Monday, May 16, 2011

Let's Talk Shoes...

So, it appears I have done many things "wrong" with my training and racing for the past billion 35 years of running and as I nudge my way back into the world I have missed so much, I am overwhelmed at the abundance of things I am learning on a daily basis to make my body run "right" and overcome this miserable 13-month debilitating injury.  I'm so excited to share with you all the things I am learning, and doing, but honestly - much of it I don't fully understand and until I do, I will just touch on the things I do know for now.   

I'm thrilled to be running again - THRILLED - even at my meager 2-2.5 miles at a pathetic 12:00 - 11:00 min/mile pace.  It hasn't been an easy return to the road; at times it has been just too painful and exceedingly frustrating (ultimately, tears on Friday night).  At times, the heel pain is excruciating and I have to stop before I even get 1/8 of a mile into it, other times I have to fight through the pain a little, and then there are the few times I have some pretty decent runs....only having to stop because of the complete lack of any cardiovascular fitness and running 30 minutes is pretty much all I have in the gas tank right now.  But it will get better.  For now, it's just a matter of diligently doing the work prescribed to me, without fail -  no excuses!!  And I am, as you will see below with my training outline below.  And I am seeing vast improvements in my heel....and what could be more exciting than that?  Aside from the Matty canvas I won (pic to come next week, Matty!)!

Today I'll briefly touch on my footwear and what I have come to find out from a few people who have helped me along this journey (like MissZippy's Soc Doc whom we've corresponded a few times, and this guy who has also provided me with a lot of insights and got me back running again - both of these guys pretty much the same philosophy, "Find the source and fix it"):

Soooo, here we go.  Most running shoes interfere with the feet doing their job, which could cause the whole body to have a poor gait, inducing stress into muscles, bones and joints. By wearing the wrong shoes you’ll never find your natural effective gait.  Constrictive, stiff, and overly cushioned modern shoes brace the foot, alter our natural biomechanics, and limit the ability of the foot and leg muscles to function naturally. As a result, these muscles get weak.

Of those billion years I've been running, I can tell you for certain I've worn the incorrect shoe type for my feet for at least the past 12 of those years.  Prior to that, I have no clue; in high school and college and even just beyond, I just wore whatever the fad was, and looked good; there was not a plethora of different types of shoes.  I'm not sure where or when I was told I needed a stability shoe, but somewhere someone did and for many, many eons, I wore the Asics Kayanos.  It was fine at the time - I really didn't know any better - but somewhere around the time of the summer of 2008, while training for my first Boston - I started to have some heel annoyance and numbness in my forefoot and gave up my long time Kayanos and went through a slew of different shoes, and inserts, trying to make the pain go away - all "stability" shoes since I apparently over-pronated.  As we all (unfortunately) know, the heel continually got worse to the point where it is today - chronic, constant pain!

The most fascinating point I have learned in the past few weeks is that many running shoes cause you to land on your heel instead of further forward on your foot. This is because they are built with large, over-supported heels and are marketed as providing us a “smoother, more cushioned ride.” But over time, the repetitive action of landing on the heel causes foot dysfunction as well the potential for ankle, knee, and hip injury. Now your body’s foundation is cracking at the most vulnerable areas and people with PF, Achilles Tendinitis, ITB, and an array of other running "injuries" can probably be dwindled down to improper footwear.  But for me, by wearing shoes with built-up heels (and those with arch supports or inserts) the arches in my feet and Achilles are not able to do their job making running a natural activity.  My feet (and my hips and gluts - more on those in another post) have become weak and you contribute this with a person who over-strikes and over-trains and...BAM - I have a severe case of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.  And probably 15 other heel related injuries, including a heel contusion.  Yay me.

I could go on and on about the findings I have been taught about improper mechanics associated with improper running shoes, siting countless articles and reviews and papers I have read (the runblogger site being my source of the most useful information I have found), but let's just leave that alone for now and let me tell you what I have chosen.  For now.

