I’m the kind of runner who sports stores dream about. I get anxious about the distances and so I focus on all the potential obstacles in my control, and then try to obliterate them. Clothing and footwear are at the top of the list.
For example, if I’m worried about how far I have to go, my thoughts go like this:
“I think my socks are too tight. Or maybe my shoes are too loose. Or too tight. I can’t tell. Something is wrong in the foot department. And my shorts. I think they might chafe. A lot. Everywhere. I think I need new shoes. And shorts. And socks.”
Since most published info on the topic of running footwear suggests replacing shoes after extensive mileage or time, I didn’t have to feel guilty that my anxiety was sending me into retail therapy. I felt justified in going to the local running store and buying new shoes. And also new socks. And different shorts. I needed them. No point in putting in the mileage without the right gear, I say.
But let’s just focus on the footwear a little more closely. I was running in pair of shoes that were a free bonus when signing up for a race. Free is good! So that’s what I used, but honestly, running was just really uncomfortable. After a lot of procrastinating, I did finally go to a reputable running store and they analyzed my gait – very modern stuff – they watched me run on a treadmill, measured me, watched me walk, and all sorts of other things I don’t remember, but they pulled out a pair of Asics (Nimbus) and slipped heaven onto my feet. Those shoes actually made me feel better! Worth the money.
Then, when I needed replacements, Asics had modified the Nimbus and the new version was a little different, so I had to get a different size, which was almost OK except that I started getting a permanent blister. No problem. I’ve got grit. I can run with a perma-blister.
Then, my left knee just rebelled. After the Sept and Nov half marathons, I had a serious IT band issue – my left knee hot, angry, and unwilling to support anymore running. I stopped running for a couple of months and I didn’t even feel bad about it.
Then, I went to get help. And the physical therapist did a full-on gait analysis. The running store’s eval was child’s play compared to the physical therapist’s. He started with strength and balance tests, then put me on the treadmill, with shoes, barefoot, with video, and replay, and discussion, and supportive conversation about how I was running ALL WRONG and no wonder my body hurt! I had to relearn how to run. (This is totally worth it’s own posting, so I won’t go into more details now.)
New running technique required new shoes. So, back to the running store. I now own three pairs of running shoes – different brands and different sizes. Actually, I suppose there are bunch of runners who own lots of different shoes, but I was fine with the one pair, until I was sure that my shoes were causing my problems and I was persistent in trying to find better shoes. Since I have the tendonitis issue in my FEET, my shoes are still my primary suspects for the pain problem. We’ll see. More on that later.
And undergarments. At the beginning, I owned two running bras and I’m not even sure why I originally bought them or even when. But, they were comfy and I thought they were getting the job done until one day, after a particularly sweaty 8-miler, I hopped into the shower and cried out in pain when the water hit sores. Sores! The kind that you can’t feel happening because of the pressure of the clothing, but then when free and clear to air and water – watch out. So, with a credit card and a sad face, I was back at the running store. I now own multiple running bras. Different brands and different sizes. I still haven’t found the right one, though, because the ones I have are snug enough not to move at all, and therefore don’t chafe me, but it also means that when I’m wet with sweat, they are glued to me. I’ve thrown my back out trying to get out of them. I am still on the lookout for a running bra I can get in and out of by myself but otherwise does what it should.
All it takes is one chafing attack to initiate constant worry about friction. So, I now am a believer in Body Glide and Dr Scholl’s Rub Stick (really meant to prevent blisters in fancy shoes,but hey, it works where you need it.) Yet, even with all my preventative measures, I still managed to get a new blister on my right foot. And, if you recall, my feet are already having issues, so the blister was really just too much. Back to the running store last weekend where I laid out $12 for one pair of super socks, and then also bought a new sports bra because maybe it will be the one that keeps me safe AND I can get off without ending up in a neck brace.
(One of the nifty things about this blog set up is that while I am writing, a selection of other online articles that share words with my words show up as available inserts. On a whim, I opened one about blisters. I’ve dropped it in at the bottom of the posting. If you read it, you’ll see that I am not being a sissy. Chafing is real and I am right to be fearful of it and will be on the quest for proper gear until I am safely outfitted for a 26.2 mile haul. )
- Running 101: Blisters and Chafing (wiserunning.com)