musings on running, life, and everything in between

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It’s been a bit, right? There are some things going on in life that are taking a lot of energy out of me. It leaves little room or desire to write about running. Part of this might be combined with the fact that I turned my ankle two weekends ago on the trail.

I was about 4 miles into an 8-11 mile run with some friends at Bull Frog in Palos. Ironically, I had stopped to re-tie a shoe tighter because it felt like it wasn’t support enough. As I got up to start running, I hit a big rock in the path and turned my ankle. I wasn’t in horrible pain, but I felt a momentary flash of panic. Ok, maybe not momentary. Just panic. The worst part was that we were just before the turnaround point. And this is trail. Which means, short of getting back to a road and waiting for someone else to run back and get the car, I’d have to run back. It wasn’t great, but I found I could bear weight on it without screaming in pain. So I ran back 3 miles–Kelly was able to configure a slightly shorter route back. Gorgeous picture of the lake from the BEGINNING of the run. Sigh.

I saw Craig that day and had him work on it. He actually didn’t think it was too bad, and I babied the heck out of it, wrapping it tight and wearing an ankle brace. I think that all helped. I can run on it, but 50k on it is a different thing…The amount of mental self-abuse I’ve been doing is outrageous. I just checked the cutoff time, though, and I’ll have almost 10 hours to finish the 50k. Hopefully I won’t need all that.

It just continues to remind me, on multiple levels, that our weaknesses–physical and otherwise–need constant monitoring and intervention. I had stopped doing my one-legged squats while brushing teeth awhile back, filled with false confidence in my ankles. And this is what happened. It reminds me of the same character defects I have, my willfulness, anger, etc. also need to constantly be worked on as well. They never really go away, just wait for an opportune moment. Seems exhausting thinking about it. But that is how we become stronger.

And one thing I’ve learned over the years is when I get stuck in self-pity, get outside yourself and go do something for someone else. So I did. A slew of my girls were running the Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha, including Jenny’s first comeback race after over a year of injury. It didn’t occur to me, until really late in the game, that it would be great to go cheer for them. I found out two other friends–Jen H and Doreen–who also came to Boston were heading up, so I hitched a ride.

Andrea, Emily, Michelle, Jenny, Michelle

I am SO glad I went. The course was windy as HECK. It ran alongside the lakefront, which sounds great, until the wind picks up sand and scours you with it. The temperature was perfect, and it was somewhat cloudy at moments, but the wind was probably upwards of 30mph at times. The course was also really desolate. There were almost no spectators, and even the most “crowded” sections had just over a dozen. And they were QUIET. There was almost no cheering. So this made the 3 of us cheer even louder and act even nuttier. Two women even came up to us after the race to thank us for cheering. It was also weird because there were parts of the course that weren’t really closed off so people were driving ON BOTH SIDES of the road. Someone even pulled a boat down the middle of the course. I think based on the crowd support (or lack thereof) and the weird course stuff, I would not run this marathon. Jenny did say, though, that it was well run and the aid stations were great.

The girls had a really hard time, but the Michelle’s stuck together for most of it. Although Michelle R (left) pulled a Jen and finished about 20 second ahead of Michelle N. Ha.


Despite all these brutal conditions, most of them finished ahead of my Boston time. Sigh. It was awesome, though, to go root for someone and not just be on the receiving end. I swear my “cheering high” carried me all day through rooting for my oldest’s tball game. Haha.

Andrea, Jenny, Emily


Alright, that’s all for now. I’m gearing up for the 50k. It feels really weird because I’ve essentially been in a 6 week taper now. I’ve been actually weightlifting to try and do some less impact stuff that should help me with the hills and such.

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Easing back 

Let’s start with some Monday morning cuteness. The littlest one and I had some special bonding time over hot dogs. And if you’re from Chicago, you know that it’s “criminal” to put ketchup on your dogs. Felony Franks is a local hot dog place that hires formerly incarcerated folks to help them get employment skills, work history, etc. It’s difficult getting employed often when you have a record. Some people find the “theme” of the place somewhat controversial, but it works for me. I don’t see a whole lot of other folks lining up to give jobs to this population so I’m all for it.

