Dealing With Minor Foot Issues

We runners are notorious for having ugly feet.  The stereotype is real for a reason.  Sometimes even getting a basic pedicure can be quite the embarrassment.

There are a few things you can do to ward off minor issues like blisters and bruised/lost toe nails:

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Get yourself fitted for the appropriate shoe for you.  Everyone’s feet are different and our running styles are unique too.  From narrow to wide feet, flat or high arches, to supinating or pronating; each of these are factors that make a customized shoe choice very important.

You can go into almost any local running store and they will be happy to find the right fit for you.  Shoes not only vary in size, but also in how they help work through your gait, and assist with minor variances in how you run.  Your fitting will also take into consideration how many miles you typically put in, the terrain you will be running on, and other variables.

When we have a shoe that is too big or too wide, our feet can move ever so slightly and cause blisters or pound on our toe nails.  If you consider how much time you spend in your shoes, you will quickly see how important it is to have the appropriate pair.

You might recall that two years ago I switched to a neutral from a stabilizing shoe.  The end result was a rough case of Achilles tendinitis that lasted months.  It wasn’t pretty and I have since learned that cute shoes are not an important factor in the decision making process.

Skip the cotton socks.  100% cotton can be a recipe for disaster.  Cotton doesn’t wick, and when you sweat, the moisture gets locked in there.  The end results is an environment for blisters to pop up.

Keeping your feet dry is the first step to avoiding blisters in the first place.  Find a sock made with sweat wicking material.  This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on socks.  I get my favorites from Costco for about $10 for 6 pairs.

Keep your shoes dry in between workouts.  As mentioned above, a moist environment is grounds for major foot pain.  If you sweat a lot or run in the rain, make sure you air those shoes out before your next run.  Take the insert out and leave your shoes in a cool and dry area.  You can also ball up some old newspaper and stuff it inside.  This will help pull any excess moisture out.

Side note:  This will also help avoid getting majorly funky smelling shoes.  Although this is likely inevitable if you run hundreds of miles in your shoes, it can help keep them fresh as long as possible.

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Trim those toes!  A quick weekly trim of the nails will help avoid pounding your toes against the front of your shoes, which often causes bruised and blackened nails.  Take care of your feet and trim the nails as short as you possibly can.

Sometimes despite every best effort, blisters and ugly toes just happen.  There isn’t always anything you can do to avoid these minor pitfalls.  I’ve gone out for a run and come back to find the most random of blisters.  During my last marathon training session, I managed to lose 3 toe nails (although I blame the hot and humid course at Grandma’s Marathon for at least 2 of those!).

The good news is that you can continue to run through both of these issues.  It is up to you whether you hold onto that blister or not.  I am not a doctor or medical professional and I cannot give you advice on that matter.  But I will suggest that regardless of how you handle your blister, that you keep it clean and sterilized.  A little peroxide, a good air dry, followed by a bandaid will have you back out on the road.

As for missing toe nails.  They can certainly hurt during the bruising process.  The good news is that once the nail is ready to go, it looks far worse than it actually is.  At that point, you will find that it has healed up underneath and ready to go.

Bottom line is, take care of your feet.  Find proper gear and keep them clean and healthy.

How do you deal with these common issues?

My Favorite Injury Prevention Accessories

One of the hardest parts of training for any race is avoiding the pitfalls of injuries.  Even the most seasoned and wisest athletes end up plagued with some sort of ache or pain.  Whether it is just something nagging or an injury that leaves you sidelined for awhile, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

I have been injured numerous times.  From nagging plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis to stupid little aches that won’t go away; I have seen my share of annoyances.  Regardless of how well thought out a plan is or how well your body handles mileage, these things happen.  And your best defense is a sweet arsenal.  Below are some of my favorites and the best part is, most of them are super simple and easy to have around:

Lacrosse Balls:

Lucky for us, we coach a lacrosse program and we always have these on hand.  Lacrosse balls work incredibly well to get at knots in your muscles.  During almost an entire marathon training cycle of 16 weeks I had horrible piriformis pain one year.  It was terrible!  The one thing that provided relief was sitting on a lacrosse ball.  In fact, I kept one in the car and sat on it during every ride home from a long run.

