Just over a week ago my new Physio, Jake, banned me from running but promised he’d have me ready to run at Bribie.
So when I turned up for my second physio session on Friday, I was fully prepared for more needles, more pressure points and more running ban. We’ve still got 3 weeks until the mini Bribie Triathlon.
Indeed, an hour of the same physio talk and tests ensued – there was jumping, hopping and twisting of my legs. Jake got his extra-thick needles out and did some more dry-needling – actually, a lot more. And it was really painful. I wished he would switch to acupuncture instead. Dry-needling is more of an archaeological dig for injury fossils inside me than just a few strategic pin pricks like you get with acupuncture. There is a lot of ‘rummaging’ with the needle tip once it’s inside and boy is it painful. Especially when he hits a nerve (yes that happened)
But then, as a magical surprise just as I was about to leave and make my next appointment, Jake announced that he was happy for me to go for a run. Well he called it a jog, but we all know that sounds much less serious than a run and what is the technical difference? I don’t know so I always claim a run, never a jog. Jogs are for wimps.
Anyway, I stared at him. Really? Yes, just take it easy, wait for at least 24 hours from now and don’t do more than 4km. Stop if you get any pain, but if you just feel a bit tight then you can keep running, he said.
I took this to mean that I am the best physio patient he’s ever had and I have healed at a speed that even Superman would be proud of. I patted myself on the back and hurried out of the office to plan my first Recovery Run.
Resting for 24 hours was no problem, because my hip felt very tender from the dry-needling. It was kind of a satisfying soreness; like I had endured a major procedure. I had shoulder surgery about 6 years ago, so I can say with some authority that my hip felt as though it had been operated on. I agreed that the rest was needed.
So I took the opportunity to go to the shop and treat myself to new running shoes.
I had been planning on getting new shoes since I started these triathlon shenanigans, but yesterday I knew it was time to either bite the bullet, get new shoes and break them in over the next three weeks, or resign myself to sticking with the old ones. I am sure there are guidelines around such things but I personally felt that three weeks was the minimum break-in time required for new shoes before racing. Plus, I deserved a treat and new shoes sounded more triathletised than chocolate.
My recently-purchased ‘You Can Run Pain Free’ book has an entire chapter dedicated to selecting the right shoe, so I spent Saturday morning reading the book and gathering advice. I should say that ultimately, the advice I gathered boiled down to not choosing the lightest shoe, looking for something with a stiff sole under the toe for extra power, and if in doubt, choosing the shoe you feel most comfortable in. Groundbreaking stuff. But I did feel more confident about going shopping, armed with the knowledge that I couldn’t go too far wrong as long as the shoes simply felt good on my feet.
So Shane and I battled the crowds at North Lakes shopping centre and made our way towards The Athlete’s Foot – a shoe shop where you are guaranteed (yes an actual, money-back guarantee) to find the right fit for you. They have fancy equipment for analysing your stride etc and a very good shoe selection.
The problem with The Athlete’s Foot is that the staff are all teenagers who have probably never had a running injury in their life. And at this time of year they are super busy trying to accommodate the school children buying shoes for when summer holidays finish next week… IE, the staff want to make a quick sale and shove you out of the door as soon as possible.
Shane and I arrived at a brief quiet interval, so had three staff members pouncing on us and offering help before I’d had time to analyse their wares. I explained that I would select some shoes I would like to try on, which seemed to offend them because they apparently would have preferred to tell me which shoes I wanted to try on, not the other way round.
Eventually I had two pairs picked out: the Saucony Guide 9 with Everun, along with a pair of Brooks Ghosts. I asked one of the girls if she could check my shoe size before getting them.
I always wear Aus size 7 normal shoes, but size 8 runners. I suspected I needed to go up slightly because my toes had been feeling squished after a hot run. I don’t think I have grown, although my ego is a lot bigger than it was so that could be the reason. The girl measured my feet and confirmed that I would need a size 8.5. That’s a 0.5 ego growth, nice work. Again, my salesperson seemed rather annoyed that I had been wearing the wrong size, as though I had done it to offend her.
