Thursday, May 31, 2012

...Of Crummy Shoe Salesmen and Altra Provisions...

Just a quick post for the hell of it.  Since mid-February I have been battling 5th metatarsal and top of foot pain something severe.  After a negative X-Ray and 3 months of rest, I had an MRI which was also negative for any signs of pathology (injury).  It's forced me to reconsider what I wear on my feet (or don't wear).

So I go into Fleet Feet last week and some overweight guy wearing monster shoes sits me down and before analyzing my gait in my existing shoes, puts me in some monster 50mm thick sole that bordered on being a moon boot, and then tells me to run on the treadmill for a video taped gait analysis.  Believe me when I tell you that this was my first run in a year and a half with a heel, and I had to muster everything of form exaggeration to keep from dragging my heel and keep my balance.  No worries, "Joe" had the answer!  "You're an over pronator!" he points out on the replay.  Guess what I need?  Yup, some big ol' monster shoe that weighs a ton and puts plenty of cushion between my foot and the ground!

He happily proceeded to go into the back room and come back with 4 models of monsters, and without letting me run on the treadmill or go outside with them, had me "evaluate" them for comfort in the narrow 30 foot strip in the store.  Well, this is not how you buy a shoe, well, maybe the big fluffy ones!  Worse, no video taping was done to see if any of these beasts were actually correcting my "over pronation" issue.

When he saw I wasn't biting on any of these $150 monsters, he takes out a picture of Galloway running side by side with Prefontaine, although he keeps the sheet folded so I couldn't see their feet.  Then he reveals Galloway's forefoot strike and Prefontaine's looming heel strike, and tells me the whole minimalist thing is a bunch of hogwash.  Huh.  And whatever became of Prefontaine's coach, I wonder?  Oh, yeah!  He's the guy behind Nike...right!

I thanked him for his time and asked if he could order me a couple of different shoes after I did some research (I was eying the Brooks Pure Cadence and the Altra Provision).  He said no, that they only sell what they sell, and that he's shown me all he was going to show me.  But assured me that I'll be back as the pain level increased in my foot, as all the minimalist guys eventually do.  I assured him I wouldn't and left.

So I ordered the Altra Provision Zero Drop shoe, mostly because it has the removable stability wedge and has no height variation heel to toe.  I couldn't argue that I saw pronation occurring in my right foot on the video, but how much that was due to the excessively large heel I was suddenly trying to accommodate I wasn't sure.  So I took the Provision for a 2 mile spin on the treadmill tonight and it wasn't bad.  More comfortable than my Nike Free Run+, not as harsh on the Top of Foot as my VFF's and no pain I get in the arch going barefoot.  There was the twinge of pain in the 5th metatarsal still, but I think that's from the narrow fit of the Provision.  I was disappointed to see it's not offered in a wide width, as it does solve many of my other foot issues.  I have to admit that Mr. Joe's ultra-fluffies in wide width alleviated the 5th metatarsal pain, so I'm fairly certain at this point that width is causing that issue (and it's not there with VFFs and barefoot, and barely there with Vivobarefoot Evo II's.)

I think the long road back is ahead of me, and I may need to re-hab for a few months with a more structured shoe. albeit not the monsters that Joe recommended.  The nice part about the Provisions is the ability to remove the stability wedge and "step down" from the correction as the rehab takes place.  We'll see.  I'm still concerned about the narrow D width of the shoe (and a D was FINE before I started barefooting it!)

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