I had a "long" run -- 7.4 miles, my longest in some months as I train for a half-marathon at the end of the month -- and sure enough, that IT band started hurting again, along with some grabbing pains in the outside of my calf. Same old same old. I figured I'd back off the running, cross train, and know that I could, in a pinch, run 13.1 miles without having run more than 7 in the weeks previous and just pay the price in a couple weeks of discomfort.
It did seem a little unfair, though. Here I'd spent weeks retraining my muscles to work together in the right order, getting so much stronger, and then same old pain. And then I got to thinking about my weird balance problems, the proprioception that never quite recovered after foot surgery, and something my physical therapist said about putting her balance-problem patients in Vibram FiveFingers so they could really squat down on their heels.
Which is hard for me to do in these super built-up stability running shoes with their big old heels.
So I started doing kettlebells (which require balance and core stability) barefoot and it worked pretty well. Started doing my physical therapy balance stuff without my shoes.
And then this morning I took the kids down to the park and I took off my shoes and I walked a bit -- and then broke into a run.
I felt a definite "twang" right where my IT band crosses a knobby bone on the outside of my knee (the top of where I felt pain) -- like a too-tight guitar string plucked really hard -- and then?
No pain. I could still feel the muscle soreness along the outside of the calf, but as I jogged and walked around the mile loop, barefoot on asphalt path and often in the grass alongside the trail, I felt no new pain at all, no increase in pain anywhere.
It blew my mind. I have problem feet: frozen joints with arthritis, flat loose arches (although they really aren't any more -- with running they have gotten strong and as I point my feet forward instead of out they seem to actually be improving in their arch-ness). I should need the most built-up shoe they make, right?
Or maybe not. Maybe I can (slooooowly) transition to running in something with no stability heel, no arch support, no padding. Maybe that'll make some new awful thing happen, who knows. I'll let you know.
I'm still kind of in shock from the idea.