When I started running two years ago, I wore a pair of Reebok shoes I’d bought on sale in a bargain bin. I also walked regularly and attended two or three fitness/strength classes at the gym. Realising that I quite liked this running lark, and wary of sore knees, I splashed out on a pair of proper running shoes (and cut back on my cross-training).
The Adidas store in Gardens Mall is one of the nicer sports shops here so I wandered in there, stood on some sort of heat-activiated footprint maker and was pronounced as having a neutral foot. I have been wearing the same design of shoes for neutral feet – the Adidas Response 20 – since. I’ve bought seven pairs, the final two purchased only a few weeks ago. In fact the day I hurt my ankle I was wearing one of the new pairs; the second is still in the box and will remain there until my 12-year old daughter gets them in her Christmas stocking (my kids have very big feet).Until my PTT flared up, three weeks ago, the only soreness I experienced with my Response 20 shoes was a few days of shin splints in January. At the time I blamed my shoes – too worn – so I bought a new pair, wore them for a 12 km race, and achieved a personal best time. I’ve had no issues with shin splints since. And I’ve never had knee pain. And I continued to assume I had a neutral footfall when I ran. I was totally averse to trying any other shoe design convinced that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well now I need fixing. And I need new shoes.
Yesterday, my cunning plan to take my running gear to the Spine & Joint Clinic worked. I got to go on the treadmill! Believe me, that’s something I’ve never got excited about before. Not only did I run for a several seconds barefoot, in my Adidas shoes and trying out a couple of pairs of New Balance stability models, and a pair of inserts, but I got videoed too. Thankfully, as the video was taken from the back, the camera only captured me from mid-thigh down, avoiding butt wobble.I looked knock-kneed. That was the first thing. Secondly, there was an obvious rolling in of my right (injured) ankle which done repetitively stretches my Posterior Tibialis Tendon. The left ankle was a bit better but still had a tendency to roll inconsistently. Simply put I’m weak-ankled, and my current injury makes sense. Thirdly, I have poor proprioception – this means that my spatial awareness isn’t great. Simply put, I’ve poor balance, even when sober. And of all the videos, the one in which I am wearing my own running shoes – the ones I got injured in – showed the greatest ankle instability and resulting over-pronation.
Yes, I’m a knock-kneed, weak-ankled runner with poor balance – in need of new shoes. It’s a wonder I’ve only fallen flat on my face twice (while running and sober) in the past year!
After I had my running gait analysed, I started physiotherapy. Besides changing to a shoe that offers more stability for my ankles, the only way I can resume running is to work on the muscle imbalances that caused me to over-pronate in the first place. I need to strengthen my hips and ankles. And this is how over the past nine months, as I’ve gone from running three days a week and cross-training two or three, to running six days a week and doing no cross-training whatsoever, I have let myself and my feet down. At least, I still paid my gym membership, so I can now return to the old days of Body Pump, Pilates and TRX, in addition to the ankle strengthening exercises I need to do at home. Yes, I’m going to be standing around a lot, doing an impression of a stork.
I haven’t decided on a new pair of shoes yet though I’m definitely opting for something with a bit more stability than the Response 20. Choosing that particular model was a bit random in hindsight and who knows, I might have continued to run pain-free with them if I’d maintained some sort of cross-training regime whilst simultaneously pushing my running pace. I’ll never know for sure.
The physiotherapist who is going to help me strengthen and rebalance, stretched and massaged my legs yesterday like never before, in search of weaknesses (many) and aches (a few). I felt like a car having a tune-up before heading back out on the road. (I like to think of myself as a sleek red Ferrari, but in fact I’m a tempermental old banger in need of new tyres).
The physio says I might be running again in two weeks. I think I can knock him down to one if I’m dedicated with my rehab. I will miss my second half marathon in three weeks, my fourth race in six, but all going well, I’ll be fit for Angkor Wat Half Marathon on Dec 1. All going well means finding the right shoes.