Out with the old, in with the new? Maybe not. Here's what training for the 2013 Paris Marathon taught me about picking out the right running shoes.
It’s the final countdown. Only 4 more days until I leave to the City of Lights. On April 7th, I’m joining 40,0000 runners on a quest to complete the Paris Marathon! I only wish I were doing so on better physical terms. Despite my best efforts, I injured myself! During my past 4 months training, I’ve managed chronic IT Band issues, lower back pain, and occasional knee pain. I have kept these problems at bay through foam rolling, applying ice and heat, popping a few Advils, and deep tissue massage. And yet, I still became injured! An injury like no other, a thorn in my flesh, and not something I could keep at bay with some KT tape and Advil: My Achilles tendon, not just one leg, but both.
I must admit, I committed the biggest no no in the sport of running. I was feeling so good I thought it would be a brilliant idea to try something new— a pair of new fancy running shoes. The take away from this post is this: DO NOT TRY OUT ANYTHING NEW BEFORE A BIG RACE! Yeah, you are probably thinking “duh even I know that.” Well, I remind any such judgmental reader—have you really never succumbed to such a temptation? Have you never disregarded your running knowledge? Only then can you cast the first stone.
I tried to be responsible! I slowly introduced myself to these fancy new sneakers alternating them back and forth with my dorkier, heavier pair—my New Balance 940’s, a shoe that has kept me injury free over the past 5 years (which I have shown my loyalty to by owning 10 pairs).
My close, running savvy, friend Ali spoke very highly of these sleek fashion running shoes, so when I got them I asked her if there was anything I should anticipate while running in them. She replied, “your calves will be a little sore, but it will go away after a while.” She was right! They were sore, but I wasn’t in any pain. After one month of using these fabulous new kicks cautiously, I was feeling like Hercules and decided to do a 19-mile run in them. I was feeling light on my feet thinking these bad boys are going to waltz me right down the Arc de Triumph to a new PR (Personal Record)!
Two days later my calves were sore as usual, but no major pain, so I laced up my Herculean wings and was off to run one loop around Central Park. I couldn’t have felt better, until that last mile when my ankles were beginning to feel incredibly weak. The pain was coming on and it was heavy. I didn’t want to stop because I was so close to finishing up the goal I had set out for myself that day. I finished and my ankles were throbbing.
I woke up the next morning and could hardly walk, it was as if someone took a hammer to my ankles. Advil and ice became my best friends for the next seven days. It was so painful I could hardly sleep. Each morning I was terrified to get out of bed. Looking at my feet as they were about to touch the floor thinking “is it safe to walk?” I was angry. I sobbed. My boyfriend pleaded with me to go to the doctor. I refused because I didn’t want someone to tell me to stay off them, or worse, that running Paris was only going to happen in my dreams. So I researched different types of therapies because, as an athlete, I had been to physical therapy several times over my lifetime and hate the traditional route. That’s when I found Dr. Anselmi. He does ART, Active Release Technique, an active therapy for active people like me. I read the testimonials section of his website and there I read the testimonies of a marathoner, professional skateboarder, NBA basketball player, and saw a picture of Gerard Butler! You know, the Scottish hottie from movies such as P.S. I love you, Bounty Hunter, and 300. If a doctor is good enough for Gerard, he must be good enough for me.
At my very first visit Dr. A was optimistic about my recovery and hopeful that I would get to the starting line. He jerked around my legs a bit, which was somewhat painful, but not to bad. He said to give him four visits, in which he repeated the somewhat-painful manipulations. But he got results!
Two weeks later I was running. My first run out I was so nervous! Only 15 more days til Paris and here I was freaking out about attempting to run a mile. I started out at 12 minute pace. Man, I was feeling a little shaky, but after 3 miles I was feeling fabulous! Two days later, with my spirit lifted and legs feeling sturdy, I did 5 miles and went to Dr. A. that afternoon to tell him the news. He said “keep going, you are looking good!” The next day I did one 6-mile loop around my Central Park in 55 minutes and couldn’t have felt better. It wasn’t my best or prettiest but I was back! I aggressively stretched before and AFTER because my body hadn’t run in 3 weeks and I felt it everywhere.
Today was my biggest feat of all: I ran 2 hours straight! I was dogging skateboarders, strollers, and tourists left and right as tears rolled down my cheeks as I raced past Sheep’s Meadow. I looked up at the CNN building: 54 degrees; by far the hottest day of the year in New York City. I guess that was the reason for the mass gathering in Central Park. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t PR in Paris and that’s ok with me. I’m just happy I will be at the starting line wearing older, heavier, trusty running shoes.
I feel blessed just to get a chance to run in this beautiful city….and to eat crepes, croissants, and drink wine after the race.
These are my faithful running shoes and what works best for me. No two runners are the same, and picking out running shoes can be like getting a new pair of jeans. Sometimes it can be tempting to buy the cutest, most expensive, pair. However, it is critical to invest in a pair that your body will love!
Check out these articles on ways to find the best running shoes for you.
Which running shoes do you like to use?