(disclaimer: not an expert. but just wanting to encourage anyone who swears they’re too fat to run or can’t run or are too intimidated to use “real” running gear - it’ll be okay. you can do it!)
At the beginning of April, one horrible mile on the treadmill had me limping away from the gym, sharp cramps shooting up my calves. I experienced shin splints & leg cramps before, but this hurt to climb into the car, to walk up the steps, to simply stand. I spent the evening icing my legs & I knew that if I wanted to keep running, I’d have to change the way I ran.
My running friends encouraged me to “get fitted” for the right running shoe but that felt so..official. (& expensive – my shoes up to that point had set me back $50 at the most thanks to Rack Room sales.) I was worried they’d laugh me out of the store when they realized I’d never even run a 5K & that I prefer the treadmill. I like knowing what to expect in every situation & this time, I had no freaking clue what to wear, what to say, what to ask.
That weekend, I stopped at a local running store on a whim. I was wearing jeans but had my running clothes out in the car. Instead of asking me to change, the associate sat me down & asked questions. What was hurting? When did it start hurting? Did it ever go away? How often did I run? What were my goals?
(answers: inside lower shins, inside upper shins. about one mile in every time. yep, after 1-2 days of rest. every 2-3 days. maybe run a 5K without dying?)
He brought out a neutral Asics shoe, laced me up, & asked me to do a quick jog down the sidewalk for him. I tried to block out the cars waiting at the stop light, running in jeans, the fact that a marathon-running stranger was watching my very amateur gait & I set off at my usual pace. While he crouched on the sidewalk, I ran.
“Supination! Basically, you hit mid-foot but land on the outside. Then you slowly roll on the outside of your foot,” he explained. I’m striking a part of my foot with minimal shock absorption.
Over the next 45 minutes, we tried on six different shoes. The entire process was trial & error & by the end, my shins were so irritated & painful that it became harder to tell what felt good & what didn’t. (a very discouraging feeling, I must say.) I narrowed the shoes down to the pair that felt the best on my feet (Brooks Dyad 7) & from there, we tried several inserts to see if that would help shift my weight off the edge of my foot. The inserts only irritated me so instead, he threaded the laces to help give my ankle more support to ease the tendency to roll outward. He answered all of my questions, sharing his knowledge & never treating me like a newbie, just a fellow runner that needed help.
He also suggested that I begin “rolling” my muscles after each run, so I sat & watched YouTube videos before finding a corner in the stretching room where nobody could see me & giving it a go. The first few times I rolled were so awkward – my arms shook & I couldn’t quite get the right angle but like everything, practice makes better.
Neither the shoes nor the rolling were a miracle fix & the first few runs were awkward, getting used to new shoes. It took several weeks of icing & rolling for the pain to stop but over the past month, my shins have hurt less with each run & I’m running farther than ever. Since buying the Dyads, I’ve logged my longest, fastest, & furthest distance runs.
A few weeks ago, I ran 2.5 miles at a 12’11″ pace.
I’m not fast & I’m not great, but I think I might finish a 5K without dying.