Sunday, October 15, 2017

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get New Shoes

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.

When you're struggling with running, what's the first thing you think about changing?

A few years ago, plagued with running-related injuries, I knew something had to change. I started working with Becky at the CrossFit box and as I grew stronger, I rediscovered my speed and love for running. It's been a formula that has worked well for me for the last 3 years, helping me to set PRs in almost every distance I ran during that time.

Since my diagnosis with RA earlier this year, my speed and endurance have dropped dramatically in spite of continuing to strength train at the box. With Becky's move to Las Vegas, I have been working with a new coaching team. I've increased those workouts to twice weekly. I can't deny the positive effect those workouts have had on my overall strength, but the strength is no longer translating to success on the road. Who knows--maybe I wouldn't be running at all if I wasn't doing strength training. But in the hopes that I can regain some endurance, I've started looking elsewhere for answers.

When I see other runners struggling, the first thing they do is either change their fueling or their shoes. Am I right? Is that what I should be thinking about?



I don't think my fueling is the issue behind my lack of endurance. I continue to use Tailwind to fuel my long runs, although I am using it a little differently than I have in the past. I'm making a more concentrated version of Tailwind and taking in extra water. I was experiencing nausea on my longer runs and the extra water seems to help me avoid that. I've been able to finish my long runs without a problem--that is, as long as I'm using the run/walk method.

Sigh.

The run/walk method has been a run-saver for me. Right now, I would not be able to run any distance without it. I won't lie--using the run/walk method makes me feel like a fake runner. Don't get me wrong--I know plenty of real runners who use the run/walk method with great success. But that's not me. I always used to pride myself on being able to run any distance without stopping.


I want to just run.

A writer for Runner's World tried the run/walk method last fall and did a nice job of selling it. Other runners have told me they know someone who used the run/walk method and BQ'd. Amby Burfoot utilizes this method as well. To make myself feel better, my motto has been "if it's good enough for Amby Burfoot, it's good enough for me." Still, even he has the disclaimer: "I wouldn't want anyone to think I've gone soft or anything". 

See, it isn't just me.

While I employ a ratio of 4:1 for my run/walk intervals, I've also been using that ratio for speedwork. I just realized that at 8m/m, my 4 minute intervals were about 800 meters. I feel pretty good about those intervals--I've been doing 5-6 of them. I keep hoping to do 8, but I just run out of gas. I wonder, will I be able to build on this? I feel kind of stuck. I'm not seeing much progress no matter how I train. It's not as if there's a lot of research on this subject. I did find one study, albeit a small one, that showed regular aerobic activity and strength training in women with RA led to gains in both areas.

Intervals (800s) at the pond
I'm in uncharted waters right now.

That's the thing. It's been almost a year since I was diagnosed with RA, yet I have no idea about where my running is going. I had hoped that once my symptoms were under control, I'd be able to resume my regularly scheduled program. Since I continue to have flares, when I head out for a run, I have no clue how a run will turn out. Running was always so predictable, so reliable. All the things I did in the past, whether it's fuel or diet or shoes...nothing seems to make a difference.

I feel like a runner without a plan.

Still, I just keep going out to run. My workout schedule hasn't changed. Every week, I do a long run, a recovery run, speedwork, and a shakeout run. I go to CrossFit twice a week and yoga at least once a week. I just keep on keeping on.

RDLs to strengthen the glutes
This week, I received a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders to review. A loyal Asics Gel Nimbus user, I haven't tried new running shoes in years. I've never been one of those runners who looks to a new shoe as a magic bullet.

But, hey, wouldn't that be something if...

What do you do when your running seems stuck? What are some positive changes you've made to impact your running? Do you think changing shoes is the answer (I don't, by the way)?

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap!






61 comments :

  1. I'm leery of changing shoes, unless they offer the same in terms of arch support, etc. Three years ago, I was told (by a reputable biking/running store) that I was wearing the wrong shoes. He put me in neutral shoes (when every other place had me in stability shoes). And, he also sized me up 2 sizes! ((gulp)) Needless to say, these "dream" shoes were a nightmare and did not help any of my piriformis/hamstring issues. That said, I am willing to try new stuff...just in case my needs have changed (without my knowing it) or if there is that "perfect" shoe out there, somewhere, yet to be discovered.

