Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New shoes!

Here I am, again writing from 10,000 feet.  Today I am flying to Portland, OR for a Women Leading Powerfully conference being put on by Mars.  It’s being held at the Heathman Hotel (the hotel where Christian Grey always stays in the “shades of grey” trilogy)….aka highest lap of luxury in Portland and right in downtown.  Exciting!
So this past week has been wild, and I have been a sucky blogger and not posted in forever.  There is so much to catch up on; I don’t even know where to start.  So I’m going to go a little backwards and update first with running stuff- since this is supposed to be a fitness blog and all!
Monday I finally got to see Barb again at physical therapy after a couple weeks with Mark.  They are both awesome physical therapists, but Barb has more experience with running injuries and running form specifically.  After lots of chatting about new shoes and going more minimalist, she had me take off my shoes and did a bunch of stuff with my toes.  Stuff that felt weird- bending my big toe around and testing it’s strength.  Big surprise- the way I stand is also a mess in that I grip with my toes and am not balancing my center of gravity correctly.  Also my big toe curves in and is overly flexible in the wrong way.
Not so happy toes
She thinks this all stems from my huge weight loss and the fact that my body still has some old habits from 250+ lbs ago and needing to compensate for the extra weight I was carrying around.  It makes sense and all but sometimes I feel like I will forever pay for the damage I did to my body by being obese.    I know my body is thanking me for shedding all the extra weight because I desperately needed to, but sometimes I feel like I’m going upstream with a spoon as a paddle as I try to figure out the form issues that are plaguing my entire body from the top down.
So she taped me running again and we watched it and compared it to my first taping.  It was great to see some significant improvement.  I’ve developed a pretty decent forward lean, my cadence is faster and lighter, I’m not swinging my arms as oddly towards one side, I’m picking up my feet significantly better, and my heel strike is less.  Having said all that, I am still heel striking.  Also, apparently I have no upper body strength and I’m very stiff in my shoulders while pumping my arms an unnecessary amount.  BOO!  So I’ve made some progress but….I still suck. Lol. 
So having said all that and after confirming that my hips are much more flexible and mobile Barb wants me to start walking/standing/doing as much as possible in bare feet or flats.  We talked about what shoes to look at and she recommended a local Severna Park, MD running store to eventually get new shoes– Spark Running that really knows there stuff.  She said I didn’t have to start with new shoes yet but I could start working them in. SLOWLY.
So I went the next day. Lol.  You think I could wait?!?! Colleen doesn’t do waiting when it comes to things I love.

Katelyn, the owner of Spark Running was totally fantastic.  One thing I really liked is that she basically said a lot of the same things Barb had said which made me feel pretty confident in her knowledge.  I tried on 5-6 different pairs and styles of minimalist shoes.  Including Newton Gravity’s,  Merrell Pace Gloves, a zero drop shoe by avia?!?! With some cushion, and another avia pair that were more sandles than sneakers and as barefoot as you can get.  She didn’t bring out Vibram 5fingers and I don’t think she sold them (I didn’t see them anywhere and I looked) but I didn’t bring it up because I know of many good running shoes that have taken them off their shelves.   Beware here are my personal thoughts on each below.  These are simply my own personal experiences.
The Newton Gravity’s felt WEIRD.  I went in thinking this was the kind of shoe I was going to go home with but when I ran in them I couldn’t get off my toes, even after looking at the video and trying again and for a longer time frame.  Katelyn explained that this can actually be worse than heel striking and causes serious Achilles issues and plantar fasciitis.  I had read that before as well and this just made me feel better about Katelyn.  When we watched me run in them on the tape my heels basically never hit the ground.  Imagine running a half marathon like that… legs would be trashed completely. 
Newton Gravity
I ran in the Merrell Dash Gloves next.  I immediately felt like the same weird (and awesome) feeling that I had when I ran on the treadmill during Rick’s running clinic barefoot.  This time I kept it in my mind to hit with my fore- to mid-foot, not my toes.  It felt great.  After a couple minutes, I could feel myself heel striking a little but my foot immediately told me NO and really wouldn’t let me so to speak.  In this shoe it has not only zero heel drop but also zero padding- just a simple rubber sole to protect you from the elements.   When we played back my running I couldn’t believe it was my feet we were watching.  Showing it side by side with the Newtons (she had some rocking recording equipment!!) and frame-by-frame it looked like a different foot running.  Incredible!

Merrell Dash Glove

Next I ran in a zero drop shoe that had some cushion, I think it was the Altra Intuition, but I'm not sure.  They were very comfortable, but I found myself naturally heel striking more and then running on my toe to compensate.  Upon comparing recordings, my form was somewhere in between the Newton’s and Merrell’s in quality.
Altra Intuition

Next Katelyn said that perhaps I needed the zero cushion to truly not give my feet a choice but to run correctly.  So, I put on these crazy sandal type shoes that had Velcro straps to close then and you pulled them on like a water shoe.  I looked them up and found them- Altra Eve.  When I walked in them all I could feel was the darn Velcro strap pressing against the top of my foot, and even more when I ran.  I ran for the least amount of time in those because the Velcro just felt so weird and I was basically switching between toe running and mid foot running but it never really felt good.

Altra Eve

 Not like the Merrell’s! They felt awesome and I am wearing them right now.  I also brought my Asics with me for this trip if I want to switch off a bit because she said to do my first run in them for only a half a mile, and then use the 10% rule for adding mileage week by week in the shoes.  But since Barb said it would be good to walk in these as well to get my foot out of the heel striking mentality that is VERY strong when I walk I’m wearing them all week in Portland.  I never thought marching band could influence the way I walk so much but I was taught to walk with toes up to the sky.  This apparently is just plain bad for your feet and Achilles.  We can get away with it because shoes today are so bloody padded- like walking on marshmallows.  Well, today I walked around the Minneapolis airport for an hour waiting for my flight. Win.

MY Merrell Dash Gloves!

Today I continue the long journey towards better running form and I think these Merrell’s are going to help me.



  1. I really need to do this and see what I'm doing wrong!

    1. It was very humbling but ultimately very helpful for me, I say go for it!

  2. Geez, how complicated! It makes me wonder how many people out there are running incorrectly. I would like to remind you that YOU ran 10 miles. Good or bad form, that's freaking awesome!

    1. hehe that made me very happy to be reminded of that! :D Thanks baby! :)