Runners come in all shapes and sizes. When I see women who run, I must admit I'm envious of a particular sort. This runner has gorgeous legs with defined muscles that give her the perfect shape. Her legs have beautiful, solid curves due to the perfect development of her quads, hamstrings, and calves. She usually even has lovely, olive-colored skin or a beautiful tan that would hide any cellulite if she had it.
I think I was kind of hoping that running would make my legs look like that. (Well, except the dark skin; I'm at least sort of realistic!) Instead, as my legs get stronger, they just seem to get...
Sigh. I suppose I should have expected that. My body isn't prone to very many natural curves. Don't get me wrong, I really love my body, and I love how it works with me in my quest to be more fit.
But while I do need to give up that dream of having pefectly-sculpted legs, I've found out how important the quest for strong legs should be.
Recently, I've been having some occasional knee pain, and I wanted to figure out how to fix it before it became a real problem. So I consulted Dr. Google, and came to the conclusion that I probably needed new shoes.
I've never been properly fit for running shoes. When I'd been running for about 2 1/2 months, my feet started aching, and I talked to my husband (who's been running off and on for about 25 years) about what my first pair of real running shoes should be. He looked at the wear pattern on the soles of my shoes and suggested a particular type of Asics, a type that would help correct my gait. I found a great deal on Amazon and ordered my normal size.
Well, the shoes came, and while they felt more supportive than my other shoes, they were a little tight on my pinky toes. But I kept them. They stretched out, and while they are still a little more snug in that one area than I'd like, they've been pretty comfortable for running. But I have just kept wondering, What shoes should I REALLY be wearing? What would they tell me if I got fitted at a running store? I became convinced I was probably wearing the wrong shoes.
So when I saw that the wrong shoes can contribute to knee pain, I headed down to a running specialty store that's renowned in my area, and told the expert there that I thought I needed new shoes. He had me jog, walk, sit, stand, bend my knees, and bend my toes. And he told me,
"You're wearing the right shoes. You just have wimpy legs."
Okay, those aren't the words he used. He was far more tactful. In fact, he was so helpful and friendly that it didn't sound like he was criticizing me when he explained that the quads and hamstrings need to be strong to support the knees correctly. Since I'm a pretty new runner who has just fairly recently been increasing the distance I run, my legs just haven't been quite strong enough to handle that, and my knees have been giving me some warning signals. He talked to me about doing strengthening exercises, and about protecting my muscles by taking a ten minute warm-up walk before I even start jogging.
Yep, I'm Ms. Wimpy Legs. It's time for me to really focus on strengthening my upper legs when I do my at-home exercising. On the one hand, I was relieved not to have to spend $100+ on new shoes! On the other hand, strengthening muscles is harder than spending money, so I've got some work ahead of me.
And on another hand (yes, I know that's three hands), I think that a salesperson who tells me I don't need to buy something that I specifically came to buy, is pretty awesome. When my shoes really do wear out, I'm looking forward to visiting the store again to find my dream pair of running shoes. This store has proven itself to me!
And on yet another hand (or foot, or whatever), my smart husband rocks for getting me into the right shoes. If he could just share some of his leg muscles with me, he'd be perfect. I'm just glad he loves me when I'm Ms. Wimpy Legs, and that he'll love me when I do my exercises and become Ms. Strong But Still Skinny Legs.
We can't all look like we belong on the front of a fitness magazine, but I'm actually thankful that there is a beautiful variety of runner body types...and I'm thankful to be a unique part of that variety!