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    1. So you realize that it really isn't about changing shoes, right? Wouldn't it be great if it were that simple?

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  2. I wear a size 5.5 running shoe so changing doesn't happen often for me since many brands don't carry anything under a 6. I've tried wearing size 6 and it just doesn't work. I wore (and liked) Mizunos many years ago but they have since quit making my size.

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    1. You're kind of lucky because you can wear kids' shoes! They're a lot less expensive and they have all the same models.

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  3. I have switched shoes a few times thinking it was the answer to my problems. Don't think it made a bit of a difference. I've had to drastically change my actual running and a few times that has meant taking a break from running for a while. I do think it's normal for regular runners to go through cycles with their running and consistency has to win out at some point. Maybe you can be the one to head up the research about RA and Running ?!

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    1. I thought about that! I'd need to round up runners with RA and there just aren't that many of us.

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  4. I've been using Asics Gel Kayanos since I started running, and so far so good. A few weeks ago I added the Zelus Insoles and had some quicker-than usual runs. I trained all summer with Tailwind and did fine, but at the Chicago Marathon last Sunday are started feeling queasy at Mile 20, and by Mile 22 the very taste of it made me want to hurl. I'm not sure if it was the Tailwind or the warm weather, but I decided to go sans Tailwind for the Marine Corps Marathon next weekend. Good luck with the new shoes--I'm anxious to hear how they work for you.

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    1. I've had that queasy issue with Tailwind and I even reached out to them about it. I didn't get much of an answer though.

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  5. Hi Wendy. I didn't realize your trainer had moved. That's big, though I remember she responded in a weird way when you told her about your RA, so.. maybe your new trainers will be more supportive. I'm glad you've managed to transition to new trainers. And go you for just getting out there. Look at you lifting that big weight. Yours hands indeed must be really under control.

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    1. Yeah, I think the RA kind of threw her off. I do believe we would have done ok, though. I miss the psychological support she used to give me. It was really a big part of our training--more than I even realized.

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  6. I'm so very sorry you are having to deal with this! You are the strongest woman I know and a huge inspiration to others. Maybe that is the plan. To just keep moving, to keep on keeping on despite the struggles, despite RA. To be that inspiration. [HUGS.] Thanks for linking!

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    1. Awwwww....To tell you the truth I haven't been feeling very strong lately! I'll get through this...with help from my friends! <3

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  7. I don't think shoes are the answer, but the wrong shoes can certainly cause problems! Im sorry that you feel so stuck. I know that you will keep pushing on because thats what you do, I just wish it didnt have to be such a struggle.

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    1. You and I both know that new shoes aren't the answer, but why not try it anyways?

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  8. I don't think that changing shoes is that answer. Last time I did that...I just got injuries. When I typically think about increasing endurance, I think increasing training volume and tempo work. I'm not sure that is the case for you either without really looking at your training schedule. You are already extremely fit between the cross fit workouts and your regular running schedule. Hopefully, you are able to figure out what it is that you need!

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    1. I really think that RA is making it hard for me to be consistent with anything I'm doing. Just when I get on top of my symptoms, I flare and it sets me back. Today's 8 miler was really satisfying in spite of the windy conditions. So I know it's in there.

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  9. I changed shoes because Asics changed my model too much. I like the NB model I'm using right now. If I'm in a funk, I'll take a break because more often than not, the funk is mental. If I need a break, I take it and come back when I feel the itch to run again.

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    1. I've heard that Mizunos are very similar to Asics. So I figured why not?

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  10. Wendy you really have been such an inspiration for pushing through despite this roller coaster ride RA has put you on. I'm sorry you're feeling so stuck right now.

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    1. I'm starting to figure out my symptoms and exactly what constitutes a flare. The steroids that I started a week ago have kicked in and I'm feeling better. I just need to decide when I need to start them. The frustrating part is that it keeps happening.