I feel like I should clarify a bit, that I don’t (according to my main men, Bill and Craig) have plantar fasciitis, but just an irritated, annoyed part of my plantars. I’m actually going to talk a bit more about my issues and running form next post, but I did want to throw that out there.

I did a bunch of shorter runs last week with little issue, so I decided to make the big plunge (with Craig’s blessing) to do the longer run. I was shooting for 8 at the minimum, 10-12 in my dream world. I ended up just shy of 10. My left ankle was starting to tighten up, so I decided to not press my luck.

We were going to run the Salt Creek Trail, but portions of the trail looked like this (thanks for the photo, Jen!). Big chunks of it were pretty clear, but we didn’t love the idea of doing a start-stop run for a couple of hours, AND it was slow going inching our way around/through the ice.

We ended up running through the neighborhoods around the trail. It wasn’t too bad. And even though some of us don’t even drink, I couldn’t resist making us take a photo with this sign outside a bar. I’m curious if it really IS a thing, or just a random sign.

It was a fun run, albeit a bit crazy trying to stitch together. Folks were running everywhere from 8-16 miles, so it got slapped together at 10 pm the night before, and some of us drove to a meeting point and others ran there. I gotta say, I was jealous getting back in my car and seeing the others run home. Sigh. Sooooooon…

Because I was having a little flare up of tightness in my ankles and my feet, I went crazy with my new rubber ball massager thing. Arguably, a little too crazy as I rubbed off one of the nubs. Oops. Ignore the gross fuzz and dust on the ball. I have small humans, they are messy.

The rest of the weekend was fun and included a trip to the Arboretum and a bowling outing (I WON! I know, I’m overly competitive and beating my husband and 6 y.o. aren’t exactly brag-worthy. Still.). I couldn’t resist this photo, which was slightly staged. The kids were not trying to hold hands. They were trying to touch my feet, which were splayed out in the middle of the aisle and just out of view of the photo. It was so adorable, though, that I took it anyway. Happy Monday!


Are you still a runner if you miss some runs…

Amy sent me this last week, and it’s about spot on.

After my last post, a friend of mine reached out to say that the post really resonated with her own personal experiences. She was a serious runner and good at pushing through, then she went through a series of injuries, one after the other. That, ultimately, is what drove her into personal training. Trying to figure out what was wrong and causing her body to fall apart when she’d not had issues before. THAT scared me. She doesn’t really run long distances (aka marathons) anymore, because her body can’t take it. She wrote to convince me to make sure I was really addressing my issues and not pushing through. So despite vacillating a million times about running the race Saturday or not running the race, I stuck with the decision to not run the race. Or run at all. Another long run missed. ARGH.

Buuuuuuut, I also decided to still go to the gym and do almost 2 hours of cardio. It was ugly, but I got to catch up on a new (to me) podcast (Ten Junk Miles) by some folks in the ultrarunning Facebook group I’m in. I found them both annoying and humorous. Scott Kummer, one of the podcasters and big ultrarunner, is doing the Arrowhead 135. In case you want to get a taste of what insanity looks like, here it is:

A couple of my friends and I are planning to do a mini-movie viewing party soon. Cuz nothing makes more sense from the perspective of an injured runner than watching movies about running…

Oooh, and then there’s this new film coming out about Jesse Owens!

Anyhow, in case you didn’t know, heading to the gym in the dark on a Saturday morning is not the same thing as meeting your friends for a long run.

45 minutes of cycling and my sitz bones were annoyed with me. More various elliptical machines and some stair climbing. Boo. I wore my compression like a big dork to get some more support around my legs. Not sure if it mattered.

I also made noise about going to the pool last post, so I did that this weekend. I forced my friend Stephanie to meet me at the pool and swim for 30 minutes. I use the term swim loosely, and the 30 minutes felt grindingly slow and painful. I forced myself to go the full 30. I also stopped every lap to gasp for breath. EVERY. SINGLE. LAP. Stephanie even said to me, “I mean, I’ve SEEN you run marathons and you’re struggling. This is hard!” What is it about the breathing in a pool that’s so hard for me? I just can’t figure it out. I know how to breathe, even alternating sides, but I always feel like I’m going to simultaneously pee my pants and suffocate at the same time. Anyone?

