Saturday, February 28, 2009

Finally... A Long Run!

The Trail Monster group I run with regularly put together a small 50k Fat Ass today, starting at Chuck's house. Big props to him, Katy, and their family for hosting the event. It was a grand time! I hope I get everyone, but Ian, Emma, Stephen, Blaine, Mindy, Ryan, Danielle, Jim D., Floyd, Dora, George, David, Matt and Allan were in attendance. All of us did varying distances, with Floyd, Ian, and Allan doing the full 50k. Stephen also got in 50k, but joined us after running the 15 mile distance from his house to Chuck's, and then continuing with us until he got in the full amount.

Anyway, obviously 31.1 miles would be too much for me at this point, but I did want to get in at least 20 miles, so that was the goal. Mission accomplished! It wasn't easy though and the going was pretty slow. The course was hilly and at times the snow was pretty loose, especially later in the day. However, overall the trails were in much better shape than I had anticipated. And, I'm simply still relatively out of shape for this distance. I'm getting there though. In fact, overall I'm pretty pleased with my training lately. Still have a ways to go, but that's part of the fun.

The course consisted of a loop of around five miles that went up to Hedgehog Mountain (really just a big hill, but a nice one at that) and back to Chuck's place. Great course and a lot of fun. I ran quite a bit of it with my buddy Stephen, and also Blaine. I wish I could give more details on the run itself, but alas I'm tired.

As for the foot... well, good and bad. The PF did flare up a bit around mile 12, but it was tolerable. It hurt and was uncomfortable, but it was tolerable. I stretched throughout the run, and quite a bit afterwards. That must have worked, because what was good is that it's not tightening up any further, at least not at this point a few hours after run. Normally, after the ride home I step out of the car and go "ouch!". Today, I just stepped out and didn't think much of it. Alright, time for some more stretching to keep it that way.

Ran 20.5 miles @ 10:52/mile pace (does not factor stops at the aid station set up in Chuck's house, only time moving).
AHR/MHR - 147/167
Trails with varying snow conditions, some small road sections.
Very hilly.
Lower to upper 30s, sunny.
Long pants throughout. First five miles, fleece jacket, traded for a long sleeved shirt over a short sleeved shirt after that. Beanie. Gloves (off and on).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

ART Session #4 - Adductors

Great progress today in getting to the heart of matters. First off, the stretching shock and awe is definitely helping. That much is obvious. But more needs to be done, and those things are doable and will just take time.

I was given a new heel lift that is thicker, now that I am acclimated with the previous one. The shorter right leg is a huge contributor to the plantar fasciitis which exists only in the left foot, and today was an eye opener as to how much that slightly shorter right leg has things out of whack.

Long story short, when one leg is longer than the other, strength in each leg is not going to be symmetrical. I was asked to do exercises testing the adductor muscles (upper, inner leg; near the groin).

I laid on the ground my right side first, and they had me extend my left out all the way and rest it on a chair, then lift my right leg up to touch the left leg. Okay, fine. Did about 35 or so reps until I felt fatigued.

Then I switched sides to test the left leg (the one with the PF).... hooooooooly crap. After three reps my leg was shaking and I struggled to only do 12 of them. I was seriously shocked. Yep, having a peg leg really does throw things out of balance. Wow.

So, the goal is to strengthen this side up, doing this exercise and another one that is too complicated to explain and I can't find a picture for it. This will provide needed support for the entire leg, and help absorb the workload that is contributing to the PF. I'll also continue doing exercises to strengthen the lower left that were previously prescribed.

No doubt this will take a few or several weeks to sort out, but the cause of the plantar fasciitis is quite obvious. It is really comforting knowing what exactly caused it and having a very logical game plan to correct it. The heel lift should definitely help, and of course the exercises and continued stretching as well. This is really nice to know, especially given how tricky of an injury plantar fasciitis is. Mad props to the folks at Raymond Chiropractic. Those guys are good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Go

Today was one of those long days when my work day ended and I felt even more mentally exhausted than usual. I nearly nixed my run as a result, coming up with every excuse I could think of not to head out. Finally I decided I was just being stupid, told myself "just go", changed clothes, and was off.

Took it easy on the pace, and limited the course I was doing to a few loops near the school I teach at to avoid roads that are still a bit messy from the snow storm a few days ago. My water is running again at home though, so at least I can shower again.

