Running quote of the week

“Running isn’t a chore to fit in, but a privilege … I’m not trying to figure out the least I can do to keep up with my goals, but the most I can get away with.” – Jonathan Beverly

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Night socked and soda blasted

This won't hurt a bit
Today's run (treadmill): 3.5 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 1.5 miles

Before you judge me for for my abysmally low mileage this week, please know that I had plenty of excuses why that was the case. And by plenty, I mean two. First was my work schedule that required me to come into the office on Friday. I normally work from home on Fridays, but I had my buddy KWL come for a visit. It was great having him at the office, but I didn't get a chance to do my usual Friday run.

Plantar fasciitis is the other excuse for my five mile week. Despite my purchase of a compression sleeve and plantar orthotics, the pain in my heel hasn't gone away. This discourages longer runs because I'm concerned that I'm doing damage with every step. I don't know if that's true. Even though the Internet has plenty to say about the condition, I've found very little useful information about it.

Saturday morning I followed my usual routine of waking up and limping downstairs to make coffee. The limping hasn't always been usual, but this has been my experience over the past month or so. After I took a few hundred steps, the pain reduced from pointedly sharp to mildly uncomfortable. I started thinking about my morning run and considered driving over to the track where the surface is more forgiving. Then I remembered that I had my six month dental checkup in a couple of hours and went back to drinking coffee.

My dentist recently left the office that we've been using for the last 15 years but we've followed her to her new practice. I met her hygienist who turned out to be one of those judgy types who assume that no one flosses or brushes correctly. There aren't too many things I do well, but one of them is take good care of my teeth. I enjoyed listening to her compliment my excellent "home care" and prepared for an easy cleaning. I wasn't prepared for her.

My foot issue had made me a little grouchy and my annoyance increased when this woman started aggressively going through her routine. I thought about how running has made me patient about situations like this, where you have no choice but to ride out the discomfort. Then things got a little weird. The hygienist used what I can only describe as a miniature sand blaster to power wash the inside of my mouth using baking soda. Ouch and yuck. My tongue felt like it was being hit with shotgun pellets. I was really hating this woman by the time I heard the machine winding down to a stop.

I left the office feeling sorer than when I'd limped in. I headed over to a nearby CVS to buy their equivalent of a Strassburg Sock. The sock pulls back your foot and stretches out the plantar fascia. This is supposed to relieve the pain caused by tightened and inflamed tissue. I put it on when I got home. It was hard to tell if it helped, but I kept it on for about an hour.

Socks of the night: (left, CVS, right, the Strassburg Sock) 
Later in the day I decided I was ready to try a neighborhood run. The outside temperature was in the mid 50's and overcast. Pretty good running conditions. I geared up and headed outside, not sure how I'd feel once I got going. The answer was not very good. My plantar pain was influencing the way my foot was landing and my stride felt awkward. My legs were heavy and my energy level was low. I did my best to put the discomfort out of my head, but I eventually reached the point where I felt I was doing more harm than good.

I decided to cut the run short and hobbled home, discouraged by my poor performance and feeling concern that this pain would prevent me from running for a while. I figured I'd take it a day at a time and hoped for the best the next day.

This morning brought improvement, possibly due to sleeping with my stretchy thing. My energy level was better and I again debated running at the high school track. We had plans to get out mid morning so I elected to use the treadmill and see how it felt. I thought that running with a decline might take some pressure off my heel but that actually made it worse. I switched to a 2% incline and noticed that my landing shifted me closer to mid-foot. After ten minutes, the pain was barely noticeable.

Less pain is not the same as no pain so I kept it fairly short to minimize possible damage. I was happy with my stride and glad I could bounce back from the really bad run I had the day before. I ended up running only five miles this weekend. All things considered, I did what I could.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Embracing the Mindful and rejecting the Beast

I'm giving my Plantar my full support
Today's workout (upper body hand weights): 45 minutes

Happy President's Day.  This morning my daughter and I celebrated with a cup of coffee at Runsketeer Starbucks. She didn't have classes today because of the holiday. I'm off from work for the same reason. I always did like George and Abe.

After Starbucks, I coerced my daughter into swinging by CVS so I could purchase a couple of items that will supposedly help reduce the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. I bought a Plantar Flex Support Sleeve and Plantar Flex Orthotics. When I looked them up on the CVS site I saw that "related items" included Crest white strips, contact lens cleaner and razor blade refills. This Fasciitis thing is pretty complex. Now I understand why my heel pain hasn't gone away quickly.

