This post is a lot of thinking out loud, rambling, and just sharing my thoughts and experiences. Be Warned. 🙂
I’ve run marathons in questionable shoes. I raced my first marathon in the Nike Waffle. A spikeless version of my cross country spikes. Why? I didn’t know much better. I didn’t get hurt. I probably should have had an issue, but I didn’t.
Several years ago, I raced half marathons in extremely lightweight racing shoes. I loved them. They weren’t designed to run more than a 5k, but I liked them, they worked, and I ran well. In fact, I PRed in everything. Could I possibly be more suited to the minimalist running shoes and never know it? Maybe.
Which leads me here: How on earth did I get injured running in the Next%? Is it the Next%? Am I the only one?
In the last two years, I’ve run, but I haven’t been all in to the sport. The good thing about that is you don’t risk a lot, so you don’t suffer the injury consequences.
I was selected to run the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Throughout the summer, I strung some decent weeks together, and it was enough that I was confident I would be able to run down a mountain without injuring myself. My training cycle wasn’t great, but it was good for where I was in life. I was proud of it. About two weeks before the race, I ran the 18.12 challenge in the Nike Next%.
I won. I ran faster than I thought I had in me. I shocked myself and I felt confident I could run well at Big Cottonwood Marathon. I had run other races in the Next% but nothing above 10 miles and nothing that fast.
Two days later, I found myself with excruciating pain in my hamstring. I had no clue where it came from. It just hurt. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t walk, and I couldn’t run. So I DNSed and I was bummed. I had skin in the Big Cottonwood Marathon Game and I felt like I failed.
I also had no idea where my hamstring injury came from and to be honest, I didn’t even think it was a shoe problem. I’m not prone to muscular injuries. In fact, I’ve had maybe 3 muscular injuries in my entire running career and they usually haven’t lasted more than a few days.
I chalked it up to running a long race harder than I had in a while, then privately flying home (a 2 hr, small aircraft flight).
After rest, PT and seeing a sports doctor, I recovered and I was able to use my training to reach my goal of starting and finishing New York City Marathon healthy and strong. 26.2 miles.
Why is that important? I ran in the New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel. One of my favorite shoes to train in, no carbon plate and a lower stack height than the Next%. After that, I recovered and began training for what I called: “get back into shape.” There is no timeline and there is no goal race, but darn it, I’m going to get back into shape. (This is where I am now).
Training in December, January, and some of February went well. Too well. I hit the paces of one of my last workouts perfectly a few weeks ago. I felt amazing. Then I raced the Hilton Head Half Marathon in you guessed it the Nike Next%. While my opinions of the Hilton Head Half are another topic, I ran decently but didn’t feel like I ran to my fitness. I still ran faster and longer than I have in a while.
Two days later, I found myself in excruciating pain. This time in my Achilles. Not just one Achilles, but both Achilles. My left is worse, but the right hurts as well. Two ankles, same spot…that’s when my running store employee hat was put on.
With both feet, it’s probably a shoe problem. Last week, I tooled around running. I knew something was wrong. My body wasn’t thrilled running, but it wasn’t thrilled doing much of anything else either. I didn’t run anything hard or fast. I wasn’t thrilled to put any weight on my ankles that now looked like cankles.
It wasn’t until last weekend, I tried on the Nike Next% again (not to run, just to put on my feet) and I realized my inflammation matched the exact outline of the Nike Next% shoe…in both feet. Will I say, it’s absolutely a shoe problem? No. But will I say, both muscular/tendon injuries happened two days after I ran 13.1 miles in the Next%? Yes, yes, they did.
The amount of stack height and cushion alters anyone who runs in the shoe’s form. For me, I believe it caused me to land more on my heels and harder. Doing that for 20,000 steps caused muscles to work that don’t usually. It caused muscles to irritate that don’t usually. That force probably caused my muscles to develop microtears, which lead to an injury. This is not the most serious running injury and my hope is with proper rehab, PT, and flushing out the inflammation, I’ll be healthy in a few weeks.
So Anyway, where does this lead me now?
I saw Dr. Craig with Dr. Kemenosh, who worked some of the inflammation out of my cankles. I’m resting and letting my Achilles cool off. I am bummed because I finally thought I was making good progress, fitness-wise. I am also bummed because a shoe that seemingly “works for everyone” may not work for me. Will I ever get the 4% advantage? I don’t know and honestly, I don’t care as much as to be healthy. My career isn’t based on being 4% faster. (Nothing I do in life is affected if I’m 4% slower or faster in a running race).
I’m also not bitter but I wanted to share because I cannot possibly be the only one who hasn’t had “the best results ever” in the Nike Next%.
It’s hard for me to admit that I might be in the small population the shoe just doesn’t mesh well for their gait and form. While my Achilles is slowly getting better, my mind is trying to process through an injury and also process why a shoe “made for everyone” may not work for me. Typing out loud seems silly, because I’m the biggest proponent of not everything works for everyone.
Anyway, that’s where at there. It’s not the most serious injury but it has taken me out of running until I feel better.
