|Found this on Facebook, I tried to find the source on this image but couldn't.|
It's been quite a quandary for me over the past few months, but I think I finally have an answer. When I first started running I was running in a pair of high heeled monstrosities that had a heel-toe drop of something like 13mm, which obviously caused problems, especially since I naturally am a mid foot striker, which is impossible with that sort of drop. The dissonance between my preferred mid foot strike and huge heel of those shoes caused me to get the beginnings of shin splints, so in order to avoid that I went the exact opposite direction and started running in Saucony Kinvaras, which served me quite well for the most part, but which I think are the cause of my recent problems. The thing is that those shoes (the Kinvaras) are great for the sort of distances I was running at the time, but now that I'm moving up to greater distances (over 55 mpw) I need to start running in shoes that tailor to greater distances.
I honestly think that the problem stemmed from a lack of understanding on my part regarding physiology, and a feeling that I was tough enough to handle running a lot of miles in a minimal shoe, when in fact all the evidence pointed against this hypothesis. After all you don't see Meb, or Ryan Hall, or even the great African runners like Haile Gebrselassie (who the minimalists point to as examples of minimalism and form) running in very minimal foot ware, the simple fact is that these runners are running vast miles, well over the amount the human body evolved to run in bare feet, or the equivalent minimal foot ware.
As for science, one does not need a medical degree to figure out that a lower heel position such as that found in a minimal shoe will necessarily cause more stress to the Achilles insertion, and cause increased pressure to the retro calcaneal, and subcutaneous Achilles bursas, which are the exact points at which I am hurting. As a person who has done extensive reading on the subject of exercise physiology and who has competed at various sport at a high level I am a bit ashamed to admit that I didn't catch onto this before...
So with this new found knowledge I am going to begin an experiment based on the hypothesis that my heel pain is the result of continual running in low heel-toe drop shoes which cause greater stresses on the Achilles tendon and associated physiology. As such I plan to purchase a new pair of shoes after this weekend's race and see if they help, so far I have looked at the Saucony Guide 5's, Asics Gel-DS's, or the Asics Gel Cumulus. Even though this experiment of mine will have a ton of random variables and next to no scientific validity I hope that it will help me kick this heel pain for good and let me extend my training in the direction I want it to go. I will be sure to update this blog regularly with my experiences in the new foot wear direction.
For further information on sports injuries and exercise science check out my friends blog ExerSci-Climbing.