Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where The Hell Have I Been?

seriously? my last post was october 10, 2011? what the hell have i been doing? oh, that's right ... wallowing in the world of self-pity that is injury. my first real injury ... not the kind where something hurts for a day or two and just wears itself away ... the kind that is so painful that it brings your running to a halt and just keeps dragging you down. i think i found the runner's hell.

go back to that last good race which was Oil Creek 100K in october. i had my usual foot burning and tiredness, but i was also experiencing heel pain ... which i chose to ignore and kept running until something else hurt more and took my mind off of it. shortly after that race i had to start taping my right foot to relieve the heel pain. it was annoying but nothing that i couldn't run through. and run i did. fast forward to the first weekend in november to the Stone Cat 50 Miler ... one of my most favorite races. it's a great 50 miler and it's just plain fun. i look forward to it every year. and this year they had REALLY awesome finisher's jackets. however, after 25 miles of trying to ignore that damn heel pain my foot just started to seize-up and i knew there was no way i could just "run through it" this time. i had to accept my first 50 mile DNF and it sucked. and i missed out on that awesome finisher's jacket, which should have been mine! i vowed to take a four week break from running and allow the foot to rest and heal.

fast forward four weeks after stone cat. i saw a sports MD (a friend and athlete himself) who unfortunately didn't tell me anything that i didn't already know. that is why i hate to go to the doctor. plantar fasciitis. ok, i had heard of it, but in my mind it seemed like such a simple little thing that was annoying but not debilitating and could easily be resolved. obviously ... what the hell did i know? i wanted to be fixed right then. well, that didn't happen so i hit the antiiflammatories, started wearing one of those awful bulky and immobilizing night splints, icing, rolling my foot on a golf ball ... you name all the traditional treatments for PF, i was trying them. and after four weeks of not running (and coming to hate my Concept II rower, which i am normally in love with), the foot was "not so bad", so i tried running.

OUCH! the pain continued. really? how long was this going to take to get better? i am not a patient person by nature and this was really taking too long. how could i possibly keep up with my normal eating habits if i couldn't run the food off? ok, the traditional methods for treating PF obviously were not working; time to try something new. i poured over anything i could find on the internet about treating PF and saw something about Active Release Therapy. and, lucky for me, we have someone in ithaca who knows how to do this. so after e-mailing and talking with local chiropractor Gerrit Van Loon, i got right on the phone and scheduled an appointment.

WOW ... all i can say is wow. after just one session i certainly was not cured, but i can say that i was already walking differently ... normally. and now after numerous treatments ... albeit painful and a serious workout, since i usually break-out into a sweat just lying there on the table (joe says to me during one treatment where i was lying there sweating and my eyes popping out of my head ... "tickles a bit, doesn't it?" tickle wasn't the word i was looking for) i can run again!

so where am i at?

1 - i can run again. not up to the mileage that i would like, but i was able to run 37.5 miles at the winter Beast of Burden last week (ok, i was supposed to run the 100 miler, but with the lack of training and still not fully recovered, 100 miles was not going to happen, so being able to run my longest run since november felt awesome ... but still made me cry because i wanted to do more!).

2 - i have had to switch back to running in my heavy brooks cascadias with a cushiony dr. shol's heel/arch support. at first i was very disappointed to not be running in my light weight minimal shoes but then i came to the conclusion ... i would rather be running in anything, as long as i am running! and i love my cascadias and plan to stick with them.

3 - i have started stretching and massaging before, during, and after running ... something i have never been very good about. i now realize the tightness in my right calf is directly related to my right foot issues. when my calf is loose and feeling good, so is my foot.

4 - i need to cut back on my long races and be realistic about my expectations. i was scheduled to run the 100 miler at the NJ Ultra Fest in march. i realized after BoB that there was no way that i could get in the proper training for 100 miles in march and i would not go into another 100 "just to see what i could do". so i downgraded to the 50 miler. 50 miles is fun and i feel like i can get in some good training runs for that distance at this point.

