Saturday, 11 August 2012

Clothes make the runner

I've been forced to eat my words.  Twelve months ago, I swore I was not a runner and that I was never going to attempt running training again. I was content with my cycling and Zumba to get me into shape and gave up on being a runner.

For six weeks now, I've been following the couch to 5k running program.  It's an interval program that starts off with more walking than running, then gradually swings it the other way, until eventually you are running longer each session without the walking breaks.

I'm pleased to say I'm really enjoying the training.  Tonight I ran my last session of two separate runs, and from tomorrow I will be running one long run each session.

Am I worried? Perhaps a little, but then I've worried about how I'll go with most of my runs.  Will I be able to make it? Will I hurt my ankle? Will my knee blow out? Will I get heckled by real runners as they pass me on the foreshore?

My biggest concern was my feet.  I am a pronator and have had issues in the past with shin splints, fallen arches, sore toes and aching knees.  A visit to my podiatrist resulted in a lift being fitted into my left shoe to correct my shorter leg and brand new orthotics to fix my inward rolling feet.  I've felt the difference ever since, with no foot pain and only sore muscles when they first started to re-train how they work when I first got the adjustments.

Running was quite painful before these changes, but in the six weeks I've been interval training, I have had no issues with my feet (other than from pounding the pavement!)

Tonight, I had my first foot pain but I think I have its measure.  I worked a 7 hour shift today in the canteen at my son's soccer club - concrete floors and on my feet without a sit down break.  I stupidly wore my old running shoes.  There are three problems with this - no lift in the left shoe, store-bought orthotics and stretchy laces.  I thought I was so cool when I bought the stretchy laces for my first triathlon.  My podiatrist soon put my coolness factor to rest when she explained the damage that those stretchy laces were doing to my feet.  Needless to say, I retired those shoes from running and dancing and only wear them around the house. 

So after a full shift of wearing those bad choices, my legs were already a little sore.  Muscles that had been re-trained to do their job had slackened off and the ones who hadn't done that work for a while were quite vocal in expressing their shock at being put into action again.  I changed my shoes at the end of my shift, rested the legs for a couple of hours, had a gentle stroll to the local shops with Brendon and then started to plan my run for the night.  Firmly lacing up my black Kayanos, I set off on my session.

All was good to start, but about 10 minutes in I realised I had some pain in my shins.   At the walking interval it was markedly noticeable, to the point of it being painful and I found myself limping a bit through that particular interval.  I decided to analyse what I was doing when I started my next running interval.

It didn't take long to realise, I was curling my toes inside my shoes.  Why?  I hadn't changed my socks.  I was wearing  standard office socks - no cushions, no reinforced arch, just a pair of slippery, cotton socks.  My feet were sliding around inside my shoes, and in an effort to stop them from moving, I was curling my toes to anchor them. 

I spent the rest of the interval consciously holding my toes straight and concentrating on my landing and it worked.  Shin pain dissipated and run completed.  Who would believe that something as simple as custom running socks could turn a good run into a bad run?

So tomorrow I'm off to the sports store to get me some good socks.