Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My feet hurt - and I'm sick and tired of it

The title pretty much says it all - I've been fighting the plantar fasciitis in my left foot and the achilles tendonitis in my right. I had been able to get through a run but then paid for it afterwards, hobbling and limping around.

In my battles to help my feet I have/had established a regular routine -

For the plantar fasciitis:
I think that I can pretty much say that I've found the magic key to relief of my PF. And it simply involves stretching. Not just my feet themselves, but my calves, hams, and quads.
  • Heal drops and calf raises. Using a couple of 1x4 boards I do very careful heal drops and calf raises - not to extremes, just enough to loosen up and warm up.
  • Modified toe-touch. Standing with legs apart (roughly hip wide), bend knees slightly and touch the ground in front of my toes and then squeeze hams and butt cheeks out. Keep head down and breath easy for about 30 seconds. Release, and do it again a couple more times.
  • Kneel on the ground (rug preferably) with the tops of my feet flat on the ground (toes pointing behind me). Breath easy and slowly and gently lean back so that my weight is supported on my feet (my butt is on my heals).
  • From that previous position, now curl my toes so that they are under me and holding my weight (still on my knees though).  Hold that position for a little bit, breathing easy.
  • Then roll back so that I am literally squatting but holding my weight on my toes.  Hold for a few.... and then stand up.
What kind of helped, but was only temporary were these:
  • Lots of stretching and manipulation of the foot throughout the day.
  • Massaging the foot several times a day.
  • I discovered a method of taping that has helped tremendously.  I simply did an internet search and watched 2 or 3 youtube videos, went out and bought some rolls of sports tape, and I tape myself up every day (but not for a run).  I'll wear the tape for 8-10 hours a day.  I don't sleep with it.
  • After a run, I ice for 10-15 minutes.
  • I am not taking any anti-inflamatories or pain killers (they didn't seem to help and I'd rather not).

For the achilles tendonitis:

  • Modest stretching, just enough to loosen it up some.
  • Wearing shoes (I tend to like to walk barefoot when ever possible).  Shoes raise my heel up just enough to take some of the tension off the tendon.
  • After a run, I ice for 10-15 minutes.

The good news is that I believe that I have the plantar fasciitis under control.  I no longer hobble as I get out of bed in the morning.  The incredible pain that I used to get as I try to make my first steps of the day is no longer there - so I see that as progress.  The taping has been a big help.

The bad news is that I'm realizing that I'm not going to fix the achilles tendonitis as long as I continue to run - So last Sunday, after aborting a run half mile into it, I made the decision to not run for a full week.  Then I'll ease my way back into it.  If it still feels tight, I'll back off again.  I have to get it healthy.  I read some scary things about popping the tendon and I don't want that to be me.

My feet have hurt so much that I had dialed back my mileage substantially - and the immediate effect that I've notice is that my weight has been going up.  I didn't realize just how much of a calorie burning action running was on me. My understanding was that, as a runner, I might burn 100 or so calories per mile, which isn't that much.  But apparently it makes a bigger difference than I imagined. So now I'm going to try to burn those C's on a bike or walking or doing upper body workouts.

Someone suggested that I stop drinking beer, but are they nuts?  C'mon man....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Running tired

I find that there is a point during a long run when I realize that I'm "tired", and yet it feels good, so good, to keep running.  There is no consideration of stopping.  It just suddenly occurs to me that I'm a little tired.  But it's a "good" tired.  It's a "I can go for a long time" tired.

It doesn't always hit me at the same distance; sometimes it happens around mile 4, mile 14, or mile 18.  It's a different feeling from a genuine fatigued feeling that is the result of not having gone through good endurance training.

That "good tired" is maybe the point at which I'm fully loosened up, I'm in the groove, and I'm just running...  It's an automatic flow and rhythm.  Things are in sync.

When I was doing my long, long runs during my marathon training, I remember that starting around mile 18 I would start thinking "don't stop running, don't stop running".  My legs might have been grateful for a stop in the action, but since that wasn't in the plan for the day, I wouldn't stop.  And that is definitely a different kind of tired.  I know that I was beginning to feel fatigue.  But of course the purpose of the training was to build up the endurance to run the distance without getting fatigued.

When I ran the Chicago Marathon, I don't remember getting tired.  And I chalk that up to the training and running the arduous miles prior to the event.  I remember being somewhat weary, like hey, I've been pounding the pavement for a long time, are we done yet?  But perhaps the difference was that I had already pre-decided that I would stop running AFTER I crossed the finish line.  Motivation and persistence are strong movers, but the training was key.

But I love that tired feeling, or whatever it is, that I get during a run.  It's relieving, it's refreshing, it's re-infusing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Newton shoes - a skoosh faster

I can now reasonably and reliably attest that my new Newton Motion running shoes have made me a tad faster. 

At first I was skeptical of whether my times were a bit better because of the shoes or not, but after running a series of 6 and 7 mile runs, I am definitely posting faster splits.  I have a total of 60 miles on them now.  I had earlier thought that perhaps my better times were just attributed to the fact that the weather was cooler, making it more fun to run.  But I think that the combination of the shoes causing me to change my form ever so slightly (hips forward - land, lever, lift) and the concept of the shoes themselves has played a factor.

For my first time ever I ran the last 3 miles of a 7 mile run at a sub 8min/mile pace (avg 7:44).  That is big for me, since I'm usually holding any attempt at a sub 8min/m pace until the last mile.  And usually after running 6 miles, I'm actually pushing to even do anything in the 8min/m space.  During that particular run, mile 4 was a quick (for me) 8:14, and then to my surprise mile 5 was an incredible 7:34.  I remember that I felt good, felt smooth, and I was concentrating on my form.  I was not necessarily trying for speed - I was just trying to stay in the flow.  Admittedly I started to feel the fatigue setting in during mile 7 - I was definitely at my end.

But the Newton running shoes have also affected my feet in both a positive and negative way:  when running with them, my Plantar Fasciitis seems to abate, but I also developed Archelles Tendonitis in my right ankle.  When I first started running with the shoes, I immediately noticed the stretch in my upper ankle area, thus the short runs to get used to them.  But after multiple longer runs (6 & 7 miles) that right ankle area is not happy.  So I had to back off on mileage and do some running with my older "regular" shoes.  But this has aggravated my Plantar Fasciitis... I'm swapping back and forth with the shoes now, but I want my archelles tendon to heal, so I'm doing fewer miles with the Newtons for a bit.

For all intents, the Newtons are a success for me, although I do need to get my legs accustomed to them.  I love it when I find that sweet spot and am cruising.  It is the best feeling in the world.