6 Things That Make Running Enjoyable For Me (Well, at least LESS PAINFUL)

It’s no secret that runners typically can endure numerous set backs, whether it be due to scheduling issues, mental meltdowns, unsupportive partners, or a myriad of other issues and injuries. Trust me, I am no stranger to all of the above. Be it GI issues linked to Celiac Disease, nagging Achilles Tendonitis, periodic Migraines, or a spouse that actually wants to see me once in a while, I have been through the wringer. None of this matters, however, because I am a RUNNER, and no matter what Mother Nature or Father Time, or hormonal imbalance throws at me, I will figure out how to get a run in-even it it means limping around all day afterwards.

I have a few people to blame for this addiction, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I love you to death.

1.) Suzanne Kruse. I have mentioned this before, but it was Suzanne that unintentionally planted the marathon seed in my head in 2011. Suz ran her first marathon in the Fall of that year, and as I watched her complete that milestone, I made the decision to give it a try. Suzanne is a fasthole that just keeps on going no matter what. We haven’t run together in a while because she and I are trading injury woes right now, but we’ll push through them.


2.) Coach James Mattern, and Coach Jim’s Elite Runners in Training. (check it out on Facebook) Jim, you brought the world of group training to me, met with me one on one, and customized a plan that took me from beginning runner to Marathon runner and beyond. I love you for this, but DAMN, now I have another addiction!  Jim ROCKS! looking forward to the Saturday morning long runs, and all the posts from attendees, keeps me on my toes, eager with anticipation, every week. Even when I was sidelined with my 3 month injury, I faithfully followed the team training posts and  ran vicariously  through all the smiling faces of the weekly runners.

The Ladies of the Honey Badger Elite Running Squad, are the one’s that sealed the deal to my membership in a spaztacular cultish love fest. Oh God, I’m in deep here. “Honey, stop the car, Patty’s gone to the other side.”  HB’s are insanely intense, irresistible, and indescribable in their love of each other, of running, adventure, and of life itself. I don’t think there could possibly be another group of women (and one man-badger) that has the depth of core-support and accountability for each other than this club. We have a motto of “Leave no badger behind” and this rings true throughout the tough training, silly escapades, and  while nursing one of it’s “Cobra” inflicted members through a tough time. Although I am not as fast or experienced as many of these ass kicking lunatics, I still know they have got my back, and I theirs.

                                          Here is our logo. Yeah, we're Bad Ass!

Here is our logo. Yeah, we’re Bad Ass!

Suffice it to say, without these inspirational and supportive individuals and groups, I wouldn’t be running, and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about running at this stage of my life. I know that on any given day, I can call on any of the above to keep me company on a run, give me advice, share my fears, tears, and joys, and most of all, a deep belly laugh.

Before I share the next three things that make running enjoyable for me, I have a confession to make. I have Schrek feet. Big, fat, gnarly, ugly ass feet. Bunions, toes shaped like light bulbs, and a very high instep…oh yeah, that Shrek’s got nothin’ on me. The scene in Cinderella where the ugly step sisters try to fit their honking feet into the glass slipper is a little too close to home for this gal.

If you fast forward to around 2:52, you can see what my usual shoe trying-on experience is like. Not pretty. (Although hilariously portrayed here!)

Because of this malady, the next three things that have me all warm and fuzzy right now are:

4.) My Correct Toes

5.) My new Brooks PureDrift shoes

6.) My new Smart Wool Toe Socks . My feet have never felt better. OOOH, just thinking about it makes me all giddy inside.

2013-04-01 12.19.18I have been wearing the Correct Toes for over a year, but rarely with shoes, because, well, they just don’t make a lot of cute shoes wide enough to add toe spreaders in them. Most running shoes are barely wide enough for me as well, so I couldn’t wear them while running either. According to Dr Ray McClanahan, my Podiatrist: “returning the feet to their natural shape eliminates existing foot problems and prevents new ones from arising. This is done using a Correct Toes spacer, which spreads the toes to their natural and correct position. This improves proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function.”

All I know is that they make my feet feel wonderful, my bunion is getting smaller, and I am not having the sharp searing pains I used to have after approximately 4 miles of running. I bought the Smart Wool toe socks last week, and found that I could wear them WITH my Correct Toes, INSIDE my new Brooks PureDrift shoes. I have run over 20 miles in these shoes so far, and every day feels better than the last!

The Brooks shoes are a minimalist shoe with two split grooves that let your toes spread out. They are super light weight and feel delicious. A word of caution, though. If you haven’t run in a minimalist shoe or a zero drop, don’t jump right to this shoe from your full on stability shoe with a big heel to toe drop. I’ve been transitioning for about a year, and there’s no way I would have been able to run in these last year. Be kind to your feet and legs, and transition gradually. There are all sorts of conflicting reports on whether minimalist shoes are better or worse for you. I’ll stay out of that controversy and just say that for me, I am happy with them.

Lastly, my Smart Wool Toe Socks, are the coziest, cushiest, kissable socks I have ever worn. I love love love them. My massive toes feel so good tucked nicely inside them. They are the perfect thickness, don’t get too warm, and don’t bunch up or slide down when I run in them. I am hooked! I have tried other toe socks and have been so bummed by the fit, the bunching, and the sliding into the back of my shoe. THAT makes me a crazy woman. These stay put and are the absolute BOMB.

Here is what a happy post run Patty looks like:

Not exactly a Cover Girl, but happy to be running again.

Not exactly a Cover Girl, but happy to be running again.

My rehabilitation is coming along, with trial and error, and most RECENTLY, trial and SUCCESS. I am running my first half marathon since last year, and this will be the longest distance in 4 months, so I am a little freaked, but I’ve got the great advice from months of training with my Coach, the support of my friends and Honey Badgers, and I’ve got the first class foot package to keep my going.  So if you are in Yelm, Washington this weekend, I’ll be running the first day of The Double Half.

What makes your runs enjoyable? Do you run alone or in groups? With or without music? I’d love to hear about it. Have a great week.