Jonathan Cooper September 28, 2021

MOTION

Inside the Shoes of Charlotte Purdue

British marathon champion Charlotte Purdue is one of the biggest names in long-distance running and an avid user of phits orthotics. We were thrilled to sit down with her for a quick chat about her recent successes, future plans, and how her custom-made orthotics fit her unique running style. 

Fresh off the back of an impressive victory and new personal best at the Vitality Big Half — her first official race in seventeen months — Charlotte Purdue is busy gearing up to do it all again at the London marathon on October 3rd. Between time out nursing injuries and a schedule riddled with cancellations due to COVID-19, her return felt long overdue. But if anyone had concerns about potential rustiness, Charlotte certainly wasn’t among them.  

“I knew I was in pretty good shape from training, but obviously racing is so different,” she tells us when we ask if she had seen that performance coming. “I think I went in there to get the win. But to get that good time as well was a bonus.”

It’s a performance she hopes to replicate in front of a raucous London crowd, and the hard work is already well underway. As she approaches the big event, her day-to-day includes two runs, mixed in with the occasional cross-training session, trips to the physio, and a grueling two-and-a-half-hour run every Sunday.

“The week of the race is more resting and less running to get ready whereas before it's all about the running.”

Charlotte Purdue with Materialise Phits Suite in her arms

Charlotte Purdue | British marathoner

Discovering phits orthotics

Like any professional athlete, Charlotte takes her choice of equipment very seriously. This is particularly true for the shoes she runs in, and more recently, her 3D-printed custom orthotics — a relationship that began in August 2020 when local clinician James Everett introduced her to the team at  Gait and Motion Clinics (GMC) and phits.

With over 200 clinics across the UK and Ireland, and experience providing orthotics for many other British champion athletes, there was no one better to help Charlotte make the change. When she received the new orthotics, it was an easy transition from her existing set, acquired several years previously from an overseas supplier.

For Charlotte, the assessment process took about an hour from start to finish, while the presence of a local provider was an immediate benefit. Having a helping hand less than 15 minutes away mattered as much as anything to someone whose training schedule is so tightly organized.

“The whole experience was really straightforward. The process was very clear, and as soon as I got them, I could just put them in my trainers and get started. Now, there’s not a day that I don’t run in them.

“Before, I had to go abroad if I wanted to get new orthotics using the footscan technology. That meant skipping a whole day of training just to pick them up. Now, a clinic is just down the road, and I can get new ones pretty easily. I’d say the convenience fits around training a lot easier, and it’s really good.”

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Being a professional athlete, everything’s got to be so finely tuned, so it has to be customized, really. You couldn’t just go to the shop and get some random orthotics because they wouldn’t be as good. Having the extra percent fitted precisely to your foot is definitely what you need.

The perfect fit

Since then, phits have been ever-present in her training sessions, with the runner using them every day. Naturally, that makes durability a key requirement — and thankfully, she’s more than satisfied with the improvement over her former pair, particularly where the top cover is concerned.

Overall, great news. A longer life cycle means fewer trips to her local expert. A perfect fit means happier, healthier feet.

“When I first wore them, I found that they fit well, and I didn’t have any problems with them. They fit my running style completely. If they didn’t, I’d have had blisters, or it wouldn’t feel right, but it felt like they needed to be in my shoes,” she tells us, before adding that the personalization of orthotics is something crucial for any professional athlete. The dynamic gait analysis used in the initial measurement phase plays a key role in providing that.

“The gait analysis is a gamechanger. It makes a real difference knowing that my orthotics are made specifically for me, especially when they’re based on how I run, rather than just standing on a box. Being a professional athlete, everything’s got to be so finely tuned, so it has to be customized, really. You couldn’t just go to the shop and get some random orthotics because they wouldn’t be as good. Having the extra percent fitted precisely to your foot is definitely what you need”.

Naturally, for any athlete putting in as many miles on the track as Charlotte, wear and tear comes with the territory — and not only for her gear. The strain on her body is also a concern that phits can help alleviate, whether by avoiding something as simple as blisters or something much more holistic.

“For me personally, the main reason I wear phits is injury prevention. Because if my foot wasn’t moving in the right way — that’s the most important part of running — it affects the whole chain on the way up. If something’s out of alignment, it really starts at your feet, so I think the orthotics have to be really exact.”

It’s no surprise, then, that the questions keep rolling in from her fellow athletes. Thankfully for us, the phits experience is one she’s more than happy to recommend!

One step at a time

Before thanking Charlotte for her time and wishing her luck, we ask her what’s to come for the rest of the year. With the London marathon just around the corner, it makes sense that her focus lies fully on the big race. After that, there’ll be a bit of a rest to follow and some warm weather training before the time comes to make some big decisions.

“Qualifying will be open after that,” she tells us. “And then it's an Olympic year again. But next year, we have a World Championship and a European Championship as well. Three major competitions and being a marathon runner, you can only really do one, so I have to decide, first of all, which one I'm going to target, and then work back from there”.

Wherever she decides to compete, Charlotte is sure to have phits orthotics supporting her every step of the way.

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