Rest day tomorrow, which coincides with another ART session. Progress continues to go well. I still feel the PF from time to time, so I'm not out of the woods yet. But all in due time and it has definitely lessened overall.

Ran 6.8 miles @ 8:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/164
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recovery Day and No Water

A day off yesterday with an easy, short run today was on the agenda after finishing off last week in a relative flurry. Actually, most of this week will focus on taking it easy, at least until a potential long run on Saturday... if and only if everything continues to feel on track.

Another benefit to today's shorter run is that I didn't sweat as much. While I have electricity, the well pump doesn't, so I haven't had running water for the past two days. This is all thanks to a storm that dumped over a foot of heavy, wet snow the other day and caused a lot of problems across Maine. Hopefully it'll be fixed today so I can take a nice, hot shower!

Ran 5.3 miles @ 8:26/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/158
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
30 degrees, sunny, breezy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stretching, Stretching, and More Stretching

Past experience dictates that running on hills has been a catalyst for PF flare-ups, so after yesterday's hilly run I launched a full-on stretching assault. It appears to have worked well, as I was able to get in a good ten-mile run today comfortably. The stretching shock and awe will continue on the legs with the aim to loosen everything up and alleviate the tension being placed on the plantar fascia.

Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day, and Tuesday I plan to take things light. This week has been a good step-up in mileage for me (43.7 miles).

Ran 10.3 miles @ 8:49/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/155
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, mostly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bradbury Mountain Run

Great run this morning on some new-to-me trails near Bradbury Mountain. Met up with Stephen and Blaine at 7am, and we got in a bit over four miles together. Stephen helped counsel me on some WS100 issues and I feel more confident about things now. Thanks bud.

We eventually headed back to the parking lot to meet up with Ian and Lilly, and her dog, Echo. Together we set out on some snowmobile trails that I hadn't run before. It was nice to run through some woods and countryside I hadn't seen before, and the terrain was very challenging. Steep, steep hills, which gave me a good workout and also served to remind me that I have some work to do. At least the snow was very well packed down from the snowmobiles. Very ideal.

I turned around after a bit, satisfied with my mileage while the others went on. I accidentally hit the stop button on my Garmin for about a mile, but was still able to hopefully calculate the mileage accurately.

Ran 11.5 miles @ 10:03/mile pace (not sure about pace accuracy)
AHR/MHR - 149/165
Trails with packed snow.
Extremely hilly.
Lower teens to start, mid-upper 20s to finish, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beach Run

Bad road shoulders from yesterday and last night's snow made a beach run sound pretty good, even if it was very windy out. Fought the head wind for the first four miles, then enjoyed letting the tail wind push me back to my car.

Ran 8.0 miles @ 8:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/160
Beaches with packed sand.
Very flat.
Upper 20s, partly cloudy, windy.
Long pants, Goretex jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Active Release Therapy, Session #3

Today focused on continuing to loosen up the left calf, specifically working on a big knot there. I can really feel said knot when I use the foam roller (that sucker hurts).

Also, the fascia running along my entire left leg is very tight. Work was focused on loosening that up, as well as the inflamed plantar fascia itself.

Looking forward to a run tomorrow. Not sure if I'll hit the beach or just run locally.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good Early Momentum

Shorter, flatter and slower run today to give myself a bit of recovery. Felt a little creaky at first, but that dissipated after a few slow miles.

Past few runs have been relatively comfortable with not too much plantar fasciitis discomfort. A rest day is on the agenda tomorrow, and coincides with another active release therapy appointment.

Should add that I've been performing a variety of stretches daily and have also been performing foot and leg exercises designed to strengthen key areas to alleviate the PF. One could say shock and awe is being waged. Also worth noting that the heel lift continues to feel comfortable.

Heart rate is starting to come down a bit, indicating better conditioning. Still a ways to go though before I'm back to normal.

Ran 5.4 miles @ 8:22/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/163
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower 30s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First Run with the Heel Lift

I was curious how today's run would feel since it's my first one while using a heel lift for the shorter right leg. The heel lift itself is about two and a half pennies tall (laying flat, obviously). It is a bit noticeable, but it feels comfortable.

Perhaps it's psychosomatic, but my gait felt a bit more balanced. I would only really notice the heel lift and/or my gait when I thought about it, but it did feel different while still being comfortable.

Only time will tell if the heel lift, along with the ART, new foot exercises and stretching regiments will make a difference, but I feel good about it. Hopefully the wheels will stay on this time. But chalk today up as a success as I felt good out there. Pace picked up as I got warmed up (though that coincided with many downhill sections).Felt good all around, especially on the uphills.

