A Running Shoe Noob Buys Her First Pair

As you probably all know, this was the year I tried running. Until this year, I’d always hated it. It was hard. It made me breathe funny. DID NOT WANT.

Well, I tried it again this year, after reaching my goal weight and doing a lot of weight training. And, I actually LIKED it. I had cheap shoes and running pants I bought used at the thrift store, I made myself a running belt and got into the fluorescent clothes. I started C25K and joined the Adventure Runs with my walking group buddy Sharon. I ALMOST ran a solo 5K. Then something happened. My foot hurt. It had this weird popping sensation. I thought it might be a stress fracture (it wasn’t). I though it might be a Morton’s Neuroma (it most likely is). I stopped running to heal up, and I realized: I missed it. It’s totally not easy and it took me a while to figure out what I could and could not eat beforehand, and at times, my running buddy Josh and I dripped sweat on a 90-degree Saturday afternoon (which I mostly hated), but I missed it.

On July 25th I completed my first 5K+ when I completed the 4H Mud Run, after almost 6 weeks of not running AT ALL. We walked most of it, but we finished, damn it! And I realized my running shoes were pretty much ruined. Which was fine, because I think I probably should have thrown them away about 4 months ago, and they probably contributed to my foot problem! So, an easy discussion with The Hubs decided the matter: I was going to get fitted for a good, proper pair of running shoes. Since I had a $30 gift certificate for R-Gear at my local Road Runner Sports (creators of the Adventure Run), and since I was familiar with the store to begin with, I decided we’d go there.

Now, I was nervous. Not only am I terrible when it comes to spending money on myself, I knew it would be an elaborate process to get fitted for shoes, then decide which pair to buy, and leave without spending what felt like a small fortune. I needn’t have worried!

We arrived at my local Road Runner Sports around 2:30 and were immediately approached by an incredibly friendly employee who asked us if we were looking for anything in particular. I immediately said I was interested in getting fitted for shoes, and that it was something I’d never done before and that I was a bit nervous about it. He very kindly reassured me that it was no big deal, and that their fitting computer, called ShoeDog, would take about ten minutes to figure out what sort of shoes would best work for me. He put my name on the waiting list, which was only about a 20-minute wait, and The Hubs and I browsed while we waited.

When my name was called, a friendly woman named Linda greeted me next to a workstation complete with a treadmill, a computer with a large touchscreen monitor, and some two-padded squishy looking thing on the side. Linda quickly described to me what we would be doing, and the first step was taking off my shoes and socks. I stepped on a small footpad on the floor, where I had to stand still for 30 seconds while the computer read my pressure points. The machine popped up a display that quickly showed me that I put a lot of pressure on the outside of my left foot, and moderate on my right heel, but that I had nice, high arches. Then Linda had me step on the treadmill, still barefoot, and jog at my pace for 30 seconds while two cameras captured video of my feet hitting the belt. That was really cool, because I could actually see that my ankles have very little flexibility from side to side (which is good when you run) and that my feet bend outward towards my pinky toes just slightly, but that wasn’t much to worry about, so it was recommended that I get a neutral shoe (as opposed to a stability shoe) with a level 4 cushion in a size 9.5 (the cheap Nikes I’d been wearing are 8.5, and I think their snug fit was what contributed to my foot problem) with a B width, which is normal width.

Next up was fitting me for custom insoles. Linda put two flat insoles into an oven, which warmed them to make them pliable. Then she had me step on that two-padded squishy looking thing, which turns out was to help form the insoles. One foot at a time, she had me stand up straight onto the comfortably warm insole, press with my heels, then press down onto her fingers with my toes as hard as I could. This molded the insoles to my foot, and showed us just how high my arches actually are!

I had to fill in my information on the touchscreen, and then Linda handed me a pair of comfy socks to test out while I was trying on shoes, and led me over to the benches where I would meet Marcus. Marcus, like everyone else, was incredibly friendly and had a penchant for singing Barry White. He adeptly grabbed a few pairs of shoes, inserted my custom insoles, and had me try them on. I started with a pair of Brooks, which did feel fairly comfy, but not “right” (says the girl who’s never owned real running shoes before). Next he had me try on a pair of Asics, which felt great when I was sitting on my butt on the bench, but were not to my liking when I actually stood up.