I also had a flashback to my one attempt at triathlon training and realized that’s where my form obsessions began. Because swimming is so unnatural to me, I was fixated on form. I didn’t know what to do with my arms or my hands or my legs in minutiae, so I asked my instructor lots of questions, read stuff online (this was before videos were so prevalent and pre-YouTube), and fixated on how to make myself better (i.e., feel less like I’m dying). I think I got a little bit better, but I’m starting over at square one…

I feel like this picture shows how delirious and oxygen-deprived the swim made me. It also didn’t help that I was using my 6 y.o.’s swim goggles and didn’t have a swim cap. And my swimsuit was 12 years old, but whatevs, right? I like to keep it real on this blog. That is what I look like after a horrible swim. The swim did make me more aware of my left (the non plantar-irritate one) ankle’s tightness, though. Grr.

Finally, I’m working on rounding out my various workout possibilities. A post from a reader/commenter (Danielle of Naturally Sweet Athlete) brought me to her blog post about different ways to stay active during winter months. Coincidentally, she’s also injured. She posted about a few free apps with workouts, so check it out. I’m a sucker for anything tech-y that might motivate me to do something other than run. Or “crosstrain” as people keep calling it.

Anyhow, I have some updates on the whole ankle/running/thing, but I’ll save that for next post.


Where My Body Falls Apart and I Grow Up

I woke up yesterday with a swollen LEFT ankle and stiffness–almost like it was a few days into recovering from a sprain. This is NOT the ankle/foot/leg I’ve been having issues with. What gives?! After running 8 marathons under 2 years with no injury? This reminds me of a theory that Mr. UnRunner (he’s back to not running, ha) has about massage. He refuses to get one because he believes that the tension is what keeps him together. Knock out one knot or muscle contraction and the whole thing tumbles like a Jenga puzzle. Perhaps all this enforced time off has forced my body to realize it’s time to collapse…

Let me back up, though. I saw Magical Craig twice this week. And he highly suggested I NOT race this weekend the F3 Half Marathon I’d signed up for months ago. He knows I’m prone to not listening to him when it comes to things like backing off on running, but I’m going to be a grown up and DO THE RIGHT THING. Which means, NOT run it–just in case you weren’t sure. Here’s why. Craig suggested I skip the cardio stuff this week, or the cardio stuff that would have impact. I tried a barre class on Wednesday thinking it was going to be low-impact. Wrong. It was an odd cardio version and there was a lot of jumping. My foot started bothering me during the class (more on the class in a bit). If just jumping jacks and dynamic lunges were bothering it, hauling out a half marathon would not be great. Craig did say I could finally try running on it Saturday to test it out, but I had to stop if it hurt. An out and back loop in a race doesn’t really fit well for that. I think I’d rather have a DNS (did not start) than a DNF (did not finish)…at least if it’s for an injury. I also know that I probably won’t accept the idea of not finishing and further set myself back. If I really want all this time off to count for something, I need to make sure I’m not continuing to draw out the injury. Growing up sucks. I’ve already scaled back for two weeks, I can’t take it much longer.

So, what does “recovery” look like when you can’t do cardio with impact or that involves alot of ankle (he also banned the ellipticals this week)? Well, you can swim (barf, but also more on that in a bit) maybe, or I forced Craig to let me at least cycle. Seriously, what else is there?? Here’s what the week looked like.

Monday: Botched 2. 5 miles

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Cardio barre class

Thursday: 50 minutes of cycling

Friday: Nothing right now…maybe some yoga or strength training.

It hurts me to look at that. I swear I’ve gained weight in the last two weeks. Depressing. I know it’s better to work all this out now, then, rather than potentially not running or finishing Boston. Still.

Here’s the scoop on some things I’ve been trying in the meanwhile.

1) I really like yoga, and doing a partial supported headstand against the wall is safer. I go to the studio when I can, but I also like to do some different yoga apps and YouTube videos.