Nike Free 3.0 v2

Cushy, which makes me less afraid than running barefoot and stepping
on something gross or sharp
3-4mm heel drop; makes it easier to not heel strike

Very flexible, which allows my foot to not be constricted and more natural
I'm not here to plug the Nike Free's (I have more to try out and review here soon) nor I'm not here to preach the perks of minimalist running shoes; last summer I remember standing in a parking lot after brunch with Happy Trails as we all discussed using extreme caution towards the minimalist movement - but I firmly now believe that wearing improper footwear can be detrimental to your running's well-being and at least for me, a minimalist shoe is what is going to build my foot strength.  Our feet were meant to BE strong, WALK strong, RUN strong, and not be crammed into a shoe that someone at your local running store "told" you fit your foot after watching you walk, or run, for maybe 5 minutes.  I'm sorry, but that's not going to do it.  Go with what feels right to you...and go with your gut instincts.  If I went with what my podiatrist recommended 5 months ago, I'd be in a $600 custom orthotic with a very heavy, heel engulfing shoe which would be doing my foot absolutely no good right now.  Yeah, it may have put a temporary Band-aid on it, having not solved the source of pain, and that problem would soon return - and most likely cause further damage with paralyzing knee pain or ITB or something worse. Just ask this chica right here!!   My gut told me many months ago, an orthotic was not my solution.

Maybe you believe, as I once did: "I've been running for years and have had no major injuries or set-backs so I am fine with my beefed-up, heel padded, heavy shoes that were dirt cheap...."  Well, I ran relatively pain-free for 35 years until it all caught up with me one day and left me with the the mother load set-back of all set-backs. 

Everyone can benefit from strengthening their feet - everyone!  You don't have to necessarily run in the 6.1 oz shoes I do, but run some drills barefoot, in the grass, every time before and after your run - and I bet, in time, you will find strength in your feet ... and end up with a much less chance for injury.

If changing my form and wearing minimalist, zero-drop shoes will prevent future feet problems and other running-related injures, I am there.  Even if it means sludging through two measly, agonizingly slow11:00 minutes miles right now. It took me a long time to develop this set-back and therefore change will not come overnight; there is no time-line for which I will be "cured" and racing again....but I can tell you this: I see change seeping in - and the change is good!  And that, my friends, is what gets me up everyday - I am determined to make this work and get back to th world of running I love so much.  It WILL come, eventually it will.

VERY quick other news:
- I have been crazy busy at work this week as seniors check out, which has vastly cut into my blog reading time; their last day is today and though I am very excited to see them move on to the next chapters in their lives, it is also very sad for me to see them go.  The school puts on an exit assembly for them and the faculty and staff form a gauntlet for them to go through at the end of the ceremony - it always makes me cry.  The other emotional part for me will be when my boys, who have sat in the "freshmen" section of the gym for all assemblies this year, will move down to the "sophomore" section.  Man, where does time go!?!

- Since I bragged about Ryan two weeks ago running his 5:05 PR, I must also brag a bit about his non-running twin, Brendan, who today was awarded the most outstanding freshman band award, and most improved (my daughter said that's cuz he sucked before.  Whatever...).  Both my boys are doing well :).

Run strong, friends!!!

Last Week:
2 miles run
PT exercises: core, gluts and hips
1200 yds swim

2.5 miles run (ran 2 miles, walked/ran last half)
Biked 13.55 miles to PT
PT exercises with PT man
Bike crash (again) on ride home (Damn car!!), slow 13.55 miles home.

2 miles run
11 miles biking
PT exercises: core, hips, gluts
upper body weights

11 miles biking recumbent bike at gym
lower body weights
PT exercises: core, hips, gluts

2 miles run
11 miles bike
PT exercises: core, gluts and hips

50.02 miles biking
PT exercises: core, gluts and hips

2.5 miles run
PT core, gluts and hips


XLMIC said...

THAT is an AWESOME trophy! Congrats to the bandman!

I hope the new shoes help for a really long time. Pain sucks.

And bike crash? Where have I been? I am so sorry that happened! Are you okay?

Anonymous said...

