Higher And Faster

When I was a kid I was convinced that whenever I got a new pair of tenny-runners that I would be able to jump higher and run faster. There’s something about a brand new pair of shoes that make me happy. The shoe-love starts at such a young age, no?

Since I have started running, I’ve gone through so many different types of running shoes trying to find that perfect shoe. The one that was going to help me run faster.

OK. Let’s be completely honest. There isn’t a shoe in the world that is going to help me be a fast runner. But I would settle for running without pain. My first pair of shoes were an Asics shoe and they were great. Of course, back then I was running for 90 second intervals at a time, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. When I went to replace them I decided to stick with the Asics because they seemed to work. The store didn’t have the same model, and being an amateur, I didn’t think it would matter. So I bought new shoes. I began having pain in the balls of my feet. I stuck with it for a bit, thinking that the shoe just needed to be broken in. It didn’t work so I began my search for another pair.

As I’ve played sports throughout my life, I’ve been a Nike girl, so I thought I’d look for a pair of Nike running shoes. I found one that seemed to have pretty good support and bought them. My first run in them my feet, ankles, shins, and knees hurt so badly that I took them off before I even got into my car to drive home and they still sit in my trunk to this day.

Back to the drawing board. I went and found a different model of Asics because they were what worked the best when I first began running.They seemed OK for about a month. But then my shins and balls of my feet began to show signs of a possible injury so I headed to down to the sporting goods store. I explained to the young man in the running department the issues that I had with the balls of my feet. He directed me to a pair of Brooks. They had a lot of cushioning in the ball of the foot area so I thought it would work well. These were the most expensive of shoes that I bought. $135.00 compared with the “less than 100” on the other shoes. The first time I ran in them the balls of my feet felt so good that I was convinced I’d found the right shoe. I ran in them for probably three months without  foot pain.

I began noticing that my ankles were really tight. Especially around my achilles tendon area. I thought I must not be stretching well enough so I increased the amount of yoga I was doing after each run. Nothing helped. My ankles were just tight. All the freaking time. It was right about this time that I had my 10k coming up so I was really hesitant to switch out shoes right before my first big race.

After that race was over I saw the “foot analysis” machine at W*l-Mart and thought I’d see what it said. Well, the machine said that I had low arches and gave me a number of an insert that I should use. So I bought the recommended insert and put it in the shoe. This worked pretty well for awhile. The problem with it was that the insert was like a half shoe insert. So it left the toe part of my foot with no insert in the shoe. It did seem to help, though. After awhile, I developed a blister on my toe because insert kind of forced my foot up towards the top of the shoe. Not only that, but with the insert not going along the whole length of the foot, I would get a sore spot where the insert ended.

I could not take it anymore and went and bought another pair of Asics. I figured I could deal with a little ball pain instead of dealing with blisters and heal pain. Then I went on a run. About 2 miles in the ball of my foot was hurting so badly. I would curl my toes on my left foot and that helped, but I knew it wasn’t ideal. By the time I got home from that first run I was nearly in tears. Not from the pain, but from the frustration! The Asics are great for walking around or for volleyball, but they just did NOT work for running.

Well, I just could not bring myself to fork out more money for another expensive pair of shoes, so I looked for a different insert to put into my existing pair of Brooks. One that was going to be a full coverage insert, not just half-sole insert. I found an insert that said it was for low arches so I bought it. It helped. I’ve been able to keep up my normal run schedule.

Recently, the inserts have quit helping. I was having, not only stiff ankles, but also ball pain. I decided that I was going to bite the bullet and go to Fleet Feet for a proper analysis.

Ho-Lee Shit! That was an amazing experience. The girl that helped me was so knowledgeable and helpful. She spent an hour with me. As she did measurements on my foot and watched my gait and checked my arches and looked at my stability she narrowed down the playing field from all the hundreds of types of running shoes that are out there to five types. I tried them all. Ran in them all. Some I knew right away that they weren’t going to work. Others I couldn’t tell until I ran in them.

I am now the proud owner of a Saucony Triumph 11 running shoe. I really think this is going to be a huge help. The biggest problem is that I think I waited too long to do this and am going to have to take a week off running to give my foot a chance to heal up. It’s really not bad. It is just a little off so I will take this week off and then ease back into the running with my new shoes. I have a 5k in six weeks and I think that’s plenty of time to let me foot heal and still break my new shoes in before the race. Fingers crossed. I’m counting on this to solve my problems and help me be a better runner.

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