Ran 8.5 miles @ 8:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 158/172
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Monday, February 16, 2009

ART Session #2 - This One's Optimistic

(Radiohead fans would get the name of that title post, but that's neither here or there.)

I'll say right off the bat that the folks at the Raymond Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center are fantastic and I'm really glad I went there. They've identified key areas that need to be addressed in order for the plantar fasciitis to heal, and today began work on fixing those area. They're runners there also, which adds to the confidence level. I am indeed optimistic.

Below is based on my own recollection and I hope I got all the facts straight, but I think I remember everything pretty well:

One area is my left leg being 3-4mm longer than my right leg. I thought it was pretty common for one leg to be a little longer than the other, but I asked Dr. Raymond about that and he says it's not really true. What happens is someone's pelvis may sometimes not be aligned, but in reality the legs are the same length. For me, the left leg really is longer than the right (specifically, between the knee and the foot). This could be complicating healing, so to correct that I was given heal lifts for the right leg to even things out.

Secondly, there are some tight spots in my calves that are pulling on the problem area in my heal. Active release therapy began working on those areas. I can best describe this as pressure was put on key areas while I stretched my foot a certain way. Also, ART was done on the soft tissue areas around the foot, specifically the heal. Same deal... applying pressure in those sensitive areas while I stretched a certain way.

Using a curious look instrument that looked like the key to the door of an alien spacecraft, work was also done at scraping away the scar tissue on and around the heal. This wasn't as painful as I thought it would be

And, some of my muscles in my foot were identified as being weaker than they should be, so I was shown some exercises for my foot that should help provide more support. I was also shown how to use a foam roller to identify the problems areas and continue working on my leg muscles to keep them loose, and ended up buying one from them.

The prognosis? Dr. Raymond seemed optimistic, and so am I. He seemed encouraged and a bit surprised that I'm actually very flexible in most areas, and the problem areas should be able to be corrected relatively easily. I want to stress that he didn't guarantee this, nor would I expect him to. However, I can very much see the logic in what is wrong and also the solutions provided. It makes sense to me.

I go back on Thursday for another session. Am planning on a run tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

WS100 Contemplation

Not a bad little run today, aside from it being little.

Been doing a lot of thinking lately in regards to the Western States 100. If things don't turn around in the plantar fasciitis department within the next month or so, I'm going to have to get real and consider dropping out. I'm going to set a deadline for myself by the end of March at the latest. Even then, that's pushing it for allowing myself time to train properly.

My first true active release therapy session is tomorrow (last Thursday was more of an exploratory session to see what was up). Hopefully this will do the trick. I'm running out of bullets.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:58/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 158/175
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket (which was excessive), short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Ox is Slow, but the Earth is Patient

Another short run today, but at a slow pace. Felt pretty good overall, but didn't want to push things. Will hopefully get in some double digit mileage this weekend.

Ran 4.2 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/157
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s, partly sunny, windy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

First Active Release Therapy Session

So, today I had my first appointment with active release therapy. My impressions so far are very favorable. A big effort was made to find the cause of the problem, not just treat the inflamed plantar fascia. Very, very in depth. That didn't really happen at the traditional sports medicine office I went to last December. But here, I was contorted this way and that, probed here and there, stretched, bent, twisted, folded and manipulated in ways that I wasn't even aware that my body could bend... and all the while being asked questions on what I was feeling and given explanations as to what the specialist was looking for.

I was also videotaped while running on a treadmill, and the doctor performed a gate analysis. I was very impressed with the time and effort the doctor was making at gathering information.

So, the short of it: My left leg (my left foot has the PF) is about .15" longer than the right, which is a possible contributor to the cause. That's not a lot, and it's pretty normal to have one leg slightly longer than the other, but still, makes sense how it could at least be a contributor. But... there is also a LOT of muscle tightness in the left leg. All up and down it, in fact. From the gluts down to the foot itself. All that tightness is putting more stress on the plantar fascia ligament.

Next steps: I go back in on Monday and ART treatment begins on those tight areas and the plantar fascia.

