To the pain…

One of the things running through significant levels of pain in training can cause is over doing it.  For whatever reason it’s possible to have important pain points silenced or muted that under other circumstances would tell a runner to slow it down or come to a dead stop.

It might be pain killers or just one pain point that shouts down all the other pain points due to volume.

So to say I shambled the last 5k of our 40K day would be generous.

There have been a couple of times in the last 18 months give or take where I’ve hit that point.  Where one pain source was so loud everything else go lost in the background or even worse, one was so loud that I had to artificially lower the volume to keep moving forward which drops all the other pains to a dull whisper.

This last weekend we did the Tulsa Run, both the 5K and the 15K and immediately after we added another 20K of trail running.  The Tulsa Run is a street race.

Due to the damage I’ve inflicted on my feet about 4 weeks ago I required a ‘little’ help to keep moving for this run.   I felt and still do feel, the risk was worth the return as I really do not care to go into my first 50K being forced to take the 7 weeks preceding it off.

The payment to the Piper though is that the pain killers enabled me to really over do it.  I ran the 5k+15K at my half marathon race pace.  The follow up trail run, at least the first 3/4 of it was also at trail race pace.

Around the 35K mark for the day was when things shut down and shut down hard.  Literally every muscle below the knees started hard cramping at the same time.  Calves knotted into Hulk fists about to punch Thor in the face, shin muscles like steel bands.  Trying to lean into either one to stretch it out just made the other side madder and also triggered the hamstrings to knot up like an old gnarled tree that’s suffered a hundred years of ocean storms.

So to say I shambled the last 5k of our 40K day would be generous.

The pain medication on top of the pain of my feet made it impossible to really hear the rest of my body’s complaints.  As a result I pushed to and through that point of physical failure of the nerves that manage and maintain muscle contractions.  They start misfiring causing contractions when they shouldn’t and there’s literally not much one can do about it except haul back the reins sharply and grind things to a walk and give them a chance to recover.

It’s not a hydration thing or an electrolyte thing, it’s fatigue of the ‘wiring of the engine’ that isn’t used to it.  Too fast, too hard, too long for the current level of ability.

Part of that was also in no small part due to the forced break in training from my foot injuries, specifically a combination of metatarsalgia and Morton’s Neuroma that I’m currently suffering; both from over-training combined with using the wrong shoes for an ultra long run day.

So while I am obviously going to do a “giving advice that I don’t use myself” here, I would like to just reiterate that every bill does come due so if you spend foolish during a run and order the caviar and champagne then don’t be shocked if the next day you can only waddle around like a dad penguin trying to carry an egg on his feet.  If you happen to forget your long distance shoes, go back and get them.  The hour it might take to go home, change and come back isn’t worth the 3 weeks off you might have to suffer from running a marathon distance in 5K race shoes.

If you can’t hear all the parts of your body then maybe you need to stop and listen harder to the kids at the back of the room and ignore that loudmouth at the front.

Or… if you have your first 50K and 50M races coming up, maybe you do what you have to do, you put gag orders on the pain points and you can recover afterwards.

Ultimately the choice is yours.

Rehab and PT

I’m still dealing with the fallout of the my injuries unfortunately.  It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve really run any distance.  This is more than mildy depressing due to the our upcoming 50K and 50M races we’ve already planned out, paid for and been training for.

I went to my GP who bascially said, “Beats me what’s wrong.” and prescribed Naprosyn aka Naproxim aka Alleve as an anti-inflammatory.  He did get me a referring to a sports injury specialist who was also “Beats me what’s wrong”.   I have so little faith in our medical industry and based on personal experience justifiably so.   WebMD has proven to be as valid if not more so in my findings.  I won’t go into my medical history but trust me, my opinion is justified based on my interactions with the doctors I’ve had over the last 20 years.   Anyway bottom line is X-Rays didn’t show any stress fractures of the bones which barring a more detailed analysis using MRI or something called a bone scan (might be the same thing) indicates the problem is stressed and inflamed nerves and tendons/ligaments and irritated end caps on the bones.  This translates to metatarsalgia and Morton’s Neuroma.  The cure?  Stop doing whatever it was that caused it.

