Saturday, August 25, 2012

running and roadkill

I'm back in MI and ran this AM along a fairly busy road that connects a couple of towns.  And I forgot about the choice smells that are part of country roads, i.e. road kill that is beginning to get nice and ripe.  Ran by a couple that really got my attention:  one was a skunk and the other was a raccoon.  The skunk of course, smelled like skunk, and the raccoon just smelled like dead stuff that wants to make you gag.

Naturally, your first inclination is to hold your breath, but when I'm running, I'm pretty much counting on getting as much oxygen into my system as possible - and that means having to breathe at a regular rate.  I could walk instead of run, but then of course it would take me longer to get past the sucky smell - so I keep running - and try not to breathe - much.

Today the skunk came first and I could smell it before I saw it, so I was a little bit prepared and started taking short breaths and holding it for a bit before exhaling and "sipping" a little bit of air at a time.  The funny thing about skunk stink is that you can smell it without breathing - which is really aggravating. I'm dying to take a fresh breath, but I know that if I do I'm going to suck in "skunk stink" - and eventually (not too long actually - its a matter of seconds) I have to take a breath and make it a short one - and of course its not close to being enough air to satisfy my oxygen depleted lungs.  And eventually, after what seems like an eternity, I am past the skunk and the stink.... phew...

About a half mile later I came across the dead, and nicely ripe, raccoon.  He probably got hit the night before and now with the sun beating on it was becoming nice and smelly.  The problem though was that, unlike the skunk stink that I sort of eased into, I suddenly saw the raccoon, guts and all, and was overwhelmed by the ripe smell of opened gastro-intestinal fumes.  It's one of those smells that almost immediately make you gag and want to hurl. It's like hitting a wall of bad, bad pungentness, the likes of which you can't imagine was once a living creature.

And of course I had just exhaled and was taking a deep breath when I got to the raccoon - a double whammy.  And yes, I did hold my breath for as long as I could before taking as small a breath as possible to test the air.  Obviously I got through it and lived to write about it.

But this just goes along with the joys of living on the edge of the country along with all the creatures that live there.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Plantar Fasciitis and running

I've been struggling with plantar fasciitis in my left foot for months now and its really affecting my training for the Grand Rapids Marathon.  The part that is uncomfortable is the pain on the bottom of my foot, just forward of my heel, kind of in the arch of the foot.  It always hurts more in the morning as soon as I put weight on it.  And it always hurts after a run, although I never seem to feel it during a run.  But it hurts enough that I think that I should not be running as much.  In the meantime however, I need to get my long miles in.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue between the heel and the forward part of the foot.  There is no quick fix for it.  All you can do is stretch, massage, maybe use orthotics....  One doctor friend offered to give me a cortisone shot, which I quickly declined (I have heard that it really, really hurts - a friend of mine did it and seriously thought that he'd rather have his foot amputated).

So to help myself I have been doing a lot of stretching and flexing for my foot and perhaps these things will help someone else:
- while sitting, grab my toes and towards me with my hands or a belt and really stretch out my arch.
- stand and point my toes back and so as to stretch the top of my foot (oddly enough, it makes my arch, where it hurts, feel good).
- stand on a 2x6 or a door jam or a step and do heel drops.
- while sitting, I will bend my foot in every possible direction, holing it stretched out in place for a few seconds.
- I find that walking barefoot makes it feel really good too.
- before I get out of bed in the AM I manipulate my foot for a few minutes, kind of like waking it up.  Apparently the tissue tightens up while I sleep, so stretching it out and "waking it up" makes a big difference and makes it significantly less uncomfortable when I take my first steps.  I've learned that I don't want to just jump out of bed.  I need to prep my ankle before doing so - makes it a little tough whenever one of my dogs has to go outside in the middle of the night, but oh well....

The more I do those things, the better it feels, but of course the problem is that I keep getting out of a steady routine of doing it.

I don't remember feeling any discomfort while running, but for all I know I'm adjusting for it and don't even realize it.  But I definitely feel it afterwards, not horribly, but it hurts. Sometimes, I'll even take an ibuprofen to take the edge off - but that is not a habit I want to get into - and besides, I'm not sure that it really provides much relief.

My big issue is that I don't want to permanently hurt myself by continuing to run on it, which is why I've been limiting my miles.  But at the same time, I really, really want to run that marathon.  So the answer to that is to pay more attention to my stretching...  Like they say, "just do it..."

My bigger worry is that it's not clear to me from all that I've read that I'll ever really rehab myself out of this issue!  Everything that I read says "temporary relief" - what good is that?