She went off to collect my shoes and came back with two completely different pairs, the Saucony Guide 8 (without Everun) and Asics Gel-Kayano. She offered no explanation for this except to exclaim that she was wearing the Asics herself and she loved them. I dutifully tried them both on, went through the motions of testing them out and admiring them, and then asked if she could get one of the pairs I originally selected. Which again annoyed her because the brief quiet interval was well and truly over and she probably needed to serve 17 school children.
But I was ready to spend my dollars and I wasn’t going to do it on anything other than the perfect shoe. I kind of already had my heart set on the Saucony with Everun shoes, which is the only pair my salesperson returned with (Perhaps the Ghosts are invisible? Maybe they are a spiritual shoe that you just know is there? I will never know)
The Sauconys were featured in my Runners World magazine and look pretty, as well as having some exciting-sounding science behind them. I tested the sole – toes were nice and stiff. Good arch support – could get away without my orthotics in these shoes. I tried them on – fit felt good – enough room for my feet to heat up and swell but not so much room that I was going to be slipping around in there.
Everything went downhill for my salesperson when she asked that question I get asked all the time, one way or another. And I understand that no, I don’t look fit. I do not look like an athlete. If you had to bet whether I went for a run this morning or sat and ate pancakes in front of the TV, you would guess the latter. But as a salesperson myself, I find it extra offensive when the Rules of Basic Sales 101* are disregarded, to ask a rude question.
*Rules of Basic Sales 101 state that you should not imply your customer is lying.
‘When you say these shoes are for running, do you mean going to the gym?’ she asked.
No, I mean running. Like, not a jog. Like, not sitting on my butt eating pancakes. Like, not going to the gym.
‘I have gym shoes,’ I said. ‘I want running shoes.’
She didn’t believe me and I stopped caring about her advice on shoes. Shane and I discussed the merits of my two front-runners (hey, I made a pun!) and in the end, not only did the Saucony Guide 9 with Everuns look better, they were slightly cheaper and a better fit around my toes. They emerged victorious on my feet, and I didn’t take them off for the rest of the day.
So, at the 24-hour rest mark, I had new shoes, my hip felt mostly ready and I was excited. But the humidity was at 84% (which, for those who don’t live in Queensland, is the point at which your fingernails start to sweat) and the gym was shut and the weatherman was forecasting the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm. On balance, these problems outweighed my readiness and I decided to wait another 12 hours, until this morning.
I woke up a little later than usual after a rather late night. But nothing was going to stop me. I gleefully put on my new shoes and started my warm-up, which is an absolute drag at the best of times but after 4 weeks without a good run and with new shoes on my feet, it felt like torture to have to warm up.
I say that my hip felt mostly ready, because the resting had helped so much that the pain was no longer 24-7 but I couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t come shooting back as soon as I ran 10 metres. I was highly suspicious that it was lingering just under the surface, ready to strike me down and make a mockery of my rehabilitation attempts.
So to give myself the best chance, I had to put all my focus on good form and posture. Which is why I made the executive decision not to take Matilda the dog running with me. I jumped in the car to trick her into thinking I was going to the gym… And did indeed drive to the gym, where there is a nice little 3km circuit outside. I was pleased with this plan because my dog was happy, I would be able to run outside, I’d be well under the 4km limit that Jake had imposed, yet running far enough to start to break in my shoes without tempting a blistery fate.
I felt a bit nervous to finally start and probably set off a little too fast, but with good form. I was a bit over-excited. Eventually I settled in to a nice rhythm, and simply ran.
Nothing hurt. Nothing rubbed. Nothing snapped. Nothing twinged. It was a miracle cure! I made it all the way round – hot, sweaty, a bit too knackered for a very short run, but pain-free.
I took care to stretch afterwards and did some heavy-duty foam rolling before stuffing my face with a celebratory cooked breakfast at The Coffee Club with Shane. I must admit that I still feel a bit tender or delicate in the hip area, maybe just from bruising. I won’t be expecting to run a 10km tomorrow; in fact I’ll switch back to swimming in the morning to make sure I don’t overdo it again.
But frankly, you’d better watch out, running. I’m back.