2) After my second attempt at barre, I’m pretty sure I don’t like it. This class reminded me of a mom’s 80’s aerobics class. Except my mom didn’t do aerobics. So maybe YOUR mom’s aerobics class. I totally spaced and thought the class was almost over when I saw it was 9:55. When it was 10:04 and didn’t seem to be ending, I realized that we were only halfway through (the class started at 9:30). I almost wept in disappointment. You see, the reason I run is because I AM NOT COORDINATED. Following a variety of dynamic movements with garbled-sounding microphone directions, especially when I’m afraid of jumping on my right foot, was a nightmare. I still have one class left on my 3-class Groupon, though…so I’ll be back to torture myself (I’m also cheap about getting my money’s worth).

3) I really hate cycling inside. It feels indeterminately long. Give me a bike ride outside any day. Oh wait, I left the garage door open months ago and someone stole my bike. Sigh.

4) I need to learn how to cross train differently. i.e., swimming. Swimming is like the arch-nemesis of my athletic-ness. Well, after aerobics. So maybe it’s just a nemesis… Anyhow, I had a scary drowning-ish moment in a pool when I was a kid (think of getting fished out by the lifeguard but no resuscitation but lots of spitting out of water and maybe some vomit) so I tend to get panicky if I feel like I am getting too much water in my nose, or I don’t have control. To try and get over that years ago, I took private swim lessons and signed up for a super-sprint triathlon. I knew how to swim, but I wanted to learn how to feel comfortable in the water and work on my stroke, etc. The swimming portion of the triathlon got canceled because of too much bacteria in the water (I know, gross) so I never got to have my moment of triumph. And I’m still uncomfortable in deep water. So I’m considering signing up for a triathlon again to force myself to cross-train in the pool more. “Just” swimming for exercise sounds awful. I need something to hold me accountable and motivate me. Oh, and I’ll still need to buy a bike. And because I am friends with crazy people, someone’s already trying to egg me on to do a half iron distance triathlon in the fall. CRAZY.

It’s Friday. I’ll try and do a run tomorrow. And take stock from there. It’s hard recognizing that you have limits, and you need to take time to recover. I know I write about that alot, but it’s still hard to swallow. I need to listen to my body and take the time to do things right. Good luck to anyone racing this weekend and high fives to all those doing rehab/recovery work–in any sense.


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Why I won’t be trail running for a little while

I got the question, “Do you want to run Boston or do you want to run trails?”


I have now had my two main men (other my family, duh)–my magical myofascial trigger point massage guy, Craig, and my awesome running coach/massage guy, Bill–tell me that trail running was my downfall and I need to quit that sh*t out. For now anyway. Um, let’s not talk about the fact that I signed up for a 50k TRAIL ultramarathon one month after Boston, mmkay? I just need to focus on Boston right now. At least with ultras, you can run slower than molasses and no one will disrespect you (meaning, worst case scenario, I’ll just turtle it along). At Boston, however, my friend who ran it years ago told me that people seem to not cheer as loudly for you at the back of the pack. They assume you are a charity runner and didn’t really earn your way in. She had gotten pregnant after she qualified (and this was the good ol’ days where you could postpone your race entry a year) so she was running several months post-partum the following year.

Let me back up, though.

As you may recall, I took last week off to let my plantars be less angry. I ran 5 slow and easy on Jenny’s treadmill while watching a gnarly bear attack movie (Backcountry). It felt ok during and after. Although, I will admit that it felt like I had taken longer than a 5 day break. This led me to believe that I could try my long run, or at least attempt 9-10 of the 14-15 planned. I made plans to run Waterfall Glen with a friend, but she messaged me late Friday night saying she was coming down with whatever her kid had earlier in the week.

Admittedly, while I was disheartened to think of running a couple hours alone, I ultimately was glad to run alone. I got to stop and stretch and curse myself without anyone witnessing. Ironically, I did see a fellow BFF’er running by at one point. My calves both felt super tight, but my heel didn’t hurt during the run. I eked out a painfully slow and never-ending 10 miles. The thought of running anything more than that made me want to tear my hair out AND I was on a tight schedule.

