The week began on a small bummer with my marathon prospects looking bleak due to my achy left foot, a Jantastic bronze medal (merely a reminder of how my training had been disrupted time and again), and an inability to get into the doctors at the earliest opportunity, with appointments fully booked. I did at least get the chance to speak to a doctor and she made sure I was down to see someone Thursday. Up until that time I spent a lot of time feeling unmotivated to do anything with resting and occasionally compression being about as most as I felt up to, feeling like I didn’t want to risk any more self-help until I’d actually seen the doctor.

I got to the doctors and explained my problem in person. The doctor took a look at my foot, pressed around the affected area to see what was up and decided that it didn’t seem particularly serious. What she was going to do was to prescribe me some stronger anti-inflammatories to take for one week, or two if the aches weren’t shifting. Then to go back if there was still an issue and then maybe consider seeing a physio.

It wasn’t what I was expecting, or maybe it was. I don’t know. At least it wasn’t ibuprofen. At least when I walked out of the surgery I had a slight grin on my face. The marathon wasn’t entirely off after all. There is still a chance.

The next few mornings and nights I nervously took them – nervous being the operative word as I’m never the biggest face of, or best at, taking tablets. And I’m particularly not keen on mixing with other things like paracetamol, which became necessary as I started to come down with what was the hallmarks of tonsilitis. Friday and Saturday were particularly tough days as I worked through both while trying to stave off the threat. My wife and her brother have both had, or currently (in the latter case) have it, and the whopping headaches I had combined with the burning throat. Though my wife confirmed I wasn’t showing any white pus-filled spots on my glands, so I suppose I got off lightly. All in all, the Naproxen was working fast and I couldn’t feel that dull ache in my left foot so when I woke up at 2:30am on that Sunday morning, having needed to use the bathroom and realising I’d already been asleep for four hours, that I’d plenty room to get up and go out for a test run on Sunday.

I woke up, had a slice of toast with jam and spent the next hour relaxing and then making sure I prepared with stretches and dynamic warm-ups. I didn’t plan on going too far and unlike the last full on run I did I wasn’t going to do anything too foolish. Into my Brooks Pureflows I stepped, out of the door I went, and when the satellites in orbit locked on, it was go time. I headed for the Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve off the Calder-Hebble Navigation, and I went up, down and around the stony, grassy and sometimes muddy trails in search of a bit of race fitness.

The River Calder from Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve
View from Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve
A marsh hidden in Cromwell Bottom

It was a beautiful morning to be doing it – springtime was properly here – and all was feeling good. Apart from one cautionary note – that dull ache was creating a murmur again and that was the signal to head for home. By the end of my run I had clocked five miles and initially the ache had dissipated. But around 11am I leant over on the foot and there it was.

It was 99% certain in my mind that, having not even clocked 300 miles in them, the Brooks were part of the problem. I hadn’t completed one run since the injury without some sort of issue arising and while part of me is at fault for that, this latest run was in no way over the top and while it seems convenient to just blame the shoe, right now I don’t trust the shoe and so that’s the end of the road for them. Aside from my very first pair (an entry level pair of Mizunos which lasted me around 200 miles before realising they weren’t right), these were about as poor a return as I’ve had from a shoe. Maybe I’m not entirely cut out for minimalist/barefoot running. At least not in those.


And so now I’ve only one choice now – and that’s to break in these bad boys. The Salomon S Winds, which I’d got for a snip online, had hitherto been untested. I know all to well about the advice against new shoes before a race, but having done some research online, it seemed it was deemed better in some quarters to wear a shoe with less than 50 miles on the clock than one with more than 150 miles. So it was decided.

Although these shoes are meant for trails, I really don’t have much of a choice now given I’m hardly going to benefit through a pair of road shoes with even less time to prepare. I decided I’d wear them for the rest of the day to try and break them in. And my word, they were a dream. The ache in my left foot disappeared gradually over the day as though I’d receive some massage of sort as I walked. The Quicklace system on them is incredible, easy to use and with less faff than normal laces. They can be tightened to ideal adjustment and that meant I didn’t need much time to ensure they fitted my feet properly.

Next week I’m on holiday somewhere in the UK (which I’ll reveal next week). It’s not a beach but it seems an ideal area to get some time off the road at least and with perhaps an opportunity to try and get some comfy miles into these Salomons. And I can look back on this week thus:

A week ago, I was ready to throw in the towel on Manchester with the realisation I had to see the doctor. I perhaps feared the worst but thedoctor didn’t rule out my marathon and I just hope the Naproxen continues to work. I’ve been given hope. Cautious hope, but for all this training program has thrown at me, even though it hasn’t gone exactly as I would like, I’m eternally grateful to still have a chance of reaching the start line in 12 days.