October 27, 2007

Don't Mind the Buzzards Circling

For the past month or so, I've been experimenting with insoles. Why? Here's the complete skinny:

I've been blessed with high arches and a neutral gait. Never had any of the common foot maladies that plague distance runners......until September 22, 2007 at the In Yan Teopa 10 mile trail race at Frontenac State Park. Perfect day, perfect conditions, nice trail, same shoes and sock make/model that I've been running in all summer. Why, then, at mile 3 am I getting a searing hot spot on the medial side of my big toe on my right foot? I stopped a few times during the race to tighten my laces, rearrange my sock so the seam wasn't in the "wrong" place, etc. No joy. At about this time, I looked up and noticed a half dozen turkey vultures circling. Not exactly a comfort when one is having a tough day on the trail. I finished a significant portion of the race oversupinating my foot to get off the hot spot, and was glad to finally cross the finish line. The buzzards went away, but my foot was pretty sore. Over the next week or two, the plantar fascia on that foot was pretty riled up (probably from oversupinating) - enough so that I didn't run much at all.

I tried Superfeet at the recommendation of a podiatrist who works with runners, but they were uncomfortable on my heel (which may have still been a little sore and swollen from the plantar fasciitis). Then a mountaineering client of mine recommended Sole customizable footbeds which he uses and likes, especially for long hikes in the mountains. Anything that is customized has got to be better than a generic insole, so I decided to give them a try. I found them for only $45 regular price at REI in Bloomington (they are $55 on the Sole website). You just pop them in a preheated 200 degree oven for a few minutes, put them into your shoes, put the shoes on, and stand in a neutral position for 2 minutes while they mold to the shape of your foot. Double bonus (at least in my mind): not only do they mold to the exact shape of your foot, but to your foot in the particular shoes that you're running in.

Wimpy insoles that came with shoes:

Sole customized footbeds:

So far I've only done short milage with them - I'm still getting used to having something pressing against my arch. But I'm not having any hot spots, heel discomfort, or buzzards circling - it will be interesting to see how they do with longer runs. I'll keep ya posted!

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