It starts as a twinge in your calf.
Or maybe along the top of your shin, a mild ache that slides away from your leg easily while you run.
It’s probably nothing, you think, pounding along the Keystone Trail in your worn running shoes, 500 miles over their prime. Like old people hunched over their walkers, your shoes are aging and weak. After this many miles, the ankle support begins to erode, leaving the vulnerable spots of your feet exposed. You have no idea yet, but that twinge is the cracked foundation in your shoes, threading like a fault line up to your legs. Eventually, the pain in your legs will intensify. Shin splints are insidious, painful monsters, that may sideline you from your next race, or lead to further injury.
Luckily, there is a way to dramatically lower your risk, or even avoid injury, that costs less than a visit to the doctor or physical therapy: Changing out your shoes.
Replacing your running shoes can play a huge role in the difference between a season of healthy racing, or being sidelined with an injury.
I’ve been a dedicated runner for 6 years. I’ve run five full marathons, nearly twenty half marathons, and almost thirty smaller distance races ranging from the 5k to 10 milers. And, (knock on wood), I’ve been lucky enough to be injury free for all of my training.
I am a whole-hearted believer in the importance of replacing your running shoes.
Think of it as a twice a year commitment, like visiting the dentist. Whole person health from head to toe. If you are a seasoned local runner, you already know of the invaluable resource that are the experts at Peak Performance, and likely have been getting your shoes from them for the length of your running career.
If you are a beginner, it is imperative that you buy your shoes from a running store. While purchasing a discount pair of knock offs from Target may seem like a cheaper option, this can lead to insufficient support for your feet. This can result in painful runs or injury, which may turn you off from running completely.
At a running store, you will be fitted for the right shoes for your feet. Do you have a high arch or neutral? Are you a heel striker? Do you have sensitive feet? From here, they will recommend the right shoe for you that will help you run healthy, meaning you can run for years to come. Make a note on your calendar when you bought them, or on your Daily Mile or Strava account, and replace them every 300-500 miles.
As runners, we are driven by the powerful experience of the sport, and the way running feels in our bodies. For me, when I run, the rest of the world is muted for just a bit, and I am connected completely to my body, from my mental state, to the way I am breathing, to my feet. This joy we feel from the rush of endorphins can be described as an addiction to running, which has the dangerous side effect of increasing happiness. Running is too important to let something like worn shoes derail your routine.
If you aren’t sure how many miles are on your shoes, bring them in to Peak to have them looked at. Take care of your body and your feet. Replace your shoes. Run happy, run healthy. And hopefully, the only twinge you will feel while running is a twinge of joy.
Thanks to our guest contributor, Jessica Clem who is a Content Strategist for B2interactive and a long time runner.