FINDING the right running shoes can be difficult.

But whether you’re taking your first steps on a couch to 5k journey or training for a marathon, running in the right footwear can’t be underestimated.

With the start of my first marathon training block around the corner, I decided the time was right to pick up the shoes that will (hopefully) get me over the finish line of the 2024 London Marathon.

My trusty pair of On Cloudflyer running shoes have served me well, clocking almost 550km since I found out I had been lucky enough to secure a place in the iconic 26.2-mile race to raise money for Anthony Nolan.

With most experts suggesting a pair of running shoes should serve you well for between 300 and 500 miles, now definitely felt like the right time to swap out my footwear.

Review of RunActive Leigh

I’ve loved running in the Cloudflyer, but I bought them online after some research and certainly no expert advice.

With countless options available for runners, it’s crucial to find the perfect fit and style to prevent injury and maximise performance.

I had no idea what was right for me, which led me to pop into RunActive in Leigh – which is heralded as one of the best running shops in Essex according to the running community and Google reviews.

Echo: Shop - RunActive, in Rectory Grove, LeighShop - RunActive, in Rectory Grove, Leigh (Image: Newsquest)

Echo: Well-stocked - RunActive Leigh sells a wide range of running apparelWell-stocked - RunActive Leigh sells a wide range of running apparel (Image: Newsquest)

As soon as I set foot in the charming and well-stocked shop, in Rectory Grove, I was greeted by the friendly and knowledgeable staff who all oozed a passion for the sport of running. It was easy to find the shop, which is close to trendy Leigh Broadway, and I felt like I’d walked into a hub for running enthusiasts and beginners alike.

What is a gait analysis?

I was quickly offered a gait analysis, a service the shop offers to its customers.

I hopped on a treadmill in the shop (which isn’t weird at all – my training so far has seen me run in far stranger places!) so the staff could film my running technique to see how my feet land.

Echo: Service - RunActive Leigh offers a free in-store gait analysisService - RunActive Leigh offers a free in-store gait analysis (Image: Newsquest)

Echo: Trainers - I tried on several different running shoesTrainers - I tried on several different running shoes (Image: Newsquest)

As a runner who could definitely do with losing a few pounds, I had always assumed I would be best suited to a shoe with heavy stability elements, so I was surprised to learn that while my feet don’t land completely perfectly, they only roll in, or overpronate, slightly – giving me more shoe options to consider.

This personalised approach made me feel confident that I was making an informed decision about my footwear, and I went on to try on and run in a wide range of different running shoes from brands like On, Saucony, and Brooks.

First impressions of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13

I ended up settling on the New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13, a brand I hadn’t even considered before my visit to RunActive, and they felt like they were giving my feet a little hug and were as smooth as butter to run in.

Echo: New shoes - I bought the New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13 at RunActive LeighNew shoes - I bought the New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13 at RunActive Leigh (Image: Newsquest)

Echo: Choice - Brooks, Asics, and New Balance are among the brands availableChoice - Brooks, Asics, and New Balance are among the brands available (Image: Newsquest)

I’m looking forward to clocking up the miles in them between now and April 21 when I will hopefully cross the finish line in The Mall wearing them.

Over the years I’ve been to several running shops in Essex and it’s easy to see why RunActive is so highly regarded. It’s certainly the coolest running shop I’ve been to.

I picked up some other bits from the shop’s vast selection and I will absolutely return next time I need to get kitted out.

Roll on the London Marathon!