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  11. It's gotta be the shoes, right? I know what a struggle the last year has been for you, but I'm happy that you're still out there. I know you have challenges, but in truth, we all do. When I see you overcoming yours to the best of your ability, I feel inspired to tackle mine. #truth

    By the way, I love Wave Riders. I first tried them for a campaign years ago, then left my Asics permanently. I hope you like them too.

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    1. I've been told by those in the know that the Mizunos are a great shoe for those of us who run in Asics. We shall see. I'm not expecting any miracles but it's always nice to change things up!

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  12. I do think run/walk intervals can help.. I have done them before. I don't think changing shoes helps, but I did recently get shoe inserts despite due to some dreaded plantar fasciitis, and they really did help with that. Hang in there.

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    1. If only I could get a handle on this thing. It's really shaken up my runs!

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  13. Oh, yes, I am tempted to buy new shoes just in case they are the source of my PF, but I usually just get a new version of my trusty Mizunos -- so if yours don't work out for you ... ;-)

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  14. My friend has problems with his feet during his runs and he always thinks he needs new shoes when they start to hurt. I have bought several pairs of the same shoes because I know they work. Even when the newer model comes out, I luck out and they work just as well.

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    1. I've had no issues with my Asics, but hey, I've got this new pair of shoes and all...

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  15. Im such a hoka woman. never ever ever deviate. ever. until I do :-)

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    1. I've been tempted to try Hokas. Why not? That could be next.

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  16. I do like to get new shoes shortly before a race. That is, the same model I've been training in, of course. That fresher foam always seems to help. But overall I don't think shoes make you faster (unless you're in the wrong shoe for you).

    If anyone can figure it out, I have faith that it is you!

    And while I may be slow (still), run/walk has allowed me to take almost 20 minutes off my half time in the last year. Yes, sometimes I don't feel like a "real" runner, either, but it just works for me and I use it for every type of run.

    The only thing constant in life is change.

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    1. I don't know if I'll figure it out...I think I need to work on my expectations. That's harder for me than anything!

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  17. You know we are sole sisters. I like the Asics Nimbus. The new Riders work just as well for me without the bulk. Of course that's not the magic bullet that's gonna restore you to your original glory. You're killing your workouts. Perhaps too much so. What if you backed off more than you do every 3rd week or so?

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    1. You know me well, my friend. I'm sure that shoes aren't the answer. I have been backing off--it seems like nothing changes for me. The only constant is RA making me nuts!

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  18. I'm a loyal Mizuno WAve Rider runner, love them!
    I've said it before but I think you are really inspiring Wendy. I know this year has gone far from your plan or the way you wanted, but the fact that you keep running, going to cross fit and yoga is something not everyone would do. Just do the best YOU can do each day. That in itself is a victory!

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    1. Doing my best is always the plan. It's tough when I'm so used to crushing my workouts to going to just accepting what I can do that day. Thank you for your love and support.

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  19. I wish you could cut yourself some slack with your running; even if you didn't have RA, you are getting older and it's normal to lost some speed/stamina - just part of life, you know? And I'm not saying that you're old, because hello, pot/kettle over here, but I think you've been such a strong runner for so long that maybe you're not factoring in just plain old aging as part of slowing down?

    Also, shoes might not help, but anything new for running always makes me look forward to the next run, so yay for new shoes!

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    1. I completely agree with you that age is a factor here. But I would expect and accept a gradual decline. Instead, my running feels like a rapid descent. Maybe this is how it's going to be. I'll get there. In my new shoes.

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  20. I can totally relate to this and, obviously the most drastic change I made many years ago was to triathlon so, barring that change for you I think things will start moving in the direction you want them to. Sometimes it's a mind shift, sometimes a new workout (like CrossFit for you) and sometimes you just need new shoes.

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    1. Pretty sure I won't be doing any tris soon! I just want to run, dammit! But I love how you get me...sometimes you just need new shoes, right?

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  21. I love new shoes. They always help but I think it's psychological.

    I don't use the run/walk. I just can't make myself do it.

    But I do walk. Sometimes often, sometimes not at all. it depends. But if we cross that finish line, we are runners.

