I'm totally new to all of this. I just finished reading the book & I've been doing all foot strength exercises for about 2 weeks. (The massage therapist I go to seems to notice a big difference in my legs already). The last half marathon I trained for resulted in a stress fracture in my foot. I've been riding the bike (which is so boring!) & now trying to figure out my running form & how to get back into running again. I know my next step is to order the more flexible shoes. Running stores don't sell very many of those thinner shoes so I've been looking online. Those Lems Primal shoes look nice but what I see online is only mens. Does it matter if I get a man or woman's shoe? Would someone be able to give me some advice on which brands are helping them with running? Everybody tells me I need 'more support because I'm over pronating' but I know that's not right, & I want to be careful & do what I can to not get another stress fracture. Any input would be appreciated!

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Hi Jessica, before diving into the thin-soled shoes, I'd recommend going first with a shoe that's zero drop, like the Altra Zero Drop shoe brand. The latest generation of the Altra Instinct has a bit more cushioning than I would prefer, however, because there's no heel to toe differential, it's supposed to promote proper running form.  At least that's what it did for me.  And I really like the wide toe box.

I currently use three different shoes:

  • Vibram Five Fingers for distances under 8 miles
  • B2R Road or Trail shoes for half marathon distances
  • Altra Instinct for anything up to marathon distance

I'm a big fan of the B2R shoes, but I don't think Eric is involved with that company any more.

The Altras are what got me back into running again after an injury that sidelined me for three months.  I had done too much mileage too soon in thin-soled shoes and ended up with top of the foot pain.

Have you run any shorter races? Or is the half marathon your goal for a first race?  I'm guessing you got the stress fracture because you did too much mileage too soon.

Thanks so much for responding! I'll look into those Altras & go from there.

Long story short, I started a few years ago walking my first official 5k race (I did it with a friend who doesn't like to run) & that wasn't challenging enough for me so I think a year or so later I ran a 5k (the Dash for Donation) in like 33 minutes. I can't remember if I've run 1 or 2 5ks, but after that I did the Flying Feather 4 miler. I started going thru a free half marathon training program (provided by the Columbus Running Company) back in June (in preparation for the Columbus Half Marathon on October 16th). During that training time I decided to run the Run Like a Girl half marathon race (on September 11th) as a practice race for the big one in October, because I thought I'd be nervous. I felt a pain in the top of my left foot that got worse & end of September I was told I had a stress fracture in one of my metatarsals. So yep I think you're right, I surprised myself & got excited & ran way too much too soon.

Yeah, that definitely sounds like too much too soon. My foot muscles just couldn't take the increase in mileage and one month before my very first half marathon -- I didn't do any shorter race distances prior -- I came down with major top of the foot pain and my arch actually collapsed for a full day.  I didn't fracture anything, except my pride.  After three months recovering, I did a nine month build-up towards the half marathon distance, increasing mileage less than 5% every week.  And one year after my injury, I finally completed the half marathon.

You'll achieve your goal; just build up to it slowly!

Wow I didn't know the arch could collapse like that, sounds like a painful injury! I'm definitely really trying to hold back & build up my miles slower. Thanks again for the helpful advice!

You'll just have to find a way to hold yourself accountable.  I created a spreadsheet and tracked my progress that way, and I stuck with it.  It was hard in the beginning, but sometimes those first steps usually are.

I would recommend Altra as well. I have tried on a lot of shoes and that is what I went with to go through my runform transition. I found it really easy to develop proper form. But I struggled with the transition to zero drop shoes in general. It took 3 months for me to get to the point where I can run any distances again...but it's worth the effort. The Altra is a great shoe but you really need to find a place that sells them to try some on. It may not fit you well and another brand may he better. Good luck to you!

Thanks for the input, I'll be excited to try those shoes on!

This is great stuff everyone. Just one note on shoes.  You might try Merrill and Inov8.  Even though Inov8 are not zero drop, they provide excellent natural movement and I have found work great.  They might be hard to find the full line in stores, but once you are dialed into your size, you can then find the full line online.  AND, they do make women specific lasts in most of their shoes.

Keep this great conversation going and keep up the strength.

Running stores near me don't seem to carry anything like these. My favorite store stopped carrying the Altras 5 years ago because of lack of sales, go figure, but they said they'd have the newer models in soon, not til around June :(  I ordered a few styles online to try & have no idea if they'll fit, so thank you so much for helping & suggesting other options!

You might try Runningwarehouse.com. They have a great selection, speeding delivery and easy return policy, allowing you to dial into sizing.  

Wow I just looked at that, very helpful, thank you! I forgot to mention I'm extremely flat-footed, so if I try a shoe with any form of arch it's almost always uncomfortable. Somebody told me the foot strengthening exercises should help with the arch, is that true?

Foot strengthening exercises did work for me. I was also flat-footed, but did see a minor build-up of the arch after a few months. Just be careful with the exercises; you don't want to get top of the foot pain or aggravate your metatarsals.

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