I thought I had “gotten away” with my long run, but my heel and calves got steadily tighter during the day. I stretched and rolled and prodded, but I still had some twinge-ing Sunday morning. I opted for an hour of yoga at home, wherein I almost broke myself further in attempting a supported headstand in the middle of my bedroom. I discovered that I could get up but toppled over immediately, and belatedly realize I should probably have done it against a wall as I twisted to avoid landing on various furniture in my bedroom. Yeah, I’m definitely not the most astute person at times. The rest of the day was spent rolling, poking, and pinching my calves every opportunity I got. I began to wonder if my soreness was actually from my run or my obsessive jabbing.

Monday morning still tight. Since it was below freezing BEFORE windchill, I decided to forego the pain of running outside and ran again on Jenny’s treadmill. This time opting for Walking Dead, which about described the way I felt after running 2.5 miles. I had to stop because the pain was bad enough that I knew I was doing more damage than good. Thankfully, I had had enough sense to decide to call Craig and set up an appointment for later that day.

I saw Craig and the doctor he works with in the office. It was my first time meeting her and she was great. She assessed me and remarked that my “weak ankles” were not that, but my tendency to collapse my ankles in. She called it something, but I didn’t catch it. Essentially, it’s overpronation, your feet and ankle rolling excessively in. While some pronation is good and normal, too much causes your calves and lower muscles to work too hard and get irritated. Sound familiar? She had me stand up straight and pointed to my ankles sticking out further (ankle and leg should be in a straight line), as well as my calluses (on the outer part of the balls of my feet) and my baby bunion. The trail running probably exacerbated the issue exponentially. So I have orthotics to immediately correct the issue.

I do not like orthotics. In fact, since reading Born to Run, I’ve worked really hard to get away from the stability shoes I’ve worn and move towards more neutral, and partially minimal shoes. With great success I thought. But perhaps it was just luck. I was remarking to Craig earlier that it was hubris, noting how so many runners I knew dealt with plantar fasciitis and thinking how great it was that I was so amazing to not get it. HUBRIS. Anyhow, I got the orthotics to wear for now. I have already started Googling away exercises to fix the issue in the long view. I don’t want to rely on orthotics to compensate for an issue I’d prefer to correct. I get that my current foot/ankle/leg stuff is creating this issue, but I also feel that unless it’s something structural I can correct it…There is a good information page on the BOSU website with exercises. I have to confess, though, that the mere fact that they used the WRONG FORM OF BREAKING–your big toe breaking is very different than it BRAKING–is physically keeping me from linking the page for you. I have standards you know.

Craig went through his usual repertoire of torture techniques. One major difference between him and Bill is that Craig uses a full gauntlet of tools to make you acquiesce. He will be using his crazy sound machine on me probably Wednesday, but today I only got the manual knobs and jabbers. In all seriousness, Craig doesn’t want me writhing in pain. Just a little uncomfortable. I’m the one that tries to gut it out. Cuz I’m sick and I think that more pain equals more bang for my buck. Sick.

One big thing I learned today was about how to use self-massage. I have vague ideas and many tools for doing home treatment. What I DIDN’T know, though, was when to use just pressure and when to roll. I should use both, but I use prolonged (at least 30 seconds) pressure first on a spot that seems too painful to roll. I need to actually get the muscle to release a little bit to maximize the benefits of rolling. So my random, haphazard jabbing and rolling this weekend wasn’t as effective because I wasn’t giving my muscles a real chance to release. Oh, another tidbit I learned. When your muscles get all tight and irritated, he called it “armoring.” I kind of liked the visual of my muscles getting all suited up. Haha. Oh wait, that’s a bad thing.

Long story short, I’m out of any cardio exercising until Wednesday, when I’ll see Craig again. Patty pointed out to me that I could still do core work to do SOMETHING. She’s so wise. I have a half marathon race this Saturday. Not sure what’s in the cards for that. I wasn’t really concerned about racing it per se, but it would help my mental state to be able to do a long run. Feel free to chime in with thoughts, resources, corrections (ahem, Craig), etc. And wish me luck…


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So…Saturday’s long run was rough. I started having pain in my heel and my right calf felt like it was going to snap because it was so tight. Not good. I limped around the rest of the day because both my calves were so sore and tight after. Argh. I have not had to deal with a running injury (sans various sprained ankles) in a long while. I guess that streak can only go so long though.