But my ability to go long is taking the hit I’m sure.

In the last 2 weeks I’ve been doing various low impact sports, indoor bike, two types of elliptical both with inclines, water jogging and various weight machines for upper and lower body strength training.  One thing I’m finding is training for an ultra gives you the ability to ignore the passage of time to some degree.  You can do something incredibly boring like pedaling a ‘bike’ indoors for an hour without much mental effort.

One of the oddities is I’m having a very hard time cranking my HR up due to lack of musculature development for these particular exercises.  My muscles give out before my cardio system starts to get taxed.  An hour of bike at level 12?  100 BPM but quads are tore up.   Followed by an hour of inclined elliptical at level 15?  105 BPM with quads, hams, calves hurting.  Not remotely close to breathing hard.   An hour+ of aqua jogging?  98bpm but calves cramping up.

It’s getting better in terms of I’m seeing fairly rapid capacity in my ability to bike and elliptical for longer times, it’s just different muscles than I use for running or rather they’re used in different ways, just enough to be pretty interesting from a science/technical perspective.

I feel I am improving my ability to go vertical, my quads especially are feeling the heat with that background burn that indicates you’re tearing down and building muscle fibers.   But my ability to go long is taking the hit I’m sure.

Another interesting factoid is how quickly my resting heart rate started climbing up.  It’s 3 beats higher now than it was pre-injury.   How quickly we start to lose our capacity is just interesting to me in a morbid kind of way.

This weekend I’m going to do some Carls, at least 2 or 3 hours if I can.  On Sunday I’m going to run some easy trails and try out my new shoes, Sketchers GoRun MaxTrail 5.  Sketchers?!  WTF?!  Well a fair number of runners say these are sleeper shoes and are far better than one might think considering the brand.   Sketchers apparently has upped their game in the last couple of years and their shoes are getting pretty good.  Allegedly.

As I’m desperate to find shoes that I like with the demise of my Lone Peak 3.5’s I’m willing to take a chance on them.  And if they don’t work out then back they go.

I tried the Hoka Bondi 5’s given their ridoculous stack height which I hoped would equate to more protection for the damaged feet and frankly there wasn’t anything about them that I liked.  Nothing I disliked but nothing I liked.  And they left pain points on my arches toward the heel side just walking around on them.  They weren’t very ‘cushy’ feeling either given their stack height.  Almost like a brick in comparison to the Hoka’s I tried on back in early 2016.

I have a pair of Hoka Napali’s waiting for a shot as well as so many people seem to think they’re a throwback to the Clifton 3’s.  Frankly just standing in them I don’t feel it but I’ll withhold judgement till I can get them out on the street.

With less than a month till our first 50K I’m not really feeling that great about it.   🙁

Little Rock Marathon 2018 – Done

Let me preface this that my running partner was a rock on this race.  She held up with smiles and support for me the entire course in spite of me getting more than a little snappish.  I was so inwardly focused dealing with the race in the mid part and the pain in the latter part that any intrusions into my focus were the sand in the oyster problem, i.e. irritations. And no pearls resulted.

But that’s one of the good things about our duo is so far when one or other of us gets mentally out of shape the other not only manages to put up with it without smacking the person they manage to pull them out of it.  What’s going to happen when we both get into a bad headspace remains to be seen but I think it’ll be fine.

The Little Rock Marathon 2018 has come and gone and we survived although to be honestly I was seriously starting to question what injury I might have been doing to my body starting around the time we were coming down that ridiculously long hill between miles 13 and 17.   I’ve already suffered one case of Rhabdomyolysis so far in my running career and that 4 miles(ish) of grinding uphill had me feeling the same muscle damage and pain in the kidney region on this run.

So on top of what was turning into pretty excruciating pain with every step, especially when I ‘changed gears’ i.e. shifted from run to walk and walk to run, I had the concern of actually dying from potential kidney failure, or of at least inflicting additional kidney damage onto myself and that stuff doesn’t heal well or at all.  The damage tends to be cumulative.

