Thursday, March 10, 2011

do they serve an orthopedic function?

(Quote from Can't Hardly Wait - does anyone even remember that movie?)

Warning: For those of you who aren't runners, this is a boring post about sneakers. For those of you who ARE runners, this is an awesome post about sneakers! 

Four years ago I walked into Marathon Sports to be fitted for proper running sneakers. I'd just started running and was dealing with some shin splints. When I told her that I was running in a pair of New Balance cross-trainers she looked at me as though I'd just run over a priest while throwing kittens out of the car window. She asked me to walk barefoot across the room and the diagnosis was that other than having Fred Flinstone free (wide, with no arch) that I was a severe overpronator. It was decided that I needed a motion control sneaker. For those of you who don't run, those are the totally uncool ones that look like orthotics and weigh three times as much as other sneakers. It was an adjustment to get used to, but I figured that this was the hand I was dealt. I had to run in sneakers that were properly fitted to my feet, end of story.

Fast forward to today -- I go into Marathon Sports once again. This time I tell the saleslady that I am looking for a lighter shoe and that I am willing to give up some of the support and maybe get an insert in order to do so. I walk barefoot across the room and she confirms that yes, I still overpronate (it's not as though I would have grown an arch between 2007 and now). She asked me a series of questions to ascertain if my Brooks Ariel sneakers were indeed the right fit for me. I casually mention to her Juls had noticed that I almost run on my tippy-toes on a couple of our runs (as well as the half marathon). I also told her that in race photos it appears as if I am, indeed, striking with my toes.

At this point, she is thoroughly confused. If I'm a heel striker, then there's no way that I should be wearing a motion control sneaker. We decide to do a little test. She has me put on a pair of Brooks Addictions and takes me outside. She has me run back and forth for a while and when I'm done she looks absolutely befuddled. She lets me know that I am definitely striking with my toes. She brings me inside and has me try on the Brooks Dyad, which is a neutral shoe. I can immediately feel the difference when I take off down the street. I return back to the saleslady (I wish I'd gotten her name!) and I'm shocked to hear that my gait is actually quite efficient (NO WAY!). My feet do turn out a bit but not enough to warrant much added support.

My best guess is that over time my gait has changed. Could be from running with more regularity, or having lost some weight. Who knows. All I know is that I can finally run in sneakers that don't feel like cement blocks. And that I may, one day be able to get a cute pair of running sneakers. I know, I know.. so superficial. But if you'd been running in these for the last four years you'd probably feel the same way:

The evidence of the great gait change. 
Picture on the left is from 2009, the right is from 2 weeks ago:

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