Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Put your ear down close to your sole and listen hard.

I've had a bit of a shoe fetish lately.

Let me explain. I'm at a bit of a crossroad. My beloved NB 768s were "upstyled" with the 769s that just don't fit my wide feet - unless I go to a size that would make Bozo proud

Getting the right shoes has been a bit of an evolution for me. The first "running" shoes that were recommended to me and that I bought when I first started running for distance five years ago were a scary pair of motion control Frankenstein Boots that I wore for maybe two months before realizing that, just because I was "big boned", didn't mean my feet should be nailed to the ground. 

Since that time, I've stuck with one brand and traded off their relative heaviness and homeliness for the wide comfort and reliability they provided. 

It was a couple of months before Ironman Canada last year that I learned of the style and last change in the 768s. I scrambled and found a pair before they were all gone.  

I knew that I would have to start looking for new shoes eventually. This was also, ironically, about that time that I started to develop very tight calves and plantar fasciitis-like symptoms. And to think I've always respected Mr. Peanut. In hindsight, (and from looking at my big butt in the mirror) I think the leg/foot problems originated from a carrying a little too much extra weight.

At the advice of some and the horror of others,  I picked up a pair of Newton guidance trainers at the tradeshow at Ironman Canada in Penticton. Unlike many Newton noobs that I was amazed to look at, broken down at the side of the run course clutching their calves or nursing blisters, I did not wear my new shoes for the race. Nor did I  touch them until IMC was long done and over. 

If you are looking for a review, you won't find it here. Nor will you find a lengthy discussion of the merits of forefoot, midfoot or barefoot running. Although I have wasted many hours reading others' blogs, reports, articles and diatribes on the subject. I think I even had a few naughty dreams that involved thigh-high vibrams, but I digress.

I did start wearing the Newtons - but only indoors - treadmill and track. In the wintry outdoors I'm still wearing my last pair of  the 768s, as I still have a few hundred kms left in them. 

During all this experimentation, I have changed how I run. I wasn't a heel striker before, but I've moved even more of my efforts further to the front on my foot - probably the reason I'm still getting tight calves. 

One of most interesting experiments was running barefoot on the treadmill where I found that I was naturally favouring the front part of my foot - as I had been intellectually favouring with the fancy shoe technology. 
One word of advice to others who want to try this: The blisters start forming after 20 minutes of constant running. 

Everyone should try barefoot running, by the way. It is like running like a kid again. Golf course, beach, treadmill or track...anywhere you won't find glass, nails, snow, ice or lit cigarette butts is good.                                                    But I can't remain a podianudist. I have to start thinking about shoes. I have my first half marathon of the season in April and will be attempting my first ever marathon in late May - yes I ran the marathon in several IMs but that doesn't count does it?

I'll have to wait until the snow melts before I can get some serious distance on my Newtons before I make a decision on them. But I'll have to look at some other options. I hear that there might be a few other shoe companies out there that make shoes for wide feet. Maybe Newtons will be what I go with it is too early to tell.

In the process, my calves need to relax a little and Mr. Plantars Peanut has to get the hell out of my right foot and ankle. 

The snow melt is coming soon and the running mileage is beginning to ramp up. I'm looking deep into my soul, as Anne Sexton advised, and trying to listen to what my feet are telling me. Will this year be year that I evolve into more than just a triathlete who runs...

1 comment:

  1. I'm waiting to see what you come up with this year to solve the problem, if you solve it at all...
    I have a very similar pain, usualy subsiding after 10 min or so of running, but coming back again and again, for months. I know running the shoes to death (what I do) is not a solution, but neither has it made any difference.
    I'm still listening.
    Thanks for a good read!


Thanks for reading and commenting. All comments will be reviewed prior to being posted.