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Just make sure you buy the white hard balls that are used to play actual games with and not the soft practice balls.  Those won’t provide nearly the same relief.

The Stick:

This is one of those “hurts so good” tools.  We runners are gluttons for punishment and our pain management is no exception.  The Stick is like a rolling pin with little wheels on it which allow the tool to get deep into painful and sore muscles.  You can use it on any “meaty” area of your body.  Go ahead and dig deep or have a partner help you out.  This bad boy can get deep into muscles and break down knots and areas of painful buildup.  Just don’t use it on a hard area of the body like your shoulders or spine.  It won’t do anything to help you and it will hurt like heck!

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Dixie Cups:

Funny story here.  I cannot type this out without thinking of the song “Going To The Chapel” by the Dixie Cups.  When I was in 7th grade my buddy Anna and I were in math together and were a team for a stock market challenge.  She insisted this be our team name and we killed it.  So lesson learned, always look to the Dixie Cups.

Honestly though, these work super duper well for icing.  Buy the size cups you would use at the dentist’s office to swish with (small).  Fill them up and leave them in the freezer.  When you need to do an ice treatment just pull one out, tear away the top portion of the paper and use the bottom of the cup as your handle.  This allows you to work the ice around the actual injured area as opposed to an ice pack plopped down in a general spot.

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Compression Sleeves:

I cannot sing the praises enough for these things.  Skip them on the run because then you just have a sweat rag wrapped around your calves.  Instead, throw these on after your run or do what I do and wear them to sleep (ladies the men go wild for this kind of nightwear!).

Compression sleeves after a run will help speed up recovery and keep swelling and inflammation away.  If you are experiencing calf or shin pain, or tend to be prone to a slow recovery after long runs, these are perfect for you.  I also recommend these for athletes who know they are prone to aches and pains at certain points in training.  There is nothing wrong with a preemptive strike when it comes to compression.

Just make sure you buy the right size for you.  You want these to be very snug on you without cutting off your circulation.  And while these can be rather pricey (around $40 a pair) I truly believe they are worth every penny and recommend having two pairs if you can.  If you are on a tight budget you can also find slightly less expensive brands at stores like Target.  However, this is one that I don’t mess around with because I know it makes a big difference in my training.

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Coconut Oil:

This stuff is crazy awesome for so many reasons.  In fact, at some point I will do a post on the dozens of ways I like to use coconut oil.  But I have found this to be the perfect massage treatment.  It comes in a jar and tends to be hard at room temperature.  Just run it under some hot water and then pour a little out into your hands.  Apply to the painful or tight area and go to town with your hands and fingers.  The slickness of the oil allows you to really dig deep into muscles.  It doesn’t dry up too quick so you don’t have to apply it over and over again.  And a little bit goes a long way.  Plus you will have silky smooth skin after each use.

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While you are at it, wet the ends of your hair and apply some oil.  I like to do this and pull my hair into a bun and then go for a run.  Typically the sweat and sun dry the ends of my hair out.  So I use an hour long run as my hair therapy.  When I get home I just wash it out and condition my hair as usual and my ends look healthy and shiny.  This one might not make you a better runner but who doesn’t feel better running when they like how they look?!

Achy Achy Shins

Spring training has begun or is just about to begin for many runners.  One of the ailments I hear about most often from athletes is shin splints.  This is a common overuse injury that tends to flare up at the beginning of training, usually with runners who are just starting out or picking up their mileage rapidly.  It can also be caused by other factors such as running on harder surfaces, changes in or poor gait, and improper footwear.

