My New Achilles Support System

May 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

Notice anything different?

Yep, that’s right, I got new shoes.

Not only a new pair of shoes, but a new brand (New Balance), a new model (860s)  and a new type (stability).

When I saw Dr. Paul Langer, the Running Podiatrist, several weeks ago for chronically tender Achilles tendons, he prescribed three things to try first:

    • Heel Drops.  I was already doing a variation of these–stand on a stair, hang your heels off the edge, and lift up onto the toes.  Then slowly lower your heels down below the top of the stair you are standing on.  Dr. Langer, however, recommended a variation where you still lift with both legs but then lower yourself back down with just one leg.  The problem I’m having with these is that I’m not coordinated enough to switch from having two feet on the stair to only one with any sense of rhythm.  So not only am I failing to do them the way he recommended, I have also stopped doing them the way I was originally doing them.  Shame!
    • Using a pair of Orange Superfeet Insoles.  Took some searching to find a dealer with the orange ones but I found a pair within a week and have worn them on every run since then.  Not sure that I’ve seen a change but seems like they should do something.  Might not be able to tell from the picture but the insoles that came with my shoes (the top two) are an 1/8th inch  of light-weight foam.  Not good for much.  The orange insoles have a hard plastic piece that runs through the back two-thirds.

  • Switch to Stability Shoes.  I’ve run in Nike Pegasus for over 15 years–there were a couple pairs of Nike Icarus, a pair of Nike Zoom Extras (Cross Country spikes), a pair of Nike Zoom II racing flats, and a brand-forgotten pair that lasted a week.  But for the most part, I’ve worn Pegasus.  And for the most part, when I start a new pair I feel good but after some miles my Achilles get sore again.  I figured that it wasn’t the shoes’ fault since the pain subsides when I start wearing a new pair.  Dr. Langer decided that I slightly over-pronate and shoes try shoes that provide more stability than the Pegasus–gulp!  It was a bit traumatic to buy something totally new but I’m giving them a try.  I tried on the Asics 2160 which also felt good but the New Balance 860s that I bought had a bit more room in the toe-box and has a less aggressive heel counter.

I waited until after running Lake Minnetonka before trying out the new shoes in case I have trouble in them.   But I’ve had them out of the box and been running in them for the last two weeks.  I won’t know for a while what I really think but I have not noticed any dramatic change.  The first thing I noticed is that the heel seems loose–my heel feels like is going to come out at times, especially at the beginning of a run.  Perhaps a different lacing pattern will help.

I’m still in the feeling-out stage with my new companions–there is a lot of excitement and anticipation that maybe these will “solve all my problems” as the shoe dude said although I remain skeptical.  But at least I’m slowly working my way through Dr. Langer’s recommendations and things aren’t getting worse.

The Week That Was 4/4/2011-4/10/2011

April 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

This was the second of three planned weeks of phase II of my half-marathon training for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in June.  While I completed every work-out, I didn’t dominate them so I’m thinking that I may extend this phase a week.

Looking at this week, on Tuesday, I did a repetition/hill workout and did OK but not great.  I really struggled with my tempo run on Tuesday.  The ideal tempo workout would be 20 minutes at my tempo pace (currently 7:17) but I managed only to do one mile and then a second half mile.  Now, to be fair, this was my first tempo work since last fall so maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on myself but I really struggled with this workout.  My third work-out was a 10 mile long run which I actually over-ran–suppose to do 8:40s but ended up with a 8:28 average.

So overall, I had one bad workout, one so-so workout, and one good workout.  Looking at the schedule, though, Tempo work continues through the rest of the schedule so extending Phase II by a week would really just give me one more rep/hill workout so I’m not sure.  My left hip really bothered me during the disastrous Tempo run.

The good thing is, though, is since getting my Superfeet inserts, I’ve used only my oldest pair of Pegasus and really haven’t noticed an improvement–if anything, they have gotten sorer.  For my long run on Sunday, however, I wore a newer pair and today my Achilles tendons actually feel better than they did Sunday when I work up.  I’ve come up with the theory that new Pegasus provide enough motion-control for me but, as a cushioned shoe, they lose that control more rapidly than a true motion-control shoe.  And as they lose whatever control capabilities my Achilles take the brunt.

That would explain why I get short-term relief from new shoes but it doesn’t last long.  So hopefully switching to a true motion-control shoe will help–maybe I’ll make that more of a priority.  I still have a fresh pair of Pegasus with 0 miles on them that I was going to use before trying something new but maybe that will need to change.

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