sometimes it takes a village…

We’ve all heard that quote before, “It takes a village to raise a child”. I think that quote, or at least the paraphrased version “It takes a village” definitely applies to me and my training. Only mine would end in “…of doctors to hold me together”. Not my intention, but it happened last 70.3 and it’s seemingly happened again.

I’ve posted prolifically about my shoe-orthotic debacle. Here is the grand take-away from my on-going shoe /orthotic / foot drama lest any of you run into comparable issues:

For those of you who are seeking medical attention of some sort, here’s my two cents (as obvious as it may seem):
Make sure that you like and trust the doctors and medical professionals with whom you are working. Ask the doctors what their experience is in training and participating in the kinds of events you are planning to complete. If they haven’t completed something similar themselves, have they treated someone who has? And what were the results?

They should know and understand your goals and the training program that’s required to get you from here to there. They should be aware of the commitment. And perhaps more importantly than anything, find someone who totally gets it – someone who’s been there, done that (or done something comparable), who understands the sacrifice and commitment. They will do whatever it takes to help you achieve your goals. These people will not tell you to STOP. On the contrary, they will troubleshoot, research, brainstorm, give you options and help you solve the problem. In my opinion, if your doctor tells you at your first visit that if running hurts, you should stop, get a second opinion. Get a third opinion if you need to. Get some options – alternatives to stopping. Alternatives that will help you solve the problem so you can keep on keepin’ on. You’ve put too much time and energy into preparing to get sidelined by a medical professional who is unwilling or unable to help you find a resolution that still allows you to meet your goals within reason.

So, how the heck do you figure out who’s the best physical therapist in town? Sports medicine doctor? Orthopedic specialist? Podiatrist? Massage Therapist? I’ve found that these medical professionals who specialize in treating athletes are often best found through word of mouth. Know a weekend warrior? Someone who runs marathons? Does triathlons? Epic century rides? At some point, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ve had some issues and they probably have a specialist they would be more than happy to recommend (or people to steer clear from, which is also valuable information!). A recommendation from people you know is a much better starting point than Google or the phone book – take it from someone who’s learning the hard way! I won’t make the same mistake twice, that’s for sure…

 

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on setting goals, ironman and going long…

Ok, so confession time: I’m really not much of a “One day…” type of goal setter. I don’t look real far off into the future. Never have. I have always had a hard time with that question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” It’s always been that way – when I was just a wee little tyke and grownups would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I NEVER knew what to say. I think I usually either changed the subject (they probably though I was ADD before it was an official diagnosis…) or just said “Teacher” or something I’d heard one of the other kids say.

I’m a “hey, I think I’m gonna do that” type of person. Not “one day” or “some day”.  Usually as soon as legitimately possible. NOW, if at all possible. Decisions to move cross country? Yup, do it this week. Going back to grad school? This fall, pretty please. True stories – that’s how I roll.

Those “One day goals”? “Some day I’ll…” to me means, whatever, you’re never gonna do it.

M-dot sticker – just a little reminder of what’s coming up.

I can’t confess that I started this process two years ago with the explicit goal of doing an Ironman. I don’t want to say it’s been inevitable. But I will say that with the local Ironman race rolling through here each year since we moved here and watching some of the people roll across the finish line at 14, 15, 16 hours, and especially those who roll through at 16:55, mere minutes before they yank you from the course, you find yourself thinking and sometimes even saying out loud, “Hey, if they could do that, I could do that…probably…”. Let’s just say we get a little closer to signing up each time. Plus, the longer we live here, the more people you know that do it.  And not to mention, we’re not getting any younger… it’s not going to get any easier…and all of this training that I’ve been done over the past couple of years and the training we’re currently doing for the 70.3, it’s the question that’s been swirling around our household these past few weeks. And it gets to be a slippery slope.

So, you might as well know that today, the first day of open registration for Ironman 2013, I pulled the trigger. Hubby and I are signed up. That’s right. Ironman? 2013. We’re in and we’re going long and it’s gonna be awful and epic and tortuous and painful and amazing and likely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wanted to throw up a little bit just thinking about it. Honestly. But the cool thing is, I know there is a lot that can happen between now and then, but I really think I can definitely do it. And once I do it, that’s something I’ll always be able to say: “I’m an Ironman.”

I may not be able to tell you what I want to be when I grow up (the real answer is RETIRED on a beach somewhere in between international trips with an airport close by and a passport full of stamps), but I can tell you that in 363 days, I will be on the beach in a neon pink swim cap with 2800 other wetsuit-clad crazies ready to dive into a cold (but hopefully not freezing cold) lake hoping that before midnight I will hear “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” over the loud speakers as I cross the finish line. And that’s good enough for me. All of the rest of the stuff will work itself out. My journey will unfold in front of me as I go. That’s what keeps it exciting.

