There was recently a question on the Runner’s World forums about a calf strain and if it could be due to the runner only wearing one pair of shoes. I thought it interesting, so wanted to share the question and my answer below.
“I’ve been dealing with an overuse calf injury for 6 months now. I don’t want to blame the problem on my shoes, but could switching shoe models help alleviate an overuse problem?”
Certainly. Different shoes, different terrains, different paces, they all spread out the mechanical stress and force locations to different parts of the body in different ways. This allows all those areas of the body to experience less overall stress and to easily recover.
Think of a runner that does the same exact speed at the same exact incline for the same exact difference on a treadmill every day in the same shoes. They’re placing the exact same stresses in the exact same locations every day, not giving those areas time to recover. It would be like doing the bench presses every time, other muscle groups would never get any stimulation to strengthen and the pecs would never get any off time to strengthen, thus weakening and likely becoming injured. New shoes could change your running form slightly, which could place the stress at a new location of the calf and give that injured area a rest. Compression sleeves could potentially do the same.
That all being said, there’s still no reason to blame the shoes, it’s not their fault. You just may have made a slight error in not giving your body enough variability.
Potentially it could not have to do with a lack of variation at all. I recently dealt with a calf issue due due to tight hamstrings as a result of a weekend of lots of climbing and descending after living in the plains for two years. I spent a few weeks with reduced volume and no intensity, and now I’m A-OK . Of course, you could look at that as a lack of variation issue as well, because I was lacking variation in the plains which meant the mountains were too big of a stimulus (classic too much too soon). But I look at it as me being unmindful and overzealous on the vertical for a weekend.
I also feel that such variation can help a runner put more distance in individual shoes before they are required to retire a pair. As I said in Men's Journal, I typically run through my shoes for 800-1500 miles until they fall apart or I wear through the bottom. I believe different shoes, speeds, terrain, etc all change up how the feel and legs are loaded so you do not overload a certain area of the body. It works for preventing running injuries and I believe it works for shoe durability.
Imagine if you only ran in a single pair of shoes. Throughout the miles the sole under the big toe will compress and wear away, so every run you may be pronating a tiny bit more each time. Over the miles that pronation may become exaggerated. Now, pronation is natural and necessary, but over-pronation beyond what is healthy for you can be an issue. Performing an exaggerated degree of pronation for weeks/months due to shoe wear may be harmful, but wearing those shoes two or three times weekly along with another pair or two increases variability and can potentially be a healthy practice!
Can the parallel use of different running shoes decrease running-related injury risk? | “the parallel use of more than one pair of running shoes was a protective factor “
Check out this quick review of the only socks I'll spend money and run farther than 30 minutes in!
I feel Injinji toe socks are better for running than a traditionally shaped sock because:
My one piece of advice is to not buy the thinnest liner pairs. They were originally the ones I preferred, however they simply wear out much much quicker than the slightly thicker models.
Because people ask...
After seeing some form of this question three times today on Twitter and/or Reddit, I thought I would make a quick post on what the heck you should do if you have a marathon coming up very quickly and you've not trained for it.
This post is assuming you are reasonably fit and able to go out and jog an easy mile fairly comfortable.
Keep in mind
Race Week Plan
The Day Before the Race
Race Day Pacing
In a fascinating LetsRun.com article looking at how far exactly did Kipchoge run during his sub2 hour marathon attempt there was a section about course measuring.
This is very important subject for all runners who are looking to PR. The authors discussed if Kipchoge actually ran farther than a marathon and if that cost him the 1:59:59.
Below you'll see how a course is measured:
The first thing that Katz explained is that a course measurer is supposed to measure the shortest distance between two points on the course, cutting the tangents. So as long as the measurer does this and the runners stay on the course, they’re going to run at least the proper distance. On turns, like on a track with a rail, the measurer measures 30 centimeters from the curb. In theory, if a runner could hug every turn perfectly, they could shave off a little distance, but that doesn’t occur in reality. Katz said even for the 200m race on the track, where there is only one turn and the runners could try to hug it perfectly, he thinks the runners are running at least 200m.
So you see, it's measured by the shortest possible route. So if you take wide turns during a race on a certified course, you're running farther than the course is measured! For the average half marathoner, doing even an extra .1 of a mile at a half marathon will add a minute to their time.
I consider taking the tangents to be the #2 most important piece of racing skill behind proper pacing.
How are certified race courses actually measured?!?
I've read thousands of articles related to running, nutrition, entrepreneurship, etc.
One that has always stayed in my mind was on the subject of the aggregation of small marginal gains.
Specifically, this article talked about a pro cycling team who hired someone whose job was to improve little things, a little bit. Imagine if you upgraded five things by just 1%, that is a small change but can lead to big growth over time!
Now imagine if you improved everything related to your running, or just one thing even, 1%? That's not hard to do, but 1% over a year, 3 years, a decade? That's going to have a huge impact!
Imagine if you upgraded five #running related things by just 1% - Click to Tweet!
Below are five small things you can do to drastically improve your running They're little things that will make a difference!
Which one are you going to work on this week?
I had two people in the last week ask me about low carb dieting and running, one was an athlete and one was a newsletter subscriber. I thought this was a sign to do a video about it! Check it out below and let me know what you think in the comments!
Can a low carb diet and running work well together? - Click to Tweet!
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Great question that I was asked about the importance of rest days for runners.
It really depends on how much you're running AND what you're doing while not running? Are you getting 8 hours of sleep nightly or 6?
Are you eating enough protein and calories or not?
How's your daily physical activity? Daily stress? Are you on your feet a lot or sitting?
All of this comes in to play when taking rest days into consideration. People running a lot but also who rest well can get away with fewer rest/off days, but people like the ER nurse I coach absolutely need a few days of no running because when she's on her feet for a 12 hour shift that's still physical activity!
"Rest days? What do you think I'm doing when I'm sleeping?!." - Click to Tweet!
On reddit and twitter I very often see people asking for training plan suggestions.
As a coach and as someone who has been coached, obviously I feel the best plan is having one that follows you. One designed by a coach to fit your local weather, your job schedule, your children's schedule, etc.
But for those who are not financially able to afford a coach or for those who don't need the accountability from that investment, the personalization, etc, I still thing you should really follow a training schedule! This is absolutely one of the best things a person can do to improve their running.
When looking to download a pre-written schedule, there are a few considerations:
1: It must follow your work/life/education schedule.
2) A schedule that is a little too easy is better than a little too hard.
So, where do you find these pre-written plans?
Well, searching google for "half marathon training schedule" is a nice place to start. Check out the first ten links and find the one that fits the above points best.
I'm really a fan of purchasing a full book. Hudson, Johnson, Fitzgerald, Higdon, Pfitzinger, are all great choices. The thing about getting a full book is it will be full of supplemental information about strength work, nutrition, etc.
"The best plan should follow the runner, not the other way around." - Click to Tweet!
There are two times to run.
If you're serious about improving at something and doing what you've never done, you must do what you've never done! Sometimes, this means doing what you don't feel like doing.
"There are two times to run: When you want to & when you don't." - Click to Tweet!
Check out my video below where I talk a bit about my thought processes when I'm really just not feeling like running and how I GET MYSELF to go out and run even on the worst of days.