But… I’ve not always done what’s right and I pushed through each bolt of pain as I moved each leg forward and back.  After we came down from the hills and hit the river walk flats I knew from driving the course that I had a few miles of flat to recover and the next two hills were steep but short and the grade into the finish line was a shallow climb.  And between you and me there wasn’t a chance I wasn’t going to finish that race if I had to crawl to the finish line peeing blood the whole way.

In the end we were on pace or ahead of pace all the way to the top of those hills, another mistake; I should have slowed down knowing I had miles of hills to go up but I was focused on breaking 5 hours for our first marathon.  And pushing hard uphill cost us big time in time as we finished in 5:30 and a few seconds.

Based on my energy levels and general physical state I believe we could have broken 5:00, perhaps not easily but doable, but the long climb did me in.  At no point was I feel fatigued or out of energy

The Marathon as a race was well done, well supported although the back half wasn’t quite as well supported as the front half but it was good enough.   Support was good and *gasp* they didn’t do something stupid like prevent us from wearing hydration vests like the OKC Memorial Marathon has recently announced, now that most people have already paid their non-refundable entry fees.  Yes that pisses me off and no I won’t be running the OKC Memorial Marathon races again.

We ran the 5K the day before which though was more of a pain.  They didn’t enforce corrals and we were in our corral and the first several minutes of the race was literally weaving and waiting our way through walkers and strollers.  It cost us too much time just breaking free to have a chance at a PR which was disappointing.   One thing I’ve always done is put myself in the queues about where I think I’m going to finish.   I’m not asking others to do it, just be aware if you’re planning on walking a race then perhaps in the front of the race queues may cause other runners inconvenience.

As with every time we push ourselves and go for a new record race we try to learn something from it and we find out if we’ve reached our limits. I’m happy to say yes I’ve learned it may be best to give up some time on a really hard section of the race to avoid losing more time later on due to damage/injury.    And I’ve learned I can push through a whole lot of pain for a long time frame and keep moving forward.  I already knew that but it helps to have it reaffirmed.

So no, a marathon is not my limit.  Not even close.

As usual I’d like to give a shout out for all the volunteers who man the registration, aid stations, recovery tents, whatever.   Without you people these races wouldn’t be possible in a safe manner and quite literally you potentially save lives with each race through the support you give.

I recorded some footage of the race with my GoPro but not as much as I might like.  The route was for the most part boring in terms of scenery and there just wasn’t much to talk about.  And latter on it was all I could to do to keep moving forward at more than a shuffle.  But if it’s not too horrible I’ll post it.

021118 Rest & Retirement

Unfortunately I have learned the hard way I probably should have rested my foot a bit more after our 20 mile run, and that is time to retire my Clifton 4’s. How exactly do you know it is time to retire a pair of shoes?

“had I opted for the new shoes I might have been saved from running like Quasimodo”

Well for starters, we track our gear mileage (mostly) in Garmin Connect. According to my logged data they have less than 300 miles on them (286 to be exact), but after a resurgence of knee (ITB) and foot pains I think their time has come.   But with long distance running (at least for me) it  can be difficult to identify the causes of the many aches and pains that come with the territory. As example, I’ve had a flare up of Extensor tendonitis for over a week following our 20 mile.  Attributing this most likely to overly tight laces on the Escalantes, I decided to go back to my Cliftons for the next long run, instead of risking further injury, if there was an issue with the fit of the Escalantes besides the lacing. I also opted to stick to our training run instead of resting my foot. This proved to be the wrong choice(s). After about 30 minutes into the run my Extensor tendons were very very angry (probably not really the Hoka’s fault), and by about halfway into the run my ITB issues flared up, which I was probably caused by bad form due to the various pains, as well as the old shoes.  While it was only a 10 mile run, it proved to be more than I should have done and I probably at the very least should have worn my new Clifton’s which I purchased at the same time as a back-up in case I didn’t like the Escalantes. (Yes, I have back-up pairs of shoes just like Trex, it’s not a girl thing, it’s a runner thing.) But had I opted for the new shoes I might have been saved from running like Quasimodo that last mile or so, as well as the extra time with ice on my foot and knee.

