I run a good number of races. At the end of the race, Marathonfoto.com lets me know that my race photos are ready, and I dutifully head over to check out what are sure to be awesome photos of me running.
When I run, I like to think I look like a happy gazelle. I’m gliding down the roads, rounding corners and flawlessly grabbing water cups along the way. Turns out I look like a mean, scraggly-haired run-walker whose quads are always flexed. Why does Marathonfoto ask its photographers to shoot at leg level? I swear the focal point in most of my photos is my thigh — whichever thigh happens to be heftier at the time. And why does Marathonfoto not ask its staff to edit out unflattering images? These people manage to snap a few shots when I’m blowing my nose or looking my most miserable. How about not tagging that one next time?
Here are some of the all-time worst photos from the past few years, which is as far back as Marathonfoto keeps images, thank goodness.
And here’s a good one, at last!
See? I’m smiling, my form looks great, and I don’t have a fat leg. This is what I feel like when I run, even if I really look like a troll in photos most of the time.
I just finished my first run with a pair of Thorlo Experia running socks I picked up yesterday at City Sports. I am a hard-core Balega girl, but I think I’m a convert after running in these. They were a little spendy, but holy crap, they were both cushy and they had a great amount of suction around the midfoot, which is what I have trouble with. And the heel area where the Balega socks usually wear out first has a little bit more padding, so that might mean they last longer.
Since I wear running socks every day and since keeping my feet healthy is pretty important, I think I’m going to cycle these amazing socks in as my Balegas wear out.
I subscribe to an email list for discounts on workout gear. Today’s deal was for something called Lock Laces. This product looks like a complicated elastic shoelace apparatus that I would have to substitute for my existing shoelaces, all to save me from ever having to tie my laces again. Sounds good. Except I am pretty good at tying my shoelaces (see instructions from Runner’s World). I double-knot them most of the time. Aside from random shoelace trouble when the manufacturer decides to use some weird material to make their laces flashy, my laces almost never come untied.
I don’t think I’ll ever try the Lock Laces because I’m lazy and don’t like unlacing and then re-lacing my shoes with some gimmicky product. But the advertisement reminded me of a completely awesome product that was floating in my subconscious somewhere. It’s this: Bow Biters. Specifically Muppet Bow Biters. I had the Miss Piggy ones when I was a kid. How awesome would it be to run a race with some sweet Kermit heads on your shoelaces? Too bad the Kermit ones haven’t been produced since 1988.
I bought my first pair of what I’ll call semi-minimalist shoes at the 2011 Boston Marathon. “Come on,” I thought, “I’ll never wear these. I’m not fast enough to prance around in these bright yellow things. They’ll probably just be a souvenir.” I’m not sure if the screaming nearly neon yellow pair of Adidas trainers made me fast because they were a great, light pair of shoes or because they were yellow. But if I was going to be ballsy enough to wear something like that, I sure as hell had better be going fast. So I decided to run a little faster. But with these on, I felt like I could fly.
The problem with the semi-minimalist shoes was that I loved them too much. If you know me, you know I typically rotate among somewhere between four and six pairs of shoes at a time. I run between 65 and 80 miles weekly, so the shoes come and go pretty quick. But I favored these shoes to the point that I wore them four or five days a week. I broke the first rule of transitioning to minimalist shoes: Transition gradually. In its March 2013 edition, Runner’s World says:
Spend the first week just walking in them. The following week you can start running in your new shoes — but wear them at most every other day for the first two to three weeks, and only do a mile or two.
I took these suckers on long runs the first week I had them. The next problem was that then I bought lighter-weight shoes. I got in to a pair of lighter, zero-drop shoes. Those would make me even faster, right? I can point to a lot of reasons why I gained speed during this time — age, better diet, cautiously increasing my mileage — but I probably could have still trained at the same pace without the drastic shoe shift. And my legs and feet would have thanked me later.
Then, of course, I got hurt. But getting hurt took me a good year and a half. My feet and lower legs never had a real rest from the pounding. I never took a break from the lightweight shoes. So two weeks before the Chicago Marathon during a week when my mileage was pretty low, I was on my first visit to the podiatrist with a case of plantar fasciitis like I’d not experienced since 2005 when I started running half marathons. The podiatrist bent my zero-drop running shoe in half and politely told me I was kind of dumb for wearing those things in the first place. He gave me a prescription for extra-strength Tylenol and some orthotics and cautiously cleared me to run the marathon. I decided to wear my heaviest pair of shoes for the marathon. The heaviest pair was actually about as light as my original Adidas trainers — the ones that made me fly.
I think now that I’ve gradually reintroduced a few pairs of shoes that fall in the middle on the shoe spectrum between the heavy, structured behemoths and barefoot running, I’ve found the types of shoes that work best for me. Getting here just took me a few years.