I remember the first day of training well. It had been an interesting experience (read euphemism for painful) as I limped into the shower afterwards. My feet were killing me, it was that simple.
All the more worrying for me afterwards was that I was committed to driving round to pick up my girl friend and anxious to make a good impression I was sure the sight of me hobbling and limping up to the front door was going to go down extremely well!
Add to the above physical pain the fact that her father who was twice my age and had already completed several marathons (I had yet to complete one) and I was potentially in for an evening of ritual humiliation that would remain with me for a long time.
As it turned out, things went better than expected, I actually got a mega load of sympathy, lots of hugs and kisses for at least trying (and that was from the dad only joking folks) and ended up almost a hero but the real benefit of the entire evening came with some gentle constructive advice from the father whilst the girlfriend was getting ready (why do they always take so long?)
The advice came along the lines of it was pretty damn obvious to disguise the fact that I was in no small amount of pain and that it was either bucket loads of TLC, lots of alcohol or a hefty shot of painkillers was going to be what it took to get me through the night (possibly a nice combination of all three who knows?) Having established this fact and the cause of my discomfort my girlfriends father took me aside and showed me where he kept all his training gear.
Now this guy was serious about his running, he had a physique that was lean and mean, all the hallmarks of a fully paid up mountain goat and had a degree of fitness that I could only have fantasised about at the time.
His most revealing words were: Look after your feet and do not, repeat do not, go running in shoes that are not designed for the job. Sounds pretty obvious I know but as advice goes (and isnt it strange how all the best advice is simple at the end of the day) it was right up there with some of the best I have ever had.
If there is one area of your running gear (and if you are going to survive out there on the roads then you have to be serious) that you cannot treat in a cavalier fashion it is with your running shoes. If you are about to set out and run hundreds of miles then the correct shoes is not only a must, it is essential.
I have a colleague, the husband of a friend of mine who is competing in this years London Marathon (2007) and he works his way through one pair of running shoes every four weeks. Now imagine when you are running that sort of distance how much damage you would do to your feet if you dont have the right shoes?