Flat Feet

Hello my name is Irina and I have flat feet.

I’ve known this my entire life, but it hasn’t had any significant effects…until I began running.

Here’s where things get a bit confusing. When I started running last summer, I had no pain. None at all. Not even when I ran 6 miles! But running and I took a Fall/Winter break from each other, and when we got back together the pains began. It started as a subtle aching in my ankles and progressively worsened as I continued to train for the Shamrock Shuffle. Ugh, what a typical relationship, right?

I suspect there are two potential causes of this problem:
1.) old running shoes and/or
2.) continuous heel-wearing for work

Whatever the cause is, the ultimate problem remains the same – I created some nasty running injuries! Oopsies…

So what’s a newbie runner girl to do? Step 1: go to the doctor. About a month ago I paid the podiatrist a visit and was told what I had already suspected: I had shin splits. The doc suggested I put running on hold for 2-3 weeks and let my legs recover while I waited for my custom-made orthotics to arrive. This was obviously a problem because I had a half marathon to train for!

I continued to occasionally run to maintain my fitness level, stopped wearing heels to work, and even went to purchase a new pair of running shoes.

My old shoes, Brooks Ghost4, had minimal support for my arches but didn’t cause any pain until recently:

The only downfall was the width of the shoe. Look how tight I had to tie them!

So I went to Fleet Feet and ended up purchasing the Brooks Adrenaline gts12 in narrow:

My orthotics were still being made (the entire molding process takes two weeks) but I gave these bad boys a test run regardless. All the typical pains (ankles & shins) were still present but much less prominent. A few minutes into my run I no longer felt any aches.

Success?!? Not so fast…

I had high hopes for the orthotics. Lets be serious – I was expecting miracles from those damn insoles!

Orthotics are very pricey, especially if insurance isn’t helping you out. Luckily, I only paid $70 out of pocket and my insurance covered the remaining ~$600!

The orthotics fit perfectly into the size 9 Brooks.

From what I can tell so far, the orthotics mold well to my feet.

After a third visit to the podiatrist, I stuffed these into my shoes and immediately went on a run. I could immediately feel a difference in my running form. My knees typically rub together slightly (thanks to my lack of arches), but with the orthotics my knees only occasionally touched. As my legs began adjusting to the added support, I began to feel aches in new places – knees, thighs, and even my bum. No true miracle cure came, though, as some subtle shin pain floated in and out of my legs. That was nearly 1.5 weeks ago.

Fast forward to Monday – after taking yet another week off due to obligatory nonstop after-work activities, I went on a rough 2 mile run. The same aches and pains popped up in their usual spots, killing my mood and deflating my confidence in my half marathon training. Which, by the way, I have yet to begin despite the fact that it’s only 10 weeks away…YIKES!

I’ve been considering other potential options and even did some research on barefoot running, but only time and experience will tell what the best option for me is. I’m heading back to Fleet Feet this weekend to try out some other shoes with the orthotics. Bless FF’s amazing return/exchange policy…

I’ll just say this straight up right now: there is a pretty good chance that I will drop out of the Chicago Rock n’ Roll half marathon in July. I don’t want to overly exert my legs in the short timeframe I have left to train, and I know my feet & legs need time to adjust to the new running form the orthotics created. My health comes first. Always.

I’ll continue running weekly and keep you updated on my journey!

Do you own orthotics or any sort of supportive insoles? 

Thoughts on barefoot/minimalist running? Is it the panacea of all running injuries?

Have you ever dropped out of a race?

♥ Irina


  1. May 16, 2012 / 9:47 am

    I totally laughed out loud at the “how to wear” instructions. Step one – put in shoes. Step two – put shoes on. Step three – leave alone.

    Aaaanywho. Here’s to hoping the new Brooks work out for ya!

    • May 16, 2012 / 9:16 pm

      Haha right? Orthotics For Dummies 101

  2. May 17, 2012 / 8:21 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your feet. Thats too bad! I had a stress fracture in my heel last March that would not heal and when it did, I strained a hamstring. Talk about bad luck! I was training for the Boston Marathon and ended up dropping out or “deferring” since they offered a deferrment due to the hot weather because I knew my body wouldn’t hold up during the race. Its a really hard decision but you need to listen to your body and do whats best for you!

    • May 17, 2012 / 8:43 pm

      I’m fairly new to your blog and I remember you mentioning a heel injury, but I didn’t realize it was so serious! I think you made the right decision and I’m sure you’ll kick a** next year 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. May 17, 2012 / 8:52 am

    Usually a new pair of shoes helped cure any aches and pains I was having in my feet. My you were starting out with too much too soon when you came back to running? I know they say to only increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week to avoid injury. Hope you’re able to figure this out!

    Also, I saw this and thought of you: http://www.forwardisapace.com/2012/05/how-to-get-back-into-a-running-groove/

    • May 17, 2012 / 8:41 pm

      I did suspect over-excersice for a bit but I followed a similar training plan for my first 8k and had no problems the first time. I guess time will tell how my body reacts to increased mileage! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. May 17, 2012 / 9:35 am

    I just use some generic inserts when my shoes start to get old. I had a terrible time with shin splints last summer, but mine were because i am very lazy and never stretch properly after running (which i learned to do, even after short runs) I think barefoot runners are awesome, but i will never ever be one. I need at least some support or i end up hurting myself 🙂 I have been lucky enough to finish every race i have started, but there have been a few times when i staggered across that line 🙂

    • May 17, 2012 / 8:38 pm

      It seems like stretching is 100% a must after all runs, especially for beginner runners. I’ve been trying to stretch, foam roll, and ice after every run regardless of distance and I think it’s been helping! I still suspect that (if I run) I will be dragging myself across that finish line…