If you haven’t ever experienced shin splints you are lucky.  The typical symptoms are pain and inflammation in the shin area, either medial or anterior (inside or outside).  More serious forms of shin splints can also cause a bumpy corn cob like feel. It is very important that you rule out a stress fracture before continuing with training.  The main signs to look for in a stress fracture are localized pain that you can feel to the touch and more pain in the morning which tends to ease as the day goes on.  If you are not certain whether it is a stress fracture or shin splints, it is imperative that you make an appointment with your doctor.

Once you have ruled out a stress fracture there are a few things that you can do to ease the pain and get yourself on the path to recovery:

Rest or lighten the load:  If you can take a day or two off, go for it.  If not, try easing up on your mileage and then slowly return as your pain lightens.  Remember that this is often a case of too much too fast.  So if time is on your side, ease yourself back in.

Stretch:  Focus on your calves and Achilles tendon.  Downward dog the heck out of your legs.  And do my favorite stretch where you sit on your feet!  Remember to slowly stretch, hold for 30 seconds, and never ever bounce!

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Compress Compression sleeves can be your best friend.  They aren’t cheap but if you feel like your achy legs could use some TLC this is the “hug” you have been looking for.  These bad boys give a nice light squeeze to keep out the inflammation and speed up recovery.  Skip running in them and wear them afterwards.  I have spent many a night sleeping in these and can tell a difference in the morning.

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Skip the meds go for heat:  I recommend that my athletes avoid using anti-inflammatories.  Besides the fact that they can mask pain and cause you to do further damage, research shows that they can also slow your recovery.  Instead, try eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties: bright green and red fruits and veggies.  Cherries are a real inflammation buster!

Also skip the ice and after the first day, put some heat on those shins.  Try this both before and after your runs for extra relief.

Thank you to everyone for your amazing well wishes for Rock and I yesterday as we announced our pregnancy.  We are over the moon excited and each and every one of you made it even more exciting!  We are truly blessed.

Happy running!

First Aid On The Run

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I hate to say it but I have come across several situations on my runs that have forced me to use my First Aid certification.  Running as well as other sports and activities have the risk of injury.  Most often these injuries are minor but there is the chance that you might come across a more serious situation and your help might be needed.  Having some knowledge of basic first aid can help to ensure your safety as well as that of others.

Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and I recommend that you do some research on basic first aid, or better yet get certified.  My goal is to simply share some ideas that might help keep you and other runners safe on the path.

Always assess a situation before taking any action.  Any time you come across a situation where someone has been injured you must first take a brief moment to look around you.  Is there an external reason why a person is hurt?  By going near the injured person will you have to risk your own safety?  For example, a downed wire can cause an electrocution.  But if you do not take a moment to determine why a person is unconscious, you could run the risk of electrocuting yourself by coming near the injured person.  Another excellent example is a potential drowning.  One time my husband and I came across a person who had jumped into the East River in New York.  He could not swim and another person jumped in to help him.  Often times the person who comes to the aid of a drowning victim is not necessarily a strong swimmer.  The victim can pull their help down under the water in a panic, leaving their aid helpless.  This can lead to two drowning victims.  Know your limits and if it is not safe for you to approach the situation call for help.

Check the person.  Once you know the scene is safe check on them.  Tap them on the shoulder and ask, “Are you okay?”  If you get a response find out what has happened.  If you do not get a response give them a little shake and say, “Are you awake?”  Are they breathing?  Do they have a pulse?

Once you have determined the problem call for help.  After you know what the injury is you should immediately call 9-1-1.  Stay as calm as possible and clearly state where you are and what appears to have happened.  If a person is unconscious but you do not know why, let the responder know.  Don’t make assumptions.  9-1-1 responders are equipped with the knowledge to help assist you until help can arrive.

If there are multiple people at the scene ensure that someone has definitely called 9-1-1.  Sometimes things get hectic during an emergency situation.  People assme that someone else has called for help when in fact, no one has.

