BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!
That is the sound of my alarm going off at 5:00AM this morning…on a “vacation day.” Why? To go run, of course! I shuffled my way into the bathroom, pulled on my running clothes and got ready to pound the pavement. Then I realized how DARK it was outside…and foggy. I mean, it was like a horror movie just waiting to happen! Maybe now that I am so far along, much less stable on my feet, and obviously slower, the thought of being approached by a stranger on the roads scares me to death! I am not normally a scaredy cat, but the thought of running out on the road all alone was such a turn-off today that I opted to head to the gym instead.
Oh, and if you are wondering what a human school bus looks like, here you go. Let the giggling commence…
On the way to the gym, I let my mind wander. That’s what happens early in the morning when I am still trying to “wake my brain up.” Oh, and the ADHD certainly does nothing to help keep me on one train of thought. Anyway, I started thinking about all the other things that I fear about running alone. Granted, these fears are not so massive that they actually keep me from running, but they do cross my mind from time to time when I am out pounding the pavement on my own.
What if I get pooped on by a bird?
Okay, so this one is kind of funny. I admit that photos of other people getting pooped on while they are running makes me double-over in laughter, but the thought of it happening to me? No, thank you! I hear that it is supposed to be good luck or something insanely absurd like that. If that is the case, then I want to be the unluckiest runner EVER. We do not have a lot of them here, but I hear pigeons are the WORST offenders. When traveling for work, if I have to run in downtown areas, I will go out of my way to avoid groups of pigeons in city squares. I know they have it out for me. They are like dogs, I know they can SMELL my fear. Those beady little pigeon eyes…
What if I see a dead body?
I know that I watch WAY too much CSI. Seriously though, art imitates life and runners really DO find dead bodies…probably even more often than we hear about! I have this insane fear that while running past wooded areas or alleys that I will look over and see some bloody bloated body that has been there for who knows how long. You know what is worse? I even look in the woods and alleys to make SURE there are no dead bodies in there. I mean, I do not go into a full-on crime scene investigation, but I definitely keep my eyes in that direction…you know, just in case. When I am running in sort of remote areas, I will even think to myself, “You know what? That seems like a good place to hide a dead body. I would put money on it that there is one in there.” I mean, who does that!? I am a weirdo and I have really got to give it a rest with the Law & Order marathons.
What if I get bitten on the butt by a goose?
This sounds totally absurd, but this one has actually happened to me! At the LSU lakes, geese are everywhere. One time when I was in college, I was running with a friend of mine. As we approached this large gaggle of our feathery friends, he casually said something like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if those geese tried to chase as we ran by?” I squinted my eyes, cocked my head to the side and gave him that look that said, “Why in the heck would you say something like that?? Don’t you know you just WILLED it to happen!?” My friend’s comment must have done some Jedi mind trick on the geese because as soon as we ran passed them, here they came…half running and half flying. Keep in mind that in light of his comment, I passed the geese on the far side of the street, as far away from them as I could get. Apparently, my chubby (at the time) little runner legs could not out-run the big, hissing white and gray monster with wings that was in the lead. I tried my best to keep hauling butt while still looking behind me. All of a sudden I realized that my friend had ditched me! His sprint was cheetah-like and when I turned my head to look forward, I saw that he was a good half a mile ahead of me already! As I mentally cursed him for bringing this whole situation upon me, I felt it. A big, hard goose beak right below my left butt cheek. I do not think I have ever yelped so loud in my whole life! I kept running and running and running, finally catching up to my friend. The geese must have gotten tired of chasing me because I realized I no longer heard them behind me. As soon as I stopped, I could FEEL the welp on the back of my thigh. I could not twist around to see it, but I didn’t need to. I pulled up the leg of my shorts to let my friend see and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. There was already a bruise nearly the size of a softball forming. Needless to say, I hobbled back to my car (the LONG way around the lake, obviously)…not saying a single word to my friend the rest of the time. Stupid friend and his stupid big mouth.