That brings me to the topic of post long run selfcare. My post long run recovery routine might be a bit time consuming, but it is extremely crucial to helping me get back on my feet (literally). I known some runners who don’t do much beyond a little icing and some anti-inflammatories, but for me personally I take a more holistic, whole body approach to help revitalize my sore and worn down body after a hard long run.   I am sure some of this is phycological as much as it is physically beneficial, but I am a big believer in mind over matter so I stick with what I ‘think’ works and that’s that.

My typical post run routine:

  • Chocolate Milk – Great for lifting the spirits and providing much needed nourishment as your body begins its repairs.
  • Banana or Other source of Potassium – Helps keep the cramping at bay
  • Caffeine – It like a nice latte or Yerba Mate to give me a little bit of recovery pep
  • Hot Epsom Salt & Cold Baths  –  To warm up or cool off and to speed up recovery I alternate hot, cold, hot Epsom salt & essential oils baths because it is an easy way of applying alternating heat and cold to all your muscles and joints in need, and is most often recommended for reducing inflammation and promoting repair and to help alleviate stiffness and soreness.  I have found when I skip my baths that my aches and pains last much longer. I often take a lacrosse ball and gently roll my legs and feet while I soak in the hot/warm water.
  • Arnica Gel (Arniflora) – I rub this gently into sensitive injury prone spots instead of other topical rubs for muscle pain and inflammation. I find it is much more effective and I add a little bit of peppermint oil for the nice cooling sensation.
  • Coconut Water or other Electrolyte drink through the day
  • Gentle Yoga  –  I do a couple of hip and torso poses in order help open up my breathing and to allow better circulation. I am careful to avoid doing any poses that pull the overworked tissues which would cause further tearing.
  • Keep moving – I find house hold chores like folding laundry and doing dishes keep me moving and from stiffening and turning into Rodin’s Thinker like we saw in Paris many years ago.
  • Relax & Enjoy – The above regiment really helps me relax and to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from having completed hard run no matter how well I did or didn’t do.

A note about Cold baths – I fill my tub with only cold water just past my hips immediately following my first hot salt bath. I sit with my entire lower body immersed for 10 minutes more or less depending on my soreness levels.    Pro Tip – Find a distraction like watching funny clips on YouTube to help you ignore the shivering pains of the cold. (I suggest not holding the phone/tablet however as the shivers may cause you to drop it in the water.)

So in summary, pay close attention to indicators that shoes are due for retirement based on mileage and visual inspection of the shoe soles, and always attend to the body post long runs as you only get the one (at least according to some); and it sucks to get sidelined due to injury, especially when running is what you do to maintain weight and stress relief. For me personally without running these days I will probably go a little crazy and eat my weight in cake or banana pudding (I really like cake and pudding.)

An Introduction

An Introduction

On the heels of my (our) first 20 mile paved trail run I decided it was a good time to make an introduction, as a soon to be occasional contributor to this blog. Having accompanied Trex (my Running Husband, not to be confused with my Dear Husband) on a good number of the runs documented on this blog I suppose it is only fitting that you hear the other side of the story, or at least another perspective.

First and foremost I am a #runner. I am very much an athlete, having run, swam, and even played Roller Derby; but I find I have returned most often to running, probably for the practicality of it. This past year I have once again fallen in love with running as an outlet and inlet for my mind and body.  Yes yes I am one of those people.

I, unlike Trex, actually enjoy running (while running). Yes, physically it is very hard, and my brain and body offer up the normal responses to tell me ‘This sucks! You really really should just give up right now’; but I find enjoyment in the physical mental process to conquer my own version(s) of the Blerch or LAD – whom I haven’t yet named, so stay tuned.

I struggle, like every other human on the planet, with motivation and discipline issues, and what I have found, repeatedly now, is that finding a running partner (like Trex) has been exceptionally beneficial to overcoming my personal tendency to stray from the (running) path.  While I do occasionally enjoy solo running and the benefits of this, over the course of my life I have always had companions to run with and just feel it is way more fun if it is a shared experience. Yes I did in fact call running fun, a fundamental difference between myself and the Trex–we generally don’t much agree on much, and certainly don’t agree on the definition of what we find to be fun. But nonetheless I appreciate the company so I don’t complain–much.

Now about our first 20 mile run….

