musings on running, life, and everything in between

Why I won’t be trail running for a little while

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I got the question, “Do you want to run Boston or do you want to run trails?”


I have now had my two main men (other my family, duh)–my magical myofascial trigger point massage guy, Craig, and my awesome running coach/massage guy, Bill–tell me that trail running was my downfall and I need to quit that sh*t out. For now anyway. Um, let’s not talk about the fact that I signed up for a 50k TRAIL ultramarathon one month after Boston, mmkay? I just need to focus on Boston right now. At least with ultras, you can run slower than molasses and no one will disrespect you (meaning, worst case scenario, I’ll just turtle it along). At Boston, however, my friend who ran it years ago told me that people seem to not cheer as loudly for you at the back of the pack. They assume you are a charity runner and didn’t really earn your way in. She had gotten pregnant after she qualified (and this was the good ol’ days where you could postpone your race entry a year) so she was running several months post-partum the following year.

Let me back up, though.

As you may recall, I took last week off to let my plantars be less angry. I ran 5 slow and easy on Jenny’s treadmill while watching a gnarly bear attack movie (Backcountry). It felt ok during and after. Although, I will admit that it felt like I had taken longer than a 5 day break. This led me to believe that I could try my long run, or at least attempt 9-10 of the 14-15 planned. I made plans to run Waterfall Glen with a friend, but she messaged me late Friday night saying she was coming down with whatever her kid had earlier in the week.

Admittedly, while I was disheartened to think of running a couple hours alone, I ultimately was glad to run alone. I got to stop and stretch and curse myself without anyone witnessing. Ironically, I did see a fellow BFF’er running by at one point. My calves both felt super tight, but my heel didn’t hurt during the run. I eked out a painfully slow and never-ending 10 miles. The thought of running anything more than that made me want to tear my hair out AND I was on a tight schedule.

I thought I had “gotten away” with my long run, but my heel and calves got steadily tighter during the day. I stretched and rolled and prodded, but I still had some twinge-ing Sunday morning. I opted for an hour of yoga at home, wherein I almost broke myself further in attempting a supported headstand in the middle of my bedroom. I discovered that I could get up but toppled over immediately, and belatedly realize I should probably have done it against a wall as I twisted to avoid landing on various furniture in my bedroom. Yeah, I’m definitely not the most astute person at times. The rest of the day was spent rolling, poking, and pinching my calves every opportunity I got. I began to wonder if my soreness was actually from my run or my obsessive jabbing.

Monday morning still tight. Since it was below freezing BEFORE windchill, I decided to forego the pain of running outside and ran again on Jenny’s treadmill. This time opting for Walking Dead, which about described the way I felt after running 2.5 miles. I had to stop because the pain was bad enough that I knew I was doing more damage than good. Thankfully, I had had enough sense to decide to call Craig and set up an appointment for later that day.

I saw Craig and the doctor he works with in the office. It was my first time meeting her and she was great. She assessed me and remarked that my “weak ankles” were not that, but my tendency to collapse my ankles in. She called it something, but I didn’t catch it. Essentially, it’s overpronation, your feet and ankle rolling excessively in. While some pronation is good and normal, too much causes your calves and lower muscles to work too hard and get irritated. Sound familiar? She had me stand up straight and pointed to my ankles sticking out further (ankle and leg should be in a straight line), as well as my calluses (on the outer part of the balls of my feet) and my baby bunion. The trail running probably exacerbated the issue exponentially. So I have orthotics to immediately correct the issue.

I do not like orthotics. In fact, since reading Born to Run, I’ve worked really hard to get away from the stability shoes I’ve worn and move towards more neutral, and partially minimal shoes. With great success I thought. But perhaps it was just luck. I was remarking to Craig earlier that it was hubris, noting how so many runners I knew dealt with plantar fasciitis and thinking how great it was that I was so amazing to not get it. HUBRIS. Anyhow, I got the orthotics to wear for now. I have already started Googling away exercises to fix the issue in the long view. I don’t want to rely on orthotics to compensate for an issue I’d prefer to correct. I get that my current foot/ankle/leg stuff is creating this issue, but I also feel that unless it’s something structural I can correct it…There is a good information page on the BOSU website with exercises. I have to confess, though, that the mere fact that they used the WRONG FORM OF BREAKING–your big toe breaking is very different than it BRAKING–is physically keeping me from linking the page for you. I have standards you know.

Craig went through his usual repertoire of torture techniques. One major difference between him and Bill is that Craig uses a full gauntlet of tools to make you acquiesce. He will be using his crazy sound machine on me probably Wednesday, but today I only got the manual knobs and jabbers. In all seriousness, Craig doesn’t want me writhing in pain. Just a little uncomfortable. I’m the one that tries to gut it out. Cuz I’m sick and I think that more pain equals more bang for my buck. Sick.

One big thing I learned today was about how to use self-massage. I have vague ideas and many tools for doing home treatment. What I DIDN’T know, though, was when to use just pressure and when to roll. I should use both, but I use prolonged (at least 30 seconds) pressure first on a spot that seems too painful to roll. I need to actually get the muscle to release a little bit to maximize the benefits of rolling. So my random, haphazard jabbing and rolling this weekend wasn’t as effective because I wasn’t giving my muscles a real chance to release. Oh, another tidbit I learned. When your muscles get all tight and irritated, he called it “armoring.” I kind of liked the visual of my muscles getting all suited up. Haha. Oh wait, that’s a bad thing.

Long story short, I’m out of any cardio exercising until Wednesday, when I’ll see Craig again. Patty pointed out to me that I could still do core work to do SOMETHING. She’s so wise. I have a half marathon race this Saturday. Not sure what’s in the cards for that. I wasn’t really concerned about racing it per se, but it would help my mental state to be able to do a long run. Feel free to chime in with thoughts, resources, corrections (ahem, Craig), etc. And wish me luck…


Author: runNerdier

Marathoner. Academic. Mom of 2 ankle-biters.

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