Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Shoes, New Form, Oh My!

Let me introduce you to my new friends - Thelma and Louise

My new shoes :-)
Thelma and Louise are a pair of Mizuno Wave Musha 2 shoes, which I bought on sale last week after a somewhat spontaneous stop in our local running/sporting goods store.  I knew my Nikes were getting tired and I would need a new pair before the half marathon, and I wanted time to break them in.  I also knew this store did not carry Nikes, and that they had a reputation for being very attentive and knowledgeable when it comes to putting people in the right shoes.  I wanted to see what kind of shoe they would suggest.

I got very very lucky and ended up with the who I believe is the owner/manager of the store looking after me.  He also teaches a monthly running clinic that focuses on proper running form - in his opinion, that means basically mid foot striking.

He watched me run and walk, then gave me tips on my form and technique right there in the store.  I ran and walked back and forth in the store, frontwards and backwards, on my heels and on my toes and on my mid foot as much as I could.  He learned a lot about my running in our short time together - when I started, what my goals are, what races I've done, where I feel pain - and said that these were the shoes for me.  Full stop.

He did not offer any other shoe because he had no other models in stock in my size that offered the same heel/toe drop.  He stressed that what I really needed was to move to a smaller heel/toe drop to support my move towards mid-foot striking.  The shoe felt good so I went ahead and bought it.  When the register rang up at only $80 before tax, I couldn't help but be more convinced.  He could have sold me any shoe at any price - I was paying attention to what I needed more than what it cost - and he went with what is my opinion a very cheap option.

Since I bought them last week, I had only been out in them once before today.  I ran on the treadmill for about 20 minutes, focusing on my form and trying to feel how my feet were hitting and focus on my toes instead of my heels.  After 20 minutes I was sore, exhausted and frustrated.  I felt like a terrible runner.  I didn't want these new shoes and I didn't want to change my form.  What I'm doing is working getting me where I need to go and I'm not injured or at least not seriously injured (yet).  I was feeling frustrated and defeated.

Then today I attended the running clinic at the store, aptly called Re-Learn to Run.  I wore my old shoes over there - comfy, supportive, giant, heavy, familiar shoes.  I brought my new shoes in a bag.  After about an hour of discussion and instruction in the store, I knew I had to be brave about the new shoes and try them out for the practical component.  I put them on and hoped for the best.

We went for a short jog to an open paved area so the instructor could watch our initial form and then we could do drills.  For about an hour we worked on our form, progressing from balancing on our toes to high knees to running.  It was a really informative session and by the end I felt pretty good.  Most importantly, I felt much less defeated and much less afraid of my new shoes.

But now I have a few issues, mainly to do with the transition from my old shoes and form to my new shoes and form, given the fact that I have my first half marathon in just over a month.  I know changing my form is going to come with growing pains, but I also know that my current form hurts me too.  I know that my new shoes are going to take some getting used to, but I also know that my old shoes probably won't carry me through to the end of the half marathon.

So I come to all of you with these questions....

Do I start working on changing my form from heel striking to mid-foot striking now?  If so, how fast do I change?  If I end up running the half marathon in my current running form, would that be okay?

I know I need to ease into my new shoes and worry about running a half marathon in them.  Do I buy yet another new pair of shoes - a new version of my current Nike model that I know works - to have for training and the half, or do I risk wearing either my worn shoes or my new ones to the half?

Is it reasonable to expect to be running in a different shoe within the next four weeks or so?  The heel/toe drop is 9mm on these shoes and I am used to a 12mm or whatever the standard is.

Have you transitioned from heel striking to mid-foot striking?  Any tips?  What would you do in my situation?  And maybe just as important, not do?


  1. I wouldn't work on the new form too much before the princess half. Maybe after the race, you could take some time to work on form. Good luck!

  2. Very interesting. I think I need to go to that store.

    I agree with Stephanie Anne that I wouldn't change up too much before your half. Maybe try to find the new version of your Nike's on sale and get those now if your old shoes are bothering you.

    1. The store is in Ottawa :-) But if you are ever in town and needing new shoes you should definitely check it out!

  3. I bought Merrell barefoot pace glove shoes in late July and ran my first half marathon in them at the start of October. I did not notice a huge change when I got them, so I think my form wasn't too far off before then. So for me, a transition of just over two months was fine. if you are noticing a greater transition, then I think one month might be pushing it a bit for you. Unless it does start to feel quite comfortable.

  4. I kind of think you may be over thinking the form bit. More minimal shoes with less rise should naturally encourage more of a mid foot strike. When I switched, I just ran in them. I'd transition to them and just run comfortably. After the half if you really want to focus and perfect your form, you can do it then.

  5. I wish I had better tips for you. I just bought a shoe with a 4mm drop vs the 12 I run in now. I am starting out slow in them and run 2 miles at the start of my run and then switch shoes. I think I am already mostly a midfoot striker as they feel very good and I have not felt sore or anything odd when I wear them it feels very natural!

    I don't know that you should go crazy worrying about changing your form now so close to your half marathon though, maybe wait till afterwards!

    1. I'm thinking it's probably best to wait to change my form- then I'm worried though that my new shoes which have the lower drop will be uncomfortable for the half and I should get new shoes that have the regular drop. Decisions, decisions...

  6. If your shoes are right for you, then it should sort of naturally help - over time of course. Like you said they don't happen over night! When I got my Pure Connects, I was focusing way too hard on my form and making running uncomfortable. I turned up my tunes & starting counting my breathing instead.... However, the uncomfortable feeling went away rather quickly for me...

    The Princess half is in... 5 weeks? Maybe give them a few more goes, but if it's uncomfortable still stick to what you know. You don't want to go into the race unsure.

  7. I wouldn't worry about your form til after your race- you could throw off your groove, plus risk injury!
    As for your shoes, they should be the right shoe for you since you were fitted for the correct shoe properly... just break them in on your shorter runs for now! Even if you did buy the same style of Nike you already have, you'll *still* have to break them in! It sucks, but it's all part of the process! You'll be fine, just don't over think! :)

  8. I agree with a lot of the other posts - I wouldn't try to change form now this close to your half marathon. Be mindful of your form, which you are probably already doing, and it kind of comes naturally for what is best with YOUR body.

    I would recommend getting another pair of shoes similar to what you are used to and then perhaps alternating days to see what ends up being the best shoe for you at the moment.

    At any rate - good luck!!!

  9. I should probably take a running form class - good idea! I love my mizunos - wave rider -but yours are way cute!

  10. I would wait until after your race to change form etc. You risk an injury if you make that transition too quickly. Sounds like you're doing all the right things, but in my very humble opinion, just enjoy your race and then work on the changes! Best of luck to you!

  11. I used to be a heel striker and use the Chi Running technique now which involves a mid-foot strike and I love it. For me it was easy to learn and adapt to but I know others have had more trouble.

    If I were you, and I were having success with my training, I would not switch at this point... but find a pair of Nikes that would see me through to after my race.

    Good luck with your decision.

  12. I have some minimalist shoes and some "normal" shoes, and I just wear the minimalist one on the shorter runs. I'm just not brave enough to try them for longer. I would maybe experiement with the new shoes here and there, but don't worry so much about dedicating yourself to changing your form until after thre rac.e

    Good luck!