sometimes it takes a village…

We’ve all heard that quote before, “It takes a village to raise a child”. I think that quote, or at least the paraphrased version “It takes a village” definitely applies to me and my training. Only mine would end in “…of doctors to hold me together”. Not my intention, but it happened last 70.3 and it’s seemingly happened again.

I’ve posted prolifically about my shoe-orthotic debacle. Here is the grand take-away from my on-going shoe /orthotic / foot drama lest any of you run into comparable issues:

For those of you who are seeking medical attention of some sort, here’s my two cents (as obvious as it may seem):
Make sure that you like and trust the doctors and medical professionals with whom you are working. Ask the doctors what their experience is in training and participating in the kinds of events you are planning to complete. If they haven’t completed something similar themselves, have they treated someone who has? And what were the results?

They should know and understand your goals and the training program that’s required to get you from here to there. They should be aware of the commitment. And perhaps more importantly than anything, find someone who totally gets it – someone who’s been there, done that (or done something comparable), who understands the sacrifice and commitment. They will do whatever it takes to help you achieve your goals. These people will not tell you to STOP. On the contrary, they will troubleshoot, research, brainstorm, give you options and help you solve the problem. In my opinion, if your doctor tells you at your first visit that if running hurts, you should stop, get a second opinion. Get a third opinion if you need to. Get some options – alternatives to stopping. Alternatives that will help you solve the problem so you can keep on keepin’ on. You’ve put too much time and energy into preparing to get sidelined by a medical professional who is unwilling or unable to help you find a resolution that still allows you to meet your goals within reason.

So, how the heck do you figure out who’s the best physical therapist in town? Sports medicine doctor? Orthopedic specialist? Podiatrist? Massage Therapist? I’ve found that these medical professionals who specialize in treating athletes are often best found through word of mouth. Know a weekend warrior? Someone who runs marathons? Does triathlons? Epic century rides? At some point, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ve had some issues and they probably have a specialist they would be more than happy to recommend (or people to steer clear from, which is also valuable information!). A recommendation from people you know is a much better starting point than Google or the phone book – take it from someone who’s learning the hard way! I won’t make the same mistake twice, that’s for sure…

 

Advertisements

shoe dependency…

My shoe situation has still not quite been resolved, though not for a lack of trying. Since shoe #3 (which seemed like it would work), there have been #4, #5, #6 and #7. Different brands, different levels of support, different widths. Each of them has not quite fit the bill; actually all of them made me feel like my feet were on a slope. Like my feet were starting off square on the orthotic and as I ran, sliding off of center towards the outsides of the shoes. Every time. So I have concluded that it must be a problem with the orthotic. What’s that argument – argument ad populum? 50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong! 600 million people can’t be wrong about Facebook! I know it’s a fallacious argument, but not in this case. In this case I believe there must be an exception – half a dozen shoes can’t be wrong! It’s not the shoe(s). It simply can’t be.

So what, then? Well, to make a long story short, first, I’ve scheduled an appointment with a podiatrist who specializes in running. Unfortunately, the appointment is not until the end of the month. And even then, it’ll be a consult initially. Someone I can tell my running story to – an expert on running who also runs himself (this is important). Someone who has an education in feet (this is also important).

Second, I went back to the doc who prescribed and ordered my orthotic and he is going to order a new one for me with some slight adjustments and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this next one is better. Ugh.

The story of how I ended up in a custom orthotic in the first place? Well, it’s a short one: I was tired of dealing with IT band pain and had tried everything from Superfeet to foam rolling to strength and flexibility exercises. To no avail. Someone suggested fixing the base (feet) and it made sense to me. But with this recent orthotic debacle, I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, all of those years of IT band issues were caused by running in a neutral shoe with Superfeet inserts when I really should have been in a supportive shoe with Superfeet. Not necessarily a custom orthotic. Now wouldn’t that be silly. Such a small adjustment. Huh.

So my third step was based on this last hunch, the last little “maybe”. I went back to our local running store where this same poor girl has been working with me very patiently to find a shoe that works. I told her to just start from scratch and asked her to take a look at my feet, how I walk, etc., and fit me in a shoe as if I were a brand new customer coming in off the street. Because maybe I don’t need a custom orthotic after all. Off came the shoes, the socks. She measured, observed me walking barefoot, running. And the verdict? She didn’t seem to think I had particularly flat feet. Or that I necessarily needed a wide width shoe. She said I have flexible arches which flatten a bit when I run, causing me to pronate, so she would recommend a shoe with support. Ok. Bring it.

Pair number 8, maybe #9(?) accompanied me home on Monday night after work. Sauconys this time. Supportive ones. Shiny, red, super cushy ones. I was supposed to test them out yesterday, but I procrastinated – because what if it’s bad news? Yesterday I just wasn’t sure I could handle another shoe fail. But I need an answer, so at some point today, I’ll take them out for a spin and see how it goes. I’m hopeful. Or maybe I’m doomed.

I’m very anxious for some kind of resolution… hopefully a permanent one. It’s been real hard to be excited about running when there’s so much going wrong. Nine times out of ten, running is actually fun for me.But with so many issues lately, it’s been a chore. I can feel it. It’s taken the wind out of my sails. I’ve dreaded it. And let’s face it, I need to be running because, you see, I have this little 70.3 looming… in 8 weeks if we’re being specific. And I need to be able to run 13.1 miles by then (and ideally, countless 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 mile training runs to prepare). And if I’m being honest with myself, I can’t really afford to skip too many more of them without paying for it.

Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted…

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?