As I covered in my last entry, an entire, injury-plagued year went by without many miles to show for it. But I just finished up my third consecutive week of consistent running, which is a step in the right direction. My runs had been sporadic for a while through late March and early April, but I’d like to think I’m on the right track. I put in about 32 miles last week and for the most part, I felt pretty good. My legs feel pretty light and refreshed; I guess a year of never cracked 35 miles a week will do that for them.
I just finished up reading the book Born to Run. It was a Christmas present from a few years, but I’d never gotten around to reading it. I’ll try to post a proper review at some point, but I’ll at least say it certainly made me think about how I’ve been doing things. And I think it played a role in helping with my recommitment to running. In short, I’d been wearing orthotics for years. I originally got them as a result of my never-ending shin splints. But I decided to take a rather brazen course of action and stop wearing them.
Orthotics can definitely help prevent injuries. However, in a sense, they kind of do the work for you. Your muscles can get weak, especially in the arch of your foot. As my college cross country coach once said, “they’ll help you not get injured, but when you do get hurt, it’ll be a bad one.” A better course of action is doing what you can to strengthen your body, especially around the afflicted area(s). Now, I’m definitely not suggesting go ahead and chuck your orthotics if you wear them. My decision was admittedly radical and I may end up paying a huge price for it if it doesn’t work out. I’m not doctor after all; the only advice I can offer is based on personal experience.
I’ve been doing a lot of toe curls, calf raises and other exercises so strengthen my arches and calves, hoping to get my body strong and prevent future injury. To be honest, I don’t think the orthotics were directly responsible for getting over my shin splints anyway. It may feel like I’m really ragging on orthotics and I don’t mean to come off that way. But the way I see it, I’ve dealt with a whole lot of injuries over the past few years, so it would make sense at this juncture to try something different, even if it might be a bit overzealous. Hopefully, this experiment works out. If it doesn’t, hey, well, at least I tried to mix things up a little.