Side note: if the title of this post looks familiar, this you tube video might be be to blame: “Ohmigah, shoes.” Anyone remember this gem? I find it hilarious… (Warning: I only recommend watching the first 2 minutes… after that it just gets way weird, and not to mention the profanity… but I digress).
Hooookay, moving on to a more important topic.
When it comes to working out, a proper fitting pair of athletic shoes is so So SO important. I cannot stress this enough. Especially when it comes to running.
I’ve seen people who think they can wear their gym shoes for 3 years (or longer) just because they still look fairly “fresh.” As in… not dirty, still white (or whatever original color they came in) and with okay-lookin’ treads. Well, newsflash, hun… the rubber of your shoes prooobably wasn’t made to hold up that long. Overtime, the rubber that makes up the soles of shoes breaks down, leaving you with less support. And let me tell you, support is key when it comes to preventing injury.
Think of the shoes you wear as the foundation that supports not only your feet… but your ankles, knees and back, too. Ever complain of lower back issues? Hm, maybe it’s your shoes…
So if you complain of an achy back, why don’t you see what kind of state your shoes are in? (And this is not just limited to athletic shoes… this applies to your the shoes you wear to work, to church, out and about on the town (ahem, high heels, ladies?) and flipflops (because we all know how much support those have).
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but really… finding shoes that fit correctly is such an important consideration.
Case in point.
This past August, I bought a pair of running shoes from the pro- shop located in my YMCA. The man who sold them to me ensured me that they were the same exact style as the current gym shoes I was wearing, but just in a different color. Since I usually buy the same brand and style of Asics shoe, I knew that this was probably true, since Asics does tend to have different colors of the same line of shoe. So I totally agreed since the numbers were the same on the tongue and I went ahead and bought the shoes. Little did I know that this new pair of shoes were actually not the exact same kind of shoe as the kind I have been wearing for who knows how long…
Note: These are all in my donation pile. I still have an additional 3 pairs of Asics I currently use… one to run in, one to lift weights in, and one for doggy-duty.
And, yes, these are all pretty much the same shoe (either Asics 2120 or 2140). Don’t fix it unless it’s broken, right?
Right. Except I unintentionally bought the wrong pair of running shoes from the pro-shop that day at the Y. The little “D” next to the 2140 didn’t catch my (or the salesclerk’s) attention, and into my arms went a pair of running shoes meant for people with wide feet.
This didn’t work out so well for me… and after about two weeks of running in them, I became sidelined with the worst pain in the metatarsals of my right foot. In fact, I was WebMDing and googling all sorts of crazy foot injuries.
At first I thought it was plantar fascilitis. But after more research, I became panicked as I realized it could be a stress fracture, or even worse… a broken foot! Good thing Ryan was there to bring me back down to reality – he pointed out that since I was walking and putting pressure on my foot, it prooobably wasn’t broken. Thank you, Mr. Sound of Reasoning.
Anywho, seeing as I had never had an injury before and had never felt pain like this in my life… I vowed that I was going to do whatever it took to make it better so that I could run again. As I mentioned in an earlier post… running to me is my saving grace. To not run… is not an option. Period. Exclamation point.
So for the whole month of September, I did not run. And for the whole month of September, I wanted to cry. I hated, absolutely hated, not being able to run. But I made a promise to myself that I was not going to run until I was pain free for TWO whole weeks. That’s right. From the day I stopped feeling any pain… that’s when the waiting period of 2 weeks began.
As the days and weeks went by, I gradually became more okay with it, and found other ways to fit in a sweat-sesh. I utilized my gym’s cardio equipment (and got some studying done for the two classes I was taking at the time) and continued lifting weights. Finally, the day came when I could walk normally and didn’t feel any pain. I held my breath, and started the countdown of two weeks being pain-free.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I wanted to jump the gun and just go on a run because I hadn’t felt pain in 4 days, or 6 days… or 11 days. But I waited it out. And 14 days after my last twinge of pain, I laced up my running shoes and headed out on a run.
And it was wonderful.
No pain, at all.
And not even 3 weeks later I ran a half marathon (and PRed by 12 minutes). And four weeks after that… I ran another half marathon (my fourth half) and dropped another 6 minutes on top of that. Huh.
So what in the world caused my setback? I mean I had been running for so long without any issues at all? What gives?
[[Ohmigah, it was the shoes]]
That’s right, I blame it on the shoes.
You see, my feet tend to run on the narrow side. So a shoe fitted for a wide foot wasn’t exactly the smartest purchase. You’re probably wondering how in the world I didn’t notice this… and to be honest, I am too.
Looking back, I remember thinking that I had some extra wiggle-room in the toe-box, but it was such a subtle difference from my previous pair of shoes that I thought it was normal. It wasn’t until I was actually running in them that I realized I could move my toes up and down maybe a little bit too much, but it wasn’t enough for me to think that the shoes weren’t fit for my narrow feet. I just thought they were… extra cushy and supportive.
One stop into my local running store later, I quickly found out that the pair of shoes I bought were not the pair of shoes I thought I bought. So after a few glances up and down to check out my stride from the salesclerk (don’t worry, this is total, normal running-store protocol), I quickly became the owner of the correct pair of shoes once again. And the very next day, I found myself with happy running feet.
So, moral of the story is…caveat emptor (aka…let the buyer beware!) Even though I thought I was being an informed buyer and purchasing the same exact shoes, that was not the case…at all.
My advice? If you have not already been to a specialty running store, walk (don’t run… because you need to be fitted properly first) to your nearest store and get fitted for a proper pair of shoes. You don’t have to buy the pair of shoes they match you with at that store, and they’ll tell you this up front (or at least, they should). You can simply jot down the brand/style/size of the shoe and hit up a Finish Line or Dicks (that’s what I do) or buy ‘em offline.
Have any of you ever had an injury due to improper footwear? Or is this the first time you’ve heard about the link between running shoes and your performance (and support in general)?
Oh, and check out my running page if you haven’t already. It details how I “found” running, and why I love it so much…