Monday, June 20, 2016

In Which Jenn Is Confused About Shoes

I am confused. Confused about shoes.

I just wanted to rhyme. That's my blog post for today. Thanks for stopping by!

Nooooooo, I will elaborate. Maybe one of you magical readers can alleviate my confusion.

Last summer I went to Road Runner Sports to get fitted for running shoes. I'd been using Brooks Ravennas pretty happily for awhile but it never hurts to reevaluate now and again, no? Roadrunner had a whole fancy pants process for determining my best fit, including videotaping me running barefoot on a treadmill. My shoe specialist told me that while my right foot does pronate bit, my left foot remains absolutely neutral; as such, she would never have put me in a support shoe like the Ravenna in the first place. Gasp!

What followed was your standard shoe fitting montage: I put on, like eleventy-billion pairs of sneakers, ran in them a bit, slowly narrowed it down, and eventually settled on a pair of the Nike Zoom Vomero 10, a neutral model with a ton of bouncy cushion. Not did I enjoy said bounciness, they fit my feet like an absolutely dream - no breaking in required!

At first everything was great. I ran some training runs with no issues. I even set a new PR in my first race with them. But then the National Capital 20 Miler happened, and I came out of it with a messed up hip and angry knees. In terror of the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon, I bought a new pair of Ravennas and used them for the marathon instead, convinced that the problem was that the neutral Vomeros didn't provide enough support for very long distances.

So I wore the Ravennas for the marathon and that was fine - up to a point. I finished the race no problem, but my knees and hip definitely bothered me. Then two weeks later came the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, and it being a shorter distance I decided to go with the Vomeros again. Indeed, it turned out to be a much shorter distance (more on the quarter marathon here), so much that I wound up knocking out a quick 5K a few days later on my own. No issues.

Until a few days later, when I attempted to run a few miles on the treadmill and began experience steady discomfort in my right Achilles tendon. This pain - not sharp but constant - followed me around for a good six weeks before I finally gave up and gave myself a couple weeks off from running entirely. Suspecting the Vomero's lack of support, I wound up running the WDW Marathon at the beginning of January wearing the Ravennas again, with the help of professionally applied KT Tape on my Achilles.

Luckily that worked, and from then it was nothing but improvements until I felt no pain at all. Great success! And you would think, too, that this would cement my love of the Ravennas forever. And yet...

I do love Brooks Ravennas. They're really great, supportive and cushiony. But they're heavier than the Vomeros, and my God, guys, I can't even find the words to explain exactly why the Vomeros feel so good, but the fit is just... right. They feel... bespoke, almost. I don't know. They feel good.

So for whatever reason I've been breaking out the Vomeros off an on for shorter runs over the last couple months... and over the last week and a half I ran a practice 13.1 and then 15 miles in them. No pain, no problems.

Correlation, as we know, does not imply causation. Let's look at a couple things that could have caused my pain for other reasons that happened to coincide with the arrival of my Nikes:
  1. As I mentioned the other week, I wasn't quite as ready as I could've been for my long distance races. In all honesty my muscles weren't sufficiently prepared, at least not for a good showing.
  2. The National Capital 20 Miler is a trail race, which is generally going to be harder on your body than a treadmill or road race. I do train outside, but a lot of my route is sidewalks and paved trails; I don't get a ton of packed dirt and grass time in.
  3. As opposed to the shoes, it could've been the one-two-three punch of Marine Corps Marathon, Wine & Dine + walking around Walt Disney World, then squeezing in another early morning run the day later that caused my strained Achilles.
  4. Or all of the above could wrong and the neutral ride of the Vomeros could be the culprit after all.
This is, of course, speculation. I am by no means a professional fitter and an unproven diagnostician. And I'm feeling very uncertain as to where to go from here. I think I may have outgrown my beloved and steadfast but clunky Ravennas. I love the Vomeros and have been experiencing success with them of late, but I worry that there may be a mileage threshold there and I don't know where it is. Nike does make a support Zoom shoe called Structure, but I hesitate to start purchasing shoes that haven't been specifically suggested to me. Maybe I should go back and get fitted again? I just don't KNOWWWWWWWWWWW


Any suggestions from the audience? What have been your best and worst shoe fitting experiences? Shoe-related injuries? How do you select your shoes? Have you ever bought a shoe blindly based on description? Obviously I'm interested in any shoe-related tale you wish to share, so sound off!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

7 comments:

  1. You're preaching to the choir, sister. I have no idea what to do about shoes anymore. Also, I'm not really running at the moment due to a severely bruised tailbone, so I just can't even deal with that nonsense right now.

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    1. Yeah, I think you're permitted to concentrate on the tailbone thing for now. O.o

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  2. Ugh, shoes. The bane of a runner's existence, I think. The struggle is real!

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    1. There should be some machine that just lights up when you stand on it in the perfect shoes.

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  3. Been there, done that, about 3 months ago. Hokas felt like a dream until I did a couple of very low mileage runs. EEK! Broght them back to the store, was fitted by yet another person there and lo and behold. All this time I thought I needed cushioning when I was actually a neutral kinda girl! Other than a little bit of heel rubbing that has stopped, Asics Cumulus are my new babies. I truly think it was all about the guy that fitted me the last time. Maybe go back to the RRS, speak to the most knowledgeable person there, explain all of this, and give it a go.

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    1. Yeah, I think another fitting may be my best bet! Maybe I need more supervision; last time the guy just kinda gave me his suggestions and let me take it from there.

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    2. Yeahhhhhhhhh.....NO. Definitely get someone a little more involved in their job.

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