Recruit help.  Look around and ask for others to help.  Ask if anyone is a first responder.  Perhaps there is a doctor or a nurse around or someone who has training in first aid.  People are usually willing to help but sometimes hesitate to step forward.  Urge others to join.

If a victim isn’t breathing administer CPR.  And don’t worry, anything is better than nothing.  Good news, the rules have changed for CPR.  If you know the victim and feel comfortable giving them rescue breaths you should do 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths and then repeat until help has arrived.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing rescue breaths you can simply do just chest compressions (100 times per minute).  Recruit help here because this can be exhausting.

The key is to start helping right away.  Don’t worry about being perfect.  During my first aid training we were repeatedly reminded that any help is better than no help.  Check out this tutorial for more information.

Edited to add this fantastically informative and funny video on administering CPR thanks to Alice runs!

Some other important things to remember.

Always try to stop any bleeding, but is important to avoid touching an open wound.  Use what you have around you.  My husband was once at the scene of a terrible skating accident.  Before he had time to think he stripped off his shirt and used it to apply pressure to a serious wound.  His quick thinking helped tremendously.

If a person has food, blood, or vomit in their mouth roll them onto their side in the recovery position.

Never try to move a broken bone or reset it!

If you come across an emergency situation during the winter make sure you use your layers to cover any injured victims.  Ask others to share their layers.  Injury victims can easily go into shock and keeping them warm really helps.

Be safe and alert when you are running.  If you do come across a situation that requires your help, stay calm.  Your calm demeanor and assistance can be a life saver.  Again I am not an expert on first aid.  Reading this definitely does not take the place of certification.  I encourage everyone to get their own certification.  It is a quick and educational process and you will be so glad you are well informed.

Have you ever come across an emergency situation during a run?

Sweet Home Chicago

Ahhh, I am back in Chicago.  Despite the fact that it is May I was still surprised when the plane was landing and I looked outside the window to see green grass.  It was a looonnng winter!  In fact, my family and friends in Michigan got snow again earlier this week.  So imagine my surprise when I got off the plane and was hit with 70ºF.  Today is supposed to go over 80ºF.

It made me want to go for a run…oh but wait I am supposed to be mending.  Dummy here didn’t heed her own advice and went for a 4 mile run two days ago.  Guess who woke up with a stiff foot the following morning?  In my defense, the pain was almost completely gone.  But that was a pretty rookie mistake on my part.  Whenever you have a bout of mild tendonitis it is better to be safer than sorry and wait it out.

But I pulled the compression sleeves on, rested my legs for the most part and ate lots and lots of healthy food.

I also reintroduced myself to the foam roller all afternoon.  Thanks to Laura for sharing all of her lessons from being injured and getting back to fighting form the right way, I knew just what to do to get out those bumps and bruises.  I spent a painful time rolling around on the floor, and was pleasantly surprised to feel some relief from my foam rolling session.  I get lazy and tend not to  take care of my muscles after I abuse them.  But the foam roller is a great way to break down all those kinks and tears that build up along your muscles.  It’s just another one of those “hurts so good” moments.

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I also swung over to a new grocery store that opened up just a few blocks from our apartment.  I am a bit of a foodie so you can imagine how excited I was to walk in to see a coffee bar, piano player at the wine bar, sushi bar, BBQ joint, oyster bar and way too much more.  I ended up going to the grocery store twice yesterday.  One trip was for groceries and I returned later for dinner.  Grocery shopping makes me happy!  I stocked up on lots of bright red and green fruits and vegetables to pack in the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to help get me back healthy and fully healed.

Ok, ok I also got some dessert!

Ok, ok I also got some dessert! Notice how I didn’t even have time to take it out of the container before I dug in?

Speaking of which, I recently saw this award and am pretty sure it was meant for me!

Speaking of which, I recently saw this award and am pretty sure it was meant for me!

I even picked up a fresh turmeric and lemon elixir.  It takes some time to get used to it, but turmeric is quite the powerful spice.  This is full of strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, making it a natural healer.  It can even improve your brain and heart function and is used for some cancer treatments.  This spice gives curry its color and has a pretty strong flavor.  Try mixing it with a spoonful of honey and a touch of cinnamon and throw it back like cough syrup.