I'm optimistic this will all help, but only time will tell. But for now, I'm just impressed that more problems were identified, and along with them potential solutions.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spring Preview

Temperatures got up into the lower 50s today, which had me raring to go for a run. The problems I had over the weekend were pretty much all gone. I had been just feeling run down, as well as having stomach issues on top of the typical light-moderate PF pain. Not a good combination. However, nothing a few extra days rest wouldn't take care of (except for the PF). Felt quite energetic out there today, but kept it short as a precaution.

Tomorrow I have the appointment with the Active Release Therapy specialist for the PF. I'll do a post on it afterwards.

Ran 4.2 miles @ 7:49/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 156/169
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves rolled up about 1.5 miles into the run... too warm!).

Saturday, February 07, 2009


There is no better way to describe my run today than the title of this post. If I explain all of the reasons why, I may just have to rename this blog "Maine Whiner".

Will take at least the next couple of days off.

Ran 5.4 miles @ 8:38/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/166
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
30 degrees, partly sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Active Release Therapy

Well, a lot of the tightness and discomfort related to plantar fasciitis has returned a bit over the past few days. I've had far worse flare-ups, but still, it's enough to bring on the frustration. So, I'm going to give active release therapy a try. I've made an appointment here for Thursday of next week. I've been hearing a lot of good things about ART from runners lately, but I'm a bit beat down mentally as far as getting my hopes up for a silver bullet. Hopefully this will do some good though.

Run today was pretty blech. I just had no energy, so I cut it short. Not a big deal though. I think I'll be good for some bigger runs this weekend (but nothing crazy). At least the weather is supposed to warm up into the 40s on Sunday. Woohoo!

Ran 3.5 miles @ 8:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/155
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Run Up Mt. Hope

I decided to give myself a pretty big test today by running up Mt. Hope. It officially stands at 692', so it's really more of a glorified hill than a mountain. However, it's still a full-on buttkicker to run up.

Conditioning wise, I did better than expected. The pace wasn't bad for this route, and I was pleased to see the heart rate where it was. Neither indicated tip-top shape, but did demonstrate progress. On a more qualitative front, I simply felt good also. The last climb up to the top of Mt. Hope had me huffing and puffing at a snail's pace, but that's been the case every time I've done this route in the past. Fun stuff!

As for the PF, it went okay. I did feel a few flare-ups during the run, but I guess the good news is they went away after a few tenths of a mile. Still, I was a bit disappointed. While the flare ups weren't all that bad, I was still hoping for better. But hills can aggravate PF, or so they say. So, I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Not every run is going to be perfect and go the way I want it to. As long as I'm making progress overall, I'll be happy, and I think that's still the case for now.

Ran 11.0 miles @ 8:34/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/176
Paved roads, some patches of snow/slush.
Extremely hilly.
Mid-lower 20s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Five in the Snow

A light snow, darkened skies and breezy conditions contributed to a somewhat ominous tone to today's afternoon run. Throw in two legs that felt like pillars of concrete just to make it interesting. However, I still enjoyed it. The heavy legs are no doubt the result of finishing off last week with an increase in mileage, so no big whoop.

The PF still felt very manageable today. I can't say it felt as good as Sunday, but still overall, very tolerable... perhaps comparable to Saturday, which is still very good compared to the past several months. I'll just have to see what's in store for the rest of the week.

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:32/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/154
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, overcast, breezy, light snow.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, long pants.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Imagine you have a lottery ticket and you're sitting in front of your TV watching the live drawing. A fan forces the numbered ping pong balls to dance around in a clear container as the girl in the fancy evening dress with a fake smile plastered on her face waits for her cue. She gets it from the cheesy announcer guy in the cheap suit, and a single ball spits into a chute.

The guy calls out the number. You notice it's on your ticket. Cool.

The process repeats and a second number is called. It's also on your ticket. This is getting interesting.

The third number is called, it's also on your ticket. Your heart rate just went up a few beats...

Let's end the story there for now. But I think that best exemplifies how I'm currently feeling in regards to my plantar fasciitis. I just had another very successful run. Slightly longer than yesterday's, but even less discomfort.

On a scale of 1-10, with one being no PF discomfort and ten being the worst, I'd say most of my runs the past few months have averaged between 5 and 7. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I'd rate yesterday's run at a three and today's at a two, maybe even a 1.9 or 1.8.

But in theme of my metaphor, it's still early and I don't want to get my hopes up. However, these inserts do appear to be doing their job so far. I'm very encouraged, and hope they keep calling the right numbers.

Rest day tomorrow.

Ran 10.3 miles @ 8:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/157
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 20s, overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.