Hope everyone had a lovely, not too cold, weekend! My weekend was fantastic, and included an early Christmas celebration with my side of the family. I’ll post a recap of Christmas probably on Wednesday!
Miss Truckee was not invited to this picture. She’s too big for her cousins 🙁 Aren’t my mom and sister-in-law beautiful? I think so too.
You know what else this weekend included? The painful realization that my legs and feet are definitely not made for marathoning.
That’s right. I truly believe that ANYONE can train for, and run a marathon, but I also truly believe that not everyone’s body mechanics are designed to withstand the repeated ware and tare that the marathon distance presents. Luckily, there are fantastic running shoes on the market that can help with this, and I’ve quickly learned that FIT is everything!
Training for a marathon. It’s hard. It’s even harder on your body. On your hips. On your legs. On your feet. On your back and neck. On your everything. And over time, as your body takes on the intense pounding force of running excessive miles, it will break down. Especially if you’re like me and blessed with collapsed arches and over-pronating feet. It’s just the nature of the beast. I can try to properly support my feet all I want, but in the end, they will win every time.
Don’t get me wrong. There are thousands of marathoners out there who have run MULTIPLE marathons, and will remain unscathed. And I wish I was one of them. But, that’s because THEIR body was built for it. THEIR feet and tendons and ligaments were designed to support the milage. Everyone’s body comes from a totally different gene pool, and I envy those ultra-marathoners who are capable of pushing their bodies to limits I could only dream of. I will never be an ultra-marathoner. Not because I don’t have the determination or the mind-set to make myself run 100 miles, because Lord knows I do, but because I know my feet would literally, and physically, not be able to support me. I know my genetics and I know the weakness that lies within in my non-existent-arches and I know how prone to shin splints I am.
And that’s okay.
I’m still a runner. But, like my family and I discussed this weekend, physically, I’m starting to think God intended me to be a half-marathon girl.
I’ve had several people ask me, “so why are you running a marathon?” and “so like, after the marathon, are you going to quit running, like, you’ve conquered running?”, and “after your marathon, are you going to find another hobby?”
The last two questions just made me laugh, for obvious reasons, but the first question, “so why are you running a marathon” has been a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately. Especially since this tendon pain started and I’ve realized how badly I may really be injuring my feet and ankles in this long process.
I am running a marathon not just because it’s the next obvious distance after a half marathon, but because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. That it’s possible. That I can put my mind to something and accomplish it. That I can say, “I ran a marathon!” That I can mark it off my bucket-list. That I can brag to my kids one day, “did you know your mom ran a marathon before she had you?” That I can prove to myself that I am strong, and capable. And so that I can finally experience the feeling of crossing that finish line, a marathoner, not a half-marathoner.
I’m not going to quit running after the marathon. I’m not going to pursue a new hobby after the marathon. But I am going to reassess the distances I run, and focus my attention on half-marathons again, and shorter distances. I know I haven’t run my official marathon yet, and I very well might love it and be super pumped to run another full, but the way my feet are feeling now, it’s looking like it’s going to be a smart idea to not run another marathon anytime soon.But I refuse to let my bad feet win and I’m on a mission to still find that perfect shoe, that perfect support, and keep my feet as happy as possible!
If you’re still confused. Let’s play catch up on what’s been happening with my feet.
I trained right on schedule up until St. Jude, or what was supposed to be St. Jude on December 7th. I ran my 20 miler just fine, felt great, and was full of optimism afterwards. My arches hurt a little bit, but that’s just going to happen after running 20 miles on flat feet! (Yes, I always wear my orthotics in my running shoes, but who’s feet DON’T hurt after 20 miles??) Well, then my new shoes came in the mail. A little over 3-4 weeks out from race day. The perfect amount of time to break them in with some medium and short runs. I ordered the newest model of my old running shoes. Theoretically, should have been the *same* shoe. Or so I thought. They felt fine at first, maybe a little stiff, just like any new shoe would feel. Then I started to notice a little bit of pain on the inside of my right ankle. I just assumed it was from breaking in new shoes. No big deal. Then I started to notice the pain turn more into a shin splint pain along the bottom inside tibia, right along the posterior tibial tendon. I tried to ignore it, thinking it was just overuse, so I tapered a bit longer than I was planning, was sure to ice plenty, knowing that I wanted to be fully rested for the race on Dec 7. Then, the marathon was cancelled, so that day and the day after I did a 10 and a 13.1. I could barely finish the 13.1 because the pain had gotten so bad! It took me almost 2 1/2 hours to run that half, and you KNOW I’ve been running half’s fairly consistently right under 2 hours! Yea, red flag. I rested again, and kept icing. And then this weekend I did another 13.1, and was in tears by the end of it. I almost couldn’t finish it. By this point, a half marathon should be a breeze, and it was…before the new shoes. This was the final straw. I was already starting to doubt things a little after my two runs last weekend, but this weekend’s run, really got to me. I’m beyond frustrated with my new shoes, and have already written the company asking if there have been any other complaints. Side-note, I know it’s my new shoes because when I tested out running back in my old shoes, the pain went away almost completely.