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Thanks again for all of the well wishes.  I am feeling much better and am happy to be in Chicago for awhile and sleep in my own bed and wander around in some warm weather.

If you are interested or even contemplating running a marathon in the near future I will be at Wholefoods in Lakeview this evening at 6pm along with the Team Momentum members.  They will be hosting a social to share all of the exciting information about our endurance program.  If you aren’t ready to commit to a full marathon we still have spots for the awesome Boston 13.1.  We also have spots for the Marine Corps marathon that sold out in minutes.  Come check it out and get some great info and then you can pick up some delicious food for dinner afterwards!

Team Momentum

Happy running.

Dealing With Achilles Tendonitis-A Pain In The Heel

Thank you to everyone who asked about my foot and sent well wishes.  I am happy to say that after a few days away from running my foot is feeling much better.  I am going to take a few more days off from running but I can already tell that I am definitely on the mend.

Yesterday I was able to chat with an awesome friend who also happens to be a DPT and after mentioning my symptoms I was happy to have him confirm that this was not the onset of plantar fasciitis but just a minor bout of Achilles tendonitis.  Everything I have done in the past 4 days has made a huge impact on my healing time.  So first off a big thanks and a shout out to Phil (aka Dr. Phil) for always being a pal and listening to my every ache and pain and heading me in the right direction.  How annoying it must be to be a physical therapist and hear about every single person’s aches and pains!  As a side note he did mention before that we runners are the worst at noticing every darn tweak or pain.

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The first and best thing you can do with just about any form of tendonitis is rest.  I know, I know, you have a training plan or a race coming up and this will mess with it.  Honestly a few days off of your feet or at least away from running will help get you back to your training and for the long run, not just until the pain becomes intolerable and you are cut off from running for weeks or months.  If you must, go for some nice easy walks but avoid the pounding of your run.

Anti-inflammatories will help erase some of the pain and tenderness and help your body start to mending 20 minutes at a time followed by some light cross friction massage to help break down scar tissue.  Icing for longer than 20 minutes can actually have a reverse effect on your injury.  By leaving ice on for too long you may notice the skin turning pink or red.  This is blood cells rushing to the area, which will actually increase inflammation.  So stick to about 15 minutes on followed by 15 minutes off.

Keep ice in Dixie cups in your freezer and tear off the cup for an easy way to apply to injuries.

Keep ice in Dixie cups in your freezer and tear off the cup for an easy way to apply to injuries.

Put a sleeve on it.  Compression sleeves do a great job of keeping inflammation at bay.  I generally don’t run in compression sleeves but I have been known to sleep in them when I have injuries. Put these on under your pants and wear them throughout the day.  Wearing these tight bands can help to speed up your recovery.

My best pride check.  Race up a mountain ended with a cut knee, thorn in my hand, and my shoe is untied because I sprained an ankle.

Stretch it out.  I am not a big stretcher but now is the time to do it.  Make sure your muscles are nice and warm first.  After a walk or a hot shower is a great time to do some nice stretches.  Focus on your calves.  Often times in running our injuries stem from somewhere above the actual point of injury (think of IT bands and knee pain).  Sit on those feet and do some downward dogs.  Stretch those calves out against the wall.

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Eat well and don’t worry.  Treat your body well and don’t freak out.  Taking care of injuries when they first arise will help to ensure that you are away from your running routine for a minimal amount of time.  Do things you normally wouldn’t.  I spent all day Sunday wandering NYC.  I am heading back home to Chicago this week for work so I spent the day shopping.  I even found a great Batman top for our Superhero Half Marathon later this month.

