The Early Years as a Fitness Runner
I started running back in 2001 as a way to stay fit. I was a treadmill runner and from about 2001-2005 my standard routine was a mile warmup, 30-40 mins of weight lifting, and then 4-5 additional miles on the treadmill. The runs were always at tempo effort. I didn't know what "tempo effort" was, but I just tried to run pretty hard to make sure I was getting the most out of my workout. And I did this 5 days a week! There were two reasons why I never attempted to go further than five miles at a time. First, my sports bra would chafe me horribly and I hadn't discovered body glide. After 5 miles, I could no longer tolerate it. Second, the bottoms of feet would hurt me.
For shoes, I would go to Modell's, a discount athletic store, and buy whatever New Balance shoe felt the best. I chose New Balance because my college roommate seemed to like that brand, so I figured it would be good. I changed them about every six months. Miraculously, I was never injured.
Transition to Racing
At around the same time I started racing, a runner friend of mine suggested that I get properly fitted for running shoes. I went to Metro Run and Walk, a local running store, and was told I needed a stability shoe. The Brooks Adrenaline felt the best of everything I tried on. With that shoe, I realized I could go further than five miles without my feet hurting. Shortly after the new shoes came the discovery of body glide- which meant that my sports bra chafing wasn't going to hold me back.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6
|Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6- Ready for the Marathon|
Mizuno Wave Elixir: It Must Be Love
As much as I loved the Adrenaline, I found another shoe that fit me even better. In 2008, I discovered the Mizuno Wave Elixir, a lightweight shoe with stability. My foot is on the narrower side of normal, and Mizuno shoes are known for being narrow. I loved the way it felt to run in this shoe. But I was afraid that the lack of support would contribute to injury, so I reserved the shoe for speed work, 5K's and 10K's only.
In 2011, as I started doing longer track workouts, I realized I'd probably be okay for a 10-mile race in the Elixirs. I successfully wore them for a 10-miler, and then tried them out in a half marathon and the support was definitely sufficient.
Goodbye Foot Slapping and Heel Striking
In 2011, I noticed that my gait was starting to change. In the summer of that year, I started working with my coach and during our first long run, he told me that I was a foot slapper and I shouldn't be making that noise when I ran. He didn't provide any tips for stopping it, so I just tried to be more aware of doing it.
I think that my regular track workouts contributed to a more efficient stride and within a few months, I was no longer a foot slapper. I am not sure what I changed specifically, but I no longer hear the noise while running.
In 2012, I started to realize that I was no longer a heel striker. This wasn't a conscious change, it just happened naturally. Here is a progression of race photos which shoes my transition from heel strike to mid-foot strike.
|Richmond Half Marathon, 2008|
|Potomac River Marathon, 2010- Heel strike not as pronounced|
|Crystal City 5K, 2012- Midfoot strike|
|Angel Kisses 5K 2013- Midfoot strike|
At the beginning of this year, I was starting to feel like the Adrenalines were heavy and bulky on my feet. I continued to wear them for long runs because they were the only shoes I trusted would carry me the distance without injury. I had also been rotating in the Mizuno Inspire, which is a compromise between the Adrenaline and the Elixir. It has more support than the Elixir, but not as much bulk and pronation control as the Adrenaline. It felt better on my foot than my Adrenaline, but I was worried it was just not enough shoe for the 20-milers and the marathon itself. Nothing could pull me away from my trusty Adrenalines!
Recently, I went to two local running stores for an updated recommendation. I actually hadn't been fitted for a shoe since 2005, and I was curious to see what they would say. The first store told me I would be fine in a neutral shoe, and the second told me I have slight pronation, so I needed a light stability shoe. Both stores advised that the Adrenaline was too much stability control and that it wasn't ideal for me.
Another interesting bit of information I uncovered was that my Adrenalines were too small on me. Sure, I frequently lost toe nails and my feet would almost always go numb. But I thought that was normal. And when I had tried on the larger size, it felt too big. Once the running store rep pointed this out to me, everything made sense. How wonderful would it be to not have numb feet and loose toenails after a long run!!!
My Mizuno Inspires and Mizuno Elixirs were not too large on me. I bought those in a half size larger than the Adrenaline because they were narrow and fit better at a larger size.
So I had my answer. No more Brooks Adrenaline. The Mizuno Inspire will be my shoe for daily training and the Elixir will continue to be used for speed work and racing. But what about the two pairs of Adreanlines I have left that have low mileage on them? I figured I could still wear them on recovery days, like today.
But I was wrong. I don't know if it's mental or what, but my run in the Adrenalines today was simply unbearable due to how tight they felt. Unless my feet have somehow adapted to the properly-sized Mizunos, there isn't a good explanation for it. I actually cut my recovery run short this morning because the Adrenalines were hurting my feet. How ironic is it that the shoe that once enabled me to go far beyond five miles, is now limiting me to five miles?! So I must say goodbye to those shoes forever now, and open a new chapter of running with solely Mizunos.