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New shoes are boxed death packaged with silica gel for freshness.

2010/04/18

I’ll just flat out say it: My run yesterday morning plain sucked. After only a mile and a half, my calves tightened up and my shins ached, despite having stretched beforehand. I walked at least half of the 4.5 miles (I had intentions of at least 6). I stretched again after 2 miles, ran a few blocks. Walked. Couldn’t fully get the run back. When I ran the last mile, however, miraculously, the pain was gone, I was suddenly feeling good, but I had to end my run due to time constraints (had to pick up the kids).

OK. I know I seem to complain extensively about shoes and running in shoes and pain in shoes or pain in general. But I think I know what the problem is.

Well, of course, shoes!

More specifically, new shoes. New shoes with elevated heels and fresh cushioning aplenty. I have seen advice from many sources stating that one should not run a race in a new pair of shoes, to break them in well in advance. Why is that? Because fresh shoes will kill your feet and the rest of you, too – your calves, your knees, your hips, your back…

This is what I fail to truly comprehend – by breaking them in, what am I doing? Pounding down some of the extra cushioning that’s intentionally built into the shoe? Then why the hell would I buy a shoe with all that padding and thick sole to begin with? Unless my old shoes are literally falling apart, wouldn’t the more broken in shoes be better than a new pair? Apparently not, as it’s often recommended that one replaces shoes after they’ve logged 500 miles. But who’s making that recommendation? The shoe manufacturers, maybe?

New shoe, old shoe, Five Fingers. Notice the gradual size difference. Bigger is not better.

I bought a pair of New Balance 760’s about two months ago, the same day I bought the brilliant, life-altering Vibram Five Fingers KSOs. Yes, that’s quite funny, I realize: Buying an overbuilt running shoe and a minimalist shoe in the same transaction. Funny and, well, idiotic. I buy one pair of footwear to help alleviate my pains and the other to increase them.

I’m now feeling the immediacy of having to pound the hell out of the new New Balances before the Indy Mini in 3 weeks. I can’t imagine running a half marathon in them as they are, or as they are treating me now. Hopefully this will be my last race in such shoes.

I do not want to resort to giving up, to telling myself that I just suck at running. When a run is good, it’s awesome, and I love it, the feeling, the high, the sense of accomplishment. Bliss. So I want to keep it up, but I don’t want to endure the pain, to “run through it” either.

So at this point, it’s learn to barefoot – run in minimalist shoes like the Five Fingers – or find some other way to run without pain, like maybe smoking crack before hitting the pavement.

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