Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yesterday

Yesterday
Track was such an easy game to play
But now my speed has really gone away
I ran a time trial yesterday

Suddenly
My foot is better than it used to be
Now the treadmill isn't all I see
A high school track
Sounds good to me

I ran a warmup mile
That's my style
Before I tried

To test my
Current speed
With a hard mile
Yesterday

Yesterday
You ask, "what time did your Garmin say?"
6:31 with quite a high heart rate
I ran a time trial yesterday

I felt really slow
But I know –
I took a break
And no speedwork
Had I done
Before my mile run
Yesterday

Yesterday
I took my fickle right foot out to play
I'm slow, but running might be here to stay
I was quite pleased
With yesterday




[maybe I'll record this...]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is It What's IN The Shoes?

I mentioned in my previous post that my bum foot has taken a sudden turn for the better. I've now run on the treadmill four times and each time, the foot hasn't been an issue. There was some slight discomfort during a couple of post-run days, but nothing like I was experiencing before.

Yesterday, I ran an easy two miles on the machine. Today, my foot feels better than it has since I first noticed the injury back in late May. Crazy!

In June, when I was going to physical therapy, I was pretty good about keeping a 3rd party insole in my shoes (Superfeet Green). I quickly became lazy and forgot to shuffle them around from pair to pair, also thinking that I would be doing my foot a disservice by supporting it, rather than strengthening the muscles by staying as minimal as possible. While I'm not going to start trashing on the "minimalist movement", I do think I made a mistake.

While my foot continues to heal and get stronger, I feel the additional support has been a key factor in how it has felt lately. I started wearing the insoles CONSTANTLY (i.e. even in my house slippers...and I work at home, so I wear them a LOT). That doesn't mean I'm allowing my foot muscles to get lazy. I'm doing self-massage, stretching my calves and achilles, and doing toe raises (up with both feet, down with just the injured foot).

Whether or not I'll seek out advice on custom orthotics remains to be seen. It depends on how the foot reacts when I finally start: a) running outside on varying terrain, and: b) increasing my mileage. Maybe the Superfeet Green insoles are just enough support to do the trick.

I know they're pretty anti-minimal, but if this is what it takes to get me running again, I'm wearing them (while still working on my form, turnover rate, etc).

Do any of you wear either custom orthotics or OTC insoles? What are your thoughts & experiences with them?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Interesting Development…and Future Plans

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT

[Apologies in advance - this will be long]

If there is such a beast as a schizophrenic hypochondriacal chameleon, then I am he.

I recently had a stretch of bad days involving quite a bit of foot and ankle pain. After posting here last Tuesday that I HAD to get in to see a sports podiatrist, I got pretty busy with work. The next day, my foot suddenly felt pretty good. On a total whim, I put on my running shoes w/my Superfeet Green insoles in them and gently stepped onto my cheapo treadmill. I jogged a 9:30 mile. Hmm. No pain. I was actually hoping there would be some pain so I could justify the visit to the doc even more than I already thought I could. I didn't want a situation similar to bringing my car into the shop and telling the mechanic, "well, it's running fine now, but trust me, it was making all kinds of horrible noises yesterday."

I then ran a slightly faster (8:19) mile on the treddy on Thursday. Same thing. No pain. I skipped Friday because there actually was a little discomfort in my upper ankle area (not where the pain usually is, and not as bad). I iced, massaged and stretched. Today, I stepped back on the "going nowhere fast" machine and grinded out a 17:06 2-miler (8:33 pace). Good news - no pain once again. Bad news - I'm HORRIBLY out of shape. It felt like I just ran a half marathon at race pace. I guess that's to be expected.

Does this mean I'm all better and can start ramping up the miles now? Does it mean I won't see the foot doc? As for the latter, I honestly don't know...but I definitely won't be increasing my mileage any time soon, though. At best, I'll attempt three very short treadmill runs per week to hopefully strengthen my legs and feet. If there's any sign of recurring pain, I'll stop. If I'm regressing, I'll hit up the doc right away. I think the flat, forgiving treadmill is easier on my foot than the hard pavement or uneven trails.

Why did the pain seem to suddenly disappear? Maybe some friends and family threw some prayers up for me (yes, I believe in them). It's an odd thing. Like I said, I can still feel something unsavory happening down there, but it's nowhere near what I was experiencing about a week ago.

FUTURE PLANS

The above report leads into my new plans for later this year and the first part of next year. Since it seems that relatively high mileage (for me),  long runs and hills led to my foot issue, I'm going to focus on…hold onto your hats…speed. And I'm not just talking Mario Kart Wii speed, either (although I'll kick your butts on most courses…bring it on, homeys. I'll even give you my "friend" number if you ask). I'm going to train as if I'm training for high school track season, starting either late this year or the beginning of next year. My true desire would be to slowly ramp up the mileage again for either a 2nd marathon attempt next spring or a 1st ultra attempt, but I don't think my foot could handle it.

Last year, during marathon training, I started to miss my (ahem) leg speed (assuming I ever had any). Don't get me wrong - I LOVE long runs and I get sucked into the lure of more and more miles, but I truly felt I could be running faster. Where it really hit me was during Ragnar. I was fortunate to be on a team with some pretty quick young(er) guys. There were four of us over 40 and I held my own compared to them, but I started to get envious of the youngsters knocking out 6-6:15 mile splits.

To further support my rationale (i.e. try to convince myself), I can hopefully avoid the cumulative fatigue that the longer miles and few rest days were causing. Not to say that intense speed work will be a walk in the park. While my foot may not agree, I still think of myself as a long-distance runner, and busting out fast 400 meter repeats sounds like torture. But it doesn't involve the foot-beating hills nor 2-hour runs (although I love both).

