Richard Irvine-Brown is a BBC Sport journalist in training for the London Marathon. He also keeps an interactive training diary on BBC 606.
Hi again, all.
Thanks for all the suggestions for people who inspire you. I'm trying to get a few words with some elite runners and ultra-marathoners, keep an eye out.
After a few months complaining about blisters, snot, and sore nipples, Tom Fordyce finally did the charitable thing for the office and put me in contact with a man who really knows his kit.
Andy Barber competes regionally and nationally at cross-country and runs 75-115 miles a week, over 10 sessions. He also reviews trainers and kit and runs shoeguide.co.uk (I tried their shoe wizard gizmo and it recommended the same pair as I'm currently running in after having my footstrike analysed back in March).
In such a position, Andy gets to run in the latest stuff: "It's great but I've got a dozen pairs!”
So what makes a good pair?
"Look for what you need and what your bio-mechanics are.
"Developers will have a runner in mind when they design a shoe. The Brooks Beast is for a heavier guy and comes with a lot of support. Whereas the Nike Zoom Elite has cushioning for a lighter runner, and support is emphasised in the middle and the forefoot.
"There's been a shift in the philosophy of making shoes. When you compare what was advanced 15 years ago to now it seems quite primitive!
“Now we have segmented soles, de-coupled heels, and a host of new technologies to reduce the excessive rolling of the foot for over-pronators.”
So have more runners meant better trainers or vice versa?
"Primarily people have seen the need to keep fit. Look at what athletes like Ron Hill did in the '60s - it was hardcore. Nowadays he like other runners are more recreational and the product has changed. Protective shoes for recreational runners are very important. Racing shoes are now very niche - competitive athletes probably have to mail order their racing shoes."
As a competitive athlete how does that make you feel?
"No-one has to prove their membership to run. You can wear lousy tennis shoes and beach shorts and go for a run but will you enjoy it? The technology in running clothes is phenomenal now. You're getting 3D weaves, sonic bonding and silver thread - it's anti-bacterial and dissipates heat! If you feel better, you'll have a better run."
What about socks?
"Go for a single layer with panels and gripping bands. Dual-layers are there to prevent blisters but getting shoes that fit and lacing them up properly will do that."
Cycling shorts and leggings - any use or fashion disaster?
"I wear compression clothing for recovery. Some specific products, not any old lycra, will aid proprioception, making you more aware of what you're doing and your movement to increase both technique and efficiency. It’s similar to ankle support bandages making you aware of your ankle and stopping you going over.
"Applying pressure to muscle stimulates circulation, opens capillaries, and your muscles get oxygen. I wear them to bed. It's a nice alternative to an ice bath."
I've noticed a lot more athletes wearing gloves. They're big softies, no?
"No, they're useful. Make sure they have an absorbent forefinger panel for all the sweat and snot!"
So how does wicking work?
"The idea is to let the sweat be drawn through the material and evaporate, not cling to your body. It allows you to cool down, and sweat is extra weight. It's uncomfortable and clings to you, reducing your freedom of movement."
What about other kit?
"Sports glasses sell well and I'm a big fan. I get hayfever so they help, but the main thing is UV protection. Tension spreads quickly, if you're squinting it can have a knock-on effect in your neck, your shoulders, down to your legs.
"Some people like to run with gels and water, some with waist packs and all kinds of water bottles. Some of it is trend, some of it is need.
"Make sure bottles aren't bouncing around and that you have easy access to them. Take lots of small ones, rather than one big one.You have to get used to drinking what's given to you on the run you're aiming for. If you're running the London Marathon get used to drinking sachets of Lucozade."
What do you look for in a pair of trainers? What other kit do you swear by or swear off?