Happy Feet

After my bib post yesterday, I figured I should get out there and run. So I did. And then I came home. After 1.67 miles.

Yes, little short of that 3 mile distance I had been hoping to achieve.

I’ve had a problem with my left knee for a long time. It usually presents itself after an intense workout or a long walk. It isn’t caused by running, but I certainly think running has aggravated the problem. I’ve actually tried to get my doctors to look at my knee when I’ve been in for my annual, but they’ve never seemed particularly interested or concerned. I guess when it isn’t your knee, it doesn’t matter .

Lately, my knee has been hurting a lot, especially during and after running. I don’t run a LOT…just two or three times a week, so it’s not like I’m out there, tearing myself up. I’ve been fairly concerned and have even been thinking of going the knee brace route, but I was still holding off, hoping it would just go away. On top of the discomfort in my left knee, I’ve felt some pain in my hips, ankle and right knee. I know, I’m not even thirty and I’m falling apart!

All of these aches have really made me worried. While the discomfort I felt while running yesterday could have been pushed through, I just didn’t feel comfortable doing so. I have my 5K on Sunday, and if I was going to push through anything, it was going to be that. I didn’t want to do anything that would make running that race painful. This is why I decided to call it quits on my run and come back home. I felt kind of bummed out about cutting it short and on my walk home I tried to think of what I wanted to do about this problem. My thoughts then drifted in the direction of shoes.

Shoes have been heavy on my mind lately and I’ve been browsing online, but I realized that i didn’t really know anything about shoes or my feet. I could wind up buying something online that looks snazzy, but does nothing for me otherwise. I came to the decision that I needed to get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes. So after a shower and some googling, I had pulled up several options for where I could do such a thing. The obvious answer would be Nike Town, Sports Basement or Lombardi Sports. Thing is, Nike would only have their own brand of shoes, and i wanted options. Sports Basement and Lombardi would have options, but the staff might not have enough time or interest to really look at my feet and consider my situation. I needed a store that specializes in running shoes. After finding an option, I set out for:

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The shop I picked out was located near 9th and Irving. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been to the Inner Sunset…or the Outer Sunset, for that matter. One problem with living in San Francisco is that while there are so many great things here, if you live in the city, you probably don’t partake in most of them. Aside from skipping out on touristy things (unless you’re me and work in the industry), native San Franciscans have a tendency of sticking in their neighborhood. The city is small…only 46.7 square miles, but there are tons of neighborhoods, each with their own flavor, food, atmosphere and weather. There are even sub-neighborhoods, like my own, the Lower Haight. I believe legally, we’re part of Hayes Valley, but everyone calls it the Lower Haight. Anyway, every neighborhood has a supermarket, liquor store, pet shop, bar, restaurants, mom and pop coffee shop, Starbucks (or 2, or 3, or 4…) and there’s not really a need to go elsewhere unless you’re meeting up with others or you need a specialty item. Like running shoes.

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The reason I was drawn to On The Run is the Yelp reviews about their gait analysis equipment and the amount of effort and time their staff spend on helping a customer decide what shoe would work best for them. This was exactly what I needed. I didn’t take any photos inside, as I was feeling a little too shy to do so. What happened was that I went over to the women’s running shoe section and stared blankly, helplessly, waiting for something to happen, namely a salesperson to ask me if I required assistance. But sadly, all of the sales people were busy, so picked up some shoes and stared at them, then put them back on their shelves. After looking pretty petheti-sad for a couple of minutes a really nice guy came over and asked if I needed assistance. I told him I did. I needed guidance in choosing a pair of running shoes, as I had just recently taken up the sport. He had me take my shoes off, roll up the legs of my jeans and walk for him. Then he had me walk some more. Then he took me over to a crazy machine and had me walk four times (for consistency) over a pad. Then all of a sudden, like, magic, my feet were up on the screen. It kind of looked like this:

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(Source)

After analyzing my walk and my gait analysis system results, we came to the conclusion that I am a flat footed severe overpronator (for a down and dirty explanation of this, you can look at Zappo’s Running Shoe Fit Guide, or just google it. It’s all out there.) He asked if I get tingling sensations in the bottom of my feet, which I don’t. I mentioned the pain in my knees, hips and the like. He said it was possible that my overpronation was causing some of this pain. He also said the Adidas I was wearing were not substantial enough to provide proper support while running.