I am not going to lie, it was hard. I mean really effing hard. The kind of hard that, for me personally, I would rank up there with child birth in terms of the mental fortitude required to keep moving once my body had hit it’s physical limits. And to toot my own horn, I have had two children at home without the assistance of drugs to numb the pain, so I have earned the right to make that comparison.

Since the 20-mile run is an achievement milestone on the journey to a marathon, as it is for most runners on that path, I fully expected it to be it’s own challenge. Being the longest distance we will run before the Full, it was a good test to see how we would hold up at our planned marathon pace. In short I feel we passed the test, but not easily, and not without sweat and (for me) tears (at the end, when Trex wasn’t there to see).

Since Trex handled the technicalities, having already crunched the numbers and tallied our distances and times and projected how we can make our planned times at LR, that leaves the feels to me….  As I already said this was effing hard, but it was also a lot of fun….right up until that last couple of miles, and even then I enjoyed being done.  We managed to keep our spirits high and the energy positive, and I am super proud of this run and what we accomplished.

The +‘s:

  • The weather held, not too unbearably cold.
  • Mentally I think I (we) was (were) in a good place for this run having completed the 30K the weekend before.
  • I feel I (we) gained extremely valuable insight into pushing through walls.
  • We stuck to the workout schedule we built with some flexibility and managed to maintain a good run/walk pace.
  • Good Carb/caffeine fuel intake during run keep energy and mental strengths in the green.
  • Escalante’s first long run performed well, no dead toenails or blisters. Super comfy on my feet.
  • Overcame the physical wall between mile 18-20 to finish on pace target.

The ‘s:

  • Too much food at rest stop.
  • Not sure if Escalantes will be cushion enough for my joints through 26.2 miles. Leaves me to debate on what to wear.
  • Encountered pre-cramping at mile 18-20. Made it difficult to stay positive.
  • Physically felt spent at mile 19-20, did NOT feel I could have run even one more tenth of a mile past 20. This has left room for doubt about how the hell I will manage to run 6 more miles.

Lessons learned: (The hard way)

  • Check your watches the day before to make sure you remembered to sync your workouts
  • Don’t overeat or drink too much at the break stops… molasses cookies, and fig newtons are a weakness.
  • Charge/check HR belts
  • Don’t linger too long at stops.. It causes muscles to lock up and you eat too much.
  • Don’t over tighten laces and or use straight laces. After the fact I have Extensor Tendinitis in my right foot thanks to my pulling the laces too tight when my shoe came untied. This injury is still bothering me 5 days later and probably needs another day or so to be completely healed.

All in all, as I said, I feel like we achieved this milestone with flying colors, but there is a niggling feeling of doubt planted in my brain that I am going to have to wiggle loose and dislodge in order to be mentally ready for 6.2 more miles.  But I am fully prepared to give it my all and try like hell to finish the next milestone on this journey for the sheer fact that I am stubborn and strong willed and hate to lose (even to myself).  Type A all the way

Jaybird X3 – Warning

So I have a pair of Jaybird X3’s, bought the first couple of weeks they were available.  The sound quality IMO was decent but Bose Sound Sports sound better.   The Plantronics Backbeat Fit sounds better IMO.

Yes I get asked to do the very thing I’ve already told them I’ve done several times.”

But the Jaybirds were oh so highly rated so I bought a pair.  You can probably tell where this is going right?

After at a guess less than 2 full charges worth the headhpones were dead when I went to use them last Sunday.  They’ve never been wet and given I was using them in 30’s and 40’s degree runs they didn’t even get sweated on.  And remember they’re rated for water.

I assumed the battery was dead so I plugged them in for 15 minutes to get me enough battery for a run.  15 minutes and they still won’t turn on.  So I assume the manual is lying to me about 15 minutes will get you an hour’s worth of run time and leave them on the charger and go run.

I get back and check them.  Still dead. Ooooh kay.   I put them back on the charger and try turning them on.  THey come on.  I take them off and they immediately die.   I put them back on and long story short while on the charger they will turn on and act normally with the exception that the right ear piece is dead.   They do their normal OMFG loud startup sequence “Powering on.  Blast of eardrum busting music.   Searching for Music Device.  Fully Charged.”