I have the exact same issue!! I was told that I overpronate alot (I admit it, it's pretty obvious even when I stand, my arch collapse and my ankles roll inward). LRS recommended Brooks Adrenaline (similar to the Kayano, super cushioned, gel, etc). I ran in it for a few months. Anything less than 5 miles is fine, but when it's over 5 miles, my knees will hurt. like. hell. I did my first half marathon in them and I got all sorts of pain. I switched to Saucony Kinvara (similar to Nike Free), now I'm pain free!!

Liz said...

I am a bit of a barefoot running sceptic - I can't help but think it's a fad, and in a few years it'll all be forgotten. Your post has come close to changing my views! I'll follow your progress with interest and keep an open mind. I know exactly how frustrating it is to run only a couple of miles at a slow pace - at least you are running regularly. Best of luck, and hopefully you'll be back soon!

Char said...

What a journey of learning you've gone through. You could probably rival some orthopaedic surgeons on your knowledge of the foot now.

Run Jess Run said...

Glad to hear you're back running! I'm interested in the minimalist shoes you're trying. My shoes will peter out late this summer and I'm thinking about going that route.

...looks like you've got yourself a little band geek:)

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

i'm paying close attention to you. I do not want to go through another summer of injury hell. I don't want to go through trial and error which is what I seemed to do last year. I just want to run pain free again!

Jesse - Run To The Border said...

SO glad that you are finding something that works for you. Can't wait to keep reading about your journey back to running. (While nothing nearly as severe as what you've been going through, I've been dealing with a nagging ankle problem that is driving me back to a minimalist shoe, instead of the doctor recommended orthotics).

Harold said...

I switched to Newtons after getting on and off ITB pain in my stability shoes. Haven't had ITB issues since. It does take a long time for the legs and feet to adjust to the difference. My calves were on fire every run for the first 1-2 months. Patience is definitely needed!

Adrienne said...

Looks like a good start to training!

I ran a trail race Sat. in my Green Silences and noticed the effect they had on my stride. Each individual toe on the foot I broke last year were sore-but in a good way-like they were actually doing their job!

Keep up the progress and RUN Happy!

Kandi said...

Glad you are figuring out what works for you and are running again! :)

Katie said...

Yaayy I'm a huge Nike Free Fan :D They are the sneaks I've been wearing since my running/racing revival in September (actually I've had them since July). Which also probably means I need a new pair. LOVE the ones you got. I got a pair of Asics over the winter, but after the Frees they were just way too heavy. Hope you love them as much as I do!

Anytime I run on the beach I do it barefoot :D

Happy Feet 26.2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Hello Jill - I hope you have found the answers that work well for you.

Currently, I'm also on the sideline concerning the minimalist movement. I'm waiting for the research to follow. Currently, I use yoga to strengthen my feet, and work and stretch the glutes and hips. I also try to do weight workouts to try to keep the injuries at bay. The info makes total sense, but I'm just scared to change and most likely will not change much, as long as I'm injury free.

Thanks for sharing your journey and findings from your personal research and testing. Good info. I have been very tempted by those Nike frees. They look so comfy. Please continue to share what you find.

Marlene said...

I am certainly one of those people who has been wearing clunky shoes without issues and without seeing any reason to change ("if it ain't broke...") - this is a bit of a wake up call for me and something to consider... I want to run for years to come!

I'm so hapre making progress. Keep on trucking!!!

DRog said...

great news the boys are doing well, and good job pluggin away on your endeavors to run! You will figure it out you will be back. I ran Phx in Saucony Mirage which look like a replica of the Nike you have. they worked just fine.

Small Town Runner said...

Jill, I am THRILLED that you are on the road running again! !!!

Your story sounds a lot like mine, but I am still in squishy shoes...working down, though. I am SO glad for your progress. And you are SO smart to take it slow and easy.

Ah, yes. Graduation time is emotional when you are working at a high school. Will you be there over summer?

misszippy said...

Yes! on the shoes. We really do ourselves a disservice with the bad shoes we wear in our society, both for running and real life. You're on your way!!

And you are mom of the year (for real) with those twins and their accomplishments. Go Jill!

