Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Training Tuesday: Orthotics?

**blog disclaimer - I'm not a doctor and I don't even play one on TV.  What I'm writing about is my own experience.  If you are dealing with an injury or have questions, find a PT or doctor who is much more knowledgeable than me.**

Dealing with injuries, especially ones that don't sideline you completely but just make your workouts not quite what you need them to be or cause a bit more pain than regular workout soreness, sucks big green donkey shlongs.  I've been there (heck, I'm there right now!) and I know friends who are dealing with this too.  ((group hug))

I'm trying to be proactive about my shin/calf injury.  I started PT last Wednesday and one of his recommendations was to try an over-the-counter orthotic.  The thought behind this is that if my foot is overpronating (rolling in) when I run, it's causing extra stress and torquing on my shin and calf.  He gave me recommendations for two types that my local running store carries, so off I went after the appointment to pick up a pair. His instructions were to run a couple times in them before my next appointment and report back. I tried on the two brands the PT recommended and I ended up with these:
I wore them home from the store and around the house Wednesday night.  Then, being the crazy, obsessive, stubborn, stupid dedicated runner that I am, I decided on Thursday to go for an "easy" 2 mile run.  I chose the treadmill at the gym in case things went bad and off I went.

I had one of the most painful 2 mile runs EVER.  It hurt 1/2 mile in and I figured I just needed to warm up since I hadn't run in a couple days.  It still hurt 1 mile in but at this point I was too pissed off to stop.  Weirdly, speeding up helped during the 3rd 1/2 mile segment but then the wheels fell off again.  I left feeling extremely frustrated and in quite a bit of pain.  The majority of the pain was in my arches - not just the "bad" side either.  I didn't notice much difference on my shins or calves.  Seems they always feel tight and sore.

After tweeting and FB'ing how I felt, I received a bunch of "what the heck did you do that for?" comments.  Apparently you are supposed to take a week or two getting used to these dumb things before you try running in them.  Oops.

I spent the rest of the week and weekend getting used to the orthotics.  By Sunday, I could wear them pretty much all day without really noticing them (although I will say, I feel like I have MORE planar fasciitis issues now than when I started this whole process).

Yesterday, I went for another run.  My goal was 4 miles and I had a route that would take me around my 1/2 mile loop a couple times first, and then out onto the trail for the last 3 miles.  The orthotics lasted a mile before I was considering running barefoot. The first half mile wasn't that bad and I started to think that maybe these orthotics were a good idea after all.  I had pain in my arches (but not as bad as Thursday) but what was worse was the pain running up my ankle and the outside of my shin - my injury is on the inside.  The pain kept getting worse, so I made the decision to ditch the orthotics. I stopped back at home after my 2 loops to put the regular inserts back in my shoes.  (As a side note, it was really hard to accept running at an 11 m/m pace when this is the loop I run Yasso's on at a 9 m/m pace - sucks losing all your speed & I don't feel like I'm even close to the runner I was on Thanksgiving day).  I headed back out to finish the rest of my run.  The 2nd mile still really sucked, but the last 2.25 weren't too bad.  My feet felt much happier (although they still hurt some) and my pace picked back up (but not anywhere near what I'm capable of running - maybe about 30 sec faster per mile than with the orthotics in).  I'm glad I did the run and was able to enjoy the spring-like 60* and humid December 3rd day here in Michigan.  Side note to Mother Nature - are you on crack?

I felt pretty good last night, other than my hamstrings still KILLING from my weights workout on Saturday - WTF is up with that??? This morning, my arch is very sore and my shin feels like it normally does after a run (which isn't great, but tolerable).  I'm wearing my running shoes now with the orthotics in to see if I notice any improvement throughout the day, but I'm not hopeful.

I see the PT again this afternoon and I'm going to see what he thinks.  Do I just need more time to get used to these or should I try the other brand? The Superfeet orthotics felt wrong just standing in them, as if the arch support was too far to the back.  I'm inclined to say "f*ck it" to the othotics altogether.

Thoughts?  Do you wear orthotics? How did you transition to wearing them for your runs?  Help a girl out.  I really don't want to eat the $88+ dollars I spent on Saturday signing up for my next half marathon.

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