An Excuse To Buy New Shoes
Running shouldn’t be painful. I know you’re thinking that’s a lie because running is the most painful thing ever, both mentally and physically, but I promise it shouldn’t be painful, at least not physically. I can’t necessarily disagree with the mental pain involved with running; I have my days. Some are excruciatingly boring; inflicting terrible mental pain, yet others seems to fly by effortlessly. When it comes to mental pain, music is your cure. The right music can make or break a run, so be prepared with a great mix on your iPod or your favorite Pandora station. Back to the physical part of running – it honestly should not feel like the most painful thing ever, nor should it take every last bit of effort to put one foot in front of the other.
I’m not saying everyone should be able to go out there and run 10 miles at a 7-minute-mile pace and feel like a million bucks when you finish. That would be crazy and I would envy you. However, if running is truly painful, either during or shortly after, that can be fixed. The most commonly overlooked thing is your shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to buy whatever tennis shoe I think is the cutest or sometimes I can be a brand snob, but eventually you will learn that it’s not worth it. It is also important to note that one pair of shoes is not necessarily enough (yes, that’s an excuse to buy a couple different pairs). The shoes you wear in your group exercise classes require different types of support than the ones you’ll want to wear running. An added bonus is that you’ll be able to prolong the life of your shoes if you wear them for the appropriate activity. For example, if you play tennis in your running shoes you will wear them out extremely quickly and you’ll lose certain parts of the sole due to the movements. But if you were wearing tennis shoes, you would see that they are made with extra sole or more durable material in those specific parts to avoid common tennis wear.
The first thing I advise you to do is get checked out. Good running stores like Roadrunner Sports and A Snail’s Pace offer free evaluations of your feet/running. I have had evaluations at both stores but I recommend Roadrunner Sports because their evaluation is more technical and fun to see. I happen to be lucky and I have neutral feet that don’t require any extra support or insoles, but if you do require insoles, they will make custom fit ones right there on the spot for you with their great technology. I have recommended this to several friends, all of whom were regular exercisers, they were all told that inserts would be beneficial (there is no sales pressure to buy them but when you see the computerized feedback most people are convinced). Every single one of my friends love the difference they feel using the inserts and recommended shoe type.
I can’t speak for the inserts, but I can attest that shoe type makes all the difference. You may not notice right away, but eventually your shoes will catch up with you and you will definitely notice. A couple years ago I bought my first pair of Nike Frees. They were amazing. They were a beautiful neon pink that would make it hard not to spot me. I loved them and didn’t want to wear anything else. Everyone in my family bought them too because couldn’t stop raving about them. They all wore them for recreational purposes though; I am the only one who ran in them. They felt great for the first year, I loved how flexible and free they felt, I swear I literally felt a breeze pass through my feet when running on a bridge once. Then, when I was training for my third half marathon, I started having knee pain. I went in and got re-evaluated at Roadrunner; again my feet and running pattern are fine. They didn’t recommend inserts, just a neutral shoe like before. So I opted for a pair of Asics and never looked back. I’m not going to say that I don’t ever encounter a day where running doesn’t feel great, but my mechanics are a lot better and my feet aren’t trying to compensate for the lack of support to my joints.
Please, do your body a favor and have your stride evaluated. It could make all the difference in your love/hate relationship with running and all forms of exercise for that matter.