Julie said...

This post was like reading my own diary. Although I did not start running as early as you...only thousands of years ago rather than billions... from the shoe brand to the switch in shoes to the injuries to the time off due to the's all a bit of my own story...
...even the part where you end up in Nike Frees.

They were the shoe I chose to start back up into running (using the minimalist guideline suggested by my chiro who "fixed" me) and I've been in them for 8 months now with success!!

Best wishes to you!!!!!!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I learned way too much about running, shoes, orthos, how the legs and feet work during my injury last year, its all good learning.


Laura said...

I have moved away from a heavy shoe to a much lighter one as well as really trying to work on my run form. It is all baby steps right now....

Anonymous said...

i think i've owned just about every running shoe ever put out.
i'd love to know how much money i've spent threw the years. just curious.


Black Knight said...

Glad you are on the road again!
The shoes are very important for us and now I also wear the running shoes to walk (except when I am in office).
Congrats to Brenden.

funderson said...

Totally rad trophy and I dig the shoes too.
Also, you've gotta quit bad mouthing the 11 minute miles that I so dearly love... :)

Rach said...

There's been lots of studies done on both sides (and let's not forget who is funding the study...if you read a study that's pro-barefoot and it's funded by vibram there's your bias...and the same thing from the traditional shoe companies) but the only solid conclusions drawn I think is that running is very personal and you need to do what works for you. I also want to point out that the only difference between most minimalist shoes and racing flats is clever marketing. Anyways, that's my two cents on the topic!

Glenn Jones said...

Very interesting. I guess I've always been a midfoot striker, since the heels of my shoes are always in good shape when I'm ready for a new pair. But maybe that's why I'm also so slow - understriding to make up for my lack of strength...

Suzy said...

I hope the minimalist shoes help you!! ITA with what is written about modern shoes in that they help (as in almost force) a heel strike which will come back and bite you eventually. I would love to go to a minimalist shoe. I hope you post more about how they work for you.

Suzy said...

I hope the minimalist shoes help you!! ITA with what is written about modern shoes in that they help (as in almost force) a heel strike which will come back and bite you eventually. I would love to go to a minimalist shoe. I hope you post more about how they work for you.

Emz said...

First, I've missed you.

know. that.


I hear that soc doc rocks.
I tried on those nike's last week. very intriguing [did I spel that right?!]. will be following to hear about how they are treating you.

Love the photo. Saw that on FB. Love it. YAY for awesome sons.

Sherri said...

Do I tell you that your a super hero runner girl...everytime I comment? Well, you are! I am always injured...and I get injured on low miles...go figure! I either need to rethink the shoe thing...or get a hip replacement on both hips! Shoes seems a good starting point???? =)
Congrats your your sons! Awesome!
I find that the success of my kids is way more rewarding than my own...if I even worded that right?! =)

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

the gate/form of barefoot running in shoes is the best way i think. so, whatever shoe helps you do this might be the shoe for you.

Kate said...

I hear you about this crazy end of the year stuff. One more week. Breathe. One more week.

I hope the new shoes are the answer for you. I'm interested to see how it goes for you. There's sooo much information out there, and it's hard to know what's "right"...or at least "right for you". I'm really thankful to have so many bloggers out there sharing what work and doesn't work for them.

I was out biking today. Didn't crash, but had a couple close calls and one inappropriate touch from the bike. :) This whole mountain biking learning curve is a steep one for me (there, that's a preview of tomorrow's blog post. :D)

Anne said...

What talented twins you have!

I'll be very interested in how the minimalist shoes work for you. When I tore my achilles, I practically had to sign a contract promising never to indulge in the barefoot running craze. I'm sure minimalist shoes would be on the list too, and since PF and achilles tendonitis/tears are close cousins. . . .

It's so true about the damage that can accumulate from wearing the wrong shoe too.

Mikey B said...

Congrats on the improvements! I'm hoping the Nike Free works for you, so keep us informed. In the meantime, my VFFs sit in the closet til my foot heals. But they do make exvellent casual shoes.

lindsay said...

hahaha sisterly love. way to go band son. now where is the daughter's brag? hmmm?

i agree, there is a right shoe for everyone, but not necessarily everyone. i'm glad you seem to be finding a better type for you! hope they continue to work out.

