Too Late to Avert the Physical Cliff
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Forget the fiscal cliff; last month, I went over the physical cliff. I careened from a place of no aches, pains, or ailments to having not one, but two, injuries.
Since kicking plantar fasciitis to the curb in late fall 2011, I’d trained for and run two marathons with nary a niggle or an ache. Even at the time, it had seemed too good to be true: a Masters-age runner logging 30 to 40 (or more) miles a week without any adverse side effects. And, sure enough, I must have tempted fate with too many miles, too many tempo workouts, too many hill repeats. Sometime around Thanksgiving, my right heel started to twinge occasionally. Not when I stepped out of bed or stood after long periods of sitting, but randomly, like when I was walking into Trader Joe’s or baking sugar cookies. Not sharp, intense jolts of pain—just nudges on my heel and arch that reminded me of the months of more severe pain I felt in the spring of 2011.
It worried me enough that I did something totally uncharacteristic of this Type A runner: I took a week off from running. Even though I packed my running shoes and two cute tanks and running skirts when my family and I flew to Mexico for the week before Christmas, I didn’t go for a single run. I didn’t feel a burning desire to search out routes—or hit the resort treadmill—and I figured a week off would help my heel heal. And it did: Despite (or because of?) walking barefoot most of the day, the occasional pings and pangs diminished greatly.
When we returned stateside, I vowed to continue to take it easy-ish, but sunny skies and the school-is-on-break lifestyle “forced” me to run two or three times Christmas week. Then, after a 90-minute run with my running buddy Molly on Sunday, December 30, I plunged off the cliff: The back of my left knee was screaming by the end of the nine miles. A few hours later I emailed Molly: “Found a way to stop worrying about plantar fasciitis: have excruciating knee pain that obliterates all other thoughts.”
Okay, maybe I was being a bit melodramatic, but the pain and resulting weakness left me seriously concerned: Molly and I were set to start training for the Vancouver Marathon the.very.next.day. Gulp. Instead of following Week 1 of the Marathon: Own It plan from Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line – and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, I didn’t run a single step until six easy, Garmin-less miles solo on Saturday. By then I’d taken several courses of action to nip both potential game-enders in the bud: I’d had an appointment with my trusted acupuncturist; I’d started drinking nettle leaf tea (which supposedly helps with joint health); I’d been taking Aleve twice a day; I worn Vibram Five Fingers around the house and Dansko clogs around town; I’d started stretching my bum foot before stepping out of bed; and I’d been wearing a 110% Overdrive Compression + Ice Kit for at least an hour every day for my foot.
I don’t want to jinx things, but my situation seems to have stabilized, and even improved a fair bit. I’ll keep you posted, but like Obama and Congress, I think I have a partial deal worked out for the cliff.