So I was running on the treadmill in the Wellness Center at work today and ended up with this massive blister on the bottom of my foot. It's gross, I know, but it's the best thing that's happened to me with regard to running in a long time. It's such good thing that I walked (hobbled) back to my desk with the most optimism I've had about running since I can remember.
If you follow my training you know that since the 10k earlier this month, the dreaded shin splints that I've always battled are back. So much so that I could only muster a 3 mile run on Monday before the pain became too much for me to handle. So I took Tuesday off from running and decided to give it a try today using an old pair of running shoes from this summer to see if it made a difference. Within the first quarter mile I realized that the shoes weren't making any difference. The pain was coming back again. I've done a lot of research on shin splints and have tried most everything I've read without success.
Lately I've been trying to work on my running form, thinking that my flawed and awkward form is the cause of my shin pain, and today decided to see if I could shorten my stride, keep my foot strike directly beneath my body, strike on the mid-foot, and get my stride rate up to about 90 per minute (which is considered the lower bound of a "high turnover rate").
Keeping my stride short wasn't too difficult but I couldn't get my turnover greater than 80 no matter how hard I tried. And the pain was steadily becoming worse. I was starting to get really frustrated again. Then, like an epiphany, a thought came to mind. "Take your shoes off". So I did. I kicked off the shoes and started running in my socks. Immediately the pain went away. I was really excited. I ran for a little while longer and then decided to take my stride rate again. 92 ... sweet. But I felt like the pace was a little slow so I kicked it up to a 6:40 mile pace. Still no pain and getting an even higher turnover. Very nice! It felt so good that I ran until it was obvious that the blister was coming.
So that's it. I have have a game plan. Since I can't run without shoes, I'm going start running in the Nike Free 5.0 or 7.0 shoes which will allow my feet to move as if you're running barefoot but still provide some protection. I hear they great for running without socks which makes them great triathlon shoes. The whole thing makes perfect sense to me. My muscles have already adapted to my awkward gate. They've been adapted since childhood. Running in shoes that mold my feet into a specific cast that doesn't support my gate is what's been causing the additional stress that normally would be absorbed by my feet to get pushed off on my calf muscles causing the shin splints.
Man, I hope this solves it.