While I didn’t get to run the 10K this past weekend I had a great time cheering from the sidelines.  My husband is helping a young athlete train for his first half marathon and this was the race we chose to use as our shakeup before the main event.  This entire training program is really special as this young gentleman chose to run this race in honor of his grandfather and raise money for a cause dear to his heart.  I have been lucky to do a few runs with this boy and he has really worked hard and improved quite a bit.  They ran together with another friend from school and absolutely rocked this race.  Congrats to all of them!

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Happy running!

The 10K That Wasn’t Meant To Be

Today is a first for me.  I am bowing out of a race for the first time ever.  This morning my husband and I had planned to run a 10K with a student who is prepping for a half marathon in a few weeks.  This was going to be my first race since last July, only because this was one that both fit my schedule and felt like a good time to get back into the saddle.  But earlier this week I started waking up with some pain in the bottom of my left foot.  For a girl who has suffered from full blown plantar fasciitis in the past, this was nothing to take lightly.  When I couldn’t put my full weight on my foot yesterday in the morning I knew we were in a bit of trouble.

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Today’s race is a 10K to raise fund for a local park.

I immediately started stretching it and massaging and taped it up.  With some minimal work I was able to wake up feeling almost back to normal this morning.  But this is where it gets tricky as a runner.  Part of me would really love to do this 10K.  I wasn’t going to run a fast race to begin with.  I have recently cut my weekly mileage in half and I was planning to start doing speed training again this past week before my injury.  I really just wanted to do the race for the fun that these events provide and a chance to run faster than my normal pace.  The other reason is there is a half marathon coming up in a few weeks that I am much more excited about doing so I would rather keep myself healthy for that one.  It is a super hero event so I need my healthy feet to go walking and shopping for appropriate attire for the event.  I am in New York City after all!

It is times like these when it is important as a runner to look at the bigger picture.  I have a big coaching job coming up that is going to mean a lot of runners relying on me to help them get through some long and tough runs.  I want to start marathon training soon myself.  Sometimes you have to set aside that one run that you really want to do and decide what is best for your body.  Right now it is best for me to rest.

So what should I be doing with this injury?  Below are a few pointers (although many might find these obvious) that I find helpful:

Rest.  That might mean laying on your butt all day for a more serious injury.  In this case it means no running and light walking.  Most of the time with a minor injury walking is okay and for me I would go crazy if I couldn’t wander around in this beautiful spring weather.

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Time for some R&R.  And weekend crosswords!

Medicate.  For me this means NO drugs.  I really try to avoid anti-inflammatories as much as possible.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t start putting things into my body that help heal it.  Bright green and red fruits and veggies are great at helping you to refuel and repair.  Pack on some berries and delicious salads.  Another benefit is that these are filling foods and low in calories so you won’t worry about packing on pounds while you aren’t running.

Stretch and ice.  I am terrible in the stretching department and usually most runners really don’t need that as much as a good warm up and cool down with workouts.  But when you are injured it is a great time to find just what the problem is and give it some tending to.  For me, my tight calves are the culprit of most of my foot injuries.  So downward dogs are part of my daily routine.  Pull out your foam roller or the stick and beat your body up in a different way.  Ice your injury and show it some love.  Massage the area that is hurting and if you wish use some KT tape on it.  I have learned that you can find a Youtube video on how to tape up just about any injury.

Finally, be realistic.  Give your body some time.  Injuries take awhile and you need to be fair to your body.  If it starts to feel better don’t just jump back into your routine, make sure you have given your body enough time to heal.  When you do get back to it make sure you ease back in and pay close attention to what your body is telling you.

Remember when I joked about building an ark here in New York City?  Well this was what the park looked like on Thursday after the torrential rain.  These are all puddles and were not there the day before.  Some ducks even set up shop at one of the locations.  Pop up lake house.  I like it!

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Happy running!

Pigeons And A Pain In The Butt

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Admittedly, I have a love hate relationship with pigeons. If you have ever been to NYC you will understand my hate relationship. If you have ever taken a yoga class and are a runner with tight hips, you will understand my love relationship.

