Thursday, October 10, 2013

running in the wrong shoes... for ten years

this recent injury has turned into quite the journey, as they often do. in fact, what we thought was a bunion issue has now primarily resurfaced as lazy runner's butt (again). i guess my lazy butt is causing me to dip my knee in, which is causing me to over pronate even more during a run and thus causing me to run on that big toe and the inside of my foot. hence all the pain related issues as of late. 

oh the joys of running!

but this post isn't injury focused, it is shoe focused. because i found out during all this injury diagnosis that i have been running in the wrong running shoe for my entire running career. how's that for a "i never saw that coming" moment??

i worked with tim broe, a former olympian, who is considered the expert running shoe/gait/form guy at the michigan running institute. as i had been promised by multiple people, he would be the one to find me the perfect running shoe. 

we started out by talking about my issues and then he watched me walk on the treadmill. from my walk, he could tell that i didn't over pronate as much as i thought i did and that the shoe i started running in (brooks addiction) was a horrible shoe for me. he actually laughed. i guess its a good thing i stopped running in those years ago! he also asked what shoe size i was, which i told him a 9.5-10 in womens but i was running in a 9.5 mens. he looked at me kinda funny and told me to put my current shoes on. so i did. he immediately pointed out that i've been running in shoes that are way too big for me. try a full size too big. mind. blown. i had no idea! i bought my current pair of shoes because they were the exact same shoes my boyfriend had, and when i tried them out, they seemed to be okay. lesson learned - GET YOUR FOOT FITTED!

after these couple knowledge bombs, you'd think i was a rookie runner, but i swear i'm not!

a few minutes later, tim came back with about 10 pairs of women's running shoes to try - all in the stability category. i tried a couple on and everything felt so snug and tight. they were incredibly uncomfortable and nothing felt just right. there was only one pair of asics (gt-2000's) that might have been okay, but they had a size too small for what i needed. 

so then he brought out the men's shoes. my feet are apparently too wide all over to comfortably fit in a standard women's wide shoe. i'm glad i started running in men's shoes awhile ago, otherwise i might have felt offended by this. i tried on a couple pairs and yes, they indeed felt roomier, but still snug.

"are they supposed to fit like a glove?" i asked.

tim laughed. the answer was an obvious yes. apparently running shoes are supposed to fit like a glove - snug to the foot. my running shoes have NEVER fit like a glove. ever! i've been doing this wrong for so long.

tim had me hop on the treadmill in a couple pairs to see how they felt in motion. a funny thing happened. he noticed that when i run, compared to when i walk, i over pronate way more on my right side. this is the lazy runner's butt coming into play - its causing this exacerbated over pronation. he also pointed out that i'm a heavy striker and that my stride is all wrong - but those were things we'd have to fix on another day (seriously, i have to re-learn how to run?!!?).

the best part of the whole hour we spent doing this was at the end when tim said, "in my entire career, i think you're the hardest foot i've ever had to fit."

i win?

so i ended up with a pair of men's saucony omni in a size 8, which i had to return a week later for a size 8.5. the first trial runs haven't been amazing, so i'm pretty nervous about the long term future with these shoes and the short term future at my next race. but i'm trying to remain positive even though i'm really starting to feel like there's no perfect running shoe out there for me :( 

my new sauconys... for the time being? who knows.

but here's what i've learned:

  • walk tests are not enough to figure out what shoe you need. make sure you can run on a treadmill with an expert watching you to see if your run pronation is different from your walk. it might be and this can change the type of shoe you need!
  • running shoes are supposed to be snug, but still not tight and cramped. for length, you need about a finger lengths distance from your largest toe to end of the shoe. you can also have your foot measured at a shoe store. if you're on the border line, go for the half size up. (i measured in right around a size 8 in men's, but needed to go up 1/2 size after running in the shoes felt too small)
  • mechanics of the body can be a sneaky and silent reason for injury. best to get a full evaluation to understand whats really going on!

i'm not sure if anyone else out there has shoe troubles like i do, but its exhausting and extremely frustrating. feels like being able to just go out for a run will never be easy or simple when you can't, at a minimum, find a pair of shoes to support you.

(as i type, i'm ordering the women's pair of asics i liked - double e width - just in case...)


  1. Wow I can't believe you had it wrong all this time. Reading these things always makes me wonder. I went to a running store and they watched how I walked, but just like you said, I didn't actually get on the treadmill.

    I'm glad you got a good pair of shoes and you are back to running!

    1. Just shows you theres always more to learn. A little overwhelming but I'm dealing with it :)

  2. Wow, talk about an eye opening experience. Now I really want to go see this guy!

    So, what's the cure for lazy runner's butt? Change your gait?

    1. Lots of physical therapy to build glute/hip strength. I have in balanced glute strength, where my right side is weaker than the left. So I'm on a treat plan to get a stronger butt, basically!

  3. Ugh I feel your shoe pain! I was considering a similar post about my weird feet just last night, maybe I'll still write it. I have wide feet bc of bunions at the front, but not at the heel. Most women's shoes don't fit my front but men's shoes don't fit my heel and arch. UGH! Plus, at the expo last weekend the Brooks rep said I shouldn't even be in a stability shoe anymore. fun! I hope yours work out!

    1. You shouldn't be in a stability shoe?? Even with bunions? Thats so confusing to me! I hope you get some answers too, and that you'll write your post. It is helpful knowing I'm not the only one out there with feet/shoe problems!

  4. Interesting! I have noticed that I've stopped considering brands when considering shoes - I actually wear a cheapy pair of Nike now for everyday walking, and they feel great. For years Nike never ever fit me properly because of the wide toebox I need. I'm glad you're starting to get a good fit, hopefully you find what you need :)

    1. I'm surprised you can do Nikes! I really don't care what brand of shoe I have at this point... I just want them to do their job!

  5. I was fitted after I injured BOTH feet at the same time in my crappy 'running' shoes. I found some awesome asics and they worked out well for me. getting fitted was the best thing ever!

    1. Wow, both feet? What a mess. Hope you're doing better now, feet wise. What Asics do you wear? I've heard good things about Asics in general...

  6. It is so amazing what a difference a pair of shoes can make! I can't tell people this enough! I'm glad you've found something that can help you with your injuries so you can get right back out there!


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