Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Shoes May be Trying to Kill Me

Hydration belts, identity bracelets, iPods, Garmins, sleeves -- just some of the gear a typical runner might use on a regular basis.  (Trust me, I've been begging for a Garmin since Christmas.)  But there's really only one piece of equipment that you need to run.


Okay, I know the barefoot running craze is hot right now.  However, I don't live on dirt roads in Kenya and I'm not entirely sure my tetanus shot is up to date.  I have to deal with rocks, melting asphalt, and gross stuff that people through on the road.  I could try to run in the grass, but that brings up the issue of dog poop.  I NEED shoes.

But shoes are bad.  The big argument is that we, as a species, have been running since the dawn of time without shiny new Nikes.  We managed to evolve without a pair of Saucony's on our neanderthalic feet.  New studies are even showing that running shoes are directly linked to knee, hip, and ankle injuries.  As someone who is ALWAYS plagued with running injuries from plantar fasciitis and shin splints to chrondromalacia, this really interests me. 

I regularly change my shoes every 300 - 400 miles.  Physical therapists have watch me run (I have a very slight overpronation but they recommend neutral shoes).  I get professionally fitted at a running store.  I tend to spend about $100 a pair for quality shoes.

And they're hurting me?

To be fair, I have completely sucky form.  Nobody ever taught me how to run.  Not in middle school during the hideous Presidential Fitness Test.  Not in high school while doing splits on the track.  Not in boot camp where running is a mode of transportation.  Like most untrained (or badly trained) runners, I'm a heel striker.  That means I land on my heel, roll my foot, and push off with my toes.  This puts a metric crapton of force on your heel that travels up your leg.  To combat this, companies started adding more and more cushioning to the heel of their shoes.  The heels on the shoes started getting bigger which has led to even more heel striking because the heel gets in the way. 

However, when you run barefoot you land on your midsole or your forefoot while your heel barely touches the ground.  The whole movement is much more efficient and easier on your joints.  Of course, that brings us back to the dog poo.

So what's a girl to do?

That girl could buy a pair of Newtons!

Apparently, these shoes are the bee's knees.  (Whatever that means.)  I have read review after review about these shoes and I am SOOOO excited to try them.  I'm nervous because they're pretty $$$, but the research seems pretty solid.  The shoe has a very small heel and lugs midfoot that force you to run with proper form.  Their website has a TON of information and videos so I'm not going to repeat it all here, but I think they are definitely worth a try.  If I don't like them, I'll go back to my old running shoes. 

Unfortunately, I can't buy them yet.  No store in South Carolina sells them so I was planning on buying them when I go on vacation in a few weeks.  You can buy them online, but I'm really nervous about getting a pair of shoes without being able to try them on.  Of course, while I was researching this article, I just discovered that the HOT PINK shoes that I'M IN LOVE WITH are being discontinued and if I don't buy one of the few remaining pairs on line, I'll either have to settle for bright yellow or neon orange

Aarrgghh!  I'm so confused now.  Should I order the pink ones without trying them on?  Would I look okay in yellow shoes?  Should I call the running store in Virginia and see if they have pink Newtons in my size?

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