I try not to dwell on or relive the past, but a lot can be learned from it. My high-school track program (distance, anyway) left a lot to be desired. During my senior season, I averaged 18.5 miles/week during the season (more than that leading up to it). It included a LOT of speed work and very little distance. I managed to improve my mile time from 5:13 (end of my junior season) to a still-not-terribly-fast 5:01 by the end of my senior season. On that paltry mileage base, I also knocked out my fastest 10k right after track season ended (39:06). Even at age 43, I still feel like I can get relatively fast again. I doubt I'll see a 5 minute mile in the future, but I think I can go sub-6 and even break my soft 5k PR. I may even consider racing in an all-comers track meet next summer.

Something I learned after training for my marathon is that I need to build more rest days into my program. I don't recover very quickly anymore. Once I begin this program, I'll shoot for 4 running days per week instead of the 5-6 days I was running last spring. I won't run as much speed work as I did in high school – maybe twice per week – but I'll average a few more miles per week, even with fewer runs. I'll keep up the strength work and maybe hit the bike trainer once a week.

Assuming my plan works, I should be ready for some fast(er) running at Ragnar next year. Then, if the foot is holding up, I'll transition into longer runs (still allowing for adequate recovery), with the hopes of either running a fall marathon or my first ultra.

If you're still awake and reading this, congratulations. I've even bored myself. But I gotta say that I'm excited to focus on something different for awhile. I always love a challenge and, while I'd love to jump back into some long, slow miles and hilly trails, I'm eager to see just how fast these old legs can turn over.

Of course, all of this is contingent on my [heavy sarcasm alert] always-compliant foot. In another month, there's a good chance I could be writing a book called Once A Runner*


*that title hasn't been taken, has it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Episode 4

Gil's back, and he's full of...good ideas.
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gotta Do It

It's now been exactly 6 weeks since I last ran a step and my foot has not improved. Yes, I have good days, but if I do anything that involves my foot – even to small degree, like walking or yard work – it aches badly the next day or two.

I think I've pinpointed the problem. From all I've read, the symptoms match those of posterior tibial tendonitis, with a side of anterior tibial tendonitis thrown in for good measure (and possibly some ligament damage). Overuse and, likely, overpronation are the causes (hard downhill running probably put it over the top). As I learned during my first physical therapy stint back in June, my right foot does pronate more than my left.

So...even though finances are tight, I've convinced my wife that this is a pretty serious problem. If untreated, I've read, the arch can deteriorate and the tendons can rupture (if they haven't already). Insurance-wise, I'm not terribly far from meeting my deductible anyway.

Right now I'm deciding on who I want see. There's a local sports podiatrist that looks promising. There's also a sports chiro in Bellevue that might be an option (although it would involve a lot of driving), as well as a sports therapist at the UW (again, lots of driving & traffic hassles). There's a good chance I'll need orthotics. I would also wager that I may be in a walking boot for awhile, too.

The layoff from running has been tough, but the last week or so has been particularly difficult. The fact that there's no sign of improvement is getting depressing. I miss running terribly. I don't want to define myself solely as a runner, but it is (was) a big part of my life. Also the fact that I quit running a few years ago thinking I'd never run again makes this especially tough...kind of a "here we go again" deal.

I know I'll get through this and back to running eventually. I'm not giving up hope. Just having a tough time coping with it. Thanks for all your encouragement...and for watching my goofy videos. There WILL be more of those...

Monday, September 13, 2010

UPDATE

UPDATE:

Still not running.

Okay, now that THAT'S out of the way, time for more fun...

Friday, September 10, 2010

THE UNFORTUNATE INTERVIEW

Gil's back...unfortunately...and he's interviewing the Resurrected Runner. Sort of.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Update

It has now been 30 days since I last experienced the joy of running...although there wasn't much joy happening during that last 12 miler some 30 days ago. During the last mile, I felt all kinds of things pulling and possibly tearing all through the inside of my right foot. Since I've covered that in depth on this blog, I won't rehash it now.

What I will rehash is the cross-training I've been doing lately.

[*crickets*]

Alright...so I haven't done as much as I had planned. Early last week, I aggravated my foot while walking across a sloped field (while getting photos and info for my article), which caused a lot of pain the remainder of last week – especially around and in front of my ankle. I decided to err on the side of caution and refrain from any cardio work that would involve flexing my feet.

I did manage to continue my once-a-week circuit workout, and managed to set a new PR of 266 total reps (surpassing last week's PR of 251), so my strength is returning even if my aerobic fitness is suffering. However, I squeezed in a one hour stint on my bike last evening on the indoor trainer. Not a big fan of the trainer, but with the recent weather (and as much of a bike wimp as I am), it was a good compromise.

I've committed to volunteering at the Baker Lake 50k (which I was planning on running) on 10/2. Hopefully it won't involve too much walking. I imagine it'll be difficult to watch everyone (including several friends) running it. But it'll also be fun to help out and cheer them on.

So at the halfway point of my self-imposed running exile, I'd have to guess that I may have an even longer layoff than anticipated, based on how the foot currently feels. I hate to think this way, but honestly I'll be thrilled if I run again this year. If I do, it'll be short and slow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Battle Diagram

The Battle of Little Rightfoot has gotten out of...well...hand (I slay me).

Enemy troops have repositioned and reinforced and, as recently as 17:00 yesterday, they advanced to a new front and have launched a heavy assault on allied forces.

A full explanation in diagram form follows (click for larger view):