First let’s delve into the love relationship with a little yoga.  Pigeon pose is a great one for almost any runner.  As you log your miles it is common to get tight muscles, especially around the hips.  Most yoga instructors will tell you that we carry a lot of our stress and tension in the hip area, making it a great reason to get in there and stretch them out.  This pose is the ultimate hip opener.

During last year’s marathon training I experienced some serious piriformis pain aka “pain in the butt.”  This stretch really helped ease the pain.  It also helps stretch the groin area, psoas, abdomen, IT band and lower back.  Most any runner could use some help in at least one of these areas.

Keep in mind that this is an intense stretch.  Do not do this with cold muscles.  I recommend it at the end of a workout or yoga session.  As with any type of stretch, once you get into it try to relax.  Never, ever bounce in any kind of stretch!

Below is my preferred way to do this move.  Start in downward facing dog and lift a leg into one legged downward dog.  Slowly pull that leg toward your chest, bend the knee toward your nose, then open the hip before placing your leg down so that your foot is near your other knee.  Your hips should stay in line with each other and the leg behind you should stay in line with your hip and entire body (don’t let it go out to the side in either direction).

Disclaimer:  I am not a yoga instructor.  Just a girl who runs a lot and has tight hips.  I have taken many a yoga class and this has been a huge help for me.

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If your hip doesn’t come all the way down you can place a block or a folded towel below you so that you can settle in.  You can hold this pose with your back up as shown or if you want a deeper stretch you can lay your chest down in front of you.  It is intense but shouldn’t be painful.  Try to relax, take a few deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

The Hate:

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If you have ever been to NYC you have noticed that there is an abundance of pigeons along with an abundance of people who like to bring bread and seeds to feed the birds. This causes the birds to congregate by the hundreds in the middle of a sidewalk.  Pigeons are filthy and really just plain annoying for anyone trying to walk or run on the sidewalks.

I honestly never understood the fascination with pigeons nor did I ever have a desire to sit around feeding them.  I now have even less of a desire to be anywhere near them.

A few winters ago I was doing my morning run along the East River.  As I made my turn to head back home a cute little dog was jogging along side his owner coming towards me.  He got ahead of his owner and between us was a flock of pigeons (I assume here that they go in “flocks”) pecking away at seeds on the sidewalk.  They were so startled at the presence of the dog that they flew away without realizing any of their other surroundings.  By surroundings I mean me.

Without any warning, a pigeon flew directly into my forehead!  At first I couldn’t even figure out what had just happened.  It looked like something out of a movie, I groaned, all the other runners stopped and stared in disbelief, and then I did the only thing I knew to do.  I kept on running.

If you run the East River in the mornings you may have noticed me that day because I was the girl who kept moaning, “Ewww” for the remainder of my run.

Bert and a pigeon

Sorry Bert I think you’re adorable, but I will stick with the yoga version.

A Pair of Crocs at Night- Runner’s Delight

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Seriously!

Two summers ago I was logging long miles and two-a-days for the first time in my life.  All was going well, minus what I thought might be a stress fracture in my toe (but that doesn’t count), when I finished my first trail run with my husband.  Suddenly my achy feet had taken a turn for the worse.  I had a hot stabbing pain in my heel that I just couldn’t shake.

Admittedly I knew right away what it was but I was in the first stage of a runner’s injury: DENIAL.  I looked on every website for an alternate answer.  I took a day off followed by a treadmill run, because in my messed up runner’s head that was the prescription for shaking the nagging injury.

Finally, after two months of excruciating pain from the moment I woke up, I went to a podiatrist.  I thought I would trick him by giving him my symptoms, and he would magically tell me there was a shot for that.  And then he said it…..

“You have plantar fasciitis.”

No!!!!!!  I had read about plantar fasciitis in Runners World in the past and often thought, “That sounds horrible.  Thank goodness I’ve never had that.”  Well there I was.

