on being cinderella…

Alright, so time to talk about running shoes. I never felt like I had to a problem finding running shoes. Before this time. How did we find ourselves here, feet?

The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a girl who was learning to love to run. She ran and ran and ran. Just 5ks. Until one day, a 10k. And a half marathon. And another. And then, she thought she’d tackle a marathon. So she registered. Nashville was on the books.

But it was not to be. Not at this time. For she had some serious and persistent IT band issues that kept her from running loooooong. What a pain. Literally and figuratively. Seriously.

She could muscle through 13.1 miles. The first nine were good. The last four were always pain. (I grimace just thinking of it.) Marathons would have to wait.

Eventually, a physical therapist prescribed Superfeet inserts. Some strengthening exercises. Foam rolling (“therapy”… you may recall my feelings on this. And if not, you can find out here). Ah, relief was ahead, right? Wrong.

Years of supportive shoes and Superfeet seemed to do just enough to keep running tolerable. To keep 13.1 within reach (and within her pain tolerance).

And then one day, someone recommended custom orthotics. Well, what the heck. It made sense. Fix the base and the rest would fall into line. Funny enough, it worked. Three glorious years of pain-free running passed, a few more half marathons (faster and faster half marathons!), a 70.3 and a marathon (!) and things were seeming pretty good for our heroine.

Sigh. What a lovely story.

But wait. All good things must come to an end. Three years of near-constant training. Miles upon miles took their toll. Custom orthotics break down, need replacing. And easy fix, right? Ah. Wrong again.

Fast forward to two months ago. The 1st replacements were much too small and much too narrow for running shoes and had to be reordered. And the 2nd set (nearly a full month later) – went into a new pair of the same running shoes I’ve been running in – weren’t a good fit in the new shoes. I felt like I was running on the outsides of my feet. Like I was double-correcting by being in a custom orthotic AND supportive shoes. Possible… yes. But that was also the dynamic duo that got me through 13.1, 26.2 and 70.3. Huh.

So back went the shoes. Out came another pair. A neutral pair with a smaller drop from the heel to the toe. Good, except my fat feet, sitting on top of the inserts, were rubbing along one of the outlays along the outside of the shoe along the outside of my foot. As a side note, my sweet sweet hubby insists I do not have fat feet, just that I have “a part of my foot right under my pinkie toe that seems to be slightly wider than the average”. So sweet. Fat feet. But I digress.

So back went #2. Out came #3 (less support than #1, more than #2) for a run. But potentially too narrow. And? Well. The jury’s still out.  They’ll be running with me again.

I think deep down, the answer is: they don’t work. But at this point, I just. Want. Shoes. Shoes that work. And I’m totally totally totally willing #3 to work. You know, so my feet can have their happily ever after. I don’t want to be the fat-footed running Cinderella. When, oh when did finding shoes get to be so complicated?

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battles with the evil foam roller…

I’ve recently resumed foam rolling out of, uh, necessity. I find it helps my running – it’s one of the magic components of a flexibility and strength plan that keeps me on track and trucking along. For those of you who haven’t experienced the torture that is foam rolling, let me warn you: While disguised as docile creators and lauded for their many therapeutic benefits, foam rollers are really quite evil, nasty creatures.

Therapeutic benefits may lead you to think… therapy. And therapy’s  a good thing, right? Immediately, visions of serene spas. The peaceful sounds of a gentle fountain in the background. Perhaps some quiet, relaxing music. Maybe the smell of lavender. Ahhh. Well that sounds perfectly lovely, you think to yourself. Why not?

Be careful. Don’t let the vicious foam roller lull you into complacency. Don’t be fooled by its soothing colors (ours is many shades of blue, presumably designed to make you think calming thoughts of nice cool waters, ocean breezes and beautiful blue cloudless skies). Sitting there in the corner it looks so harmless. How could such a little piece of foam be bad?

But once it has pulled you in by convincing you that somehow it will be a peaceful therapy session, the delusions it has created in your mind will come crashing down. You find yourself rolling up and down along your IT band and your world becomes one of violent pain. In no time, you’ll be gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw, cursing its very existence, thinking and at times, maybe even yelling obscenities of which you weren’t entirely sure you were capable. And, if you’re anything like me, within minutes of this torturous “therapy” you’ll find yourself hurling the cursed foam roller out of the room with a yell that is one part anger and one part victory (albeit a small one, one more of survival than anything), leading others in your house to wonder about your sanity and indeed, your very well being.

Experts suggest this so-called therapy several times a week to keep muscles and tendons pliable and flexible. Ironically, this painful therapy is supposed to help with sore muscles, as well as increase flexibility, decrease muscle tension and help to prevent injury. I was introduced to the foam roller years ago when I was first having IT band issues. Unfortunately, I find that if I do not stay up on a few key core strengthening exercises and foam rolling, my IT band starts to complain. Eventually if I slack off for long enough, I’ll be out running and my tight, neglected IT bands begin the mutter and complain. And without foam rolling, this muttering soon turns into a constant yell. Apparently, I have a couple of masochistic IT bands. Dang.

Anyhoo. If you, too, find the need for more pain in your life and feel that trading a few minutes of pain and suffering each night for the promise of less pain in the long term, here’s a video for you to check out and also a couple of links to articles that explain some other foam rolling exercises.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Runners World – Foam Rolling for Runners

Running Times – The (almost) Magical Foam Roller