    In some races, I really suck and I don't have anything wrong like you do. You just have to do out again and again. The more you do it, the easier it is to forget the sucky ones.

    In my book, you are still awesome (and fast). And so inspiring!

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    1. 100% psychological! Clearly, I need help!

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  22. I'm sorry to hear you are struggling!! man that sucks butt!! like smelly running butt!!

    I do not think that shoes make a difference, but I did once took off my shoes while running and ran on my socks out of frustration with a random pain. I wanted to throw those shoes to the river!! Roger is going through a lot of foot pain right now, and shoes have not helped. And on the same note, I don't ever want to change shoes, my Nike Free are everything to me.

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    1. You know that shoes aren't the answer but sometimes you have to do something, right? I hope Roger's foot pain goes away.

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  23. I used to wear Wave Riders! They're great shoes. I think you'll like them.

    Please don't think you're less of a runner because you run/walk. There is NO shame in walking. At all. Period. Ever. I can barely run 3 miles straight these days without stopping. Who cares? Not me! Besides, in distance running the walking portion is really beneficial to your legs and overall performance.

    YOU are a beast. Keep running strong, Wendy!

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    1. I'm slowly working my head around it. After all, even doing the run/walk method, I'm finishing my long runs. That's something.

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  24. Sorry about your struggles. But you keep on keeping on! Love that about you. Never know until you try with new shoes. I used to only wear Brook's for the longest time until my sister introduced me to Altra's and now it's my go to shoe! Change can be good!

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    1. I ran in the Mizunos today and it was great! Altho the weather may have been a factor..

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  25. I have been running the the Mizuno Wave Inspire 10 and 11 sneakers for years (I purchased a few pairs of each when they were on sale). Unfortunately all of the sneakers are nearing the end of their running life so I am going to be on the hunt for a new running sneaker soon!

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    1. Today's run in the Mizunos was really encouraging. They are much lighter than the Asics. Felt like I was wearing slippers!

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  26. Ugh. I'm so sorry you're having to endure all of this. For athletes, their sport makes up their identity - I don't care if you're a professional, household name, or just a diehard amateur, it still is who you are. Hang in there!

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    1. It's runny that you mention that...so many people say that running isn't who you are. But you know what? I disagree with that--running is so wrapped up in my identity. You hit the nail on the head.

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  27. Wendy you are such an inspiration. You are doing an awesome job and I hope the shoes are your magic bullet, that would be awesome. I know how you feel about intervals, I myslef have never been able to commit to them, but if they help you keep running then that is awesome.

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    1. Wouldn't it be great if the shoes were the thing? I'm not foolish enough to believe that a pair of shoes can turn things around but it's kind of fun to think about it!

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  28. While I don't think new shoes are the answer for every runner and every issue and yes, I tend to be one of those who always tries a new brand or model when things start going downhill. However, I will say that one time, for me, changing shoes made a huge difference and I went the longest I'd ever been without any issues while wearing them. So, I do believe, given the right situation and the right shoes ...they can make a difference. It really just depends on the situation. Good luck with the Mizunos ....hope it helps! :)

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    1. I have never changed shoes because running has been tough. Seriously, if I hadn't received the Mizunos to review, I wouldn't try a new shoe. But it's kind of fortuitous that they came my way...

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  29. I do like the Mizuno's I hope they are a game changer for you too! I wondered where Becky went! Vegas you say, wow!

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    1. Becky went on to bigger and better things! She's working for Cirque du Soleil!

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  30. I hope you can figure out something! That process of looking for answers is tiring. Changing shoes did help me finally run my last half without a walk break but I was still about 15 minutes off my best time lol I am usually faster with intervals and I don't mind them just trucking around the neighborhood it is when I am at an event I feel some apprehension using them...but I've been at it so long, that is starting to go away! Hang in there!

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    1. Today's run was promising, but I don't think I'm in shape to run a half without a few walk intervals no matter how good I feel. Maybe I'll try one interval per mile...

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  31. Oh... I wish shoes were the answer. I think you are amazing!

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