With a background in competitive swimming, I found the introduction to running a real strain on my body, especially my knees. With very little previous running experience, I began to build up my training for a 6-mile leg in the Belfast City Marathon in 2010. At the time I was using a pretty basic pair of trainers, and being unaware of gait, stability and cushioning I thought the discomfort I was experiencing was just the norm for a beginner.
I began working for a specialist running retailer the following year and from here my knowledge of running and footwear grew and grew. I was introduced to digital gait analysis and established that I was a moderate over-pronator- a term I had never heard or understood before. I acquired my first pair of “proper” running shoes, especially suited to my gait and the difference and benefits to my running have been remarkable. Gone are the shin splints, the ankle and calf pain and the cushioning in the sole makes such a huge difference to the comfort of a run.
Having always worked with the branded running shoes, such as Asics, Brooks, Saucony and Mizuno, I was wary, but curious to try out Kalenji shoes once I started my career with Decathlon in 2012. Customers would ask about them, and it was almost embarrassing to not have an answer when they asked about the quality of Kalenji compared to other brands. So in the lead up to the Decathlon 10km in April I tested a pair of the new Kiprun MD-pronator running shoes.
The first point I noticed was the fit of the shoes. I choose a size EU 41, and found that although they were a little neat on the length, the width of the shoe accommodated my broad foot comfortably. The first run I completed was a 2-mile training run and to be honest, they felt quite rigid on the sole, especially in the heel. As I increased my pace, I felt little cushioning in the shoe and wasn’t quite sold on them, but was willing to continue my training, as I knew the shoe was designed for longer distance. During the next couple of runs, I increased my distance and found the shoes begin to soften to my foot. When researching further into the design of this model, I understood the key component of the MD’s cushioning is a circular ring that is inserted into the midsole, composed of a different material than the EVA foam found in the mid-section of the shoe. The geometry of this design provides better energy absorption of the shock wave created on heel impact by protecting the heel spur directly, while the EVA within the midsole provides durability and effective cushioning.
On race day, I was excited, yet anxious at completing the 10km race in the shoes, as I had not yet ran more than 4 miles in them. The weather was superb and there was a great atmosphere around the store as over 320 runners began their warm-up. The first 2 miles went well, as I got a good rhythm going and was on target to beat my time from last year. However, a lack of preparation and consistent training in the lead-up to the race led to fatigue setting in sooner than expected, and my pace dropped towards half-way. However, my feet felt good and from half-way I could see the faster runners on the route running back towards the finish line and this spurred me on, knowing I was over half-way. In the latter stages of the race, I could feel myself getting more and more fatigued and beginning to take on a more lazy running style. As an over-pronator, I can feel the pressure of my arch collapsing in the majority of shoes, however I felt well supported in the Kiprun MD-pronator shoes with the additional midfoot stability component which is designed to reduce compression of the sole on the medial side of the foot. I completed the race in 65.08 mins, a few minutes slower than last year and slower than I expected, however with further training and determination, I hope to break the 60min mark.
Shortly after the 10km race, I completed a gentle 12 mile run in preparation for a half-marathon this summer. I thought I would try out the MD’s as they were specifically designed for these distances, and I was astounded at my comfort and enjoyment of this experience. After the 8 mile mark, I began to notice the cushioning became a lot more responsive to my feet and as the terrain was quite uneven in parts, this was well received. I look forward to continuing my training and completing more races in the near future with the confidence that the Kiprun range is well-designed for the appropriate purpose.
To discover more of the Kalenji running range available exclusively at Decathlon, please visit our website.