realised the reason for all my woes. Since just before Clearwater in November 2007, I had been running in some Mizuno Wave Creation trainers; a change I'd made from my normal Asics Kayanos (to save money), but I'd left them at a friends house and was forced to dig out an old pair of Asics DS trainers. Instantly it was like running feathers. There was no pain, no soreness, no force required to keep me running. To my head and my legs it was a revelation.

At around this time, Lanson Running in Kingston had agreed to come on board as one of my equipment sponsors and we began discussing which shoes they might be able to offer me. Based on my recent experiences and expert knowledge of matching shoes to running styles, they suggested I try the Saucony range for my long run and race shoes (ProGrid Paramount and A2's respectively) and stick to the Asics DS trainers for my speed/track work.

hk training shoes

I took away a pair of each to try, and instantly fell in love (or rather my legs did), with both. The Pro-Grid Paramount's were surprisingly light for a cushioning shoe, but with a fairly neutral to over-pronation support. Being an almost solely (sorry, no pun intended) forefoot striker meant that my calves took a huge hammering in my run stride, but after my first long run in the Pro-Grids Paramount's, there was not a single ache... anywhere! I kept waiting for it to come, as the miles ticked by I was looking, sensing, expecting some muscle soreness to kick in, but it just didn't. The comfort offered by the shoe was a revelation - the fit was something new too. Slightly more freedom at the front of the shoe gave a far more natural feel to them than I'd felt in a trainer before. But this "looseness" was countered by the support elsewhere in the shoe and the advice Lanson Running had given me on how to thread and tie my laces correctly - something I'd never given any thought to. And yet one small change in the last two holes meant that the shoes never felt loose, yet still felt "free". It makes sense really, after all you wouldn't ride your bike without getting the fit adjusted by someone in a good bike shop.

The Saucony ProGrid A2's were a completely different shoe, but for good reason. They were super light... so light in fact that you easily forgot you were wearing anything. They're made for racing and not training so my first trial run at the local "Bushy Park 5k" was an ideal test. Once again there was more "freedom" at the front of the shoe, but with my history of toenail problems - the nickname of "leper feet" isn't one I'd like my friends to use forever - I'm glad for this. The graphic post race photo's of bloodied, blistered feet have been far less extreme this year, much to my friends delight!

The ProGrid A2's are perfect for anything from a 5k up to my longest (to date) race distance of 21k. There's surprisingly enough cushioning for such a thin and light shoe and once again the neutral to slight over-pronator support means that the post race DOMS (delayed on-set of muscle soreness) just doesn't happen now. I can happily head out for a long run the day after a race if I want to. I loved the little touch on the rear of the heel too.

All of this has lead to serious improvements in race performance too. A PB 32.24 10k at Bala and a first lap (10.5k) of 37mins at Vitruvian this year is proof of how well these shoes have helped me train and race.

hkwarn trainer

The final improvement that I've seen this year because of the support Lanson Running have offered me, is in being able to replace my shoes when I need to i.e. when my current pair have worn out. As you can see above, being such a forefront sticker, the "wear and tear" I place on my shoes is very focused to one area of the sole, with parts of the shoe looking like they've never even touched the pavement.

In the past, I've probably worn my shoes about 60-70 miles beyond their life span. This has lead to more muscle soreness and as you can see below, sometimes very bad blistering under the balls of my feet.

hkbadblister

Because of the guys at Lanson Running and their expertise, I'm wearing the right shoe for my running style and using them properly. The protection and comfort this has provided my legs and feet is amazing. I'd always assumed that pain and soreness was simply "part of the job" but it doesn't have to be this way. I wouldn't put up with a saddle that gave me painful saddle sores every time I rode it, and now I've realised the same is true of my trainers.

A huge thanks to Lanson Running for their support and advice this season.


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