Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Plimsoll nostalgia and the right trainers

When I was young we didn’t have fancy trainers for each and every sport. We didn’t even have trainers, come to think of it.  We had plimsolls.  They came in white or black.  Laced or with elastic gubbings at the side. Skinny soles. And the white ones got all grass stained and then you had to use that weird chalky stuff to re-white them (and now I can smell it!).  And that was it. Oh, except that for hockey (shudder, wince) we had a more elongated version with rubber circles on the ankles. These were always black.  Because of the mud I suppose. 

Then one day my pal Jane Wright pitched up for Sports Day with running spikes.  We all stared in stark amazement. 

Funny, huh?  Now there is a trainer for absolutely everything.  Is it really necessary? Is it overkill?  Is it just a canny marketing device?  I seem to spend all the money I don't have on petrol, food and…trainers.  Seriously.  James is growing so fast I can watch him inching up, beanlike. He’s my height now and shows no sign of slowing down. His feet are three sizes bigger than me and he ‘needs’ different shoes for running, rugby, cricket, football and squash.  Aaaaghh. 

Mind you, it does make sense.  According to my fitness instructor friends a large proportion of injuries occur because people are wearing the wrong shoes.  When I started doing Zumba my knees soon got wrecked.  Turned out I was wearing cross trainers with a heavy grip on the sole, so my foot was dragging on the floor, putting strain on the knees.  I got myself a pair of dance shoes and – ta-da! – problem solved.   And at my step class the other night, Debbie warned against using running shoes for step as there simply isn’t the lateral support – you need a good cross-trainer. 

So.  I am seriously looking forward to getting my new running shoes.  After a lot of umming and aaahing, I asked my running coach Trisha for her advice on which to get and she had a look at the way I stand (knock-kneed, flat-footed) and said I’m an overpronator (who knew?) and need something with a fair amount of support.  She suggested these…sthese are exactly what I’m getting.  Well, actually, since writing this it turns out that this particular one is out of stock but mine will be very similar (just, er, not black and pink but white and green).

Nice huh? Big thank-you to  Now, if you don’t have a friendly Trisha, Sportsshoes have a pretty good advice section on their website. Click here to see their video on how to choose the right running shoes.  It’s worth spending a bit to get a decent pair that do the right job.  I’ve learned my lesson of hanging onto trainers until they fall to bits and now I do replace mine as often as I can.  I'll report back on the running shoes once I've had a go.  

And now I’m going off into a total trainer reverie, remembering the bloody huge great things we used to wear in the tail-end of the 80s, purely as a fashion statement.  Bloody hell.  Micro mini-skirt, black opaque tights and HUGE high-top trainers with massive tongues and big fat laces you kept undone.  What the hell were they called?  The brand, I mean. It's driving me potty. Not Nike, not Reebok, not Adidas... aaaaghhh.  Someone put me out of my misery.  

btw, have I spelled plimsoll correctly?  It's looking weird.  And now spelled is looking weird too.  Spelled or spelt? I think I need a nap.  :D 


Frances said...

Jane, I was young before you were born, and what you call plimsoles, we called tennis shoes and the brand name was Keds. Color choices were white, red or navy blue.

The proliferation of various shoes for various sports arrived many decades later, after I reached adult status.

I did once buy a pair of what you call trainers and we called sneakers. They might have been made my Nike, or perhaps Adidas. It was long ago and I cannot remember.

Even though I am not at all sports inclined, it's been fun to read your New Year's sporty posts! xo

Exmoorjane said...

@Frances - I so love the differences between our same language. :) I am now smiling at the idea of you in sneakers and sports gear - it does NOT compute. :) Though, then again, you're so stylish you'd carry anything off with aplomb.

Sadly, I suspect the truth is that I'm boring everyone rigid with my fitness addiction. :) xx

Kneazle1 said...

I remember lusting after a pair of Air Jordan high tops and my parents buying me the LA Gear version instead!

Adelie High said...

If you were ever in any doubt, it's safer to assume that 'spelt' is a type of flour in the same way that 'smelt' is something you do to iron ore. It's a whole tense confusion thing.

Oh, the nostalgia. I remember seeing my first ever pair of Dunlop Greenflash, although I was never allowed to own a pair.


F said...

Em really likes his Asics. They were too narrow for me though, I ended up with Nikes.

JOHN SHORTLAND, Cotswold Hills, England. said...

No it's definitely plimsolls - at least to those of us bought up in southeast England.

Plimsolls is one of those dialect words where there is plenty of variation: pumps, gollies, daps. Around Newcastle they were called sandshoes which to us as kids were the coloured canvas shoes that we wore on the beach. Mine were always navy be with an anchor on the front!

Good luck with the keep fit regime.



I think just about Everyone is an 'overpronater', Which is why all the running shoes cost over 80 quid. But it does slightly worry me that back in the olden days (as my son calls them - ie when I were a lad) we were a lot lighter, fitter and generally healthier, but we could somehow get away with just one pair of plimsols (or daps, as they're known here in Wiltshire) which your mum bought from Woolies. And often, you didn't even bother to try them on. Wossgoinon?