I made the big girl decision of taking most of this week off from running and trying a short run on Friday to see if I can get up to speed for the long run Saturday. If Friday’s run doesn’t go well, I’ll forego the long run this week. Better to take the time now to deal with this before training really takes off. I hate it.

This means I have done some of the first cardio cross training and gym workouts in a long long time. I will do a workout video or various exercises at home, but I have really gotten away from the gym. Well, my friends, the gym has changed! There are sorts of newfangled cardio machines out there! I felt like a newbie. However, it was also cool to see how much has changed.

WhenI don’t run, I usually do the elliptical as a good substitute. Mostly because I can read on there. However, the elliptical type machines have changed. Now you can do all sorts of different movements in the middle of moving instead of just the same plane and level. There’s one that I’ve done that lets you change your stride and form while stepping up and down. In the past I’ve hated it because it feels like my legs are all over the place and I can’t get any kind of rhyme or reason to my movement. This time I was brave and did a better job. I even did a long stride that made me feel like a Kenyan with their super gazelle moves.

I hate the stair master. However, the new ones (that are actually revolving stairs) were more tolerable. I also felt better that I was working my weak glutes.

But this…this was the piece de resistance. This is a crazy elliptical type machine that works your lateral muscles. Hello hips and glutes! You can adjust your lateral width to work different muscles. You can also change the way you’re standing to switch up muscle groups and sides as well. Woah. It was hard. Like I decided to not overkill and only used it for 20 minutes hard. I will definitely be coming back to do this. 

For your dizzying pleasure I have included a horrible video to try and show you how it looks.

While I can’t say that I’m loving all this stuff in place of running, I can’t help but feel some satisfaction that this forced rest is taking place during a week of single digit temps. I am definitely not missing the “realfeel” -11 degrees today. 
I also saw Bill this weekend at Roadrunner and bought some new, cushier shoes–the Saucony Triumph. I tried on the Hoka Clifton but didn’t like them all that much. I also ended up really liking a pair of Nike Free (RN Distance) but they were really more for speedy days. While Jen did buy two pairs of shoes, I stuck with just one since I have a pair of Kinvaras I still need to rotate in.

Anyway, off to yoga and trying to p/rehab (I’m pretending it’s prehab and not rehab for my foot/leg). Feel free to check in with other ideas.


Friday Failures

In the last two days–actually on Wednesday, I discovered two things: 1) I couldn’t put my full weight on my right heel when I got out of bed and 2) my semester was starting a full week earlier than I had been thinking. Epic fails.

Wednesday morning, I got out of bed and could barely put weight on my right heel. My right ankle/foot had been bothering me a little bit, feeling super tight, but I thought little of it. The minute I realize I had heel pain, my mind flashed to plantars fasciitis. I’ve never had it, never really looked into it, so I wasn’t even sure if I was on to something. However, I had heard people say that the pain was the worst immediately after getting out of bed.

I’m not going to lie. I thought with all my form stuff and partially minimal shoes, etc., I was “immune” from this common runner’s injury. So I started Googling the heck out of it and messaging the friends who’ve dealt with such issues in the past. The most useful link in my VERY brief Google searching was actually on Wikipedia (here), mostly because I liked the image of the various locations and degrees of pain. I had thought plantars happened more along the arch and midpoint of the foot. When I saw that it was most concentrated smack in the flat of the heel, I freaked out. I quickly flipped through various strategies of dealing with it–rocking back and forth and keening in horror was one. I went with contacting my running coach/massage therapist/nerd of all trades, Bill Underwood. I knew he would be able to give me some ideas as to WHY I got it, treat it, and give some tips on treating it further. I’m not going to lie, if I already have a good idea what the issue is, I’d rather bypass the whole doctor/PT thing and go straight to my own remediation plan. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to go somewhere X times a week and pay someone to watch me do exercises I could do at home…

Getting a massage from Bill is like childbirth. Unmedicated childbirth. You know it will be rewarding, but it’s painful as f*. There is screaming and cursing, though no tears. Or blood. There is sometimes bruising. But he’s awesome and it works. He’s also funny and free-flowing with the running advice and nerd talk.

