CROCS, YOGA and HOKA TRAIL RUNNING - IT'S FINALLY TIME TO FLY!
I have over the 40+ years of moving across this planet and I’ve damaged my knees, ankles and hips through sport related injuries (and ignorance).
I know when I ran for that fly ball at practice in high school and found a gopher hole that I might have done more damage than I wanted to admit. I don’t believe I followed even one word of advice to recover properly and now I have BIG ANKLES.
I do not remember when I began playing sports like softball and soccer exactly - but I’m sure that’s when the abuse began.
When you are a kid, you bounce better I guess. Up and at ‘em!
Now, back to the reality of my current knee, foot, ankle, shin, calf, hip and back pain.
By the way, you get to PAY when you get older!
We started our boot camp in 2006 and I knew I’d be running...A LOT...every single day. If anything, I’d be able to get fitted for the best possible running shoe and avoid further injury. That has been the case thankfully with the help of my ultra running friends at a few shoe stores I trust: Trey Barnes and George at Fleet Feet Encino, Naomi at Foot Pursuit in Simi Valley, Israel at Road Runner Sports and Jim from Future Track in Agoura Hills.
In 2008 (2 years into our 805 Boot Camp business) I had my first experience of serious knee trouble.
I was simply getting into my truck.
It’s a 4Runner so the seats are up a bit. Randy had driven it and he likes to put the steering wheel in low-rider position (down), I like it in Miss Daisy position (up). I started to get into the truck...butt down and lifting my knees and feet into the driver spot. Then it happened. My knee actually came OUT of the socket. I was SHOCKED first, panic’d second and then screaming in pain third. Randy had to help me extend my leg (through my screaming pain and crying) to put it back in place.
Oh it hurt so much!!
It has happened at other random times doing the same thing (lifting and moving laterally). Once while I was teaching a side lunge station, once sitting on the floor unwrapping Christmas gifts, twice in the middle of the night just turning over (those were crazy painful and I woke Randy up from a deep sleep screaming in pain).
I began to baby my knees as much as I could (and still keep my boot camp instructor responsibilities in tact). I wore a knee brace. I saw my Chiropractor (who broke the news to me that not everyone’s body was meant for running). Nooooo!!! That can’t be true for me!!!
My dear friend (and Ultra Shopper) JoAnn got me a pair of CROCS. I think it was a joke. They were Ohio State Buckeye crocs and she got Randy his Trojan USC crocs.
I chuckled silently that these bad-boys would gather dust in my closet. They did for about 6 months. Randy wore his a lot and swore they were super comfortable.
But they were SO SO SO UGLY!! I had a limit to my bad fashion choices. I wasn’t 40 yet so I still cared a little more than now.
About the same time in 2008 (after running and running) I noticed the balls of my feet hurt all the time EXCEPT when I was wearing my running shoes. Barefoot was excruciating.
This was weird for me and all of the sudden. I hadn’t done anything that would have CAUSED this problem (ie injured myself or over done it).
I buckled and put the crocs on. MY FEET WERE SO HAPPY. My toes had space, the balls of my feet were 100% free of the pain, my heels felt good...I felt so much relief!!
I have considered running in them I love them so much now. I saw a woman really did run in them at The Bulldog 25/50K and The Bandit Ultra Trail Run 50K.
Over the years of wearing them I now can walk barefoot without the balls killing me. YAY! They still hurt, but definitely not as bad.
My knees are still tender and when I run (even in the best possible shoes - my Asics Koyanos) my feet are tired. Going down trails is the worst on the impact in my ankles and knees. Sometimes if feels like my joints are grinding or I’m running with locked legs (which I’m not).
This is where YOGA has become amazing for me.
We finally found a Yoga instructor with the same passion for helping people that we have. Her name is Mina. Her business (because she deserves a plug) is called Soul Body Yoga.
She met with me and took over an hour finding out all of my painful points, problems and concerns. Then she showed me how to do the hatha yoga poses with adjustments (like sitting on a rolled up beach towel when sitting indian style on the mat would relieve my knee pain and twinges).
In a year (and not doing that many classes) she helped me strengthen my knees so they do NOT pop out of alignment. I can go deeper into stretches than when I started. The remnants of those experiences are still there and I am still cautious - but I see my own improvement which I’m very proud of (and thankful to Mina).
As of April 2013 there was still one last problem. My feet aching and bones rattling while running. Mostly the downhill hurt and the pain (or fear of having the pain) slowed me down.
Randy runs Ultras (I show up and take photos). The last event he ran (with Debbie Bo aka Roxy Rockit) was the Leona Divide 50 miler. Both Debbie and Randy have no problem striking up conversation with people and that’s what they did - noticing that almost everyone (men and women) running this brutal trail run were in a shoe called a HOKA ONE ONE.
