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.

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.

Mid-foot running, what used to be right is wrong

Coffee bad good, land on your mid-foot heel

Today’s run (street): 3.25 miles

There are some things that are constantly reported by the media in terms of safety and/or health benefits. Coffee is one. Years ago I read that consumption of coffee is tied to nervous system impairment and hyper-stimulation of the adrenal glands. Recent studies now position it as a super-food with minimum health risks related to the over-consumption of caffeine.

Another subject is barefoot-style running. Back in the olden days (pre-80’s), running shoes were minimal in design and people suffered injuries when running. The answer to that was generation after generation of over-built and highly cushioned running shoes with corrective technology to control pronation. But the injury rate remained exactly the same.

Following studies at Harvard University and publication of the book Born to Run, minimal shoe design returned to the marketplace and an emphasis was put on mid-foot landing and “natural” running style. These shoes have captured almost 10% of the market and I’ll admit that I’ve bought into it as well.

Today, the New York Times published an article in their Well blog, with research supporting heel striking as the “more physiologically economical running form, by a considerable margin.” What!?? I was very surprised to read this, because the minimalist approach seems more logical. Why wouldn’t a shoe that supports a bio-mechanically correct stride be the better choice?

According to the studies, heel striking seems to facilitate more efficient energy expenditure. This is the opposite from everything I’ve read before about the subject. I’m not sure what to do with this new information. I’ll probably continue to use lighter, flatter and more minimally constructed running shoes because I prefer them. Besides that, despite all my efforts to run with an efficient mid-foot stride, my outsoles still show quite a bit of heel wear.

What is it about Fridays?

Today’s run (street): 2.25

It has been a busy week and I thought “TGIF” when I went out for this morning’s run. However, within five minutes, I knew that I was in for a bad Friday run for the second week in a row. I’m guessing that I’m fatigued from three days of intense discussions, presentations and other stressful factors. I don’t care that much about having a bad run, but I do like to know why I ran badly.

I’ve switched over from my Hattori’s to my Saucony Mirages since the Oyster Bay 5K in hopes of eliminating the slight, but nagging, pain I get between my right heel and Achilles. I figured that the stability post on the Mirage might help that somewhat. When I went out today, the pain was there and it was fairly pronounced. As usual, the pain subsided once I’d traveled about a mile.

It’s hard to understand exactly what made today’s run bad. I had no obvious issues (besides the heel pain), but I couldn’t generate much speed. I cut my distance short because I wanted to use the extra few minutes to rest before my shower. I really need to be on my game this weekend and get some base miles in since I haven’t done too many 5+ mile runs lately and I have a fast 6.2 scheduled on November 13. I’m hoping that my Friday curse won’t extend to Saturday.