Ever do something for 15, 20 years only to realize far too late there’s not only better ways of doing it, but the methods previously employed were – for a lack of a better term – dumb.
That’s something I found out the hard way late last summer.
An avid runner and occasional long-distance racer, I rolled through the streets of Western Pennsylvania for years without anything more nagging than an occasional sore muscle. No tears. No rolled ankles. No cranky knees or bad back.
Then, as I ran up Broad Street near Paradise Fire Company in Greensburg last August, a distinct burning sensation emanated from my left calf.
Had to be cramps, I thought.
To remedy, I ate more bananas and upped my water intake, which is difficult considering how much H2O I put down daily.
Every time I hit the streets, same thing – a burning sensation in my left calf.
Finally and stubbornly, I sought a diagnosis. It was a strained left calf muscle. Surgery seemed like an extreme, far-too-costly solution, so I began visiting a chiropractor. Every week, we’d get together. I’d lay face down on the table, grab the “Oh, shit” bars and wince and grunt through treatment. After several weeks, my left calf felt better and I was running again, wearing some sweet, old-man compression socks for good measure.
Then, during the winter, I sprained my right foot during spin class. I was sidelined again for weeks, though it did force a purchase of cycle shoes.
The two injuries proved costly. My endurance was nowhere near the level of last summer. My speed evaporated. Fun runs were no longer at a 7:30/mile pace. It was taking 8:45 per mile, and it was tiring.
Then, it happened again. On Fathers Day, running up a slight grade in Southwest Greensburg, my left calf burned. This time, I quickly recognized the problem.
After another extended running absence, enter Fleet Fleet Sports Pittsburgh.
An elite running shop, located just off Route 19 in the South Hills, Fleet Feet contacted the Observer-Reporter about possible coverage of a training program for the EQT 10-miler, which takes place Oct. 25. They didn’t know me, but they knew about the O-R Challenge. Now, I’ve tried out for a high school all-star basketball team. I’ve attempted to hit a professional softball pitcher. I even conquered a gyro eating challenge. This sounded perfect.
So, I reached out to Melissa Migliaro, Fleet Feet Sports outreach manager, who quickly replied. After a few email exchanges, I was at the store Aug. 20 for a fitting and to confirm my participation. I spent 80 minutes with Julie Amsdell, director of marketing for Fleet Feet and a fitting specialist. She analyzed my walk and running gate, broke things down and helped me pick the right pair of running shoes and inserts. I learned my right foot has a slight splay, which contributes to tightness in that calf muscle. I learned the running shows I recently purchased for high arches were too stable. I learned I need to roll leg muscles before working out.
It was highly informative and the people there couldn’t be nicer.
Leading into the race, I’ll be posting progress here as I partake in Fleet Feet’s Train To Run program. I plan on having a few people from Fleet Feet in for a podcast (Mike’d Up with Mike Kovak), I’ll join them for a few Sunday morning runs and we’ll build up to the latest O-R Challenge, which will be me running the EQT 10-miler.
They promised to keep me healthy and to help me improve.
After meeting them, I’m a believer.