The first pair I tried on: Brooks.
The first pair I tried on: Brooks.

Not a problem at all for Marcus! He brought out a pair of Sauconys, and while I didn’t feel like these were “the ones”, it was a vast improvement from the previous pair. They had a lot of cushion in the ball of the foot, which I liked. The floor of the store is concrete, but you’d never be able to tell with these shoes on. Marcus, not satisfied with my response to those, brought out yet a third pair, promising more cushion than the pair I had on. I slid the new shoes on, laced them and stood up. It was like walking on a cloud! I said as much, and the woman next to me who was also being helped by Marcus, asked him to grab her a pair, too! (She bought them!)

“The ONES”   Saucony Triumph ISOs

Marcus was satisfied with my happiness with my Sauconys (Triumph ISO), so we wrapped things up and checked out, grabbing two packs of cushy running socks as well! I checked out, parted ways with Marcus, and left with a smile on my face. All in all, it wasn’t terribly costly, either! Running shoes generally last between 300-500 running miles. Since I don’t plan on running more than a 5K at a time, and at that, no more than 3X a week, that’s fewer than 10 miles a week, giving me between 30-50 weeks, or about a year. The insoles are supposed to last 1,000 miles, so I won’t need to replace them for quite a bit longer. And socks? Well, socks aren’t really that expensive. I definitely spent less today than it would cost me to join Planet Fitness with their Black Card membership for the same period of time. (Do the math yourself!) And, having good running shoes will definitely help prevent injuries in the future. And since I have two, maybe three 5Ks in my future, I need to take good care of my feet, right?!

All in all, my experience at Road Runner Sports today was extremely positive! Maybe next I’ll get lucky and win a free pair at the next Adventure Run in August.

So what did you do over YOUR weekend?

C25K Week 8, Take 2!

Image Courtesy of http://weight.sdghealth.com/couch_to_5k_weight_loss_success_stories.html
Image Courtesy of http://weight.sdghealth.com/couch_to_5k_weight_loss_success_stories.html

I struggled last week. The heat, the lack of air conditioning, my new Intermediate Kettlebell workout and starting sprints and stair runs all added up to a bit of exhaustion, which in turn lead to bad runs! I felt vastly better by midweek last week, and my anxiety has been super low as of late thanks to a sort of internal epiphany, so by Friday night I was ready to join Josh in sprints and stairs at the high school where he works. Josh decided he was going to show off and do pull ups on the monkey bars. You know, the same monkey bars that I cut my hand open on last week.

IMG_20150626_172216768We did six 100-yard sprints between the goalposts of the football field, then did six circuits around the bleachers, seen here:

IMG_20150626_175337558We were still smiling by the end!

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My legs were way less sore this time, and the next morning I did… wait for it…

W8D1 – 28 solid minutes. No issues at all this time around! In fact, I can’t remember much about it other than my average pace was 11:21/min, which was my own personal record!

W8D2 – 28 solid minutes. I hit the ground running. Pun intended. I felt good. Strong. My first mile was mostly downhill. I felt like I was going fast, it was cool, and my breathing felt good. My legs felt good. My earbuds, however, half crapped out about 1/2 a mile in. Only one ear had sound! Boo, but they were dollar store earbuds, so no biggie. The Map My Run app came into my ears and told me I’d run the first mile in 10:32. TEN THIRTY TWO. That’s 49 seconds faster than my previous run’s average. I was actually surprised when C25K told me I’d hit the halfway point. Surprised and happy. The two-mile notification told me that despite feeling like I’d run slower, I’d actually done the second mile in 10:09!!! I don’t know what sort of magic was happening, but I’ll take it. Unfortunately the final leg of my run was entirely uphill on concrete sidewalk, and I had expended so much energy in my speed that I’d gassed myself. Boo. I made it another 3/10 of a mile for a total of 23:59 at an average pace of 10:23, nearly a full minute faster than my previous run. I’m counting this one as done.