And then he delivered what I thought was the next bad news.  “I want you to go out and buy a pair of Crocs.  Wear them whenever you are at home and out of your sneakers.”

I hated Crocs.  I would turn my nose whenever I saw them and think they were the ugliest things ever, save when Mario Batali pulls them off with his vests (I am a huge fan of The Chew).

I bet he has some healthy fascia!  (Note that he can do it with wine)

I bet he has some healthy fascia! (Note that he can do it with wine)

And thus began my nightly routine of walking around our home in Crocs.  Once you get past the funny look, these bad boys are pretty amazing.  The comfortable shoes have plenty of room for your toes and a nice cup for the heel.  It provides the padding and support your feet need to help the tissues repair.  They are not going to cure your injury, but it will provide the protection for the bottom of your foot against the floor as it heals.

During physical therapy I asked when I could go back to bare feet.  “Never,” was the response.  Once you have plantar fasciitis, just like a sprain or a strain you are more susceptible to re-injury.  Just suck it up and slip them on your feet when you get home.  To be honest, I have gone on vacation and forgotten to bring my Crocs along.  I can tell a noticeable difference in my feet when I go barefoot for too long.

To make it more appealing, Crocs come in other versions than the big orange ones you see Mario wear.  Check out my cute, somewhat strappy pair.  They have little “jewels” on the side and come in lots of different colors.  You can look slightly fashionable in these and they are coming out with more styles all the time.  Any pair of rubber Crocs will do the trick.

A word of caution.  I may have been a professional skater, but I have a serious lack of coordination anywhere off of the ice.  When wearing Crocs on wooden floors, I sometimes forget to pick my feet up as I walk (let’s pretend its from all those years on the ice) and I scuff my feet with the rubber of the shoes and the floor.  This causes me to trip.  If you have any amount of coordination whatsoever, you should be fine.  But I add it as a disclaimer for all my not so graceful friends, especially after a glass of wine.  By the way, my husband finds this to be pretty amusing and I can’t blame him.

I can do this.  Yes that is me.

I can do this. Yes that is me.

But I can't do this!

But I can’t do this!

Say Hello to my Little Friend- The Lacrosse Ball

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My husband grew up playing lacrosse and I did not, but I am pretty sure that I have logged more hours with a lacrosse ball in the past two years than he did in his entire career.  Why?  Because there is a lacrosse ball that keeps permanent residence on our couch and one travels with me whenever I have to go away for a trip.

While training for a marathon, I developed some pretty awful piriformis pain (aka pain the butt).  I kept trying to run through it, but every time I started a run if felt like my right leg just didn’t want to propel me forward.  I finally mentioned this to a physical therapist friend and he told me to get a lacrosse ball.

Runners love their foam rollers, and of course “The Stick”, but there is something magical about that hard white ball.  It is the perfect size and firmness to use to massage out all those angry knots on your body.  I simply sit down in the evening on the ball and let it work itself deep into my tight muscles.  It hurts, I am not going to lie!  But the results are almost instantaneous.  As you teach yourself to relax into the pain, you can feel the knots slowly melt away.  As one part of the muscle relaxes, move around until you find another tight spot and repeat this painful and amazing technique.

The best part is, I can do this while I watch TV, read a book, study, or anything else.  It really requires no work on my part, just find where it hurts and use the ball.

This works well on any good fleshy part of your body such as feet, calves, hamstrings, quads, buttocks, and some areas of the lower back.  It does not work well and shouldn’t be used on bony areas of your body such as shins, your spine, shoulders and do I need to even mention your head?!

You can find lacrosse balls at almost any large sporting goods store.  Just make sure you get the actual lacrosse ball (which is generally white but some do come in colors) and not the practice lacrosse ball (generally found in pink and some other colors).  An actual lacrosse ball is made of rubber and much heavier than its practice version.  Unlike the practice version, a lacrosse ball will have no give if you press your thumb into it.

Now go get rid of those achy knots!

LacrosseBallYes that is my couch and my lacrosse ball!