This will be hanging on our wall for the next 363 days as a reminder!

shoe dependency…

My shoe situation has still not quite been resolved, though not for a lack of trying. Since shoe #3 (which seemed like it would work), there have been #4, #5, #6 and #7. Different brands, different levels of support, different widths. Each of them has not quite fit the bill; actually all of them made me feel like my feet were on a slope. Like my feet were starting off square on the orthotic and as I ran, sliding off of center towards the outsides of the shoes. Every time. So I have concluded that it must be a problem with the orthotic. What’s that argument – argument ad populum? 50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong! 600 million people can’t be wrong about Facebook! I know it’s a fallacious argument, but not in this case. In this case I believe there must be an exception – half a dozen shoes can’t be wrong! It’s not the shoe(s). It simply can’t be.

So what, then? Well, to make a long story short, first, I’ve scheduled an appointment with a podiatrist who specializes in running. Unfortunately, the appointment is not until the end of the month. And even then, it’ll be a consult initially. Someone I can tell my running story to – an expert on running who also runs himself (this is important). Someone who has an education in feet (this is also important).

Second, I went back to the doc who prescribed and ordered my orthotic and he is going to order a new one for me with some slight adjustments and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this next one is better. Ugh.

The story of how I ended up in a custom orthotic in the first place? Well, it’s a short one: I was tired of dealing with IT band pain and had tried everything from Superfeet to foam rolling to strength and flexibility exercises. To no avail. Someone suggested fixing the base (feet) and it made sense to me. But with this recent orthotic debacle, I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, all of those years of IT band issues were caused by running in a neutral shoe with Superfeet inserts when I really should have been in a supportive shoe with Superfeet. Not necessarily a custom orthotic. Now wouldn’t that be silly. Such a small adjustment. Huh.

So my third step was based on this last hunch, the last little “maybe”. I went back to our local running store where this same poor girl has been working with me very patiently to find a shoe that works. I told her to just start from scratch and asked her to take a look at my feet, how I walk, etc., and fit me in a shoe as if I were a brand new customer coming in off the street. Because maybe I don’t need a custom orthotic after all. Off came the shoes, the socks. She measured, observed me walking barefoot, running. And the verdict? She didn’t seem to think I had particularly flat feet. Or that I necessarily needed a wide width shoe. She said I have flexible arches which flatten a bit when I run, causing me to pronate, so she would recommend a shoe with support. Ok. Bring it.

Pair number 8, maybe #9(?) accompanied me home on Monday night after work. Sauconys this time. Supportive ones. Shiny, red, super cushy ones. I was supposed to test them out yesterday, but I procrastinated – because what if it’s bad news? Yesterday I just wasn’t sure I could handle another shoe fail. But I need an answer, so at some point today, I’ll take them out for a spin and see how it goes. I’m hopeful. Or maybe I’m doomed.

I’m very anxious for some kind of resolution… hopefully a permanent one. It’s been real hard to be excited about running when there’s so much going wrong. Nine times out of ten, running is actually fun for me.But with so many issues lately, it’s been a chore. I can feel it. It’s taken the wind out of my sails. I’ve dreaded it. And let’s face it, I need to be running because, you see, I have this little 70.3 looming… in 8 weeks if we’re being specific. And I need to be able to run 13.1 miles by then (and ideally, countless 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 mile training runs to prepare). And if I’m being honest with myself, I can’t really afford to skip too many more of them without paying for it.

Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted…

on being cinderella…

Alright, so time to talk about running shoes. I never felt like I had to a problem finding running shoes. Before this time. How did we find ourselves here, feet?

The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a girl who was learning to love to run. She ran and ran and ran. Just 5ks. Until one day, a 10k. And a half marathon. And another. And then, she thought she’d tackle a marathon. So she registered. Nashville was on the books.

But it was not to be. Not at this time. For she had some serious and persistent IT band issues that kept her from running loooooong. What a pain. Literally and figuratively. Seriously.

She could muscle through 13.1 miles. The first nine were good. The last four were always pain. (I grimace just thinking of it.) Marathons would have to wait.

Eventually, a physical therapist prescribed Superfeet inserts. Some strengthening exercises. Foam rolling (“therapy”… you may recall my feelings on this. And if not, you can find out here). Ah, relief was ahead, right? Wrong.

