It’s been all food on the blog over the last couple of weeks, and I realized that I haven’t tuned you into my marathon training since September. I’ve been going through a running rollercoaster.
I was rockin’ last month - adding 5 miles a week. I ran 25, 30, 35, then took an easy week. As the mileage started climbing to 45 miles a week, with my long run peaking at 15 miles, my foot pain came back. It was the same pain I had in my arches when I started to use the New Balance Minimus about a month ago. I thought I’d break them in and get used to a flat shoe in a week or two, especially since I’ve been in a minimal Saucony Kinvara for a year before that. The pain did not go away, but it did migrate to my achilles tendon. Lovely.
Given the runner addiction that creeps in when I start running five to six times a week, I didn’t let my foot rest. Bad decision making reached its peak when I ran on my much needed rest day and, of course, I overdid it, by a lot. Having been there and done that before, I knew I had to give it a rest. So, over the past two weeks, I let go of the stringent running schedule, and have been doing everything I could to nurse the foot back to recovery.
In addition to backing off the miles, I use the pilates Reformer to strengthen and stretch the foot, trigger point, and soak it in epsom salt. I also do a stretch routine that works incredibly well (listed at the end of the post). I recommend it for all runners in pain or not, as a preventative stretch to work your ankles and stretch the entire foot, including the achilles tendon.
Over the last few weeks, I became a detective trying to figure out the cause of the pain. After a process of elimination, I realized that my new shoes are just not going to work. I love how light the New Balance Minimus are, but they are just too hard and flat for my foot. I have a medium arch, and no matter how light I try to stay on my feet, the pounding on the concrete once I get high up in the mileage, hurts. They would probably work great for short and fast runs, but not for my marathon training when I need be on my feet almost every day.
The good people over at Fleet Feet spent some quality time with me last night and allowed me to exchange my shoes for something more fitting. Regardless of how stubborn I was, the salesperson politely nudged me to a pair of Nikes. “Absolutely not, I don’t want Nikes”, I said to the salesperson as soon as he showed me my options.
Nikes were my first pair or running shoes and I just have too many bad memories – injury after injury. I know it wasn’t all because of the shoes. I was a novice who bought shoes a size too small and didn’t even tie them properly. The result was a wobbly foot, black toenails, and shin splints.
But I also refused to buy the shoe that comes in a million customizable colors. They couldn’t possibly be “serious” running shoes, right? I know, how rude of me. Needless to say, I’m a running shoe snob.
But guess what shoes I ended up getting?
I wanted my shoes to be light first and foremost and have support AND flexibility. I didn’t want a larger drop than 8 mm, and nothing that looked like a huge spaceship on my foot.
After trying on a few pairs, the choice came down to Saucony Cortanas and surprisingly, the Nike Pegasus.
Saucony Cortana 2 - feel similar to the Kinvara’s (which I had before), but offer a bit more support.
Nike Pegasus - very similar feel the Cortanas. Light but supportive.
Both light, both 4 mm, both flexible and both felt amazing on my feet. I felt like I had little pillows under my feet, but still could feel how my foot was landing. Useful tip by the smart salesman*, ”running shoes should not have to be broken in; you should be able to put them on and go”.
I went with that.
Tried both pairs over and over. Both shoes felt practically the same. That’s when the price point came into play- the Cortanas were $50 more than the Nikes, and I could just not justify spending that much more for a shoe that felt the same. I realized that I need to get over my irrational fear of Nikes.
How will they feel during the training? We will find out soon enough. I took them out for a 13 mile test drive this morning, and could not be happier. Again, this is only after 1 run, but they are definitely much more comfortable than the NB’s.
And as promised, here is my achilles tendon and arch stretch.
Achilles Tendon Stretch (do this stretch 2 times a day, barefoot)
1. Stand on the edge of the stairs with the balls of your feet
2. Drop both heels down, pause for 3 seconds
3. Rise back up on your toes
4. Drop your heels
5. Repeat rising on your toes and dropping your heels down 10 times
Version 2 (for a deeper stretch, try this version)
Stand on the edge of the stairs with the balls of your feet
2. Drop both heels down, pause for 3 seconds
3. Rise on your toes, lift the right foot
4. Keep the right foot lifted and drop the left heel
5. Rise up on your toes, place the right foot on the step, and lift the left foot
6. Keep the left foot lifted, now drop the right heel
7. Rise up on your toes, and repeat. Repeat 10 times on each foot.
Try it out, I promise you’ll love it!
What running shoes do you wear?