I hit two today.  One I have been waiting for and one by accident.

The one I had been waiting for was the last wound from my surgery to finally close–and success!! When I woke up this morning, it was finally closed up.  No more non-stick pads and gauze, no more risk of it getting infected.  It took almost 5 months, but milestone achieved!

The second milestone was a complete accident.  I ended up doing my entire practice today in my 2 1/2″ heel practice shoes.  First time I have worn shoes that high since before my surgery!  I was just going to do it for today, but it felt really good to do and I could tell the higher heels were making me work harder, so unless Boss has any huge objections (I don’t think he will), I am going to keep wearing them for practice.

It was an accident because on Friday during practice the suede on the bottom of my heel protectors on one of my shoes came off and I had lent my glue to a friend who had just gotten her first pair of ‘real’ dance shoes so she could glue suede to the bottom of her heels.  We were supposed to meet up on Saturday, but plans had to change and I didn’t get my glue back until I was at the studio today.  Not wanting to wearing my cuban heel shoes for practice, I just figured I would try my higher shoes and see how it went.

For those wondering about the suede–I will explain at the end of the post what I do to help increase the life of my heel protectors and cut costs–it’s a really useful tip!

Back to practice, I was pretty surprised at the difference the 1/2″ made in how I was working.  The higher heel automatically puts me a little more forward over my toes, so my posture was adjusted a little and I had to work harder to maintain it and keep myself ‘up’ (no more sinking!!).  The higher heel also meant that my body had to work harder to maintain my balance and I felt my muscles automatically start to adapt–especially my inner thighs in my standard exercises, my upper abs in latin, and my hip flexors overall.  My ankles were also getting a good workout, as well as my feet.  The best thing was that my feet didn’t hurt as much as I thought they would with the change–which shows I have gotten stronger over the last month and a half.

It seems like such a small difference, but I was definitely working much harder without really realizing it.  When I finished my last set of cuban breaks, my fitbit measured my pulse at 172–definitely high end cardio, and about 10 points higher for the same exercise in previous weeks.  To be honest, it felt really great to know I was working that hard.  I really felt like I had accomplished a lot by the end of my practice.

This is also my second week doing strength training and thankfully my body is starting to adjust to it.  I could stand on one leg without it shaking and feeling like it was going to collapse today–which is what I was experiencing this time last week.  I didn’t have a lesson today due to an issue with the hall, but I am really looking forward to my lesson on Wednesday.  I won’t be able to practice on Wednesday though because of a meeting, so it will be a Thursday/Friday exercise week.

So, about the suede.  I don’t know if it’s the same for others, but I can wear a hole in a pair of plastic heel protectors in about 3 weeks–2 if I am doing a lot of standard like right now.  After getting really frustrated about how often I was having to change heel protectors and cognizant of the rising costs (they cost about $3.00/pair, which adds up every 3 weeks), I researched some different ways to help them last.

I saw a lot of information about suede heel protectors, but quickly discovered that they are almost impossible to find these day.  Ever one to improvise, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I went to the local leather store and was able to buy  about 1 metre of tan suede on clearance for $20.  That much suede will probably last 2-3 years at the rate I am going.  A friend tipped me off to a really good glue called ‘Shoe Goo’ which can be bought at Walmart or Canadian Tire for about $10.

Now the arts and crafts part.  I take my plastic heel protector, cut a square piece of suede big enough to cover the bottom and apply glue to both the suede and protector.  I wait 2 mins for the glue to ‘set’ then stick the suede to the bottom of the heel protector.  It cures in 24-hours, at which point I trim the suede so there is no excess around the protector and put the protector on my shoes.

I don’t know why it works, but the suede helps to protect the plastic from wearing too quickly and unevenly (I used to have a huge issue where after 1 week my heel protectors were on an angle, making my heels uneven).  One piece of suede usually lasts about 2-3 months depending how much I am using the shoes, and the odd time that it comes unglued if the suede is still good, I can just glue it back on.  Over time, the suede does tend to shift a little or flatten out, and I use that to determine when it is best to replace it.

As a bonus, the suede helps make spinning easier on the knees in latin (as it slips a little bit better than the plastic), and it makes the protectors less slippery on the edges when doing heel leads.  Doing this has dramatically increased the life on my heel protectors and my shoes!  1 pair of protectors can last about 6 months before they wear a hole or are too uneven.  Much better than every 2-3 weeks!