White strips and support sleeves - a natural combination!
I'm not sure if any of the stuff I got at CVS will help. Another great president, Teddy Roosevelt, said, "The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Action is better than inaction. Otherwise the Plantar Fasciitis wins.

I dutifully placed the flex sleeve on my foot and put the supports in my shoes. I decided to forgo a run in favor of an upper body workout. Specifically, the Body Beast workout that TPP gave me last month. I put one of the DVDs into my laptop and as soon as I saw the Lou Ferrigno lookalike, I thought I might be out of my league. The warm-up was fine, but then they started doing push ups (push ups!) before the workout had even started. That did it for me.

Instead of giving up on a workout, I went online and found a video of a woman trainer with less muscles than Lou Ferrigno. Her routine, using hand weights, took 10 minutes and felt more like a warm up than a real workout. I decided to look at a few other websites and found a set of exercises on "The Mindful Body" that looked reasonable. Since every person I talk to uses the term "mindful" these days, I figured I'd try it out.

This routine was tougher than the ten minute warm up and took about 35 minutes to finish. I didn't work up a big sweat, but I know I hit every muscle group in my arms and shoulders. I'm curious to see how I feel tomorrow, as I haven't done a formal upper body workout since the London Olympics. While my arms will inevitably ache, I'm hoping my heel will feel a little better. If so, I'll take that trade-off.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

There's nothing acute about Plantar Fasciitis

This heel pain is making me nutty
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

If you're ever looking for ways to ruin your appetite, I suggest looking up foot pain on Google Images. I did that, and I'm now confident in saying that the foot is our ugliest external body part. The reason why I was looking at feety things was because I've been experiencing acute foot pain in my heel that the Internet thinks is Plantar Fasciitis. I usually associate the word Plantar with mixed nuts, but this seems to be something different. I learned, in terms of pain, that acute means short term and chronic is long term. At least that's what the trainer person said in an infomercial that I couldn't switch off because the remote was out of reach.

Whether my pain is here to stay or just visiting, I can tell you it's very annoying. I first started experiencing discomfort at the bottom of my left heel about three weeks ago. Interestingly enough, that's when one of my co-workers generously donated his standing pad to me because he decided that using a standing desk was dumb. Prior to using that pad, I had no pain in my heel. It seems counter intuitive that a pad made specifically to reduce leg fatigue for people who stand for long periods would create this problem. But when it comes to feet, all bets are off.

Plantar Fasciitis is a strange affliction. I'm not really sure what it is. As a matter of fact, I don't think anyone actually knows what it is. If you look it up, it's blamed for just about anything having to do with foot pain. My particular problem is when I put pressure on my heel it hurts. The pain is fairly sharp (one might even say "acute"), but it minimizes once I walk around on it. So far it hasn't interfered with my running, although it is noticeable at the start.

I did treadmill runs yesterday and today. They were fairly identical except that Saturday's music had more Sheila E while today's had more Prince. I think Price wrote some of Sheila E's songs so technically they were identical. But I digress. My treadmill experiences have been good of late, mostly because I limit my distance to 3.25 miles. My friends SIOR and KWL and a few work colleagues often spend well over an hour on the treadmill. I can't do that anymore but I can psych myself up to cover about 5K.

Despite this heel pain, I seem to be covering a lot of ground. According to my Garmin 35, I've taken about 14K steps today. A chunk of that was my morning run and another chunk was when I walked to the library to return a DVD. In both cases my heel pain was minimal. How it felt afterwards was a different story. I'm going to look up things you're supposed to do to address heel based Plantar Fasciitis. I'm also going to take a break from my standing mat to see if that makes it better or worse. If going mat-less makes it better, I'm going to give it to someone in the office whom I dislike. Maybe that's how I got it in the first place.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Going horizontal with vertigo

Verti, please go
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles
Last Sunday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

This has been a dizzying week for a couple of reasons. One is that I have so much going on at the office that I'm doing five minute meetings in the hallway on my way to other meetings. The other reason it's been dizzying is because I've been dizzy. About once a year (last time was in March) I get a bad case of sinus related vertigo that puts me horizontal, at least for a little while. Aside from the feeling that the room is spinning, there are no concerning effects.

My bout with this annoyance started on Wednesday night. I had no idea it was coming, but right after dinner, I started feeling woozy. It isn't unpleasant, but it does get in the way of walking a straight line across the room. I felt much better on Thursday morning but after a couple of dizzy spells during my morning coffee, I elected to work from home. I would normally run on a work-from-home day, but I didn't want to take any chances on the treadmill.

