It would be fair to say that mild panic is starting to set in after not being able to road run for four weeks because of my foot injury, plantar fascia (jogger’s heel), which reminds me every morning that it’s still there.
It is, however, improving so my trainer Gaz Brown of GetRunning thought it was time for a visit to the Shoe Clinic because he and the guys at SportsLab suspect that the running shoes I’ve been training in may have caused my injury.
Guess what? They were right.
You may be thinking but why were you running in shoes that weren’t right you for when you’ve essentially been under the care of a specialist running clinic and sports physio? Well it wasn’t their fault. I have been a bit naughty and got bewitched by a pair of very pretty trainers that were sent to me for free.
Two key words there – “pretty” and “free”! So instead of running them past the pros (which I knew I should), I just started running in them. They felt fine, so I assumed they were fine and I kept doing it. Then I got sent another pair of the pretty trainers in another colour! I thought my Christmas’s had all come at once, and but after three runs in these, BAM! I had plantar fascia.
It is also not the fault of the people who sent me the pretty trainers. The fault lies with me because if I’d sought advice first, to see if they were best for my feet, I wouldn’t be where I am now – water running in the pool and spinning on the bike freaking out that my half marathon goal is now only seven weeks away.
So off to the Shoe Clinic in Ponsonby I went where I met with running shoe specialist Greg Thompson and I took my old Sportslab/Shoe Clinic-approved Mizuno’s (that I used to run in until they wore out) as well as the two pairs of pretty free trainers to show him.
Among other tests, he got me to run barefoot on the treadmill to assess my running style, before getting me back on the treadmill to test my shoe prescription – the latest Mizuno. I felt a bit like Elaine from Seinfeld running in white trainers in a frock but then again the sports luxe look, in particular white sneakers worn with dresses, was all the rage at the recent Paris and Milan fashion weeks so apparently it’s no longer a fashion crime.
Thompson’s assessment is enlightening. It turns out the Mizuno style is the best shoe for me because I have moderate over-pronation.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 10 (Thompson is pictured holding above) has a wave plate which goes through the back of the shoe and stabilises the shoe making it torsionally really strong but the front is really flexible. “You want your foot to bend at the front and you don’t want to be working too hard to lever yourself off the ground so it’s a really good shoe,” Thompson says.
The pretty free trainers are torsionally weak – soft and unstable – and a neutral shoe that doesn’t offer a massive amount of support.
“They work really well for a neutral foot type but because you need a bit support they are not the right shoe for you,” Thompson says. “It’s common for people to pick shoes on looks rather than technical aspects. They are very nice to put on and you feel very cushioned straight away but it takes a bit of time for problems to manifest themselves. You can run in them for two or three months but beyond that the cumulative affect of not having the right protection support creates the injury so you might get shin splints or something like that. But getting yourself assessed properly and into the right sort of footwear is a way of preventing injury.”
However, with the Mizuno Waves on, my feet stay in a nice neutral position.
“The idea is, in a simplistic way, make everyone run in a neutral gait using the shoes to guide the foot,” Thompson says. “You are moderately over pronated and because the wave plate is more built up on the inside than on the outside it stops the foot from rolling in that direction and guides it through a little bit straighter.”
As for the pretty trainers, his advice is to “toss them or use them for gardening” because even walking in the wrong shoes for long periods puts a lot of pressure on the feet.