Monday, November 25, 2013

About a girl and her shoes...

I haven't made it a secret how disappointed I've been in how quickly my running has changed since I found out I was pregnant (and to be honest, since before I found out I was pregnant, but of course, the decline in "performance" was related to that and I just didn't know it).  
I've been complaining a lot about my legs and my calves and how much they've been hurting during the most easiest of runs - and let's face it, even walking - and a lot of people have been quick to blame my shoes.  My beloved Skora running shoes.
They look at it and understand that it's a minimalist approach and right away they're quick to point out that perhaps, it's not providing enough support. Before I started using Skora's to run, I was also in the category of thinking I needed bulkier shoes for "support".  I had just started running and was super out of shape and attributed having sore legs and feet to my shoes (as opposed to just being REALLY out of shape and not used to what I was now asking my body to do).  So I tried out a LOT of shoes.  I even went for the approach that I would get what I paid for so I went pretty expensive (at least it felt that way to me!).  I was trying out Saucony, Asics, etc., I was looking for the dark gray markings on the arches to signify that it had maximum arch support, I was putting expensive insoles into the expensive shoe, I walked down countless aisles getting people in running shoe stores to analyze my gait, I was wearing special socks and yet, every single time, my shins and calves would be on FIRE.  I would go back to the drawing board and think I needed more support or more bulk or more SOMETHING.  As much as everyone says they hate running, it never really sounded like people hated it because it was trying to kill them through slow, torturous pain.  Yet, that's what it felt like for me.  At the end of an interval or a run, my feet and legs would be flop-flopping around because I couldn't bear to flex them in a normal walking pattern and lifting them again to take another step was something I would carefully consider to see if it was worth it.  That could NOT be what it running was all about.

So my friend Courtney started talking about these shoes that she was trying out and she had nothing but nice things to say about it.  I understood she was an ambassador and that she was given the shoes to try out and review, but the more she talked about them, the more it seemed like it was more than just a tit-for-tat.  Plus, she did a follow-up review on them after the initial review. 

"So, I just wanted to give my Skora's a quick little whirl and next thing I know: Boom. 2 miles in half an hour. Done. I don't even LIKE running, but I sure am loving these shoes and what I can do in them!"
- Si11ySkitt1es on Instagram, 10 months ago

Seeing as how I felt like I had tried enough shoes touting all this extra support, I figured, ah, why not give these a shot.  At the very least, they look really cool so if I can't run in them, I can still wear them and look good!  At this point, I had just gotten back into running so I hadn't been going any significant distance (yes, 5k counted as a significant distance to me back then - and still does!) so I was VERY surprised and SERIOUSLY happy when I ended up going 3+k straight my first time out in the shoes.

I know for the seasoned runner - and heck - even for me at the "peak" of my running, 3k in half an hour isn't that much, but besides the fact that it was the furthest I'd run in a significant amount of time and that I could do it straight without the shin pain was what I was really focused on.  The reason why I was so happy to be able to go that far is I usually have to stop because something is cramping or just plain hurts.

I remember three years ago when Tara and I had started taking up Couch to 5K, I told her that being out of breath and out of shape was something that I felt like I could handle and deal with while running, but the pain in my shins and calves was what was really making things difficult.  And that's how this very first run was different for me.  Because even though I hadn't run in a long time, I was able to do it because even when you're out of breath, you can slow down without stopping so you can catch your breath, but the pain was not something that could be helped.

"Woke up this morning thinking it was just another Monday (albeit a holiday) and next thing I know, I ran my very FIRST 3.2 miles without stopping once. In 48 minutes at a speed of 4 and incline of 3%. Even though it wasn't that long of a distance, I feel like it was more a test of my mind than a test to see how long or far I could go. This is just the start! Next time, same distance, faster time! :) #seecatrun #firstfive #becauseican"- Si11ySkitt1es on Instagram

Thinking it was a fluke, I tested it out again the following week and had even better results and I think it's what really sparked the interest in running for me. 

I don't go back and look at my IG pictures from earlier days too often and it's really getting to me the captions that I posted with these photos.  I love how inspired and proud I sound and I feel like I'm not getting it across very clearly how epic of an accomplishment this was for me.  Even when we did our first 5K all those years ago, there was never a time where I could go for 5k STRAIGHT without stopping.  I hadn't achieved that yet and all of a sudden, with the help of some shoes, here I was doing it!  And PAIN free!

Without the distraction and misery of being in pain during a run, I was now able to set my sights on actual goals now that I could finally hit running 5K without stopping. 