Today was a different story. I worked from home again because that's what I do on Fridays. Between a restful night's sleep and some sinus medicine, I was getting back to normal. I decided to do a treadmill run. Although the streets are clear, the sidewalks are still snowed under and I didn't feel comfortable without that escape route.

I expected to struggle on the treadmill but ended up doing okay. No dizziness issues and the running felt easy. I suspect that had to do with my moderate pace and the fact that I had two consecutive nights of sleeping eight hours. That doesn't happen too often. With the music station playing some decent songs and a calmer day ahead, my workout seemed to go by quickly.

I don't like admitting this, but my last few treadmill runs have gone very well. I think we're due for spring-like weather next week and that might get me back on the road. This weekend, I'm pretty sure I'll be running inside. But with the Monday holiday, at least I'll get an extra chance for a run.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Great treadmill run. This is not a typo.

Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day
Today's run (treadmill): 3.5 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3. 2 miles
Tuesday's run (treadmill): 1.25 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.1 miles

It snowed this week and the streets have been very unfriendly for runners. The treadmill likes to use these times to prove its worthiness to me. Over the years I have learned to appreciate the indoor option but that doesn't mean I particularly like it. Our FreeMotion machine has been a big improvement over the tortured Sole F63 it replaced and I am grateful for that. Today it was my hero.

I worked from home on Tuesday. Although I had an early video call, I managed to squeeze in a short treadmill run. Very short. But every mile counts and I'm counting that one. I worked from home on Thursday, but limited my exercise to multiple shoveling sessions in order to get through 13" of snow. It turned out to be a good leg and upper body workout, especially when digging out the huge snowbanks at the end of our driveway that were left by the town plows.

I stayed home yesterday because the Long Island roads were still a big mess. I dutifully hopped on the treadmill and cranked out a three miler, the same distance I would have done had I been able to run on the road. I approached yesterday's run like a 5K, starting easy and increasing speed as I went. The last half mile was run about two minutes per mile faster than I've been averaging this year.

This morning I noticed that the streets were relatively free of ice and snow. Unfortunately, the sidewalks were buried under three feet of snow, leaving no place to escape from cars on the road. I elected to run inside.

For those of you who are expecting me to write about how today's treadmill run was just terrible because treadmills are soooo boring I'm afraid I must disappoint. I put on the cable music channel and was rewarded with some great songs. I only wore my Kinvaras and compression shorts and set the treadmill's fan to "stun", so I felt cool and dry most of the way through. I didn't attempt the same challenging pace as yesterday, so the run felt much easier. Dare I say, enjoyable?

Even though I could have gone longer, I elected to cap it at 3.5 miles. Rather than duplicate Friday's progressively faster pacing that left me worn out by the end, I finished feeling energized. I liked that feeling and the treadmill is my friend. At least for today. Tomorrow may be a different story.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A bad wind blows my run

I feel so good. Wait, no I don't.
Today's run (street): 3.7 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (Street): 4.3 miles

As I made my way around my neighborhood this morning, my experience alternated from pleasant to tortuous. It all depended on the direction I was running. As I ran I thought of the song "I Feel So Good" by Richard Thompson that toggles cleverly between nice and nasty. With a 25° temperature as a starting point, and wind making it feel like 17° outside, I prepared for the worst.

I don't know why my face has become so sensitive to the cold this season. I can bundle up for really cold conditions, but unless I wear a balaclava I still have to deal with face freeze. Getting through the first mile was a challenge today and I wished I'd wore the bandito buff that KWL gave me last year. I briefly considered heading home and running indoors, but I figured that only half my run would be into the wind and I'd eventually warm up. I did, but it took a while. With the wind to my back, my running was a pleasure. When it wasn't, it was a pain.

Speaking of pain, I've been dealing with a heel problem with my left foot that may be a form of Plantar Fasciitis. On the advice of KWL I've temporarily switched from my low, flat NB Zante 2's to my well padded Saucony Triumph ISOs that have a more pronounced drop between the heel and forefoot. I think that helped minimize my pain on the run. It also feels a little better after running. I hope it's just an inflammation of the fascia and not something more concerning, like a hairline fracture or a heel spur.

My runs today and Friday were pretty slow. Pre-September slow in fact. I'm not concerned that I'm   backsliding, but it's frustrating in light of gains I'd made during the last three months of 2016. I was running more than 2 minutes per mile faster compared to what I averaged in late summer. I'll conveniently blame today's mediocre performance on wearing too many layers and all that wind resistance. Plus my heel pain and the cold. Let's see how tomorrow goes. I really hope I feel so good.
 

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