When it comes to running, most people fear things like not finishing or tripping and falling. Not this girl. In regards to the tripping and falling, I guess I have just done that one enough to have gotten over it. Let’s just say that not a whole lot embarrasses me these days. Looking back on it, my fears seems sort of ridiculous, but it is what it is. Maybe one day I will get over them, but until then…don’t think I won’t keep one eyeball looking out for that dead body.
What are YOU afraid of when it comes to running, training, and/or racing? Do YOU feel like your fears are justified or do you think you should find some way to get over them?
…and thats just a-okay.
With the overwhelming popularity of books like Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Running by Ken Bob Saxton and Roy M. Wallack, there has been this massive shift in the running industry to start running barefoot and fancy-free! The running industry is no different than any other industry in terms of trends and fads (not that I am saying that barefoot running is a “fad” exactly), but it seems like everyone these days is eager to jump on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, many people are doing so without getting all the facts and information. They will read just enough about barefoot running, think, “Hey, that sounds totally logical! I think I will try that!” and head outside…armed with just enough information to be potentially dangerous.
Barefoot running is not for everyone. (Yes, I just said that!) I can safely make this statement, because I know for sure that it is not for me.
In my opinion, there are two types of barefoot runners. There are those that literally run with naked feet…no socks, no shoes…and then there are those that run in minimalist shoes like Vibram Five Fingers, INOV8 EvoSkins, Fila Skeletoes, etc.
Let me just say that the idea of running truly barefoot scares me to death. I have a tendency to be bit of a germaphobe and the thought of stepping on glass, getting a hookworm/ringworm, or otherwise injuring myself with some gaping gash on the bottom of my foot is enough to immediately nix the idea. I stepped in glass once (not a running-related injurty) and had to get 27 stitches along the bottom of my foot. After being on crutches for weeks, I can tell you…injuring the bottom of your foot is NOT fun. Not that there are dangers there too, but I think the ONLY place I could be convinced to run with naked (which is pronounced “nekkid” if you are my 94 year old grandmother) feet is on the beach. However, I think I would still be worried about broken shells, jellyfish, and the like. I digress…
Whether you aim to run barefoot all the way or in minimalist shoes, it does not necessarily mean that it is right for you and your body. With barefoot running, a runner must be very conscious of his foot strike. If you are a hard heel striker, this may not be the best option for you. While some runners have noticed improvement in knee and IT band issues with barefoot running (my husband actually being one of them), running this way can also exacerbate these issues and others like stress fractures and plantar fasciitis if you do not make the proper transition from your old gait and shoes to the new running form and feel. In fact, not having a plan and not transitioning properly can even injure you further if you are not careful. And, keep in mind, that even after if you do transition properly, barefoot running may still feel awkward and uncomfortable if it is not right for your body.
My point is, everyone’s body operates and moves differently. That is why there are a million different running shoes on the market with all different levels of support. You should not feel obligated to buy minimalist shoes or jump on the barefoot running bandwagon without getting all the facts and having a plan. While I am certainly not trying to discourage people from giving barefoot running a try, because it really does feel great and work wonders for a lot of people, I encourage you not to blindly drink the Kool-Aid.
Keep in mind that you also do not have to run in one kind of shoes exclusively. In fact, I personally find it more beneficial on my feet and legs to mix up my running shoes with the different types of run work outs that I do.
For example, I do run in VFFs, but I’ll only do it for short sprints on a soft track surface. I find that doing this helps strengthen the small muscles in my foot (everything below the ankle) and helps keep my feet strong. The added bonus with this is super duper balance in my Pilates class. For treadmill runs, I will throw on my stability Brooks Adrenaline shoes and heel strike for a little while. This running form helps me keep my quads, hamstrings and glutes engaged and strong. But, for the majority of my runs and nearly all of the races I run, I run in neutral Saucony Kinvaras or Fastwitch 5s. I enjoy these for keeping my lower legs strong and I the lighter weight of them makes me feel fast and quick on my feet. Plus, I feel that they offer me greater response when turning corners or changing direction.
How do YOU feel about all the hype about barefoot running? Do you think it is here to stay or is it a running trend? Have you given it a try? What has your experience been?