So he had me try on a pair of Brooks’ Ariel. I instantly felt the difference in support and my feet felt so much better. As I was walking around in the store with them, the associate I was dealing with passed me over to another guy. My new salesman said he wanted to show me another pair of shoes, but wanted to make sure he had a good grasp of my needs before he grabbed them. This meant more sock footed walking. I felt like a runway model, strutting around this store. Just kidding. After watching me, he went off and grabbed a pair of Asics. I am not sure of the exact model. He said that they would also provide support, not as much as the Brooks, but that either shoe would fit my needs. I tried them on, and I really liked how light they were, but my ankle felt really unsupported and I certainly didn’t feel as comfortable. I tried walking with one of each pair on, to try to figure out their differences. After a while, the associate told me I could actually go run around the block if I wanted, and he would watch my purse. How awesome is that? So I first ran in the Asics, then came back and switched to the Brooks. I came back and told him I had made a decision and said that the run really helped. He pointed out that it is easier to tell what is right for you when you take the shoes on a run…pavement is much different from a show room floor. How true.

I ended up deciding on the Brooks. While I know (now…I hadn’t really thought about this before talking to some friends after my shopping trip) there are many disadvantages to over support, I really feel that these were the right shoes for me at this time. I felt SO much better running around in these than I did in the Asics or my crusty Adidas. Everything felt lined up and my knees and hips felt so much better. At some point, perhaps after more training, exercises to improve knee strength, and a little weight loss (I have a really small frame, so being 5lbs over the top of the BMI for my height really isn’t good for me. Having the extra poundage slamming down onto my busted knee also isn’t good. I’m not really trying very hard to lose the weight, but I recognize it as a good idea) I might reassess and possibly go with a lighter, slightly less supported shoe.

I went on a short (just shy of 2 mile) run today. My joints were still feeling out of whack from yesterday. After the failed run I had decided a 3.75 mile walk to work would help. It didn’t. My mind felt at peace, but my body felt not so much. To make me feel even more icky this morning, I ate my weight in Fig Newtons last night after I got home and I could still feel them, sitting like a lump in my stomach. Gross. Despite all of this, I really wanted to try out my shoes. My body felt much better and I had much less discomfort post run. This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Now for shoe porn!

First, the old sneakers sitting on top of the Brooks box for height:

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I totally don’t remember there being a hologram on my shoe. Oh well, I guess your 3D cushion doesn’t cut it, Mr. hologram…

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Then the new kicks:

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I liked the messages on the outside of the box:

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Time for the main event:

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Happy Feet (beat up leg. Oops):

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Have you ever had a gait analysis done? What kind of shoes do you wear?

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4 Responses to Happy Feet

  1. maya says:

    Congrats on your big girl shoes! ^_~

    I bought my running shoes last summer from a place called Art Sports here in Tokyo. They have a gait analysis machine, but didn’t use it on me and I was too much of a wimp to ask why. The guy who helped me looked at my feet, watched me walk around the store, and pulled several pairs of shoes for me to try. He did some explaining about what I should be looking for in terms of fit and had me try on each pair several times and walk around the store. I was not offered the chance to run around the block, though I’ve heard that it was allowed at another location of the store. I think it took me about an hour to decide on which shoes I preferred. I ended up in Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 12s in magenta.

    They have served me well, but I am looking forward to getting another fitting now that I have more running experience under my belt.

  2. Oh I love this in depth shoe story! I just got fitted for new shoes, too and ended up with Brooks. I LOVE them and they have made a huge difference! I am an over-pronator, too. I wish my feet could have been lit up on a screen, but at least I feel like my specialty store did a pretty good job with out a fancy screen 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear if these fix your pain problems!

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