Years of supportive shoes and Superfeet seemed to do just enough to keep running tolerable. To keep 13.1 within reach (and within her pain tolerance).

And then one day, someone recommended custom orthotics. Well, what the heck. It made sense. Fix the base and the rest would fall into line. Funny enough, it worked. Three glorious years of pain-free running passed, a few more half marathons (faster and faster half marathons!), a 70.3 and a marathon (!) and things were seeming pretty good for our heroine.

Sigh. What a lovely story.

But wait. All good things must come to an end. Three years of near-constant training. Miles upon miles took their toll. Custom orthotics break down, need replacing. And easy fix, right? Ah. Wrong again.

Fast forward to two months ago. The 1st replacements were much too small and much too narrow for running shoes and had to be reordered. And the 2nd set (nearly a full month later) – went into a new pair of the same running shoes I’ve been running in – weren’t a good fit in the new shoes. I felt like I was running on the outsides of my feet. Like I was double-correcting by being in a custom orthotic AND supportive shoes. Possible… yes. But that was also the dynamic duo that got me through 13.1, 26.2 and 70.3. Huh.

So back went the shoes. Out came another pair. A neutral pair with a smaller drop from the heel to the toe. Good, except my fat feet, sitting on top of the inserts, were rubbing along one of the outlays along the outside of the shoe along the outside of my foot. As a side note, my sweet sweet hubby insists I do not have fat feet, just that I have “a part of my foot right under my pinkie toe that seems to be slightly wider than the average”. So sweet. Fat feet. But I digress.

So back went #2. Out came #3 (less support than #1, more than #2) for a run. But potentially too narrow. And? Well. The jury’s still out.  They’ll be running with me again.

I think deep down, the answer is: they don’t work. But at this point, I just. Want. Shoes. Shoes that work. And I’m totally totally totally willing #3 to work. You know, so my feet can have their happily ever after. I don’t want to be the fat-footed running Cinderella. When, oh when did finding shoes get to be so complicated?

battles with the evil foam roller…

I’ve recently resumed foam rolling out of, uh, necessity. I find it helps my running – it’s one of the magic components of a flexibility and strength plan that keeps me on track and trucking along. For those of you who haven’t experienced the torture that is foam rolling, let me warn you: While disguised as docile creators and lauded for their many therapeutic benefits, foam rollers are really quite evil, nasty creatures.

Therapeutic benefits may lead you to think… therapy. And therapy’s  a good thing, right? Immediately, visions of serene spas. The peaceful sounds of a gentle fountain in the background. Perhaps some quiet, relaxing music. Maybe the smell of lavender. Ahhh. Well that sounds perfectly lovely, you think to yourself. Why not?

Be careful. Don’t let the vicious foam roller lull you into complacency. Don’t be fooled by its soothing colors (ours is many shades of blue, presumably designed to make you think calming thoughts of nice cool waters, ocean breezes and beautiful blue cloudless skies). Sitting there in the corner it looks so harmless. How could such a little piece of foam be bad?

But once it has pulled you in by convincing you that somehow it will be a peaceful therapy session, the delusions it has created in your mind will come crashing down. You find yourself rolling up and down along your IT band and your world becomes one of violent pain. In no time, you’ll be gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw, cursing its very existence, thinking and at times, maybe even yelling obscenities of which you weren’t entirely sure you were capable. And, if you’re anything like me, within minutes of this torturous “therapy” you’ll find yourself hurling the cursed foam roller out of the room with a yell that is one part anger and one part victory (albeit a small one, one more of survival than anything), leading others in your house to wonder about your sanity and indeed, your very well being.

Experts suggest this so-called therapy several times a week to keep muscles and tendons pliable and flexible. Ironically, this painful therapy is supposed to help with sore muscles, as well as increase flexibility, decrease muscle tension and help to prevent injury. I was introduced to the foam roller years ago when I was first having IT band issues. Unfortunately, I find that if I do not stay up on a few key core strengthening exercises and foam rolling, my IT band starts to complain. Eventually if I slack off for long enough, I’ll be out running and my tight, neglected IT bands begin the mutter and complain. And without foam rolling, this muttering soon turns into a constant yell. Apparently, I have a couple of masochistic IT bands. Dang.

Anyhoo. If you, too, find the need for more pain in your life and feel that trading a few minutes of pain and suffering each night for the promise of less pain in the long term, here’s a video for you to check out and also a couple of links to articles that explain some other foam rolling exercises.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Runners World – Foam Rolling for Runners

Running Times – The (almost) Magical Foam Roller