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

COngrats to your son and CONGRATS to you Jill for running again! I know it's not as fast you are used to, but its running!

This was such an informative post. It's amazing what a product like shoes can do to us.

I was excited to see you are wearing Frees as I am just about ready to try mine out!!!

Thinking of you and cheering you on!!

Julie said...

Quick! Let's go for a run before your to fast for me! :) You running my pace now so we better hurry! I'm so glad that your on the mend!

I'm looking to ride about 60ish miles on Sautrday, any interest?

Alma said...

Congratulations on getting back to running! I'm a chronic PF & ITB person and have been working on converting to a "barefoot" strike. I do 4-5 min/week in my socks and then try to mimic that style in my NEUTRAL trainers (I used to be all stability, orthodics, etc) WITHOUT orthodics. It feels so liberating! Good luck on your low profile running. Look forward to hearing about it.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I love the energy in this post! Second- I have a friend who has been wearing the Nike Free shoes and love love loves them! I even feel like I need to try them because it has helped her overcome her ITB almost entirely!!!

I am so happy to see all your running and working off. Just remember- 11:00 min miles aren't always are running like a onelittletrigirl. :)

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Sweet that you've got some new kicks that will help get those tootsies back into running form! Slow and steady, right?!

AND some miles is always better than no miles and there is NO such thing as SLOW let alone pathetic! Running is a journey with lots of side trails to venture on. I don't see it as a start and end kind of path. i.e., you don't all start "slow" and "short" and end up "fast" and "long". You know this. We both probably had years where we really focused on pace or distance and then life changed our focus and we gave more or less to running. Right now you are needing to give more to your overall wellness, running will be there when your body is ready to allow you to jump back in. Maybe it won't be a the pace you did in your 20s but (if you are like me, and I think you are) it's the sheer joy of running that you want for a lifetime. Races and places are great but being part of this lifestyle is what it is all about. We will be out there finishing races when we are the only ones in our age group because we are so old! And we will be loving it!

Congrats to both your twins! So great that they are both making mama proud!

The Green Girl said...

Oh, Jill, I am cautiously optimistic.

Change of plans - I actually won't stay the weekend in Denver. I am going to head back home on Friday to support a small, local race that I do every year.

Julie said...

Hey there Lady! I had to check in and see how you are doing. No e-mails or texting this week! Just keep doing what you are doing! As long as you are getting out there and getting some miles in and keeping active doing the other cross are still moving! Stay positive Jill! I know that injuries suck and it is hard but you are strong and you are going to make it through this and be running again:) Keep smiling Chica! Love and hugs!

See.Kate.Run said...

I have heard Nike Frees are pretty amazing. I really want to try a pair out. Congrats on being able to run again.. that is huge!

HappyTrails said...

Oh how I remember fondly that lovely day of brunch!!! I am so, so, sooo hopeful that good things are coming for you in terms of a return to running! The minimalist shoe movement makes a lot of sense to me. I think people really need to transition into it cautiously and slowly so that the body can adapt to the change of mechanics - and that could take months. I have a dear friend (who is a long time local high school track coach) who now runs exclusively, going on a couple of years, in Five Fingers and Nike Frees. She is completely Gung-ho on minimalist footwear but also prefaces it with going to it slowly. She's not had any problems because she has done barefoot drills with her students for many years and her feet have had time to strengthen and adapt. I think too many people try to make the transition too quickly and then get injured - we know several of those. They are long time runners who started doing short bouts in the Five Fingers and after a couple of weeks thought they were ready for real runs. Not so. And just because someone slips on a pair of Five Fingers doesn't automatically make them an efficient mid/forefoot runner. I see too many folks heel striking in the FF and I cringe. I'm trying to use a little less shoe than in the past- I am wearing a Saucony Mirage and the Montrail Masochist - too much shoe still for some but a good place for me to start. I am SO excited at the possibility of you getting back on track!!!

