Marathon training – every millimetre matters (in some areas more than others)

Right, Puma, OK for running 10 miles. Left, Asics, not currently OK for driving 10 minutes. All thanks to the state of my Achilles – not the demerits of the shoe!

Runners are very aware of the importance of shoe fit. Width, length, support, cushioning, heel to toe drop, sole stiffness, instep height, etc. However, I’ve found another that I’d not considered before – height of the back of the shoe.

After the 10 miles (unreasonably early and unreasonably cold) on Sunday morning we went for lunch with one of my brother’s-in-law. It was really good and no great aches or pains developed until driving back when my right foot became very painful around the heel. I tried different foot positions on the pedal but nothing worked and I was contemplating having to stop the car – until I took my trainer off completely. Almost immediately, no pain at all.

The problem was the back of the shoe pinching the lower Achilles, as the driving position pushed my foot backwards into the heel of the shoe. At home I compared it to the shoes I’ve been running in recently and there is a real difference (is the offending part of the shoe called the rear of the shoe’s collar?).

I guess a snug fit around the rear of the heel might well be a good thing for a healthy Achilles but it’s striking that I can run 10 miles in one pair and hardly even drive that distance in the other.

I’ll be sticking to the Pumas for the time being.

For the start to week 5 of the training, on Monday I dripped my way through 45 minutes on the turbo trainer – 21km @ 28kph (13 miles @ 17.4mph), with tired legs. I took even more care than usual before my run on Tuesday and made sure I’d stretched and warned the Achilles’ (thank you for he advice Bronwen). I have discovered that sitting with legs out in front and toes splayed outwards gives a very comfortable way of gripping a hot kettle in the curve just above the heels.

I ran for 6.3 miles (10.15km) at almost exactly 4 hour marathon pace. The 20+mph wind made it less than ideal but that’s still faster than I’ve been running recently. Perhaps the pre-run rituals were better, perhaps the training is paying off, perhaps I’m not protecting the Achilles’ so much, perhaps I’m getting younger whatever it is it’s a bit more encouraging. 

 

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