I’ve been a runner off and on since highschool. I ran track, played football, rugby, cricket and more, but even then I was bothered by shin splints. Over the years I would drift away and then come back to running, and each time it would start out great then devolve into pain and suffering as the shin splints returned. The last time even crept into the dangerous territory of stress fractures. As my Olympic dreams only revolve around dating gymnasts I decided to stop and let time work its magic. After a three-phase bone scan, a hellish two and a half hours in an MRI, rehab and more rehab, I was ready to run again, except nothing had changed. I started running, and the pain came back. This time, I stopped before I crippled myself and finally decided to use my brain for a bit.
Clearly, my running style was doing real damage. I’ve always been a heel striker, landing heavily on the heel then pushing off with the toes. Sounds normal, but in fact we humans only run that way because of the invention of cushiony running shoes. Have you every run in barefeet? You lean forward, and run lightly, landing not on your heel but your midfoot to toes. That’s the way we were designed to run. Whether you call it natural running, Chi running, or any of a number of styles the result is the same – running the way we were originally designed to. Armed with this knowledge and prepared to try just about anything, I found this new shoe company that was designing shoes with this more natural running gait in mind. I was skeptical, not least because the color of the shoes is ghastly, but having tried almost everything else I decided to give them a try. A miracle, no, but I can run again. Between the new running style which I’m still working on and these shoes I’m slowing building up the miles and not crying all the way home to spend the next two hours with ice bags wrapped around my legs. It’s a nice feeling.
Now I just need to stop eating ice cream as a reward every time I run a couple of miles!