Because running still wasn't a "for the love of" kind of thing, I never fathomed running more than 5K so my goal was that if I was going to be doing 5K, I wanted to get faster and faster every time.  As happy as I was with going that distance, I wasn't going to settle on that time!  I didn't have to anymore!

I'm not going to lie, when I bought the shoes, I knew next to NOTHING about running or running shoes in general (CONFESSION: I still know next to nothing about running and shoes in general).  I read about how Skora shoes are made and about how they have a wide toe box and zero drop and I have no idea how an outsole design can change the amount of interference on a run (I don't really know what an outsole is, either).  But I know that the shoes feel good on my feet and I know that since I laced into those pretty white, pink and lime green shoes for the first time and hit my first 3K without stopping in them, I have never looked back. 

I know how it felt to run in shoes that were heavy and bulky and "supportive" and I can tell the difference in how I feel in them, not counting the actual statistical evidence that the numbers on the treadmill and my running gadgets have told me to my face.

So after all of that, coming back to now, you may be able to see how I get a little bit defensive when people go blaming my Skora shoes for bringing back the pain I used to feel when I first started running.  They did it enough that I started thinking that perhaps they were onto something.

Maybe Skora's weren't cut out for the preggos out there.  Maybe there really isn't enough support. 

Finally I decided that second-guessing wasn't enough for me and I was going to put a definitive stop to these accusations! (Okay, I make it sound more dramatic than it was since I'm sure the "maybe it's your shoes" were just a passing comment, but still - that's how it felt like to me! Wild accusations!!! LOL)

I packed up my Asics and my Saucony's with all the bells and whistles that I used to run in and whispered to my Skora's not to worry.  I was testing out a hypothesis.  I wasn't going anywhere!  And off we went to the indoor track for our usual lunch time "run" - which for me has now turned into a waffle (walk + shuffle).  And there it was.  SAME results.  About halfway through my second lap around the track my legs felt like they were stiffening up and cramping.  Then there went my shins and my calves and then I my feet were flopping around again during the walking intervals because it hurt too much to flex my foot into a regular walking gait.  I was staying hydrated and drinking water and basically trying to do everything the same as when I wear my Skora's.

I don't remember much about conducting science experiments from my grade 9 days, but I do remember that there should be a control (something to measure the experiment against: I have tried running in Skora's and running in other shoes that are NOT Skora's) and that it should be able to be duplicated (I ran separate times in different pairs of shoes).  So even though I didn't do it a bunch of times using a bunch of different people as test subjects, I'd still say that my little experiment proved my point.  My Skora shoes are not to blame for my decline in running ability and based on my scientific results, in conclusion my experiments have found that I'm actually just pregnant and carrying another human being inside my belly and all the changes in my body that go with that is a significant cause as to why it hurts when I run. #preggoproblems

Even though I knew it, I'm glad I now have something to fire back at people when they're quick to blame my shoes.

I just need to have more material when other folks start in on me about continuing to "run" while pregnant.  I guess I just happen to know a lot of old-school people who stress out a bit at the thought of me shuffling around a track while preggo.  I can only tackle one obstacle at a time, but I'm glad to know that my Skora's are waiting and will be ready for me when I'm ready to make my comeback with a little one in tow! 

Actually, a running comeback with a baby in a stroller sure sounds like a good reason to break in a NEW pair of Skoras. And perfect timing, I just got the notice that there's a sale going on!   If that's not excellent reason enough, then I don't know what is!

Disclaimer: The infomercial gushing might have led you to believe differently, but this is not a sponsored post (again, I still have no idea what those are or how to get them) and I am not affiliated with the company.  If you weren't able to tell from the IG captions or from the post itself, I just had such a BAD experience with trying to learn how to run and trying out different shoes that when switching to Skora also switched my running experience, it's kind of hard not to create a bond with that.  Although it may not be that dramatic, you know how some people who are in crazy life-threatening situations together create a bond or feel so close they feel like they're in love or something?  That's kind of what happened with me and my Skora shoes.  They brought me back from otherwise writing myself off as a runner and then saved me from running in pain so that I could focus more on getting better at this activity that I have a love/hate relationship with but still want to be best that I can be at it.  With that said, it's kind of hard not to have a love affair with them (besides the fact that they look really cool and I only wear outfits that match them and henceforth when I go out, I deduce that I too must also look cool).  I've totally gotten away from what I was disclaiming here *LOL* Oh right.  I don't know what kind of post I meant to write when I set out to write this, but these are my sincere opinions, thoughts and feelings on this shoe and if I had thought to put on a pair of snowshoes or clogs and been able to run 3k straight from having quit running two years before and have gotten consistently better results each time I set out wearing them after, I'm sure I'd have the same affectionate feelings towards said snowshoes or clogs.

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