Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Sometime around August, I began noticing a good deal of wear and tear on my 6 month old Nike Pegasus running shoes. They had about 120 miles on them, and were starting to give me serious blisters on the ball of my foot. 

My friends Shannon and David insisted that I go to the running store and get fitted for running shoes... but I dragged my feet.

It wasn't the idea of going to a store designed for running that scared me, per se, but rather the feelings of being judged. 

I was still significantly overweight. I was still doing a modified version of the couch to 5k program. I certainly didn't look like a runner, and by no means did I feel like a runner. 

I had horrific thoughts of walking to the store and telling someone that I was looking for running shoes, only to be guided into a more appropriate section consisting of old lady walking shoes, or worse... being laughed out of the store altogether. My fragile ego couldn't handle that.

Then again, my poor feet couldn't handle my old shoes much longer either.

So the day after labor day, I bit the bullet, dressed in my most slimming outfit, and headed to the running store with my old shoes in tow. I had contemplated wearing multiple layers of spanx, but after realizing that wearing such constricting clothing would make it difficult for me to sit or move without feeling like I was going to explode, I thought better of that plan.

After about 20 minutes of self-talk in the car, I made my way into the store. I found a young(ish) guy to help me out, and he clearly knew what he was talking about. I was shocked that he didn't laugh me out of the store, and didn't bat an eye when I told him that I was about to start training for my first half marathon. 

He fit me for new shoes, and quickly declared that I had been blistering in my old shoes because they were too small... like 1-1.5 sizes too small. He explained why I needed more room in the toe box, and I was in awe. He fit me into the Brooks Ghost 5 running shoes, and I excitedly took them home.

But transitioning into them was awful. The very next day, I laced them up for a 3 mile run, and it was horrible. I couldn't adjust to the roominess in the toe box. My feet felt like I was slipping the entire time, and I was not happy.

So on day 2, I returned to the store and learned a better technique for tying them, which easily solved the problem of slippage. Who knew that there were multiple ways to tie your shoes and that the way you tie them could make such a difference?

My next run went far better. But then, after barely logging 10 miles on my new shoes, I noticed some interesting wear in the ball of my foot on two of the treads. I kept running, being more cognizant of picking up my feet. After 38 miles, the wear and tear on the treads of my shoes was far more noticeable, and I questioned whether something was wrong with my stride, or even just with the shoes themselves. I had previously read somewhere that running shoes are supposed to last 300-400 miles (perhaps a little less for someone as signifciantly overweight as me), so I was concerned. 

I couldn't afford to burn through shoes this fast, and have to replace them every 100 miles or so.

So I marched myself back to the running store, new pair of Brooks and old pair of Nikes in tow. 

This time, although I was once again surprised to not be laughed out of the store, the owners daughter did  look at me funny, asking me who these shoes belonged to. 

I told her that they were mine, and explained that I had 38 miles on the blue pair, and 120 miles on the pink pair. I explained that while the wear wasn't as very bad (yet) on the blue pair, it seemed fairly significant for only 38 miles. I was also concerned that the majority of the wear was in just one or two treads on the ball of my foot.

The lady said that she hadnt seen shoes wear quite like this, particularly Brooks (their best seller). She took the shoes to the owner and he looked at them, and he returned to me with a smile on his face, asking if I was a new runner or if I had been training somewhere for an extended period of time.

I thought for sure this would be when he would laugh me out of his store, and I began to mentally prepare myself. 

He explained that my problem was not actually a problem at all. Then he conceded that he rarely sees shoe soles wear in this pattern (in new runners) because this is the sign of a perfect center strike. As he explained it (or maybe as I understand it), people pay loads of money to train themselves to run with this stride, and apparently I do it fairly naturally. We see wear right in the center of the treads because they are made of a softer (blown) rubber over top of (more sturdy) carbon rubber on the ball of the foot. He estimated about 40 miles on the shoes (which was a really good guestimate because they had 38 miles on them). He tested the soles, insteps, and side walls for breakdown and left me with a final verdict that they are in perfect condition. He said I should expect another 300-350 miles on these shoes, maybe even more as I lose weight.

So I run slower than molasses runs uphill in the winter time, and cant seem to break 15:45 per mile in a training run, but at least I am doing something right and have a decent stride. I'm not sure how I learned to run with a stride like this, but perhaps it is something I've been doing unconsciously (knowing it would help protect me from shin and achilles injuries).  

Now that I know there is nothing wrong with these shoes, I love them. I can't imagine going to a different shoe.



  1. Nice! What store did you go to?

    1. Runner's Depot in Davie. Love them, and their customer service is phenomenal.