Uphill Battle: Time to toe the line

PROUDFOOT: Reporter Jo McKenzie-McLean gets her hobbit feet examined by podiatrist James Barnes.
PROUDFOOT: Reporter Jo McKenzie-McLean gets her hobbit feet examined by podiatrist James Barnes.

Mum and reporter JO McKENZIE-McLEAN is taking on one of the biggest challenges of her life training for the Northburn Station 50km mountain run in March next year. She reports on her progress.

Everyone has something they hate about their body. Mine are my feet.

I have inherited the size 10.5 hairy monsters from both of my parents who are endowed also with humongus hoofs.


My toes curled under when Terry suggested recently I go visit podiatrist James Barnes for a foot examination to help me in my purchase of some new running shoes. He could not only give me a medical opinion, but an objective one and recommend the best shoe for my foot without a marketing agenda.

The last time I saw a podiatrist it was as a last resort to attack a rather embarrassing deep-rooted verruca that refused to budge.

It makes sense now, but I had never thought of going to a podiatrist for help with choosing runners. It is actually a brilliant way to shop for someone like me who can stare at a wall of 100 different shoes with a look of absolute dumbfounded confusion.

In the past I have just grabbed what looks nice and fits, which usually ends up being something blue in a men's size.

One of the first things Barnes tells me is I should not be wearing men's running shoes. Another is not to be fooled by marketing gimmicks and all the ''bells and whistles'' that promise to deliver results that have never been substantiated.

''Short of having any injuries or issues, keep things simple'', he says.

''Let's take a look at those feet,'' he continues.

Again, the toes curl under as I peel off my socks.

Damn, I cringe to myself, why didn't I wipe that chipped-off nail polish from my big toes before I came? They look even worse than normal!

There is a current trend of runners buying a shoe that replicates barefoot running - stay away from that he tells me. ''That's for seasoned runners,'' he says.

Despite their hobbit-like appearance, my feet did not seem to need any particular special attention so it was concluded a neutral off-road runner would do me just fine.

I walked out with a list of five choices.

''The important thing is the firmness of the midsole. Soft doesn't mean it's going to be better for your feet.

''I always go for a firm feel because you have better contact and feel on the ground.

''Get fussy and have a run around the shop and make sure it's comfortable,'' Barnes says.

The Southland Times