5 - injuries are expensive! i have spent a ridiculous amount of $$ on this damn PF! trying different splints, different shoe types (so many people told me "you need a shoe with good arch support" ... well, i tried those and the stiffness of those stability shoes just sent my right IT band crying and actually made the PF feel worse), to paying the chiropractor (which i WILL say was the best money i spent ... fixing the current problem and hopefully preventing future ones! thank you, Gerrit!).

6 - pavement sucks. i already knew this. trails rock! but this injury just confirms ... no matter how cushy my shoes are, pavement still hurts me.

7 - i love to be barefoot, but i am re-learning to love my birkenstock sandals. they have been a savior.

so that is where i am at. i am clawing my way out of injury hell. i am trying to re-create my running self. could this injury have actually been a good thing in disguise? it's hard for me to actually admit that it could be, but it really has made me realize some things about my running and correct things that i didn't know needed correcting, which i hope will keep me going longer and stronger. i am not totally cured yet and continue to do stupid things, like running a 10K on the pavement and suffering in the days following. but i will be back and i am so looking forward to training for this upcoming 50 miler. no matter how long the run takes me, i plan to enjoy and savor every moment that i am out on the trail!


  1. Yay! you're back! I'm sorry to hear about your PF. I'm really glad to hear the new approach is working to help with the pain. It's amazing how we can run for years and take our health for granted. Then an injury comes along and it is miserable. I have had a similiar nagging injury since early last year. After much uncertainty, I finally figured out that I incurred a bad case of turf-toe. It sounds silly, almost a joke, but it can end pro-athelete careers (and sometimes even requires surgery) The solution I found: Throw out the damn minimalist shoes. I don't know why I ever thought less protection on my foot was a good idea. I have only worn heavily cushioned shoes now and it has finally started feeling better. I'm sorry, but I will never buy into the minimalist fad again. I've never had any foot problems or injuries until I started running in those damn new balance 101's. woo...sorry for the rant there.

    As far as the PF, I remember reading last year about Elite Ultrarunner Andy Jones-Wilkins battling a horrendous case of it. He tried everything and it woudn't go away. I realize every case is different, but believe it or not,...he tried the crazy Hoka clown shoes, and he was running long runs within three weeks. If I remember correctly, he'd been seeing all sorts of therapists for months and it wasn't improving. I had always said that the hokas look ridiculous, and wouldn't be caught dead in them, but I'm very tempted to get a pair myself now. I need more protection under my big toe and next month Hoka comes out with a new, not-so-ridiculous-looking, model of shoe. ...anyhoo...

    Bottom line is that I'm glad you're making a comeback and I can't wait to catch up at Finger Lakes! Good luck in NJ too.


  2. Hi Chris, I can relate on so many levels.

    1. I broke my ribs in a fall last fall on the trails near Hector and lost out on 6 weeks of prime running weather and had to drop from Mendon 50K in November. So disappointing, almost to the point of being humiliating. And I had to cut back on my eating right during the holiday season. What kind of BS is that?

    2. Pavement does hurt! Even shortish long runs of 10 to 12 miles on the roads feel more painful than a trail marathon. My knees and feet hate the road.

    Congrats on getting back on the trails Chris!


  3. john ... glad to see that you're coming back to The Finger Lakes! And glad to hear you discovered your toe problem. Stick with those Cascadias, I say. I was enjoying the Montrail Rogue Racers but too many ultras in too little shoe = not good for someon of my, er, slight stature. Thought about trying the Hokas but at $160+ for a pair of shoes, I just couldn't do it. I should have known when Brooks was one of the few shoe companies that makes a women's 12 they were for me and I should have stuck with them. Well I'm back to the Cascadias, just picked up the new 7s today, and am enjoying short runs right now. Hopefully I can up the mileage without damage soon. Now I just have to get rid of the flip-flops to curb the temptation ...

    Jeff ... i remember reading about your fall and injury. just a reminder that we are all human, i guess. WTF? i don't need reminding ... at least i didn't think so. apparently i did. stay off the pavement and hit the trails ... what's not to like? no cars, few people, sounds of nature, and (mostly) good smells.