Sunday, December 27, 2009

There's GOT to be a Better Way- Part I

I don't know where to start!  Since my last post, I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking. 

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you know that since I started this venture into the world of running less than a year ago, I have spent much of my time trying to recover from one injury or another.  Looking back, I can almost trace each of my injuries according to the type of shoe I was wearing at the time.

Here's my shoe/injury time line:

January 2009- Asics GT-2140:  My first pair of shoes as I started training for my marathon.  I bought these based on "expert" evaluation of my running.  I was told I overpronate so I need stability shoes.  Less than three months later, I exchanged them due to sharp pain in both ankles and the start of pain in my right knee.

March 2009- Asics Kayano15:  My second pair of running shoes.  I exchanged the first pair for these based on the suggestion that I must need more cushion along with that stability.  The ankle pain disappeared... but the knee pain intensified.  My knee became so bad I couldn't run or train for the marathon for about four weeks.  Heck!  I could hardly walk!  I had X-rays and physical therapy.  Once the knee pain became tolerable, I was given the OK to start running again.  So I did.  During my first long run since my knee setback, I started experiencing pain in my left heel. That same day I said "adios" to my Kayanos. 

May 2009- Mizunos Wave:  I can't remember the exact model but I know they were expensive.  Fortunately, I was able to exchange the Kayanos for these even though it was a few days past my 90-return period.  The Mizunos were recommended for their stability, cushioning, and lighter feel than the Kayanos.  They felt better than the Kayanos but they did nothing to help my heel.  In fact, the heel only got worse as I kept training for the marathon (if you can call inconsistent runs, pool running, and bike riding "training").   At the end of May, I did the marathon but it was not pretty.  Honestly, it was ugly.

I could go on to include the pair of Saucony TR 3 that I  purchased in May of 2009 through because I had won a bloggy raffle for a $100 gift certificate.  These were the least expensive of the shoes I tried and didn't boast stability control.  But they were my favorite of the bunch.

I could also include my most recent purchases and exchanges as part of my shoe history.  In fact, the pair of Saucony I purchased, tried to run in, and subsequently returned was very unkind to my heel (which has not been pain-free since May).

So Where is this Going?

All of the above leads me to the present.  I am SO tired of being injured.  I'm sick of hearing people tell me that I should take up bike-riding and give up on running.  I'm frustrated that the cortisone shots I've had have done nothing to solve the problem.  I've heard everything from, "You just don't have a runner's body" to "Running is too hard on the body".

I cannot accept that reasoning.  I experienced enough elderly, physically handicapped, and overweight people kicking my butt during the marathon that I refuse to buy that I am not cut out to run.  I have no physical reason to keep my body out of the sport.

I like running.  I need to run to keep my brain clear.  I spent years declaring my hatred of running... only to find that I actually love it. I'm not going to give it up that easily.

So... is it me?  Am I doing something wrong?   No one taught me how to run.  I didn't think anyone would have to.  Now I am learning that I was wrong.  Maybe there is not just one way to run... but there are better ways to run.

This realization inspired me to check out Chi Running.  Researching Chi Running lead me to the barefoot running movement.  At the same time, I got Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run for Christmas (I ordered it on my husband's behalf... as his gift to me).  I didn't realize it when I ordered it, but much of the book looks at the impact running shoes have had the running community.  In short, running shoe companies may have had good intentions when they first introduced high-tech shoes to the market but have actually contributed to the rising number of running-related injuries.

Those who advocate barefoot running explain that the foot has been designed (or "evolved", if you prefer) to take on the rigors of running and don't need help with their intended purpose. They argue that all these specialized running shoes are actually making our feet weak and out of touch with their relationship to the ground (the italicized part is my interpretation).

So, where does this leave me?  I'll have to finish that later.  This is already a ridiculously long post and it's getting late.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and continue to enjoy this holiday season!


HEATHER @ runfastermommy! said...

as I was reading this post I kept thinking "barefoot running! barefoot running!" I'm glad you were thinking that as well. I am not actually a bearfoot runner, but I hope to start incorporating it into my running, and I've heard it really helps with preventing injuries. Best of luck to you, I hope you can find something that doesn't hurt!!

Anne said...

I know I'm in the minority, but I'm convinced barefoot running is a fad that will pass, although I do like the Vibram type of footwear as an alternative.

What you haven't mentioned is a custom orthodics, the kind you get from a podiatrist and not a running store. I had one for years after an exceptionally difficult bout of ITBS and ran injury-free regardless of the shoes I was in. It's just a possibility.

Kelly said...

I totally relate to your stubbornness about giving up on running. I have heard the same thing from people that many running is just not my thing...I'm not giving up yet though. I'm interested to hear what you conclude- I can't imagine ACTUALLY running barefoot, but it is a very interesting concept!

shellyrm said...

When you have a difficult problem you need to explore all kinds of solutions. I hope that you are able to find one that works for you.

I do agree that our feet were created to meet the ground...but the creator probably wasn't considering asphalt.

The Happy Runner said...

I would recommend trying custom orthotics from a podiatrist. Mine have been great for me.

Sarai Hoolihan said...

Aww Sara! don't give up. In my early running days, I suffered from many of your complaints; ankle, knee and hip pains. But I kept the running going and sure enough all those pains worked themselves out. I focused a lot on recovery and it helped a lot!! even the foods I ate after made a difference. Don't give up :)

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

I am excited to watch you with this new adventure.. I HIGHLY doubt I will ever try it, but I am very very curious of those who do. If I ran in WA in barefeet I would be pruney by the end of most runs. LOL!!

Jason Robillard said...


I've been barefoot running full-time for five years. I focus mostly on running ultramarathons, but run shorter road races, too. I haven't had a single injury since beginning. Contrary to the claim of some, there IS a ton of empirical research backing barefoot running principles ( There's also a ton of anecdotal evidence supporting the practice. Finally, there is research in the works that directly addresses the issues of injury rates between barefoot and shod runners.

If you ever have any questions about barefoot running, feel free to contact me (I teach barefoot and minimalist shoe running) at robillardj "at" gmail "dot" com. I can point you towards a TON of great resources!

Good luck!