Regular readers have followed with interest Mr LittleStuff’s journey over the last year, from an obese diabetic through his 6 stone weight loss and new-found energy and enthusiasm.
If you’re new round here and have missed the updates, here’s a quick recap in one picture:
You can see more info on his own blog, but having lost over 6 stone in weight and cured his diabetes he was looking for a new challenge (because, y’know, some people are never satisfied…). So he finally felt brave enough to join the local gym (he did all the hard work entirely alone, creaking away on a cross-trainer and exercise bike, too embarrassed to heave his bulk out in public…), where it was suggested that he might really ‘enjoy’ training for, and then completing, THE BEAST – Poole Athletic Club’s punishing 14 mile multi-terrain event around the Dorset coastline.
And that’s where he’s at now; and exactly where the fabulous SportsShoes.com (who are really getting behind getting people outdoors this summer with their #WalkOutdoorsUK campaign – do take a look at their Outdoor Hub, there’s some amazing deals on outdoor gear, and everything you need to go find a little wildness for yourself this summer. N0 14-mile runs necessary, honest!) have once again stepped in to help out, sending him a pair of brilliant Inov8 Oroc 280 Trail Running Shoes for his Wild Running training, and enabling him to complete the race without snapping an ankle…
Now I’m no runner, so I’m going to let Mr LittleStuff tell you about his shiny new shoes;
Having always used decent trainers for working out, I was a bit offended when my trainer told me quite firmly that in no way would he be taking me out onto the hills trail running until I got myself some decent footwear.
On his suggestion SportsShoes sent me the Inov8 Oroc 280 – I’m a novice at this wild running lark, so I simply did as I was told (like I always do *cough*) – and trusted that he knew what he was about.
Naturally as soon as they arrived on the doormat I managed to sort myself a calf injury, which led to no training for three weeks. So then it was back to the gym, and my beautiful trail shoes were left decorating the box.
Finally, last week, I managed to get out in them… and what a complete revelation it was.
Running in ‘normal’ trainers on the treadmill, I feel the bounce and weight of them on my feet. But with the trail shoes, there was a weird sensation of nothing being there at all. I mean, I knew I was wearing shoes because my toes weren’t being stabbed and broken by the stones underfoot, but it was astonishing what a light experience it was.
That’s not to say, however, that the support wasn’t there; my feet felt safe and secure, whilst being given the flexibility I needed to navigate the rough terrain using the natural mechanics of my feet. It was… amazingly freeing.
Running up and down hill on a puddle-ridden stony chalk track, and soft summer grass is also usually a bit precarious – I find I’m being so careful not to slip that I lose my stride and my rhythm. But the Inov8 280’s just… didn’t move. Not once. As I grew to trust them I found the freedom exhilarating – no longer worrying about my footing, I gained a steady stride and stayed there. The small studs mean these shoes wouldn’t be good for road-running, but place them on a rough, uneven or soft surface and they’re ultimately reliable to keep your foot where you place it.
I was pleasantly surprised at how dry my feet stayed too – I tried avoiding the puddles initially (come on – they were shiny new shoes. I didn’t want to mess the up!), but eventually I couldn’t avoid one… and once you’re in, you may as well not bother avoiding the rest. But by the time I was back to the car, despite having muddy water splashed as high as my face, the padded tongue of the shoe feeling on the soggy side of damp, my feet inside were dry.
Basically, these shoes were a revelation – the freedom and flexibility of them can be seen in the video, the way they stretch as my foot splays on impact is what makes them unbelievably comfortable, but the support and grip make them a safe and perfect choice for wild running. I have a wide foot, and I was convinced that once I started running these shoes would pinch across the bridge of my foot. Instead, I’ve rather fallen in love with trail running wearing these babies…
Here’s the tech description:
“The latest update to a range designed specifically for rugged terrain orienteering sees an Inov8 Oroc Running Shoe that delivers a more flexible and aggressive ride. A DWR coating repels mud and water whilst maintaining flexibility. Inov8’s new outsole technology combines a Dual-C™ outsole with tungsten carbide metal spikes that bite into harder or more pliable terrain, whilst a series of dobs that contain crystallised glass offer superb grip in icy conditions. The shoe’s PROTEC-SHANK™ has been engineered to protect the bottom of the foot from the additional pressure these dobs exert on the insole.
The Inov8 Oroc 280 Trail Running Shoe utilises Shoc-Zone™ 3 which delivers a 9mm heel-to-toe differential, resulting in a lower heel ridge that provides greater control and feel without compromising cushioning ability. The 6mm footbed also provides a supportive and rigid cushioning system for additional comfort and support.
An OROC™ sole provides a tough and rigid outsole designed for a variety of terrains. With a slightly stiffer compound than the 220 X-Talon, this sole is suitable for both hard and soft ground. Tungsten carbide spikes provide excellent traction on tricky terrains for a comfortable and grippy ride underfoot.”
You can snap up a pair of these properly amazing Inov8 Oroc 280 trail running shoes at SportsShoes for £95.99.