W8D3 – 30 solid minutes. It was very cool on this morning but the humidity was 80%, so I was a bit concerned. I wasn’t worried about speed this day, I just wanted to finish the 30 minute run without walking AT ALL. Turns out I shouldn’t have been worried! My pace was a sluggish 11:50/mi, but when the C25K app told me I could start my cooldown, I just shook my head and kept going! I made it 3.02 miles and could have run an entire 5K if I hadn’t quite literally been at my front door!

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I dun gradjeeated!

So what’s next?!

Working on speed. I’m going to continue to do sprints and stairs with Josh for conditioning. I’m going to try to run a sub-11 minute mile over a 5k distance. I’m also going to do a *gasp* mud run, so I guess I need to train some obstacles! (And get myself some old clothes together to wear, and save up for a new pair of running shoes.)

But first, it’s running a 5K on my own, without the stress of other people and the pressure of placing. I almost did it today, so if I can do it consistently over the next month or so, I’ll count that as a success.

Do you have any goals you’re proud of? Let me know!

C25K Week 8 – Take 1

Image Courtesy of http://weight.sdghealth.com/couch_to_5k_weight_loss_success_stories.html
Image Courtesy of http://weight.sdghealth.com/couch_to_5k_weight_loss_success_stories.html

Murphy’s Law struck gold with my running this week! It seems as if everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but I ran.

W8D1 – 28 minutes solid run. I did this on a Thursday morning. The actual running was fine. I got close to the end and my brain starting going “shouldn’t I be done by now? I’m almost home.” So I pulled my phone out of my nifty running belt to check. Wouldn’t ya know it, the C25K app had crashed. So I checked the Map My Run app and I had run for a solid 30 minutes! I count it as a success but I was sort of annoyed it didn’t record in C25K. My pacing was 11:36 according to Map My Run, which I am very happy with.

W8D2 – 28 minutes solid run. Josh and I had decided to switch our Saturday afternoon run to Friday evening. It’s cooler and less sunny, but I had done my usual kettlebell workout that morning and had a full day of work. We decided to wing it and run as long as I could, and walk a little as needed. With Josh running behind me and going downhill, our first mile was 11:20! This is much faster than I usually run solo, which may have contributed to my need to walk after the halfway point. Overall though, our paces was 11:49 over 2.41 miles, which wasn’t too bad considering we walked some. We got a nice sprinkling of rain afterwards to cool us off.

IMG_20150619_181627115 Sprints – Saturday we went to a local high school and did 100 yard sprints between the goalposts at the football field. What a totally different feeling than sustained pacing! I enjoyed it though, and would like to do it again. Afterwards we did stair running in the bleachers, then goofed off on the monkey bars, where I injured myself! (Leave it to me to not hurt myself slinging iron around my living room but cut my hand open on stupid monkey bars.)

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The only thing I had in my car to stop the blood was a tampon. For serious.

Sunday was a rest day for me, which is good because my quads were SCREAMING at me. It had to be the sprints and stairs.

Monday I did my brand new Intermediate Kettlebell Workout. Uhm. Yeah. Squats and lunges. Lots of them! By Monday afternoon walking down stairs was a little painful.

W8D3 – 30 minutes solid of epic faildom. It was super humid this morning, my quads and hips were still sore, and my heart just wasn’t in it! I finished the 30 minutes, but I took a lot of walk breaks. My pacing was a lousy 12:49 over 2.46 miles. Ewww. No pic of myself for this. Too tired. Too much fail. Here’s a pic of Bingley looking like I feel.

IMG_20150622_120426134I’m sure my DOMS will lighten up a bit, and I have a doctor’s appointment for a standard checkup Thursday morning so I’ll need to skip my morning run and take a rest day. The air conditioning isn’t working at work, so I’m sure the heat won’t help me feel particularly energized, but I’m hoping as my body adjusts to my new routine the running will get back to normal, because I’m THIS CLOSE to running a real 5k! Next up is to work on doing obstacles for the mud run. I think I’m going to invest in a good pair of grippy gardening gloves to wear to help me pull myself up over stuff.

I’m going to repeat week 8 again and see how it goes. It’s only going to get hotter around here over the next month or so, so I may need to get up earlier. We’ll see.

How’s YOUR week going?