The stars had finally aligned for me. Everything was falling into place. After all these years of desperately trying to get healthy it was finally happening. I had figured out a great food plan and I was running 3, 4, even 5 times a week, up to 3 miles at a time! My weight was decreasing at an incredibly high rate. Life was great!
Then it started. It was subtle at first; a little soreness on the back of my right leg in the area behind my knee. I didn’t think much about it. I was on the road to being healthy and nothing was going to stop me! I began to notice the soreness a little more while I ran and a lot when I wasn’t running, especially when I was stationary for a while, like sitting at my desk at work for a few hours at a time. I tried stretching a few different ways but the soreness would not go away and was getting worse. It got to the point where it would be so tight after a run that I could barely walk, and certainly couldn’t walk without a limp. I was now officially worried. I was only a few pounds away from reaching 100lbs lost; I did not need anything slowing me down. I bought a wrap-around ice pack for my leg from Amazon and began using that in between my runs. It seemed to help some but the runs were still a struggle. One day I weighed and I was at 99lbs lost. I was determined to make that day the day I reached my 100lbs lost goal. I was so excited. I went out to run and it hurt so badly after about three quarters of a mile I turned around and went home. I weighed in hopes that run pushed me over the edge, but I was still a half pound away. At this point, I was reaching my goal right then and there. I started doing a bunch of sets of pushups, crunches, and jumping jacks. After about 20 minutes and several weigh-ins I hit my goal! I had lost 100lbs. Even typing that last sentence brings tears to my eyes. I had battled so long and I had finally made a massive dent in my weight loss goal. I yelled it to my wife and kids in the house. They cheered for me. It was a landmark moment in my life.
My joy was somewhat diminished by the fact that my leg was absolutely killing me and I had no idea why. I searched the internet (like we all do) to see if I could find a diagnosis. There were a million things people said it could be. Most people said I was overtraining, which I didn’t think I was because I had slowly built up my mileage over a long period of time. I decided I would just rest it for a week and hoped it would feel better.
Reaching the 100lbs milestone was huge and took about 8 months after I started my diet plan. For the next week I would just celebrate my success. To a food addict, celebrating means eating! I was just sure my leg would feel better in a week so I wasn’t too worried about gaining a couple of pounds back. I would just work that off in a couple of days. Well, after a week the leg didn’t feel much different, so I gave it another week with no running. After several weeks I thought it started to feel a little better so I tried running again. Immediately the soreness returned in full force and I was frustrated and depressed. When a food addict is frustrated and/or depressed, we eat. Obviously, since I wasn’t running or following my food plan (or any eating restriction whatsoever) I began to gain weight again.
After about a month I had enough. My leg was no better and I was gaining weight. The only thing I wanted to do was run and that was the only thing I couldn’t do. I was depressed and unmotivated. One day I remembered that an old friend of mine, Brandon, was a triathlete and he had just started a job at a running shoe company that I had never heard of. He noticed a while back on Facebook that I was doing some running and mentioned if I ever needed any advice that he’d try to help me out. Little did I know that he was planting the seed of the natural running gospel! I sent him a Facebook message explaining my plight in great detail. His reply was eye-opening to say the least. Apparently, there is more to running than just lacing up your run-of-the-mill Nike’s and hitting the street (who knew?!). He offered thoughts, based on my description, of what he thought I had injured. Popliteal Tendonitis is what he said. I had never heard of that before but it gave me something to Google. After a few minutes, seeing anatomy photos and reading about symptoms, I realized that was probably what I had injured.
What really blew my mind was his detailed description on how he said one could injure this tendon. Everything he described I was doing in my runs. I was over striding and landing on my heel. I was running around circles in my neighborhood while over striding (basically doing a lot of turning). And basically everything about my running technique was wrong.
At this point I had never had much thought about run technique. I had heard someone say something one time about landing mid foot which I had tried to develop unsuccessfully. Actually, doing so made my injury worse because I was trying to land mid foot while over striding in super heel-cushioned shoes (Nike Vomeros) causing even more strain on my leg. Brandon advised me to check out some videos on You Tube about natural running form. These videos would change everything!
I learned so much from the videos. I was injured because I was running incorrectly the entire time; part of the blame goes to ignorance, the other part goes to my shoes. This was frustrating to learn but I was also excited to hopefully resolve this problem and get on with my weight loss and quest to become healthy. So Brandon and I talked back and forth about proper running form and what I needed to do to change my technique and get going again, which also led us to talk about shoes. He said I would need to get shoes that were designed for my new natural running form, a shoe that more closely resembled barefoot running. Since he worked for Newton you would think he would have been pushy about me getting Newtons, but he wasn’t at all. I asked him about the shoes and what made them so good. I had no reason to doubt their benefits and since he had helped me out so much with my form I thought the least I could do is to give Newton’s a try. I waited to get my Sir Isaacs in the mail before I started running again.
Once I got my Newtons I hit the pavement again. My injured leg was still quite sore at this point but I set out anyway to see if my new shoes and form made any difference. I felt like a fish out of water at first. I was running and trying to do all the things I had seen in the videos and what I had discussed with Brandon. Running naturally is basically doing these things: knees bent, good posture/head up, leaning forward at the ankles (not the waist), landing with your foot parallel to the ground, and having a high cadence (about 180 steps per minute). I kinda sorta was running naturally. My leg still hurt after my runs, but it wasn’t as bad as before so I thought it was at least progress. I had my wife record me running and sent it to Brandon so he could critique my form. He said I wasn’t leaning forward, but it otherwise looked pretty good. I just shook my head when I read that because I knew I was supposed to lean from my ankles. I went out again and again, every time determined to break my old running habits and get my body running efficiently and naturally. I would watch the You Tube videos over and over and practice in front of the microwave at work while my food was cooking! It was constantly on my mind.
Eventually my body adjusted to the new running style and I was on my way. I began to increase my mileage again for the first time in months. All the while, my injured leg was still sore but it wasn’t getting worse. It was actually slowly getting better, even though I was still running, but running naturally this time! I was amazed. The new form felt more natural every time I went out. It got to a point where I was thinking less and less about it when I ran and I was just able to run.
I didn’t try any other minimalist shoes because I saw no reason to do so. My Newtons felt fantastic with my new form. I thought the lugs would feel awkward but they just didn’t. Still being a heavy runner the extra cushion under my mid foot (where I was now landing) seemed right. The shoes fit like a glove and appeared to be as high a quality a shoe as I have ever worn. I love my Newtons and I can’t wait to transition to the Performance Line.
Today, I call myself a runner. It has been months since I had to stop running due to my injury and now I’m just killing it and losing weight again! I now run 100% pain free and I’m pain free after my runs. I’m probably about 95% healed from my leg injury (which healed all by itself while I was running properly). I now run naturally and it feels great and it gives me so much confidence knowing that I am not going to hurt myself. I am currently training for my first half-marathon and marathon. This past week I ran a personal best 8 miles and it felt amazing! I’m on pace in my training to run a half-marathon at the beginning of November and a marathon in March, and I have Brandon and Newton Running to thank for that.
Newton is not just in the business of selling shoes. They genuinely believe in natural running and the benefits running can have in your life. I lost 100lbs by running, but I am going to get and be healthy for the rest of my life because Newton taught me to run naturally, and I am going to have fun doing it!