New shoes do make you run faster. It's not just a playground rumor.
Yesterday I got new shoes and a few workout clothes. I won't call them running shoes and clothes just yet. New shoes are important support for running feet. I ran twice for a few minutes during my treadmill time today, I'm very cautiously working up to what I previously could do. It would be so awesome to run outside this summer.
My knees are cooperating so far. Today they don't hurt at all - that is pretty amazing considering what I dealt with this time last year. I've been working on my core, crunches and the exercises from the physical therapist. I thought my core would be strengthened to run just by running. I talked to my physical therapist about this and she said that it isn't true. Even though running is one of the best workouts, it still does not strengthen all the muscles necessary for running, such as the abs and back. I think this could be the reason I got runner's knee.
When your core isn't strong your form fails as you tire. For me that meant my toes turn in, I hunch over, and generally look like an ogre loping after it's prey. This is where the damage occurs. So now when I focusing on form I watch my toes and stop running when I get tired.
My whole life I've been pigeon-toed. I wore a brace as a baby to try to correct it and special shoes as a little kid. It didn't work. Now I'm finding that it is due to genetics and weak muscles. Not all my muscles are weak, the ones specifically needed to keep my feet pointing forward need work. As I do the exercises recommended by the physical therapist it strengthens the muscles that turn my feet outward. As I focus on placing my feet with my toes pointing forward (which feels as if I'm running like a duck, that's how much my toes want to go inward) it reduces the chance of injuring myself again, or exacerbating the existing damage.
The interesting thing about all of this is that in the past I never knew if I should try to correct my pigeon toes. As a kid when I was teased about it I tried to point my toes forward but as soon as I forgot they would go back. It seemed to only be an issue of appearance. I got used to it and ignored the taunts. As I started running it was interesting that my dysfunctional feet didn't cause trouble and neither did my bunions (that sounds like something old ladies have, for the record, I'm not old!). It was just a matter of time though. It took about 5 years of running before I started to have knee pain.
While I'm working on these feet issues I don't think it will ever really be "cured". It has been my body's fall back position for so long, and I wonder if there is something in my bone or muscle structure that precipitates it. Regardless of cause, I can do things to improve, even if it doesn't ever go completely away.
So watch out pavement - my new shoes and I will be confronting you very soon, at a much faster pace.