I can change the EQ using the app on the phone.   I can play music, only through the left ear piece.

So I google and you’ll be shocked to hear there are a lot of folks with the same problem.   I open a case with support and explain everything in detail.

I get asked if I tried turning them off and on.   And to try using a different USB port.

I respond back and tell them I’ve tried the soft reset of go into pairing mode and press the power button twice, the hard reset (that everyone says does nothing) of pressing the power button 8 times, pressing for 5 seconds, and doing that twice more.  I reiterate that the headphones appear to be fully charged, at least they say they are and the power led goes green indicating a full charge.   I reiterate that there is NO sound in the right earpiece and that the thing ONLY works while it’s on the charger.

I get a response back to try pressing the power button 8 times, holding for 5 seconds and doing that twice more, then putting it on the charger and letting it charge.   Yes I get asked to do the very thing I’ve already told them I’ve done several times.

So… knowing I’m wasting my time in doing this… I do it again.  And knowing I’m now wasting my time I re-state everything I’ve already stated twice for the third time.  Emphasizing that it has been reset, that the right ear piece doesn’t work, that the headset doesn’t work at all unless it’s on the charger.

It’s safe to assume at this point that they’re using the delay, irritate and drag the issue out till the customer gives up method of customer support.   And knowing there’s little chance I’m going to get a working set of headphones out of this any time soon if ever and I have a half marathon this weekend and don’t want to run it listening to my own breathing I found that Costco has Plantronics Backbeat Fit for $50 right now with instant rebates.

The Backbeats are pretty highly rated and to my ears they sound almost but not quite as good as Bose Soundsports and with better bass than the Jaybird X3’s.

So there you go.  If you’re considering the Jaybird X3’s then at this point assume they’re disposable and consumable and you might get some unknown number of months out of the or you might get some few hours like a fair number of people based on the views and public support cases on the Jaybird support forum and googling jaybird x3 battery issues, jaybird x3’s won’t turn on, jaybird x3’s won’t charge, jaybird x3’s one earpiece is dead.

So you’re new…

I’ve been there, hell I’m still there.   These are some of the things I’ve done wrong and done right since I started my trek down the #NOTARUNNER path.  Mostly wrong.

“That second piece of chocolate takes far less convincing to get you to eat it.”

#1 thing done wrong.  Not getting the right shoes to start with.   Shoes remove a considerable amount of ‘this sucks’ from running.  The wrong shoes will give you hip pains, knee pains, back pains.   Shoes are not something you can easily go cheap on or do it by yourself.   Do you supinate?  Pronate?   Do you need control shoes?  Are you a neutral?  Are you a heel or toe striker?    The answers to these questions strongly dictate the shoe that will be the least sucktastic for you.    And it takes a lot of research and even then you can get it wrong.   But you know what?   Those skinny folks at the local runner stores typically have a lot of experience with a lot of shoes on a lot of people’s feet and they typically do a lot of research for their own shoes which they typically own a lot of.  Bottom line is they’re typically a very happy to help, very knowledgeable crew.  And go to the local store rather than some nation wide chain.  You’re far more likely to get enthusiasts of the sport rather than folks just earning a pay check.

#2 thing done wrong.   Don’t buy two shirts or shorts in your current size when you’re starting out running and you know you’re going to lose a fair amount of weight.  One will get you through and then when you drop a size you can buy another one.   Yes you’ll lose points in the fashion contest wearing the same gear each time but you’ll also not end up with gear that you wont’ ever use again as long as you’re running.

#3 thing done wrong.  Make sure you properly lace and tighten your shoes.  Speaking from experience coming back from a out and back with blood soaked shoes this is important.

#4 thing done wrong, well kind of depending on your disposable income level.  Big name brand gear with big name brand logos on them aren’t necessarily any better.  You’re paying for that name, the tv and print and online ads and apps that go with it.   That doesn’t make it bad per se.  But if you can buy 2 or 3 Champion tech shirts for the cost of 1 UnderArmor shirt… There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with going the UA or [insert other expensive lines of clothing].  But there’s also nothing intrinsically wrong with going with a lesser fashionable and subsequently lesser cost option.