I wear custom orthotics in my running shoes religiously to try and combat the effects of my flat feet and collapsed arches. When I show you these images below, you’ll see why.
My dad is a chiropractor back home, and he’s got a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the importance of proper alignment within your body. He has a machine that can scan your feet and show you everything you ever wanted to know about your feet, and how that in turn effects your whole body. Everything starts with your feet. Seriously.
The image on the right is what a normal foot looks like. The red is where you are putting pressure and distributing your weight. The blue on the inside obviously symbolizes a healthy arch. The image on the left, is my feet. Virtually no arch, and pressure all over. Basically…BAD.
Since my feet are flat, wearing custom orthotics helps properly support my feet, and in turn, keeps the rest of my body in line and working together the way it’s supposed to. The image below represents the way my body is tilted when I’m standing barefoot, without orthotics.
Shoulder drops, pelvis tilts, knee rotates, and arch drops. Because my feet are just naturally so flat, when I’m standing barefoot, my right side takes 57.88% of my weight bear, and the left side takes 42.22%. Ideally, it would be 50-50. This off-balance throws everything off kilter, causing more problems than one, and effects my whole posture and stance. So you can imagine what kind of damage running barefoot would do to my body! Ha!
In fact, I don’t have a screen shot of it, but with every step I take misaligned like this, it’s as if my feet are feeling 580 lbs of force, and 58 lbs of force up into my neck and head. See, it all starts with your feet people!
Here’s another fun result-
Optimal pronation range is a 0-34, and I’m a whopping 119. Percent difference in balance should be less than 1%, and I’m at 15.6%.
You’re probably thinking by this point that I walk funny, run funny, and how on God’s green earth have I run as much as I have, and WHY am I even still running? If you think I walk or run funny, you’re crazy. This is just an in-depth analysis of the detailed mechanics of my feet and where the pressure hits most. I’ve had flat feet my whole life, and sure my arches hurt from time to time, but it’s all what you get used to. It’s not like this scan really comes as a surprise. But, I’ve never had a problem with running until just recently when my new shoes aggravated everything.
As runners we hear ALL THE TIME how important proper fitting shoes are, and I just wanted to stress the importance of wearing shoes that fit YOU, shoes that properly fit YOUR feet, and why if you don’t already wear orthotics to better support your feet, you probably need to! The insoles that come with your running shoes are standard.
All of this to say, my dad ordered me a new, fresh pair of orthotics that I should have tomorrow, and I’m going by the running store tonight and try out a couple different pairs of shoes. The makers of my current “new” shoes have also already offered an exchange. At this point, it comes down to either wearing my old worn out shoes WITH my new orthotics and just know that my feet will hurt because of how worn out my shoes are, OR, try to find a new pair of shoes that might keep my feet from pronating as bad plus wear my new orthotics and hope it’s a miracle. Two weeks before my marathon. UGH. **update! I ended up buying a new pair of shoes, but this time a “neutral” shoe, and my problems went away! The new shoe I had previously purchased was too stiff and was too far off from what my feet had grown used to running in!**
I’m still really excited for my race, but after experiencing my first “running injury” I’m appreciating more and more the distance that my feet have already taken me, and I’m learning more and more about what my feet and body mechanics are capable of. I’m not willing to cause myself harm farther down the road!
I will run and conquer this marathon, and if I never run another one again, I’ll still be a marathoner. Not a failure.
Do you have flat feet? Do you over-pronate? Have you ever felt like you were injured so close to a big race?
Tomorrow I’ve got a guest post from one of my favorite fellow bloggers so be sure and check back! She’s the cutest!