Going the Distance

Most women I know would agree that a new pair of shoes can change your outlook on life. When you’re having a crappy day, a cute pair of flats or a new pair of pumps (that obviously make your legs look amazing) can really turn your day around. I had one of those days today.

For about a month now, I’ve been trying to get back into running. When Andrew and I first got married and we were living in South Carolina, I would run almost every morning, but never very fast or very far.

This time I committed to myself that I would at least complete the Couch to 5K series of training runs. I’ve been surprised to discover that it isn’t entirely impossible for me to run more than 20 minutes or further than 2 miles, and in fact I recently had my best run yet: 3 sub 10-minute miles.

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What’s helping me this time is that I have something of a goal in mind: I would, at the very least, like to be in a place where I could run a marathon in three years. Andrew and I are discussing running Boston for charity in 2019; we’re also considering the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. In any case, even if we don’t run either of those (or any marathon), I want to be at a point where I could if I wanted to. A currently more in-reach goal is to run a 10K by the end of this year—a goal that I actually feel like could be in reach.

Anyway, I digress. After having that awesome (for me) three-mile run, I’ve had a couple of rough runs—only made it two miles each time, with very slow second miles. I’d been putting off getting actual running shoes because I wanted to make sure I was committed to this thing before dropping a significant amount of money on a pair of sneakers. Despite the incessant voices in my head telling me that this small backslide of these past two runs means I suck and should just give up—particularly strong this morning as I shamefully walked home after I stopped running—I decided to head to a running store in Fayetteville to do a gait analysis and get a real pair of running shoes.

I’ve never done a gait analysis before, but I had a general idea of what it was. They film you walking and running briefly on a treadmill, and from there they can tell you how you run, and what kind of shoes might be best for you. They also measured my arches. The verdict is that I have really high arches (now I know why I hate wearing high heels…they’re apparently notoriously tough on high-arched feet), which would normally imply that I under-pronate (push off from the outsides of my feet). Turns out, though, that I over-pronate (ankle turns in; I push off from my big toe) but only on my left foot. My right foot is neutral, which is good.

Watching the recording, you could see my ankle turning in—it was weird! I’ve noticed it myself occasionally when I’ve been running, but actually seeing it was cool. I could also see that on my left foot, I have a pretty high heel-strike, whereas on my right, I land more flat on my foot. Even though I grew up being taught that you should run heel-toe, I learned today that you’re apparently supposed to run mostly on the balls of your feet because it gives you more natural cushioning, whereas landing on your heel can send a lot of shock straight up your legs. I’m still a bit wary of this advice considering it’s against everything I’ve ever learned, but I’m going to make an effort to try to run further forward on my feet and see where that takes me.

In any case, my slight over-pronation on my left foot just means that I need a “guidance” type shoe, which will encourage my left foot to stay a bit more neutral but won’t push my right foot into under-pronation. I ended up choosing these beauties:

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They weren’t cheap, but hopefully they’ll help with the absurd blisters and calluses I tend to get on my left foot. It’s been years (like…five) since I’ve bought new sneakers and I’ve NEVER bought actual good running shoes. I’ve been having some minor back pain as well and I’m thinking it’s partially from heel-striking and partially from running in old shoes that probably have no padding left in them.

Since I’ve been doing this for about a month now and I do think (hope) I’ll stick with it, I’ve been wanting to start writing about it. I’ve been posting about it on facebook a bit, but I’ve mostly just been sending screenshots of my runs to my husband and my family. Since I’m sure they’re probably tired of hearing about it, I figured I’d write about it here so that I can get it out and they only have to hear about it if they want to.

So while these posts are mostly for me to keep track of my runs beyond what Fitbit can tell me (as well as a place for me to vent on shitty days like this instead of unloading on Andrew), I always welcome comments/criticism/suggestions/best practices/commiserating. Happy running!

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5 thoughts on “Going the Distance

  1. It is oddly comforting to hear them called “sneakers” (I currently live in a staunch “tennis shoes” area). 😉 I never knew there was such a thing as a gait analysis, but now I might have to look into it!

    • Haha, I live in a pretty staunch “tennis shoes” area too! But I mean, I don’t play tennis, so why would I be wearing tennis shoes?? 😉

  2. I started running a bit, maybe last year, and haven’t really progressed much. I mostly run on the treadmill, which is kind of boring, but I live in a city with lots of traffic so running outside is laden with obstacles. (I try to make my dog run on our walks but despite her high energy levels she’s not psyched about it.) Buying good shoes was kind of amazing though! I went to Marathon Sports in downtown Boston and they made me run back and forth on the sidewalk out front while they (and everyone else in the area) watched. Totally not embarrassing at all :p

    • It’s harder for me to progress on the treadmill but I can see how city running would be tough. I love how they made you run back and forth on the sidewalk at Marathon Sports! Was it the one on Comm Ave? Pretty sure I passed that one on the B line all the time when I was in college 🙂

      • It’s the one in Copley Square, actually the marathon bombing happened right in front of it. I know that running outside is easier than on a treadmill in many ways, but I prefer to concentrate on my audiobooks rather than dodging traffic 🙂

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