#1 thing done right, set a training schedule and stick to it come hell, high water, work, weather, sickness.   Not injury, don’t run injured if you can avoid it.  But do everything you can to stay on schedule.  When you miss a day it’s far easier to miss the second time and easier to miss the third time and then it’s been 3 weeks since you last ran.    It’s much like dieting.  That second piece of chocolate takes far less convincing to get you to eat it.

#2 thing done right, find the rightist shoe I could of the available options.  You very likely have far more options in a shoe so enjoy your freedom of choice but choose wisely.

#3 thing done right, taking my time.  At age 50 there’s very much more risk in engaging in physicality than at age 20.   I’m using heart zone based training rather than pacing or distance.   Pace and distance will come along naturally.  But this way I can be, and feel, comfortable that I’m not going to blow out a ventricle.   It took me 5 months to reach a 10k and you know what?  It’s not a race.   It’s a way to get healthier and have a chance to be around to see grand kids or at least see the kids become responsible adults capable of self sufficiency.

Big Shoe Dance

If you weigh more than than a duck then it’s very likely that shoes are going to be really important for you in reducing the suck factor of running.

What’s this?  My knees don’t hurt?  My hips don’t hurt?  Witchcraft!”

When I decided to get off the couch I bought a pair of ‘running shoes’ based on Amazon reviews.   They were cheap, 1200+ people had rated an average of over 4 stars, they must be fine right?

Not so much.   That first month was a lot of knee and hip pains, lower back pains and general suck.   Not being the size of a duck I assumed it was due to a combination of lack of exercise, weight and in general feeling like I was learning to run all over again.

So a real runner, a co-worker/friend, told me I should go to the FLSS so I did.  A very friendly and knowledgeable girl (I’m 50, she was maybe 22 which makes her a girl from my perspective) watched me walk, measured my feet and then recommended a few options.   I tried them on and in the end walked out with a pair of Brooks Ghost 8’s.

Very next time I ran, “What’s this?  My knees don’t hurt?  My hips don’t hurt?  Witchcraft!”

In full disclosure those Brooks while they felt good in the store and they worked for the distances I was doing at that time (not very) turned out to be not as great for much more than 3 to 4 miles as I found out over time.   But they’re good 5K shoes.

The moral of this story is you need to find out how you walk, do you pronate, do you supinate, do you need control shoes?  Are you a heel striker or a toe striker?  Do you like a lot of drop or minimal drop?   These are real, valid, technical questions that deal with your actual running form, gait and general physiology.   And it takes luck or some real guidance to find the pair of shoes that works with you because folks shoes are not made equal.

When you’re starting out the first thing you should do is visit one or more local shoe stores that are at least operated if not owned by runners.   You might get lucky with a national chain and find sales people who are actual runners but a local store is much more likely to be staffed by #RUNNERS who have gone through many models of shoes, have helped other people select even more shoes and have run with a lot of people who’ve talked about their experiences with even more shoes.    And typically, because they’re real runners, they’re super enthusiastic to talk to you about running and shoes.

Be aware that if you’re on the far end of the bell curve like me (size 13 4E typically) that they may not have very many (or any) shoes in your size in stock.  But they can certainly recommend some options.   And statistically it’s unlikely you’ll have the same issues I do in shoe selection.

Additionally, at the time of this writing, Running Warehouse offers a free video analysis of your running form.  Just send them a short film of you running on a treadmill and they’ll come back with some recommendations.  FWIW the folks at RW have been super awesome to work with in my short stint of running.    Just recently I asked them a fairly involved question one evening.  I’d done my due diligence but I wanted to reach out to people who had the ability to be hands on with the type of item I was asking about, probably had personal experience with it.

I got back a response in a few hours that basically said “Give us time to research this”.   In a couple of days they came back with a long technical email outlining various options, features, pros and cons of items that fit my fairly demanding question.   For someone to do that kind of research for a customer?   You don’t see it much in most industries in this day and age.

Anyway…

if you want a little less suck in your career of being #NOTARUNNER then shoes are important.  If you’re on the end of the bell curve in weight?  Then they’re even more important.