Ask a Random Triathlete: Crying Manly Tears & Recommending Shoes Over the Internets

I'm a big boy and I'll cry if I want to.

This week, we answer both the big and the small questions. Like really big, like metaphorical in their scope, and yet incredibly tiny and detailed in their smallness. This is basically how vast my expertise is. You can read all my previous amazing advice here.

Or ask your own questions by submitting them on the forum here or by direct messaging me. We probably won’t mock you, but we might. 

I started crying in the middle of this really tough long run a few weeks ago. My marathon is coming up in two weeks. You’ve said before you cry sometimes in workouts, so I thought I guess it’s not a big deal, but I’m worried?

Are you a woman? I’m going to guess you’re a woman. I say this not because those of us among the “frailer” sex cry more — I mean, manly man tears are absolutely a real thing — but because after an exhaustive survey of the female athletes currently in my living room it turns out that 100% of them reach peak crying about one month before a big race.

Manly man tears.

Manly man tears.

Look, this isn’t baseball. There is definitely crying in triathlon. And if Tom Hanks says otherwise, then challenge him to a goddamn race. I cried once in my car after a swim workout for no reason. I had completely killed the workout — just wanted to be totally clear about how awesome I am — but found myself sitting in front of the community center, as parents averted their eyes and rushed their kids past me, sobbing for NO REASON. Or rather, the reason was that I was four weeks out from an Ironman. There has never been a marathon I didn’t cry either during or after — ideally after, it works out better when it’s not during. And yet, there’s no asterisk next to any of my times that says, ‘oh, sorry, didn’t count, she shed female weakness from her eyes.’

Because here’s what those manly men don’t realize: it doesn’t fucking matter.

Who cares if you cry? As long as you keep going. Every female athlete I know has cried at some point during training. Every guy I know just gets weirdly agro and neurotic, which is not better. All it means is that you’re walking the line between mental, physical, emotional fatigue v. fitness. Just don’t get too far over that line. Stop crying eventually. Seriously, pull it together during a race, because you need to be able to breathe. Go eat something. Take a nap. And then get back to it. And tell anyone who says otherwise that locking in their emotions like that will lead to heart disease.

(Bonus pro tip: Breaking into involuntary massive weeping as soon as you cross the finish line is actually a guaranteed way to get some top-level medical attention.)

I was using different Newton running shoes for training and racing different length races tri/running.  I was finding when I started running, my muscle along my shin and my calf muscles were on fire and fatigued.  I attributed that to the blocks on the sole and me already running on my forefoot, so ending up running on my toes.

I tried out a pair of Altra’s and found them to alleviate my issues.  But after using them for 1-2 months now, I am starting to get a blister on the back of my foot.  I then noticed that I had wear on the backs of both shoes.  The pair that I bought were the last of last year’s model, and I took them without realizing that I could probably go down a 1/2 size. But having many different sizes of Newtons I never thought too much of it.  

My question is, do you think it could be a brand issue on how they fit me, or and issue with sizing? I also am trying a pair of Pearl Izumi’s bought by a friend, which are also could go down a 1/2 size, but have no issues with blisters.  I have not run longer than 7 miles in them though.

I love the incredible specificity of this question. Look, I know lots of things, so many things, but you know what I don’t know: What kind of shoes you should wear. You know what it sounds like you’d benefit from? A person with specialized knowledge about shoes actually watching you run and making a suggestion specific to you and your problems. I hear they have these people at local running stores.

Now for some vague generalizations:

  • Many people seem to have calf and shin soreness when they begin running in Newtons. I have no opinion about whether this is good, bad, or neither, but it seems not great.
  • The heel blisters could be related to the wear pattern or they could not be. I’d start narrowing down the possibilities by buying shoes that are the right size.
  • If other shoes don’t give you blisters and other shoes seem to fit just fine, then it’s most likely a brand issue. Not everyone likes every shoe. But you should probably buy lots and lots more brands in not exactly the right sizes just to be sure.

Seriously, go to your local running store and find someone who knows things about shoes.


About the Author

Kelly O'Mara
Kelly is a reporter and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She quit triathlon for a few years, because triathletes can be annoying, but now she's back into it and only hanging out with the non-annoying triathletes. She blogs about stuff at Sunny Running.