I was running full pelt, but my brains were about to be eaten.
Jamming my finger down on the treadmill's speed settings, I slowed to a walk just as my iPhone app announced "You're making good time!". It was lying and had my phone been able to pick up a GPS signal, the 'dinner' gong would probably have sounded.
The app in question is the concise, yet descriptively named 'Zombies, Run!'; a training program in which you follow a narrated storyline that takes place in a zombie apocalyptic town. The incentive for speed is… well, like I said, the name is descriptive and the sound effects are rather good. The byline reads:
"Get Fit. Escape zombies. Become a hero."
It had all the hallmarks of a great weekend except for the fact that the most unrealistic element of the game was that my speed could outstrip a zombie. Even the ones with no knee caps.
The problem --realistically there were several but this post will ignore the others-- was that my shoes fitted badly. I'd bought them a couple of years ago but for some peculiar reason, the sole never seemed to fit under my foot properly. I don't even know how you screw that up in a shoe. While I'd been mainly focussed on exercise bikes and cross trainers, this hadn't been a problem but they just weren't up to the new undead movement in my training regime.
With that in mind, I headed to a sports shop.
It wasn't long after this that buying gloves and outrunning zombies on my hands seemed like a much better option.
In Japan, my UK size 6 feet size put me right on the boundary of the available options in women's shoe sizes. This goes even for international brands such as Reebok; a particularly goading discovery since on my (and Reebok's) home turf, I am little miss average. WHERE IS THE PATRIOTISM? … cough… Anyway, the point is that shoes in my size are sometimes in the women's range and sometimes in the men's.
… and the size conversion between international shoe sizes differs depending on which of those two it is.
However, this problem does not seem insurmountable: find a pair of shoes, look at the size range to determine the expected wearer's gender, check the online size conversion charts and the labels stitched into pairs of store shoes to confirm. Buy the shoes on the internet to ensure the full range of sizes are available.
The upshot of these methodical calculations was a pair of shoes half a size too small.
Because international conversions do not depend just on gender, they depend on brand.
A UK 6 in the Nike women's range equates to a 25.5 cm shoe. In the Nike men's range, a 25 cm shoe. Adidas, meanwhile, have a size 6 as 24.5 cm in their women's range while Reebok will claim the same is 25 cm.
Since the shoes I had bought online did not go up to the yeti-esque size of 25.5 cm, I accepted a refund and realised the only way to be sure of fit was to roll with the smaller range in choices and go to a store. I picked the largest sports store in Sapporo, not least because they had a help-yourself policy to trying on shoes which avoided me having to talk to a shop assistant; a fact everyone enjoyed.
The result of this was a pair of good fitting trainers in size 25 cm that claimed to be a UK 6.5. I gave up trying to figure it out.
"Why is this zombie so fast? Oh no… it's her… the previous runner before you. She's…. Don't look back!"
… my problems have only just begun.