I have heard this name for years now and when I saw the shoes I knew I’d NEVER own a pair. They were worse looking than the crocs! But they offer road and trail (all terrain) options.
Our CPA Mike is a triathlete and swore by them. One of our campers with terrible plantar fasciitis wears them and she went from pain to RUNNING with a big grin and relief. OH BUT THEY STILL LOOK SO U-G-L-Y!!!
After Leona Randy announced that we had to work our next budget meeting out to be able to buy each of us these crazy Hoka One One shoes. That’s it. We both needed what they were saying they could provide so it was a no-brainer.
Randy is training for the Angeles Crest 100 MILER and has been knocking out big ultra running events on a regular basis as well as putting in mileage during the week. His knees were taking a beating and he noticed after 30 miles he had to figure something out.
Dave (Randy’s other running partner) surprised Randy with a pair of Hokas. What a nice gift, eh? I think Dave got them for Randy so he wouldn’t be alone with this stylish look. Debbie Bo got some too. Now the three of them can bounce down the trails together. “Time To Fly” as the Hoka site says.
Now I HAD to get some.
We saved up and I made the purchase from Zappos. (None of my local running shoe stores stock them - I sure hope that changes).
They arrived last night and I got to wear them on one of the greatest testing trails around: Hummingbird Trail in Simi Valley.
I wear size 10 in trail and road running shoes. That’s what I ordered. I chose the Mufate 2 - geriatric blue/white (ugh!!). They were $150.00. I purchased from Zappos.com because of their return policy. The closest store I could have driven to was Santa Clarita - no thanks on battling the 5 Freeway traffic.
Because this stuff matters to me: I wore my Swiftwick Performance Two compression socks (over the ankle). I like the snug feeling.
When I first put my Mufates on I could feel weird pressure on the instep of my left foot. Sadness crept over me. But these were a new type of feeling, so I decided to ignore it.
The toe box had plenty of space (like my normal trail shoes do). The laces (I only got 1 pair, everyone else seems to have gotten 2 pairs...no fair) tied fine (but they did untie too many times on my run).
Lucky for me "work" was a Trail Run. Hummingbird Trail in Simi Valley, CA. A favorite for people that like to run UP on single track trails - lots of different surfaces (no water).
We started running and immediately I understood the “Time To Fly” mantra. Every step felt like I was springing forward! My feet felt a little stiff getting used to the new form and that lasted until we got home at 8:30 am.
Then we had a LOT of up to conquer. I usually stay on the balls of my feet when going up trying to work on my pace and keep moving quickly (as opposed to keeping my feet flat and walking). I got moving great and still felt like I was being propelled UP the hill.
Where there was once so much effort in my FEET to work, it felt like less work but I was moving quicker and softer.
Normally my lungs and heart slow me down before my legs do. This time I had more energy to use and I only slowed down to keep conversation with our campers about how they were doing. I could have kept going.
The big test was going to be the trek down. I was a bit worried about traction on the steep rocks as well as sandy gravel sections on the single track portion of Hummingbird.
I’ve run the same 10 trails since we started in 2006. I know them by heart now. When to zig and when to zag. There are single track portions of the trails where you have to leap over larger rocks, bank on the sides of rocks...if you are a trail runner you know what I mean. My point is that I’ve done these trails so many times I have these points memorized and I have the memory of the pain I know I’ll be having when I hit those points also memorized so I brace myself for the impact.
I hurried my way as high as the 30 minutes would allow me and made it to 2 miles UP, turned our remaining campers around then began the descent.
I had the same traction down as I did up - excellent.
On the points I had to jump and land (and normally felt the jolt through my body) I felt NO JOLTING AT ALL. It was the opposite. I hit the rocks with my right foot, got air and landed on my left. NO SLIPPING. My feet were stable and I had the ability to go straight into a hop to my right downward...NO problem.
I was able to really fly down the hill - almost daredevil like.
It was crazy awesome.
Now I just want everyone (especially those with any sort of lower body pain - knees, shin, calf) to get these shoes and feel the relief of that pain.
Randy says he had to get 1 size larger in the mens shoes.
He loves his Hoka One One’s.
Check out the difference in the tread patterns - interesting!
Debbie Bo got the Mufate 2’s also (I copied her actually). When we did our 3am night run at Marr Land she bounced ahead of me like Tigger going out (which is a slight uphill) and after surviving almost being carried away by a wild flying animal (more on that soon) she ran even faster and smoother all the way back (7 miles).
We all look like The Spice Girls (in their giant shoes) so we have each adopted a fitting “Spice Name”.
Debbie - Dirty Dusty Spice
Randy - Kettle Bell Spice
Dave - Clunker Spice
JoAnn - Jamma Spice
Diane - Trail Spice
Kim Sm - Little Creature Spice
I cannot wait to add more people I love to this list.
TIME TO FLY!!
PS: What does YOUR closet look like?