I’ve got good shoes, and I’ve got bad shoes…

About a month ago, I started getting these sharp pains in my shins when I was sitting at my desk at work.  It was weird.  I’m used to some aches and pains now and then, but they usually come when I’m running or right after I’ve run.  Not in the middle of the day, two days after my last run.  And these shin pains were fleeting, like ZOWIE-ZOOM, and then it was gone.  And it wasn’t excruciating pain by any means.  Just a sharp, shooting pain that would come every once in a while, and be gone within three seconds.  Weird, I thought.

A couple of weeks after this started happening, I asked my father-in-law about it.  I consider Mike a guru on just about every subject.  If he’s the least bit interested in something, he learns all about it by reading books, looking at websites, and putting it all into practice.  I’ve never seen Mike do anything half-way.  If he gets interested in cycling, then he follows Lance Armstrong’s every move, researches and purchases the best bike for his needs, and rides over 100 miles in a day.  If he decides pottery sounds like an interesting thing to do, he obtains a potter’s wheel, starts throwing 20 pots a day, builds his own kiln, and researches and tries 50 different glazes and firing methods.  This man is serious about whatever he does.  So since he has been a runner for a number of years, I figured he would know exactly why I was getting these shooting pains in my shins.

“Shin splints,” he said.

Nooooooooooooo!!  Those are two words no runner ever wants to hear.  Shin splits can equal sitting on the sidelines for an indeterminate amount of time.  I can’t stop running.  Not when the weather is this nice and I’ve got a 15-K coming up in September and a half marathon in October.  If I must have shin splints, let it happen in January when the weather is cold and the roads are icy and I have to run on a treadmill.  But not during the coolest July I can remember when it’s sheer joy to put on my running clothes and get out on the road.  Not now.

Mike and I discussed orthotics.  I have prescription orthotics, and they are about two and a half years old.  I’m honestly not sure how long prescription orthotics are supposed to last.  When I asked the physical therapist who was fitting me, she said, “Until they don’t work anymore.”  Oh, brilliant.  Thanks for that incredibly educated insight.  The question is, how do I know when I need new orthotics and when I just need new running shoes?  Shoes are a lot less expensive than orthotics, so if I can get away with just new shoes, I’m going that route.

About a week after Mike and I had this talk, I received my Runner’s World magazine.  I love this magazine.  It encourages me to run when I get out of the habit.  It gives me tips when I want to improve on something but I’m not sure how.  And lo and behold, in this issue was a section on shin splints!  One thing it said was that your shoes — and not just your running shoes — can be causing it.

So these shoes?

DSCF1622 Bad shoes.

And these shoes?

DSCF1633 Good shoes.

Shoes that don’t have enough support can cause or aggravate shin splints.  I really need to be wearing shoes that support my feet and have backs on them.  Which means that I need to be wearing these kinds of shoes:


And NOT wearing these kinds of shoes:

But can you see my dilemma?  I mean, look how CUTE these shoes are:


Super cute, right?  And can you believe I got them at Goodwill for just $2?  I know, I’m an awesome bargain shopper!  These shoes look nice with my brown capris, my red skirt, and my long khakis.

And see how clunky these shoes look:


These shoes look good with… well, none of my cute clothes.  They look okay with some grungy jeans when I’m planning to go hiking or something, but nobody ever whistles at me when I’m wearing these shoes.

So let’s review.  Cute shoes that are bad for my feet:


Not-cute shoes that are better for my feet:


Really, my work attire kind of prevents me from wearing most of the shoes that are good for my feet (and legs and back).  I’ve been trying to compromise by wearing shoes that aren’t quite the prettiest shoes I own, but also aren’t completely wrecking my shins and feet.  And I’ve stopped wearing my flip flops around the house, opting instead for my slippers which also aren’t very supportive, but at least they have backs on them and are comfortable and I still don’t have to tie them.  And at night, I’m doing a lot more of this:


Because I cannot be sitting in the house right now.  I’ve got to keep training and running so that I’m ready for my races.  And if that means keeping my super-cute shoes in the closet more often and freezing my shins at night, so be it.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 16:43:31

    Karen, I love you, but some of those “cute” shoes would totally land you a date with Clinton and Stacy.

  2. Andrea
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 18:04:31

    Karen…I have back issues and got to the place where I could only wear my tennies…who wants tennies all summer. So I bought some chacos….expensive, take a little while to break in, but I love them, and even lugging around a 25 pound kiddo all day, I have not had much pain….look into it…now I only wear tennies and chacos (although I don’t think my sister will let me wear them in her wedding 😦 ).

  3. rita
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 18:35:57

    You’re too cute!
    My BD gift for Mother, today, was a pair of SAS supportive adjustable sandals and a sort-of-pedicure (by me) AND I threw away her old-falling apart-flimsy-slipper style shoes!

  4. Karen
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 07:39:13

    Well, Heather, I bet Clinton and Stacy don’t have bunions and shin splints. I’d like to see them find cute shoes that I can actually wear!
    Andrea, those Chacos are cute! I might have to save up my pennies for some of those.
    And Rita, since working for a summer at SAS, I’m not sure I could ever wear their shoes. They are very good, supportive shoes, though.

    • Heather
      Jul 30, 2009 @ 10:01:36

      I’m sure they don’t. Well, Clinton might. He doesn’t have to wear heels (although what he does in his spare time, I have no idea….) I’ve had shin splints (usually when I first start building up my mileage) and for me, more than what shoes I wear, I find icing helps the most. And by the way, that first pair of cute shoes, the flip flop ones, are adorable.

  5. Kim
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 20:11:09

    I feel your pain.
    Not the shin splint pain.
    The what-do-you-mean-I-can’t-wear-the-cute-shoes pain.
    Love shoes.
    Have worn Reboks almost exclusively for years.
    In Africa I even wore them with dresses and skirts.
    Because the cuteness isn’t worth the pain.
    Still love shoes.
    I’m making a shoe quilt to make up for all the cute shoes in the world that I will never wear.
    The End.

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