The past few weeks have seen a sudden boost in activity and the desire and willingness to succeed and push myself. With every step and every activity undertaken I can already start to feel the benefits, both mentally and physically. 

The issue with my knees and patella tendonitis seem to have lessened considerably, and here’s hoping it continues to decrease. There are a number of factors to thank for this, the first being awareness.

Now I know what was causing the issue (and indeed what the issue was) I have been inevitably more mindful to avoid it and take much greater care. I have made extra effort to take more time when stretching before and after every activity, as well as stretching and helping to condition my legs and knees on those days when I’m not running and not just those I am.

Old shoes

New footwear has also been a huge help. I’m used to thinking about trainers as mere foot warmers and something with a bit of bounce and protection – the P.E. mindset still evident from school.

The further I ran and the more I altered my terrain the more I came to appreciate this was a completely wrong way to look at them.

Shoes are, in my eyes, one of the most important things to consider. Not every shoe is suited for every run, and not any trainer will suffice as a running shoe.

I had made the mistake of investing poorly in a ‘standard’ trainer that, whilst it helped me get started and find my passion again, it was just not up for the job and offered very little to no protection. This alone contributed greatly to the knee issues.

I have been trying a few different trainers for trail, two of which I have found to improve my running style, performance and training. The Brooks Pure Grit 4 are geared for trail running, but I have found can also handle the mean paved streets if needs be. Lightweight and comfortable, they are a fantastic pair of shoes.

The Saucony Xodus 6 I use heavily when I’m running trail or over muddy, uneven surfaces. They too are incredibly comfortable and feel like my toes are being hugged by an angel when I put them on.

It’s the simple things that make me smile.

Both have made a huge difference to my entire outlook and performance, and I cannot reiterate or over-stress how important shoes are for your running. Taking care of your feet will really help take care of a lot more than you realise.

Matt Gifford competed in the London to Brighton Challenge on the weekend of 28 May. You can follow his journey in Running’s Blog Section.

Click here for Part One of Matt’s journey.

Click here for Part Two of Matt’s journey.

Click here for Part Three of Matt’s journey.

Click here for Part Four of Matt’s journey.