Finally my new pair of trainers are here. I know I've been complaining a bit in the last couple of blogs about my inadequate footwear but happily you won't have to listen to any more of that :)
Got home from work yesterday and there they were on the doorstep, all lovely and new in their blue plastic wrap. I didn't actually get chance to open them until late in the evening because of football training, but they feel comfortable based upon the 5 or so minutes I walked them round the house! The acid test will of course come with training but they are a brand I have used before (Asics) and I know I am comfortable with them.
The main reason I've been waiting so desperately for the trainers is the fact that since coming back from Durham I have had very little in the way of decent footwear for walking. Stupidly I left my usual pair of trainers behind, leaving me with a choice of astro-turf football boots or scruffy, too-small trainers that I found in the back of the wardrobe which must somehow have escaped the skip. I managed the 3-mile speed sesh last week in the old trainers but they were too tight and rubbed really badly towards the end. I went out again on Tuesday and opted instead for the astro boots. They look ridiculous for walking (although having said that, I suppose I look silly enough anyway) and squeak like mad because they have much more of a plastic complexion than running shoes/trainers do. It's quite funny really but needless to say I won't be needing them again for walking.
I'm now looking forward to getting out tonight for an hour or so, with a bit more confidence in my footwear and hopefully more comfort for the leg muscles and feet too.
Footwear is obviously one of the most important considerations to have in mind for the Parish. It is certainly up there in terms of 'most crucial' although I would say that making sure you eat and drink regularly is just as critical. In my experience it helps to have a shoe that will to some extent absorb the hammer blow of the road as you are going along, but it needs to be comfortable too - it's no use spending crazy money on the latest cushioning technology if the shoes are too tight or even too big, because you are likely to encounter more serious problems like blistering, damaged nails etc.
What you want to wear on your feet I think depends to some extent on your targets for the walk. If you're hoping to reach Rushen, for example, then I'm sure you'd be perfectly ok wearing the pair of trainers that you regularly use around the house, when you go into town, when you drive and so on. If the shoes are comfy for a good length of time and don't cause discomfort during day-to-day wear, they should take you the 19.5 miles no problem.
I know many people who have done this, indeed when I did the Parish for the first time I just used my regular trainers that I had bought many weeks earlier and I found afterwards that despite the usual aches and pains, I was largely ok. The only thing that gave me pain for a few days afterwards was shin splints, which is why I decided to have a serious look at running shoes because of the added cushioning that they offer in comparison with other trainers. Fingers crossed, this has solved the problem so far.
In the End to End last year I met a guy who was walking in what were basically slip-on pumps, and he managed the 22.5 miles to Peel without any obvious discomfort. People wear hiking boots too - my advice would be stick to whatever feels best for you. Just because 90% of the walkers are in trainers doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be better off in them. If all your walking is done in boots then do the Parish in boots - you can always change your footwear to trainers if you are uncomfortable on the day. Also I'm not sure that doing the Parish with a brand new pair of shoes on your feet is a good idea - try and break them in for a while beforehand so you know that you are happy with them and you won't be nagged by doubts when you want to be enjoying the day.
If you're keen to do more research on finding what shoes are best for you, I'd recommend the footwear guide at:
(Don't be put off by the 'running shoes' reference - because these shoes are designed to absorb the weight of someone running, they are ideal for walking too. In fact they probably last longer because you're not putting as much weight on the shoe when you walk.)
This is a decent guide that helps you identify which type of shoes you will be best suited to - broadly speaking there are three types of shoe: cushioning, stability and control. Which shoe works for you will depend on how you place your foot on the ground - this is called pronation. The website gives a better explanation than I can about this, and there is a raft of info elsewhere on the internet, so you can explore this at your leisure.
Generally people who under-pronate require cushioning shoes, people with a mild pronation use stability shoes and those who over-pronate are best off with control shoes. The website gives the example that mild pronatiors would leave a thin, high-arch footprint with a wet foot (eg when you get of the bath) mild pronators leave a print where the arch hits the floor but the inside of your foot does not (the 'classic' foot shape) and overpronators leave a flat footprint.
Hopefully that helps a bit, but I would certainly advise having a look at that website and others for more accurate, detailed advice if you are looking for new shoes and want some proper, clear guidance on what should suit you best.