|Photo from: http://craziestgadgets.com/|
Last summer, I posted about my plans to transition to a flatter (less heel-to-toe drop) and more minimal shoe. I started with the Nike Free as my transition shoe. I started having persistent calf muscle soreness and other foot problems, so I became nervous about going Free full time. I then found the Saucony Kinvara and worked my way through three pairs of those. However, I noticed that I was warping those within the first few runs. No lie. The entire sole at the front of the shoe would flatten out like a pancake within 30 miles of wear. I then tried the New Balance Pure Connect and that's about the time I really started to slide into injury oblivion. My calf muscles during this entire flatter/lighter shoe phase were on fire constantly. I blamed the calf soreness on my hips being out of alignment.
I really, really, really wanted to wear flat, light shoes. Why? Because it made so much sense!!!! I thought my body would adjust to the changed footwear and that I would be left with stronger feet and lower legs as a result. Let me be clear and state that I know I can't blame all of my injuries and soreness on my shoes. I'm pretty sure I made some stupid decisions about my training that contributed mightily to my constant state of body pissed-offedness.
Starting this next round of training, I wanted to find a shoe I could stick with. I read a review of the Saucony Cortana and it was describe as the Kinvara with a little more cushion. Perfect!!! I really loved the Kinvara but they just wore out way too fast. I started wearing the Cortana once I started back up to running in late January. Within two days, I had a sore right achilles. Dr. Ball surmised it was related to the treatment he was doing at the time and advised me to do the eccentric heel drop exercises to make it go away. I did the exercises, but the soreness sort of came and went.
On one of the days that it came back, I switched shoes to my old Mizuno Wave Riders, a beefy, high-heeled, neutral shoe, and like magic the soreness was gone. I continued to run in the Mizunos and do the heel exercises and the soreness did not return. Always the experimentalist, I decided to try out the Cortanas again to see what would happen, and, bam, the achilles was instantly sore again. So, this was clear enough evidence for me.
Of course, I don't know whether it was truly the flatness of the shoe or some other feature. However, I had clearly been having problems with my feet, shins and calf muscles since I started experimenting with minimalist shoes. I wanted to be able to wear them so badly, that I ignored the evidence right under my toes. I did this with an ill-fitting pair of Doc Martins back in the day too. Lost toenails to those suckers, but oh how I wanted to fit in them!
I think this tale is a good one for people who, like me, want to take advantage of all the new choices in footwear and all of the anecdotal as well as some scientific information suggesting that a flatter and lighter shoe is the key to running without injury. I think it's great to experiment with new gear, but there are risks we have to accept when doing that. I was so sold on the idea that a more minimal shoe was right for me that I was blind to the evidence staring me in the face to the contrary.
I'm currently wearing the Mizuno WaveRider 15 and the Wave Precision 12. While I can't say that these are the perfect shoes for me, they fit well and don't make me hurt. The one slam dunk perfect shoe that I own is the Nike Lunaracer. I have tried other shoes for racing, but these are the best I've found. They seem to work for me in every distance from the 5k to the marathon. I won't change those out. Well, not until something really, really exciting comes along. Like maybe the new Nike Flyknit.