Couch to 5k & Birmingham Runner

I have started to miss running.​ I didn’t used to run miles, but I did enjoy it and after a pretty painful injury I stopped. I took part in the Winter Wolf Run 2013 and damaged my left knee quite badly so I wasn’t able to do it any more. Sad times!

After thinking about it for some time, I found that most people recommend the “couch to 5k” app, which I duly downloaded but it sat on my phone for weeks because I was worried about my knee. I will be reviewing the app later in this blog.

As I had experienced knee problems, I had heard that it could be the type of shoe I am wearing and obviously this is going to have an effect on my body if I am running weirdly. A friend of mine then suggested that I tried Birmingham Runner because they do what is known as a gait analysis.

Birmingham Runner is located here, although it is now called Realbuzz Solihull. I have to say I wasn’t that impressed with them when I called to find their location. My iPhone was telling me that it was located somewhere else, so I needed to call to find out where they were. When I spoke to one of the staff, he said that the shop was on the Stratford Road. Now if you know Solihull at all, then you’ll know how long the Stratford Road is, it pretty much goes from Birmingham to Stratford upon Avon!! Not particularly helpful. James on the other hand was a star and directed me with no problem at all.

It wasn’t a big deal but I just don’t like being lost, hence why I have provided you all with a proper location. Plus, I do think that if you work in the public sector as I do, you should be fairly accurate in your information.

The shop itself is very small, but well stocked and they have the treadmill at the back for the gait analysis.

There was no messing about after I told him this is what I was after, he gave me a pair of trainers to wear (so you don’t need to provide your own if you don’t want to) and told me to jump on. The treadmill starts speeding up and I got up to a slow jog. There is a PC set up behind me which records my gait for about 30 seconds. All those worried about how long you have to run for… it really isn’t long at all! James came and hit the STOP button and I hopped off.

In hindsight, I think wearing my own trainers would have been good because he could see how I am running in those but they were a bit battered, unbranded and old (although comfortable) and I was slightly embarrassed!

The monitor shows​ a video of me running and then he pauses it at various different points and tells me what’s going on in each frame. He can see my style of running and he is able to tell whether this is normal or not. Luckily it was quite normal, although I was tempted to run like Phoebe as a little joke!

I won’t bore you with the details he told me of the different types of analysis, but I was very impressed with his knowledge and expertise on the subject.

James then went out to the stock room and got me a couple of styles of running shoe with the special sole requirements for me to try. Basically, without sounding too technical you need to wear a size up in running shoe to what you normally wear. This allows for the swelling (lovely) and won’t cause you to get pins and needles in your toes. Your foot can also either roll inwards or outwards depending on how you run and you need to wear a shoe with support in the right places. What he didn’t tell me is that you could just buy an insole for your current pair of trainers, which will give you this support without having to go to the expense of new shoes. My prognosis was that I have a “slight excessive pronation” which means that I roll inwards.

I was able to try on each pair of the shoes he brought down and then jump back on the treadmill to try them out and have his expert eye check the footage (pun not intended there). It won’t appear to be much, but he knows what he’s looking at. This is in order to confirm that his analysis was correct and then he can go through different styles of shoe.

I must have tried on about six pairs of shoes, ranging from £65.00 up to £135.00, however the ones I really liked were £100.00 and I didn’t fancy spending that much when I don’t even know if this will solve my knee problems for good.

I thought that six pairs was a lot, however he did say that he’d had a lady in the previous week who tried on TWENTY pairs!! Phew!!!

​​All in all, I would say that it is worth doing if you have issues or if you think it will help you. It does cost you £10.00 if you don’t purchase a pair of running shoes but they do give you a gift card with the £10.00 on it, so that you can go back and buy something else. You don’t need to buy shoes. The trainers themselves were on the pricey side so I didn’t buy any, I did have a cheeky look on Google for price comparison and made the decision not to but they do have some good styles in there. They aren’t too fussed about telling you the make and style of shoe either, which I was surprised about as I thought they’d be a bit funny about me going somewhere else but he was quite happy to write it all down for me.

I think I would recommend it as a service, but not the shop.

As for the couch to 5k app, I have just completed my second “run”. The app itself is quite expensive at £4.99 but it is worth it if you need motivation. It is pretty standard, it can link your stats by using your health app on the iPhone, which is good so you don’t have to input them again (that’s if you do use that facility on your iPhone).

It gives you an eight week plan, with three runs per week but I assume you can spread this out further if you can’t manage three runs a week. It also asks you to do a warm up of a five minute walk, which I think it quite a lot and personally I prefer stretching. I imagine that you can bypass this part if you do adequate stretches.

I did not realise how unfit I was!

I was proud of doing the second run, you can use the Runkeeper app alongside it and it worked fine. You can also listen to music but you need to listen out for the commands. She’ll tell you to “slow down and walk” and then “start running”. It is pretty cool. You can also answer the phone without disruption. 

I am hoping to get back up to a reasonable level so hopefully in eight or nine weeks I’ll be able to blog about my first 5k run.

Happy running, guys!

Chelle xo

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