I saw a physical therapist on Wednesday, told her about the pain I was experiencing, and she watched me first stand, then walk barefoot. After feeling around my ankle and foot muscles and tendons, her judgement matched that of Michelle, my doc (well, PA, but as good as, as far as I’m concerned!) – I have a strain of the peroneal (fibular) tendon.
She said it’s likely overuse (I’d been running 8-10 miles at a time at least once a week for three weeks prior to the injury, after having run ZERO miles per MONTH for the 36 years prior to THAT), combined with the fact that I need to build up my arches in my feet.
Apparently, my years of standing with feet slightly spread at angles (“second position” in dance, “on guard position” in fencing & swordplay, or martial arts stance) has taught me habits that are very bad for running. My feet tend to want to do the same thing while running, which when landing during stride tends to cause the arch of your foot to collapse, instead of spring back, if the feet were pointing forward, like they’re supposed to when running. I’ve been trying to correct this ever since Coach Ed pointed it out, but it’s hard unlearning years of muscle memory!
To put my foot right, I was given a few stretches and exercises for my arches and my foot muscles and tendon to build them up. Also, and this is the worst part (for me) – I was told I need to run in SHOES. I’m supposed to run in regular running shoes with arch support, to help give me some support while I build up my arch muscles, so I can go back to running in Vibram FiveFingers.
I told Colleen (the PT) that this bothered me, after all the reading I’ve been doing on foot biomechanics, and how “barefoot is best”. She understood where I was coming from, and agreed that *IF* my feet and leg muscles were already in correct form for running, I’d be perfectly fine continuing with my VFFs… but since my arches are weak (from years of wearing “supportive shoes” – damn shoes!), I need to give them some support during runs, while I build up those muscles slowly.
The worst part is – if I weren’t training for a half-marathon in early May, and a marathon in early June, I’d be perfectly fine continuing with the VFFs, and just building up my distance much more slowly. She basically said, if I were running distances like “normal” people (most people never run more than 6 miles!), I’d be able to build up my arches over time. Since I don’t have time to train slower if I want to get my mileage up for my races in time, I need to give my arches a little support until they can catch up with the work I’m heaping on them with my longer runs.
Appreciative but dejected at my “doctor’s orders” to buy “normal” shoes, I went to Running Revolution, tried on a bunch of different shoes with as FEW bells-and-whistles, cushions, heel, or anything else that made them big and clunky compared to my VFFs (with the help of the great sales peeps at RR), I ended up buying a pair of New Balance running shoes to wear for Thursday night’s track training with TNT.
>>> Fast-forward to Thursday night >>>
Originally, our track night was going to be at the Soquel High School track, as usual… which was *perfect*, as far as I was concerned. Fran *hates* the tedium of going around and around the oval, but for my first time back running in a week and a half (while breaking in new and unfamiliar shoes, no less!), I was really looking forward to the flat, regular, predictable surface of the track oval.
I was destined for disappointment.
There was a track meet going on at the high school when we arrived, so off we went to our backup location – the right-next-door “Blue Ball Park”. Blue Ball Park has a trail/path at its lower section, which we’ve run before (not too bad, still pretty flat!), a steep hill driveway that leads to its upper fields (grueling, but up/down isn’t bad – still FLAT), and a figure-eight path between and around its upper fields (nice mix of paved and dirt, but also flat).
We did a few warm-up laps around the figure-eight path, and I felt okay. I got winded more easily than I would have liked, but I hadn’t run at all in a week and a half. The important part was that my ankle felt okay. Once we’d all warmed up, Coach took us to The Hill.
I have my own (much less polite) nicknames for The Hill, but let’s just call it “The Hill”.
This hill is a lot longer than the steep driveway at BBP, steeper (Coach swears it isn’t!), and thanks to our recent weeks-upon-weeks of rains, totally rutted by runoff from the top of The Hill.
This was to be our running for the evening. My group, the Cheetahs, was to do 5 repeats of The &#$%@ Hill, running all the way to the top, past the crest, and about 100 yards to the left, so we’d get used to pushing past the apex of hills in our races, instead of panting and wheezing and gasping for air, doubled over with hands-on-knees, right at the top of a hill. I see the logic in it, as well as the psychology. This is an excellent plan.
The Cheetahs started first. We ran the flattish spot leading up to The &#$%@ Hill, then started the climbing portion of our run.
And by run, I mean walking really fast, while making running movements with our arms, and making grunting noises.
We kept “running” uphill, dodging the grooves and ruts of the runoff areas, and making our way eventually to the top, and to the turnaround point. The view was beautiful from up there. It was nearing sunset, and I could look down on the neighboring high school track, at all the @#$%@%$ kids running on their nice flat oval…
Heading downhill was exciting. I took tiny, safe steps, controlling my speed of descent (imagine a big-rig truck, tires squealing in the runaway truck lane), and trying to keep as much stress off my ankle as possible on the uneven ground. I made it to the bottom, huffed and puffed a couple times, mentally asked myself “how the @#$%@ many more of these am I supposed to ‘run’?”, and started back up The &#$%@ Hill again.
This time, the way up was a lot tougher. I could feel that I was overheating, even though I was wearing just a running shirt and shorts and my hat. When I reached the top, I took off my hat and carried it, to try to cool off some more. I did my best to run to the turnaround point and back, and started back down again. The downhill this time was an ungoodness.
I started to feel the beginnings of the pain in the underside of my foot below my arch that I’d felt when this whole foot thing started in the first place. I rested a bit at the bottom, with Brandy reminding me that I didn’t have to do all 5 repeats immediately back to back, but could take a short breather if I needed to… after cooling off a bit, I walked a short distance along a side path (flat!), and felt the tendon pain really start to flare up, and knew I was done running on it for the night.
Coach cheered me up, reminding me that this stuff happens sometimes when training, especially coming from being a non-runner just weeks ago, but man… it’s demoralizing thinking about how everyone else is running, and I’m nursing a bum foot.
Time for my rehab exercises and ice.
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