Guest Post: Running Injury and Shoes

Today's post comes to us from "Middle Age Middle Distance Runner." He wrote a post back in January. Today he brings us information on running injuries and a shoe recommendation. Welcome to February!  Well here we are about a month and a half into the New Year, and hopefully you are still excited about your fitness goals and have kept up your running routine be it old or new.  Unfortunately this is about the point where injuries and weather have started to sideline some newer runners.

Typically running injuries in new runners are a result of overdoing it (though if it’s the weather that’s sidelined you, there is little you can do about that!). The common injuries include, but are not limited to, shin splints, various leg muscle strains, knee pain issues, plantar fasciitis, and in rare occasion piriformis strains, an easily-irritated hip external rotator. These injuries can be debilitating, and in the case of the latter, and literally be a pain in the butt! Any one of these injuries will certainly necessitate some time off, the amount of time off and ease of reentry into running will be determined by the care taken immediately after sustaining an injury.

A common problem that seems to plague more accomplished runners is the self-denial of having an injury, and even more so getting that injury looked at by a doctor.  I speak from experience on this one. That initial pain sets in (pending it is not one of those drop-you-to- the-ground injuries), and instead of listening to your body you push through the pain to get the workout done, or keep up the routine and wind up to further injuring yourself. In this case the runner usually ends up with a far worse injury than if he/she used common sense and patience and took a few days off from running.  Pain in the middle of a run is when this is the worst time, but there is no shame in walking the rest of the way home if running would only further aggravate the injury. Don’t get me wrong, the distance runner needs to train to run through some pain (i.e. muscle soreness). However, the pain of an injury is not that type of pain.

Initially it might be hard to discern the types of pain, but over time you get good at identifying the “I’ve ran hard and my chest hurts from breathing, and my legs ache from effort,” from the instant or prolonged, “My x-body part is sore and hurts”. As far as treatment goes I always recommend seeing your healthcare provider, and in the meantime apply the R.I.C.E. method of injury care; rest, ice (15 minutes per day), compress (use a compression bandage on applicable injured body part), and finally elevate the injured part (especially easy for leg injuries).  Too many times I see runners fall into the bad habit of ignoring pain then an inevitable injury occurs.

Alright, that’s enough about pain and the struggles of running, let’s discuss shoes. After all a good pair of shoes can go a long way to help prevent injuries in the first place. As mentioned in my January post, I love Hoka One One running shoes and no, I am not sponsored by them (though I’d love to be). I am a big fan of their shoes after many years of running on several different brands.  Hoka’s One One are considered a maximum cushioning shoe, and offer an answer to all the minimalist movement that has taken over running in the past few years.  I know that initial reaction to seeing these shoes can be, “Oh my, they look like a colorful orthotic shoe!” I assure you that these are not a corrective shoe, and despite the oversized heel and foot bed, these shoes are surprisingly light and responsive.

Another plus to these shoes is that they are designed for folks training for marathons and ultra-marathons, so for the average runner these shoes will last almost twice as long as traditional running shoes.  For example I like to switch out my shoes every six months, or roughly 500 miles of running.  I found that the four pairs of Hokas I owned I got another three months or 250 more miles out of them.

This is good for two reasons: first, it’s easier on the budget, and second, the shoes hold up and provide excellent cushioning and support through the life span of the shoe.  I usually run in the Bondi road model (I owned the Bondi 2 and 3 and currently run in 4), and the first model of the Conquest.  If trail running is your thing, then the Rapa Nui 2 is an excellent choice.  There are a number of YouTube videos about Hokas, some officially by Hoka, and some from individuals offering reviews of the shoes on their own.  I encourage you to go check them out!

The beginning of March starts the race season for a lot of folks.  Spring heralds the increase in the number of regional 5 and 10 Ks.  This is also the time when marathon training accelerates as folks prepare for marathons in late spring and early summer.  For the March post I will focus on how to prepare for 5 and 10 Ks.  If running a 10K is a goal for you, and you like the idea of a destination run I recommend checking out the Cooper River 10 K in Charleston South Carolina.  This is one of the largest 10 Ks in the US and it is run on either the last weekend of March, or the first weekend in April.  The weather there at that time is great, and the run is a lot of fun.  Until our next conversation take care and enjoy the run!

The Middle Age, Mid-Distance Runner