A special "race". I did the Bay to Breakers a couple of times back in the early '90's before it got so large ... back when it was a relatively compact field of only about 100,000 :-) More a moving spectacle than a running event, but what fun!
built up shoe
Hi. I stumbled onto your blog from google. Just wondered if you could elaborate on your story. Did you have some sort of accident that has recently left your leg shorter? As best as my doctor can tell, I have a congenital 1 1/4 inch short left leg. I have compensated for years (I'm in my early 40's) but for the past couple of years, I have had worsening left knee pain, hip, and lower back pain. I have recently had the left shoe of two pairs of shoes, some New Balance running shoes and some casual shoes, built up. The thick white sole of the NB is painfully obvious. And though the black sole on the casual shoe is not as obvious, I have still been reluctant to wear either pair. Completely vain, I know.

I sit at a desk all day so I'm not on my feet that much. But any amount of standing or walking leaves in me in much pain and wears me out. I don't exercise as a result and am packing on pounds. I'm encouraged to see that you are actually competing in Tri-athlons!

So here are my questions: Was some sort of back, hip, knee pain the reason for having the shoe built up or just to even out your gait? If for pain, can you honestly tell a difference in terms of pain level when wearing the built up shoe? Have you had all of your shoes modified or just your running shoes?

I'm wondering if I should just get over myself and wear the built up shoe all the time or if I can get by with only wearing it when I'm on my feet for extended periods of time, e.g. exercising. Again, I sit at a desk all day. If you do switch back and forth do you notice a spike in pain?

Sorry for all the questions. Just don't know anyone else with this condition. Thanks.
Re: built up shoe
Hi, I'd be happy to exchange email with you, or even discuss on the phone if it helps. I'll answer a few of your questions here, let me know if you want more information.

I had an accident in 1978 that left my right leg badly disfigured and 2-inches short. In 1992 I had follow-on surgery to correct the angle of my tib/fib in relation to the ankle joint, which was starting to break-up; the surgery also hoped to get some of the 2-ich length difference back. I caught a bacterial infection while in hospital which meant the surgical cut didn't heal, and also caused a bacterial growth on one of my heart valves, which caused major problems two years ago.

Unfortuantely, after some 11-months in a cast my leg still hadn't healed properly, and when I was sent home from hospital the joint flexed and I lost the length the surgery had gained.

In 1998, I'd gained a bunch of weight, abd decided to take a short at running. I was slow and it was painful for my knees. Bored with plain running, and frustrated I decided to have a go at a triathlon. For 3-years I got gradually better, but the leg length difference meant my running was always slow, and over the years while my back and my hips adapted to the leg length difference continued to cause problems with my knees.

In 2002 I visited the GB Athletic team podiatrist in Harley St London, who did a video diagnosis of my running and foot strike, but was honest enough to say he had no idea who to do anything for my leg length difference, but did build two orthotics to help my foot strike and to build up the right shoe as much as he could with an orthotic. He did this by building up the heel. These worked well, I had a half marathon PR that year, and also completed my first half ironman triathlon.

In 2005 I visited a consultant specialist who xray'd my knees, and diagnosed CPPD aka Pseudo gout. Phosphate deposits on the knees, also the ankles and probably the the right hip. This explains much of the stiffness I experience. The consultant advised I should stop running as it was incurable and would only get worse.

Since that time, my triathlons have suffered, I've failed to finish two half-ironman distance races, despite having a decent swim and a fast bike, I just couldn't do the run. And have not been able to run more than 10k, and even then my hips and knees would be painful and stiff.

I planned this year to be sprint triathlons only(5k run), and earlier in the year I finally found two people who would build up a shoe. So in a last bid to be able to get my running back on track I decided to go with both. You can see both shoes and some commentry here:

I've had mixed results. I'm certainly not any faster, but, and this may be wishful thinking, there seems to be less pain after the runs/events, and the recovery is quicker.

Like you, I sit at a desk all day. I have not had any shoes except my running shoes changed. I've had problems with my left foot, mostly the creation of hard skin on the outside of the forefoot, I have also had some twinges, nothing serious in my left hip, left knee. Standing or walking for a long time does hurt my back, and causes pain, but in a very different way from running.

Hope this helps, in fact I hope you get to see it. Please email to confirm you've read and with any follow-on questions.