Note to self: No matter how progressed your denial, wearing shoes too small while running long distances will only result in the proverbial state of: “Your dogs barking”
Perhaps you have never heard this terminology used before. Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “will running in the wrong size shoes through my neighborhood offend the dogs so greatly that it will cause them to bark?” Oh my, oh my, I only wish it were that simple. No, sadly what I am referring to is metaphoric in nature. Although, I’ve yet to fully realize the correlation of this as it relates to what I am about to expand upon. This is going to be embarrassing but I’m a giver, a caring nurturer, always willing to sacrifice myself to the cause of a good laugh. Does this mean that I am laughable? Perhaps.
It’s really quite simple. I recently started training for the music city marathon. Don’t get too excited about my pursuits. I am only running the half–just a simple 13.1 miles. A pretty basic leisure-style run. Anyway, thanks to some recent competition drummed up in my life, that is to say, the appearance of an individual that is a better runner than myself, I decided to go for it. It’s a good goal, no? In order to illustrate this point I think that it’s important for us to examine some culturally prescribed norms. Let us consider the idea that women should be smaller than men and therefore their bodies should be more contained, with extremities “feminine” in appearance. Right? Of course. At least in our culture. Additionally, having a Korean mother, I came to understand that small feet were quite prevalent within the Asian community along with the occasional eating of dogs, cats, and other “fly lice” endeavors (we’ll go there another time). Because of this Asian foot thing, I often recalled my mother referencing the size of her 8.5 feet as being magnanimous in comparison to the Korean ladies’ norm. Unfortunately, this was often cast in a negative light, sounding something like, “when I was in Korea I could never find shoes, my feet were too big, they thought I was freakish…the also told me I looked like a witch and that my name meant horse!”. OMGOSH – was this to be my fate too? Was I to resemble a witch by name of horse with hooves the size of cow pies…WAS I?!?! It couldn’t be. Never that…if I had anything to do with it.
As I grew, I paid careful attention to the rate in which my feet were developing. Often comparing my pedis to that of my peers. I seemed to fair either smaller or at least average. I was okay with average. Average is better than giant cow pie hooves. As I settled into my adulthood, my feet seemed to rest at the common 8.5 America woman’s standard. Yes, I had achieved success…measured in foot size. Years passed and I never really gave it a second thought. If shoes hurt, those shoes were bad shoes. I’d never recommend that particular designer again. If they didn’t work for my standard and desirably sized foot, then surely they were not worth recommending. Many a designer may have lost business due to my elitist and informed opinions on the matter. No matter…
When I recently started running longer distances, spending excesses of an hour and a half at a time doing so, pounding away at my delicate and perfectly average feet, I never thought twice about the excruciating pain I was experiencing. This just comes with the territory. RAAAWWRRR!!! LOOK AT ME- I’m so hardcore with my bloody, blistered, and toenailess feet. Yea I said it: TOENAILESS. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout my life. I’ve lost many a toenail due to the friction that occurs from either dancing with fervor, walking with conviction, or haughtily running whilst boasting my athleticism. So yesterday when I ran 8 miles on the treadmill, I proudly bore my wounds. Large blisters and the promise that two of my toenails were indeed going to fall off due to the constant rubbing that was happening inside the battlefield of my running shoes. This could have all been avoided.
You will now know my dirty little secret. I’m feeling courageous enough to unveil my shame if for no other reason than to preserve what toenails I do have: I actually wear a 9.5 shoe. Please don’t scorn me. I only just learned this a couple days ago. I thought that I would go to the running store and have them check out my feet on one of those fancy foot reading computers. You know, the ones that tell you everything that’s wrong with your feet so they can sell you $80 insoles? Whatever. Anyway, they measured my feet and the man performing the highly technical procedure began to rattle off all kinds of information about my center of gravity, arches, distribution of weight, etc. However, all this was muffled as my eyes gazed with the greatest of concern, to the corner of the screen–where like a big festering boil, the shame of my true foot size was displayed: 9.5. The guy was very concerned about my propensity to favor my left foot and wanted to discuss. I looked at him with equal concern and responded, “I’m not really a 9.5, right? This can’t be right.” He seemed amused by my fixation on that which seemed least important..in his eyes. He assured me it was correct. It was confirmed when for the first time in…well, forever, I experienced the joy of what a comfortable running shoe could feel like. A size 9.5 running shoe which subsequently did not resemble a cow pie, water ski maybe, but definitely not a cow pie.
The moral of my story friends is that we all suffer due to our perceptions of what the prescribed social norms are in our efforts to maintain the “ideal”. This experience however has taught me that if your body parts must resemble sports equipment in order to prevent you from injury, it’s okay. Just go with it. So when they say that, “Your dogs are barking”, this basically means that your feet are buckled. I brought the barking of my dogs upon myself. These dogs are disturbing the peace. I’ll be picking up some new shoes tomorrow, I have a long run coming up.