About a year and a half ago, I was at a point where I was running on a treadmill religiously. The one running group that I ran with only met on Saturday mornings, so that left me running solo during the mostof the week. I was just starting to train for a marathon, so getting in my scheduled runs was very important. At the time, my husband was in night school two nights a week finishing his degree, so I found it much more “social” of me to be hitting the treadmill at the gym than going right home. Plus, I knew that if I went home to an empty house, I might get sidetracked and start doing other things other than run.
Hitting the gym meant hitting the treadmill. Wanting to mimic the great outdoors, I made sure to set the treadmill on at least a 1% incline. After about a month of running on it, I started to notice this weird creaking in my right Achilles tendon. The best way to describe it is this…imagine an old episode of The Munsters or The Adams Family and think about the sound effect used when a spooky old gate swings. THAT is what it felt like AND sounded like whenever I flexed my right foot. It was weird…and sounded gross. Concerned about my symptoms, I immediately headed over to WebMD.
Turns out that I either had foot cancer or Achilles tendinitis…I went with Achilles tendinitis.
Going down the checklist of typical symptoms, I knew this is what was plaguing me. Here are some things that can cause Achilles tendinitis (according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons):
• Rapidly increasing your running mileage or speed (CHECK!)
• Adding hill running or stair climbing to your routine (CHECK!)
• Starting up too quickly after a layoff from exercise (CHECK!)
• Overuse resulting from a natural lack of flexibility in your calf muscles
• Flattening of the arch of your foot
• Trauma caused by sudden and/or hard contractions of your calf muscles (such as sprints) (CHECK!)
So now that I figured out what I had, I had to figure out how to get rid of it.
The simplest solution I could find anywhere was…RICE. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.
I hate the RICE treatment.
Why couldn’t this be like a cut where I throw some Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it and go about my business as usual? *sigh*
I *HATE* resting. I *HATE* being kept from what I love to do most. What is even more frustrating is that the very activity that I love most is the root cause of my pain! What the heck!?
Stupidly, I tried (in vain) to run through my pain. Once I warmed up, everything felt fine. However, the second my ankle started to cool down, the creaking and popping set in again…worsening everyday. Doing more research revealed to me that Achilles tendinitis can actually develop into a chronic problem.
There is no faster way to scare the buhjeebus out of a runner than to threaten them with CHRONIC PAIN…as in scar tissue and pain everyday forever and ever. No, thank you.
Finally, I submitted…knowing that resting would be the ONLY way I would ever get to that marathon. Here are the guidelines I found for recovering from Achilles tendinitis:
MILD INJURY: 100% recovery after 2-10 days
AVERAGE INJURY: 100% recovery after 10-42 days
SEVERE INJURY: 100% recovery after 42-160 days
My recovery efforts also included keeping my leg propped up as much as possible at work (thanks to a spare empty trashcan), icing it in intervals (thanks to my squish CVS Cold Peas Therapy inserts), and keeping it compressed (thanks to my McDavid compression ankle sleeve). I would say, all in all, it took me a good 3-4 weeks to be able to run and feel no pain at all.
However, the joy of being able to run and STILL feel no pain is priceless. I am so glad I put my stubbornness aside and forced myself to rest. I am afraid I wouldn’t be running now if I hadn’t.
I am convinced that my repetitious hill intervals on the treadmill caused my problems, as Achilles tendinitis a classic overuse injury. How I hate the treadmill. But, it gives me an option to keep running on days when it is pouring down rain, below 20 degrees, or when it is just too hot for this pregnant runner to be outside. So, I am learning to love it again…or at least tolerate it. And to keep my body from ever getting close to this injury ever again, I take great care in making sure I supplement treadmill runs with outdoor runs. Outdoor runs allow my foot strike to vary more often so my muscles don’t take quit the same beating.
If you think you might be developing Achilles tendinitis, I highly encourage you to rest and incorporate these stretches into your routine. Prevention and stretching is SO important.
What is the WORST running injury you have ever faced? How long did it take you away from running? How did you deal with it?