I’m just over halfway into my holiday in New York, and so far, it’s just as amazing as everyone said it would be. I don’t want to leeeeeeave! If I didn’t have a job to return to, and a crew to run with, I’d hide out here until I got bored or the US government turfed me out. The latter is far more likely - I think we all know that.
Last time I posted, I was about to go to see a physio about pains in my lower legs. Just as expected, it was shin splints. No great surprise there, but not remotely encouraging to have it confirmed. It turns out that since I’ve stopped dancing (I did a lot of ballet growing up), I’ve lost a lot of flexibility in my feet and in the muscles attaching my Achilles heels to my calves. As a result, this tightness is creating a lot of strain and effectively pulling on the muscles around my shins. The term shin splints can often be used to describe a few causes of pain in the lower legs, but ultimately, it is when your muscles begin to rip away from the bones they are attached to. Did you just throw up in your mouth a bit? It kind of makes you wince to hear that, and it scares you shitless to learn that’s what’s happening to your legs. Suddenly you start thinking HOW?! What did I DOOOO?!
For me, it’s a mixture of a poor running style (which is largely due to weak core muscles and not enough power in my glutes and hamstrings), tight muscles and the wrong running shoes.
I know I overpronate, so I need footwear that provides support to stop ankle rolling. I usually run in Nike Zoom Stucture Triax, which is the shoe with the firmest support option that Nike sell. The shoe utilises a dual density foam, with a pretty solid section just behind the arch of the foot to prevent as much rolling as possible. This is an old school shoe, first released in 1990-91, and (if you’re vain about your shoes, like me) not necessarily the model you’d pick up first when you’re looking at the selection that Nike has to offer.
I was running in a pair of LunarEclipse+ trainers earlier in the year when I was training for the Berlin half marathon, but had a half size too big. I got a pair in the right size of the LunarEclipse+ 2 new releases when they dropped around April, because they really are a beautiful shoe - easily my favourite supportive running silhouette. The support in this shoe comes from a dynamic support system, which means that it really comes into effect as you start moving. The cushioning is insane - its like running on pillows - and they are beautifully light. The added bonus is that they look as great with a pair of shorts or rolled up jeans as they do with Lycra. For me, personally, though, my gait demands firmer shoes - strictly Structures for me - as I need support rather than cushioning.
The reason why I’ve drivelled on about this for so long, and why I decided to share it in the first place, is because it is extremely important to make sure you are running in the correct shoes. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your body, but your feet might need a certain type of support and that needs to be taken into account when you’re buying running shoes. This is something that differs with each individual. Please don’t tell me you wear your friend’s kicks to jog around the park in?!
Most running stores provide a gait analysis service, which involves running for about 15 seconds on a treadmill while they film the back of your feet to check the alignment of your ankles in regards to your foot strike. It’s ridiculously easy. Some places do charge, but Nike stores definitely do these for free, so make the most of it before you invest in new shoes.
Different shoes do different things. Sports companies don’t just make performance shoes that look totally different just for the sheer hell of it, so my advice is don’t just go for what looks good. The performance aspects in each shoe have been researched and meticulously designed to create features that athletes need. That applies to us too. Bill said it best: “If you have a body, you are an athlete” (Bill Bowerman, Nike).
I rely on advice from specialists that work in Nike stores, as well as the physio that I see, my dad (who teaches radiography and physiology) and the experienced runners that I know. Trust me, anyone who likes running also likes to talk about running, so it’s not hard to come across someone who will be happy to share their experiences for you to compare and apply to your own.
ANYWAY. Enough blahs about shoes. I’m sure you’re bored. I didn’t do any running for weeks and I was pretty worried that I was going to come out to New York, visit the Bridge Runners, but not be able to run with them. Thankfully, by the Wednesday before I left for NY, I wasn’t feeling any pain when walking or climbing up or down stairs. This was mega! And made me super excited about my holiday. Spending any length of time with runners when you can’t run would SUCK.
I turned up to Bowery Stadium with John to run on Wednesday evening, totally excited, but nervous that my stamina was going to take a beating. Having not run in a while, I knew I was going to suffer.
I’d spent the day on a rented bike, cycling from Downtown Manhattan, over the Williamsburg Bridge, through Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Keith Haring exhibition. 10 miles on two wheels in the sun and then 5 miles pounding Manhattan streets… WHAT WAS I THINKING?! This is me, we’re talking about. BEYOND BRAVE.
Needless to say, I struggled, but John was patient, Robin and Jessie were understanding, and Coach Saes didn’t look like he wanted to ban me from running with the crew again, so I didn’t feel too bad. I saw some familiar faces from Berlin and met other good peoples. I finally met Tony (writer behind A Running Life With Friends - one of my favourite blogs) and laughed with Mali about the whole running experience so far. Drinks followed (Red Bull for me, SO ROCK AND ROLL) and food followed that.
We ran again the next day, from Bowery Stadium to the new Nike Running Flatiron store. We took a couple of detours to make a mile and a half stretch a little further to give the crews filming for Nike something decent to capture. Lots of laughs and good vibes. My shins started hurting though. They’re still hurting now, and it’s been two days since I ran. I’m not sure how long I’m going to need to rest for this time. FML. I’m not running the Nike Great British 10K, but I want to start training for the Amsterdam Half Marathon pretty soon. I have 2 hours 47 minutes to beat, but I know I could do it in a sub-2:30 or less if I train properly.
I’ve been sitting in Miss Lily’s for the past 3 hours, eating, drinking, writing and chilling to good music. If you ever want good West Indian food in Downtown, good reggae, and to spend your meal staring at phenomenally beautiful women, go here! New favourite spot.
Signing out now. Blah’d too much for too long.
Hope London’s sunny when I get home!