Monday, July 31, 2017


Arrived in Perth busting to get walking and within the first week come a gutser. After months of not being able to walk far, I rushed about to get gear ready and quickly ended up with sore knees. The next couple weeks, waiting for knees to heal, injured my feet. I had been sitting cross legged on a hardwood floor and the irritated the bone joint points on the outside edges of the feet that pressed into the floor. I stopped soon as it was sore, but the damage was done by that time.  Lesson: sit on soft things. Frustratingly, it seemed like all the fine days were drifted past as I waited for healing.  Eventually, went to see a podiatrist to check if there was anything I could do to heal faster as the feet were the worst problem.

First podiatrist was really bad.  With just a glance they could tell me that I needed an over $400 worth of X-ray and ultrasounds tests, that I definitely needed orthotics and a custom shoe fit.  All this was because in their words, my shoes were injuring my feet by rubbing on the sore spots. I had told them I hadn't been wearing shoes, and was always in sandals - that didn't touch the sore spots and hadn't walked in weeks because of sore knees.  Unhappy with that podiatrist and their diagnosis,  I went for a second opinion. Second podiatrist was much better. Video assessment of walking/running and the good news was all was good - no orthotics needed. The soreness, nothing to do but wait for that to calm down.  And obviously, don't do that again.

To round out the doctors visits - I also saw a physio about the knees and a shoulder.  Got some exercises to do. But the big take away from the appointment was - get active. But gently!  Don't over do it.  Listen to your body and give it recovery time. So started back into walking training.

Footwear is still a problem for me. Why are shoes made with narrow pointed toes, when feet are broad and boxy shaped? Why can't you buy sandals in winter? Why is it so hard to get a good fit?

I tried on so many shoe styles: running, hiking, walking , cross fit, gym, racing, and many more that I've forgotten. A big discovery was that I needed to move up a size or sometimes two depending on the brand.  Not so new discovery was that shoes are very narrow and made for uniform feet. I have very wide non uniform feet.

Left DIY soled. Right Merrell Siltwater Strap.
My DIY soled sandals worked, but the 2mm sole was wearing out. The low height also let a lot of debris under the foot when the track was anything but packed dirt.

I tried the pair of Merrell sandals I had, but it seemed like they were irritating the sore points. The edge of the straps pressed right across the swollen spots. Wearing them was to uncomfortable for anything more than a short walk. I didn't like to wear them at all.

After a time, I decided to stick to just wearing with a pair Vibram Five Fingers I had. They were good - well worn in and stretched.  Only problem was they were almost worn out. I added a shoe glue to the sole to extend their life a bit longer.  I wasn't going to replace them when they wore out, but in the end, failing to find another pair of sandals or shoes, and just wanting to stick to what was working, I ordered a new pair - exactly the same.

Seemed all sorted.

Old Vibram Five Fingers with Altra Instinct 3.5
Then Murphy's law strikes. Checking them for the first time - just before a shakedown hike they broke.  Lace strap stitching come apart. It looks like the tabs missed the sewing machine. Back to the seller with them. I would have replaced them then, but they are now out of stock. I had the last pair.

Tired of trying on shoes, and needing something asap, I went and bought the best option I found locally; pair of Altra Instinct 3.5.  Altra is known for shoes with a human foot shaped toe box.  Downside is finding a pair can be tricky.

With the old Vibrams, I was able to walk 12km days without a pack and feel good - foot wise - at the end of it.  First couple days in the new shoes and my feet were complaining bitterly. Not around the toes, but further back.  Its improving as they (shoes or feet?)  'break in', but I do miss sandals. Just put them on and adjust to comfortable. Adjust the velcro when needed - tight or loose.

A shakedown hike is coming up to test out my gear, and my body. I've been paring my gear down to just the essentials.  Helpfully its the wet season, so plenty of water about.  I won't have to carry a solar panel for the phone charging either with all the clouds and rain.

Looking forward to it.

Australian Slang:
gutser : a bad mistake or have an accident