I started running eight years ago when Mark and I committed to 40 days of fitness for lent in 2009. Since that time, running has become so much more than physical exercise for me. Running gives me the space and time I need to focus on nothing but putting one step in front of the next. It is a break from the “what do I need to do next” mentality that consumes our culture. I’m not a marathon runner (in fact, I have no desire to run a marathon), but I do run between three and six miles about four times a week. I have been doing this for years and it keeps me sane.
When January approached this year, I decided it was time to sign up for another race. I hadn’t done one since May of 2016 when I did my first half marathon. I signed up for a 15K (9.3 miles). I was really excited about this distance because I’d never ran a 15K before. Plus, I knew it would be challenging while not requiring too much training. As I started to force myself to run outside more (in the winter I hibernate on my treadmill) in preparation, I started having hip pain that I had never felt before. It wasn’t terrible, and like all determined people, I let it go.
My hip pain only got worse. My husband and I were chatting with a neighbor one Sunday morning who happens to be an avid runner. He was trying out a new pair of shoes that morning and we started discussing the way shoes affect your muscles when you run. There are SO many different theories on what you should wear on your feet while running that for the past eight years, I have just ignored them all and done my own thing: buy a new pair of Saucony Cohesion running shoes every six months like clockwork. I felt great. Until I didn’t. Our neighbor suggested that I go to our local running store and get “tested” to see what kind of shoes I needed. “BS”, I thought. But, after three more weeks of waking up in the middle of the night to switch from my right to my left side because of pain, I went.
The owner made me take off my shoes and stand on a foot scanner. It detected where the pressure points were in my foot and how I distributed my weight. It also told the man what size my foot was. After being properly scanned, the man said “What size shoe do you wear?”
“Seven” I promptly replied.
“You are literally putting your foot in a vice everytime you run. You are an 8.5”
He went on to compare the footprint of a baby (which always has the toes completely splayed out) to the way my toes should look as they hit the ground during my runs.
That explanation made sense to me. I bought my first pair of expensive, fancy running shoes and ran my first 15K in them. My hip pain is not completely gone; however, the comfort level of my feet while running is noticeable. And, I’m faster. I know it.
This experience just reminded me (again) about how little I know. It is nice to find your niche in the fitness community, but never stop exploring and learning because you can always be better.
If I could leave you runners with one piece of advice it’s this: go to your local running store and get fitted for shoes. Yes, it can cost you money, but if it keeps you active and pain-free, it’s worth it.