Gear: New Shoes...
Remember how much I loved my Altras?
Here’s the thing:
I trained in them 60 miles, with around 10-20 pounds on my back. They had felt pretty good: cushy, convenient, breatheable....
Fast forward to my start date:
I began the approach trail with zeal! Even after weighing in at a full 15 pounds more than I had planned, I was excited to be out there. I kept making micro adjustments to the straps on my pack and about halfway up the approach trail my pack finally started to feel right. I got used to using my poles to help me.
Things were great until I felt that distinct stretching burn that only comes from my arch nemesis: Plantar Fasciitis.
It began in my left foot and not long after my right foot caught on too, although not as severely. I was mad. ‘I trained in these shoes!’ I thought. In reality, I did not break them in enough at all. And if I look back I see that I’ve only worn Vibram 5 Fingers, Chacos, Merril Boots (that I was very disappointed in, by the way) and Dansko clogs for the past year. All very firm soled wide base shoes with mild to no drop (heel height vs toe height).
I walked through the pain for 3 and a half days. In the morning I’d mostly feel okay but by the time I rolled into camp my feet would be burning and my ankles would be caving in. I twisted my ankles 3 times in each foot and fell about 4 times (they don’t call me Life Alert for nothing <- wait for it the ‘I got my trail name' Post is coming!). I know I probably would have twisted my ankles and fallen no matter what shoes I was wearing but having my ankles ache badly from the plantar fasciitis certainly made those twists a lot worse.
Altras can be really great for the trail! They have super convenient features like gaiter traps, reflective coatings, breath ability, quicker drying time, good soles, etc. But if you do plan on starting the trail in them, please train in them properly!! You do not want to deal with the pain (I didn’t care that much because I’ve had it before but if I had never had it may have pushed me to some serious zeros) or the hassle of finding shoes on trail and having to drop the money on new shoes.
Altras really have no arch so if you do have flatter feet or foot problems I highly recommend getting an after market insole like Superfeet. The Timp, the model I got, was pretty wide so my insoles kept slipping and that wasn’t working for me, so be wary and try them out A LOT before leaving!
I am in no way trying to bash Altras or the people that choose them. They really are a great shoe. But I definitely decided I needed something firmer and with some more arch support.
So what am I wearing now?
I am currently trying out a pair of Oboz Luna Low in Mineral Blue which were recommended by the nice gentlemen at Mountain Crossings. Dragon, my hiking buddy, also got a pair to replace her Solomon’s which gave her arch pain. I’ll let you all know how they feel in about 30 miles!