Your ramblings still are insightful haha that freaking sucks that it’s most likely from these shoes. Also a little ironic maybe because your job is about running shoes lol but I’m glad you quickly were able to figure out the issues. Also pretty sad because my guess is some serious runners are probably going to try those shoes hoping for amazing results and perhaps will come across the same issues as you. And like you said… 4% faster means nothing to 98% of us…..besides some run bloggers ego haha
I believe racing in Vaporflys caused my PF that I’ve had for 10 months now. I’ve always been a heel/midfoot striker in my Hokas, but the Vaporflys heels are so squishy, I purposely land more to the front in them in a race. My calves are usually screaming 2 days later. Since I normally trained in Hokas I was use to the higher stack. I agree that landing more on your heels probably did cause your pains. Perhaps try to land more forefoot in them, and you’ll be ok? Your race pics look like you have great form and land forefoot directly under you.
Thanks Joe and I hope your PF calms down quickly. I think trying to change your form would set you up for even more injuries so it’s not something I personally want to do.
So sorry to hear about your injury. So frustrating, especially as you are putting in all that work to get into shape. Sending you lots of good thoughts for a speedy recovery. I am sure so ibuprofen and ice will go a long way. Don’t fret too much about the 4%, every brand is coming out with other options and I know that you will find the right plated shoe — Maybe the New Balance one will be your fit!
so sorry to hear this!!! I hope you heal quickly.
Thank you Michelle!
It is very possible that your running mechanics don’t work with the Next%, as you know better than most people being in the running industry. In your training blogs, you seem to be able to run long in a lower cushioned shoe then lots of people in my readings.
Just rambling myself and curious on your thoughts, I know there were several changes from the original 4% but do you consider the Next% to be quite different than the 4% as I believe your PR in NYCM 2018 was wearing the 4%. Or did the 4% beat you up as well? I don’t recall your opinion on the 4%.
I’ve never tried the 4% or Next% so I don’t have an opinion. I do enjoy the Carbon X as my current Half PR racer.
Thanks for the interesting reads.
Thanks Gary. I did PR in the 4% for NYCM 2018 but I also hadn’t run a marathon in 4 years. I would like to think I would have PRed as long as I finished healthy. I never had a strong opinion about the 4%. I didn’t hate them, but I never felt like my body was on a springboard.
It’s interesting, I run in a variety of shoes but for easy runs, my favorite shoe is the Hoka Bondi (the most cushion EVER).
Have you tried the Carbon Rocket? A little less shoe than the X but has a carbon plate too…that being said…if you like what you like, keep doing it.
Thank you for reading!
I haven’t tried the Rocket. You definitely don’t find them stocked in many shops in Canada which makes me hesitant. I am a Hoka fan but their shoes are hit and miss for me on the running side but would be my first choice for walking or standing /working on a hard cement floor. The Bondi 6 cushion is incredible but I don’t really like running in it yet, plus my toes sometimes go numb on one foot. It’s a newer shoe for me so I haven’t given up but I think it may be too much cushion, something I didn’t expect to say. I had the exact same issue with numbness initially in the Arahi which was my first Hoka. The Mach2 has also been really good for me, I’ve used it for some races. Rincon has been decent although it fits narrower on my foot than I would prefer and it appears to wear quickly. Clifton 6 is also a walking shoe for me because it aggravates my arch, however it is breaking in with walking so I’ll see if it improves. Carbon X has been a solid shoe, my favorite by far. Everything about seems to work for me. I have a pair of Speedgoats waiting for spring trail training. I haven’t tried the Cavu but I may need to give it a try.
I do enjoy trying new shoes but it can be an expensive hobby and really frustrating when they don’t live up to expectations, sitting on the rack taunting you before finally donating them! As a fitness hobby, it keeps life interesting and I look at it as spending money on my health.
Half marathon is my preferred race distance but I do like to join my local parkrun regularly as well for a group run and coffee.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, thoughts and knowledge with everyone.
Wishing you a speedy recovery.
A close friend dealt with a setback after a marathon in version 2 of the 4%’s. They did a half (and some other shorter races) in them with no problems but starting having issues around mile 17 of the full. Ankle swelled up post-race. Was concerned it was a stress fracture. Thankfully, it was only tendonitis and it calmed down with a couple weeks rest.
I think way too many runners are looking past their biomechanics’ needs and just buying these shoes because they are “hot” and supply is limited.
Also, since the mileage is so low on these, people are afraid to try them on super long runs.
Does everyone forget that they were initially designed for elite men working towards a Sub2 marathon? Their needs are a hell of a lot different than us mere mortal runners who have much different bodies and running dynamics.
(And now that more companies are coming out with similar styles, I’m curious if runners will have the same experience in those?)
I appreciate this post so thank you for writing it all out in such detail. I totally understand when you see a shoe that makes everyone else so fast you want to have that same advantage. But. . . you are right, it’s not going to work for everyone. I totally thought it worked for me after having raced 2 half marathons and done a 16 mile marathon pace run with no issues. It was the full marathon distance that did me in. Anyway, I hope that your achilles feel better soon and you can go back out there and crush it.
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