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

Glad you're making progress. I can only imagine the hell this saga has put you through the last year. This post was an interesting read to me, although I am already familiar with the minimalist shoes in theory, it was nice to read a bit of a testimonial.

This is my first time seeing your current header. The scenery is beautiful. I know you weren't in Kansas.

elaine said...

I got orthotics, which so far seem to really be helping as I did a grand 31ish miles last week. But a part of me keeps thinking barefoot would be best. Trying to change my form to more forefoot too rapidly, yes, TOO RAPIDLY, caused the tendinitis. Live and learn? Mostly, let's just take it slow.

Aimee said...

Yay for running again! I am soo happy for you! You know I'm a huge believe in minimalist shoes and I really think it helped with my IT band issues I was having too!

Anonymous said...

You KNOW I love this post!!!!!! I did my run after my bike yesterday in my vffs.. I'm returning the newtons. I know in my heart they are still too much shoe. I'm excited for you to get back on your feet runner Jill!!!!! ((hugs))

C2Iowa said...

I have read it twice and am going back for a third. A lot of info there to take in. You know you are my hero??

I have made the switch to Nike LunarFlys over the past month. You remember my drive home? Police and all?

In about a month - I will be in them 100% of the time. I can tell you that I feel better after a run. Plus, no knee pain. This may also be contributed to Danny Dreyer's book and your guidance.

Will drop you a line (email) tomorrow.

Johann said...

Hang in there Jill, this too will pass.
Interesting post about the shoes. I’ve got my own thinking around the whole shoe thing and should probably write a post about it someday. I‘m lucky I’m a natural mid to forefoot striker. The heels of my running shoes don’t wear off at all. After 1000 miles or more the soles on the heels still look as they did on day 1.
Anyway, my quick input… I’ve always said if you need a special shoe or inserts or orthotics you should not run long distances like that. You can only do that injury free in neutral shoes without any inserts or orthotics. I still believe that and also believe you need a good neutral shoe for long distance…barefoot and minimalist will not do it year in and year out if you want to run marathons and ultras. Everyone is talking about being injury free since they went barefoot or minimalist but if you look at the distances they run it is not much. That’s my 2c for now. Have a great week! Oh yes, and congratulations to your son! I also did the band thing at school.

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

How'd the runs go this weekend??

slow ernie said...

What the world needs now is another minimalist shoe evangelist. La La La La La.

I'm beginning to think no shoes might be best. It's the only time that might PF doesn't bother me. The blood stained carpet on the other hand does bother my wife.

Amanda@runninghood said...

Oh Jill! You're back! you may not be back completely running but YOU are back. Your voice, your energy...This injury has got to be once of the most difficult things you've dealt with BUt because of it, you are teaching so many of us and I'm sure learning so much about yourself! Thank you for this! So, what do you think about the Brooks Launch? I'm thinking I'm going to try out the Nike Frees next! And well done Mama...your boys are awesome! This is awesome! :) So glad I'm catching up on blogs tonight and saw this!

Chris K said...

Man, Brandon and Ryan sure hit the genetic lottery. They sure inherited some awesome genes from there Mom.

I seriously want to at least try a new style of shoe. Pete from Run Blogger does great reviews but they are kinda overwhelming. I want someone to say, "Dude, buy these". Well, I know what my coach would say :-)

Super stoked you are RUNNING.

Irene said...

I'm glad that you're BACK running again. I know all about the head and time. I've finally accepted that my splits may never be where they were before, but just getting out there and running, albeit slow, makes for a happy person.

Oh yeah, ditto on the shoes! I like the Nike Frees.

Congrats to BOTH of your sons!

Leslie said...

Welcome to enlightenment Jill, so glad to hear you're running again! When those 4-6mm drop Nike's get old come try the Altra Intuition. I'm telling you it is the best of all worlds. Cushioning of a standard trainer, a round foot shaped toe box allowing your toes to spread out and greatly improve your foot health and form, and best of all a true zero (0mm) drop. They're amazing and I know they can help you. Run on Jill!

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