me running winning 18.12 challenge
Running, Running Reads, Training, Training Sub 1:25

I Got Hurt Running in the Next%

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.

me running winning 18.12 challenge

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.

Do you REALLY Need Insoles or Custom Orthotics for Running?
Gear Review, Running, Running Reads

Do you REALLY Need Insoles or Custom Orthotics for Running?

One of the major questions people ask me is:

Do I need custom insoles or custom orthotics for running?

If you are running well and injury-free, the answer is probably not. Continue reading “Do you REALLY Need Insoles or Custom Orthotics for Running?”


Mentally Recovering

Once your body fully physically heals, the next step is to mentally get back into the game. For me honestly, that has always been something I’ve struggled with. Physically I know my legs can slowly progress back into running but I have to find myself mentally first.


First, your body heals eventually. One reason I personally prefer bone breaks (versus muscle issues) is because I know with proper care and recovery a bone heals stronger. It takes time and patience but eventually you will come back and be back to where you were.  While this injury has taken far longer than I would have liked, I know I am recovering stronger.

My only other stress fracture was a tibia stress fracture.  The day I got my tibia stress fracture in July 2011, I could not walk. That stress fracture was caused by extremely poor training. I was running every run too fast and too hard. I’ll take ownership for that injury and everything is 20-20 in hindsight. I didn’t know what I was doing and as a newer runner, I got my first dose of reality. This was a dose I needed to progress as a runner. Your body is not is not unbreakable. If you don’t train smart you will face the reality of a serious running injury. I didn’t train smartly and faced the consequence.

As a new runner I had no idea what was going on with my body. All I really knew was I wanted to whine, cry and complain until the next day…then I did the same thing. I cried my way through 6 weeks of that injury.

When I woke up in August with a bruised and swollen foot, I had a sinking feeling of what it was. This time my mindset was different. It was weird because it didn’t happen during a run but a stress fracture was obvious to me. I told a coworker that day as I limped around; I knew what I was dealing with. I just didn’t know how it happened. That day continued as well as the weekend.  The world did not stop because I had a running injury.  My day did not stop and I had to continue my life as normal as possible.

By the time I knew it, it was Monday and I found myself with some free time to get to the doctors. The doctor confirmed I had a stress fracture. Life had moved on between that Friday and Monday and it wasn’t a shocking discovery. As an older and “more mature” runner, I had accepted I wouldn’t be running for a while. The idea of any running for a while was laughable.  The thought of a fall marathon went out the window about 3 minutes after waking up the previous Friday with a swollen foot.

I think that mindset propelled me through this injury. Life happens when you aren’t prepared.  There was nothing I could do that would make my stress fracture disappear in a day. I don’t have scientific research to prove it, I just know I’m recovering much quicker mentally. I’m ready to get back in the game. I’m ready to commit to a late winter or early spring race. I’m ready to reach goals that I know I’m capable of. I’m ready to live life back on the running edge. Mentally I have not fallen off the wagon and I know I will rise to the occasion when racing is in my sights again.

So how am I building back my confidence foundation?

First I’m documenting how I feel each day in a private notebook. I’m documenting how my foot feels physically and how I feel mentally. I’m noting little recoveries. Every week I’m reviewing them and realizing that while I might not notice day to day improvements, the overall picture is linear. I’ve seen minor speed bumps and hurdles but I’m slowly recovering and progressing in the right direction.

Second, I’ve said all along but I’m seaking the positive. The positive in injury recovery, the positive in life and the positive in me as a person. My life has never revolved around running. When I’m out of running, I’m doing other things. I’m staying busy with a fulfilled life. While running is a very big hobby of mine, I don’t need running to survive.  I don’t need blogging to survive, I have a collection of hobbies and activities I like to do.

Third, I’m not comparing myself to anyone including myself. I’m not comparing myself to those also recovering from an injury (this has been the hardest).  I’m not comparing myself to those training or anyone at all. I’m not comparing myself to a previous fitness level or to myself at all. I’m just staying at the present and living my life. The comparison game benefits no one.

Case and point: I’m certainly not running 70 mile weeks right now and I’m 100% happy with what I am running.  Running is a beautiful thing and running any injury free miles are better then none.

Do you remember back way long ago when you didn’t run to crush your PR’s, you ran because you wanted to be healthy? You don’t need to have a goal race right now because your goal is to come back stronger then ever. At least that’s how I look at it, I won’t get back to my peak fitness if I rush it right now.  Yesterday I ran with no watch, no GPS and no anything.  When I went to go track my run, I had forgotten the roads I ran on.  The only thing I knew was that I ran for 30 injury free minutes and I felt great about it.

Question for you: How do you get over injuries mentally?