Anyhow, we did a rundown of why I was getting plantars now when I “hadn’t” changed much. Um. Except, it turns out I had. I have been doing suddenly some longer trail runs. Oh, and the last two trail runs were in new shoes. Oh, and I’m switching up shoes that are drastically different (stability vs neutral). And I’m still heel-striking like a mofo…So. Yeah. Bill was like, “Um, just going for all the stuff, huh?”

Ok, so let’s start with the trail stuff. Whenever you drastically/significantly switch up running surfaces, you want to be careful. Different surfaces require different things of your feet and legs. Sudden long mileage (ahem, particularly in new shoes) on a different surface doesn’t give your body enough time to adapt. I also foolishly believed that switching to another minimal type trail shoe (Altra Superior) would be okay without a huge breaking in process, because I was already running in partially minimal shoes and the trail would make it okay (for some reason, I want to act like the trail is a “buffer” for things…yeah, no logic).

I also tend to have a “stable” of shoes I rotate through a lot, because I’ve read that can be better for you–having more than one pair to rotate through. So, this is my shoe collection from the semester. To be fair, I was getting ready to rotate two pairs out, one was a mostly recovery pair, and one was a pair I kept mostly from cross-training. But still…


Row 1: Saucony Kinvara 5 (both, although I swear that white one is different). Row 2: Saucony Guide, Brooks Pure Cadence, and Newton Energy.

The Kinvara’s are hands down my favorite. I like the Brooks Pure series, but I’ve read they’ve been getting narrower in their updates so I’ve avoided them (I’ve run in the Flow and the Cadence). I WANT to like Newtons, and I liked the Gravity ok though it felt a bit clunky at times. The Energy are more streamlined, but I found them lackluster. And the Guides were an attempt to actually listen to what the “experts” say, which is that I should wear a stability shoe. They felt really chunky, though, and have the highest heel drop in the lot (8 mm) so I’d been using them primarily for recovery runs. However, I decided to take them to California last weekend (I was visiting my sister and her new baby, post to come on that) and wear them on my long run (13-14 miles). I can’t remember my reasoning for it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the most logical or rational-thinking at times… I think it was because my ankle had been wonky and I thought they would better support them? Yeah, bad idea.

In my training journal for those runs, I wrote that I hated the Guides. They feel really big and that it forces a heavier heel strike from me. Bill scolded me for switching between so many neutral shoes and a stability shoe, and then throwing in the trail shoe and the trail running, my legs and feet were PO’ed about all the changes I was throwing at them. So I need to make up my mind and decide if I’m stability or neutral. I’m going with neutral, but I also know that I am by nature a heel striker, and somewhat uneven in my strike as well. See picture below.


I didn’t have a photo of the heels before I donated them, but you can see from the tread on the lugs of these Newtons, that I’m pushing more heavily from my left foot. Being asymmetrical in running is never good–especially for distance runners.

Because I know I’m a heel striker and this is putting a lot of load on my heels/calves/feet, Bill really encouraged me to make sure I was activating my glutes by either raising my knees higher or really thinking about kicking back when I run and really trying to get on my midfoot. I’m over-relying on smaller muscles in my lower legs and being inefficient in my form, which is causing all kinds of wacky things. I also need to stretch seriously and rekindle my romance with the Grid roller and my Orb. I’ve been getting lazy, which was obvious to Bill as he tried to break my ITB in half and then proceeded to gouge my very tender hips (something I wasn’t aware was tight or sore, sigh).

So. Plan of action. Stick with neutral shoes. I think I’m going to try and see Bill at Roadrunner Sports where he works this weekend to try some new ones. Work on my form. Fit in yoga at least once a week. Foam roll/massage like crazy. And I took two days off from running. I even *gasp* cross-trained. Seriously, that was the first time in almost a year. Bill doesn’t think it’s plantars yet, just angry tight feet and legs, but I need to get on it if I don’t want it to get there.

Anyhow, gonna head out and try to do a short run to test the waters before tomorrow’s long run. And it’s misty raining. Great. Happy Friday everyone! And hope you get out there and do something.