A few weeks ago, I described the conundrum of my right foot, and the bump on my heel that I have variously blamed on different pieces of footwear. This bump – and the discomfort that goes with it – has put a serious cramp in my marathon training, and finding things to blame it on has become a small obsession of mine, while I’ve been waiting for some kind of helpful diagnosis. At long last, I have seen Dr. Sports Medicine, and he delivered his verdict. The bump is an inflamed bursa sac that is caused by overuse or extreme stress on the heel. This can come from any number of things, depending on the circumstances. In my case? The guilty party is … (I bet the anticipation is killing you) … my hockey skates. However, running was also identified as an achilles-tendonitis-causing accomplice. The good news? A bit of physiotherapy and some modifications to my skates should fix me up. And I can still wear my girlie shoes at work. The bad news? I’m really behind on my training. Like, seriously.
So it’s time to get serious. Time to lace up my shoes, and start putting on the mileage. Slow and steady, just like I said before, but mileage. It starts this week, in between physio appointments, and I’ll share all the gory details here. That way, if I slack off, you’ll know. And one of you out there will send me a message saying, “Hey, what’s going on over there – don’t you have a marathon to go train for?”
These are the primary suspects in the unsolved mystery of the bump on my foot that has put a serious cramp in my training – the story I’ve been promising to tell you for a few posts now. I don’t know exactly when the bump showed up. I just noticed it one day last year after a run, when I was being all sucky about my sore foot.
This bump is on the back of my right foot, beside the heel bone. It’s sort of like a heel spur, but my doctor assures me it isn’t bone. (Although it does sort of look like I have two heel bones, one beside the other. Weird, I know.) The bump itself doesn’t hurt, but it comes with symptoms like achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. But apparently it’s not quite those either.
I immediately blamed running. It’s obvious, right? Runners get these kinds of things. That’s just how it is and we accept that. So I did what many runners would do under the circumstances. I ignored it. Eventually, it got really annoying. Then work got busy, and I started slacking on the mileage. Like magic (or short-term memory loss) the pain went away and I forgot about the bump. When I laced up my shoes again a few months later, I got all whiny about my sore foot again. After looking critically at the bump, which seemed to have grown, I spent some quality time with an ice pack and a bottle of ibuprofen, and finally went to see my doctor. After a lengthy reprieve from running and a few medical referrals later, I still don’t have an answer. And I still can’t run for more than a couple of consecutive weeks without my foot screaming at me.
While waiting for a small army of medical people to sort this out, I consulted with my friend Google, and found some interesting info. Any shoes with with a rigid back such as ice skates or dress shoes can cause this type of irritation. Omigod! I sometimes wear silly shoes at work. And I play hockey twice a week. In ice skates. Eegads! This opens up a whole new set of possibilities that I expect I won’t like.
Final results should be in soon, after I see the foot doctor again. Until then, I am finding other ways to keep my fitness level up, so that I’ll be ready for the Lausanne marathon in October. I’ll write more about those another day. In the meantime, who do you think dunnit? Vote in my first ever poll to tell me what you think!
Of course there are, duh. Where did I think the Swiss Alps were? But I wasn’t thinking that this marathon is going through any mountains.
A friend recently said to me, “Switzerland, wow, that’s gonna be hilly,” and I said “no, no – it’s along Lake Geneva, it will be fine.” Then I went back to the web site for the marathon, just to make sure. It says that the marathon runs “between the lake and verdant hillsides”. Between. That’s the important part, right? It started to occur to me that maybe that doesn’t mean “flat”.
I began comparing this description to write-ups for the half-marathons that I’ve done. The Niagara Falls race is “considered flat and fast”. The Toronto half-marathon is “flat, fast and scenic”. The Ottawa half-marathon and the Army Run (also in Ottawa) have been described as “excellent for first-timers and those looking for a personal best”. The Lausanne Marathon is “between the lake and verdant hillsides“.
The elevation chart on the website doesn’t look so bad, but the pictures of the race course are making me a little nervous. Really, though, what did I expect from a country that has 65% of its surface area covered by mountains!?
For now, I’m taking deep breath and reminding myself that I’m not setting out to break any records – I just want to finish. In one piece. I’m also making a note for my future training plans that incorporating some hill work might not be a bad idea, just in case.
I’m all about the tortoise. Especially when it comes to running. I have never been a fast runner. I’m just not built for that. I don’t run to win – I run for health and fitness, and because it’s cheaper than therapy. I prefer the ‘slow and steady’ race strategy (although I’m under no illusions about winning anything more than compliments for my efforts). My approach to training will be much the same. Put another way, move nice and slow, and nobody gets hurt.
I didn’t always think that way. Although I’m no Speedy Gonzalez, I used to be a little obsessive (!) about tracking my mileage and analyzing my average minutes-per-kilometre to make sure I was still on target to make my ‘race pace’. I wanted each race I ran to be a personal best. After a few years and a few half marathons, that became – well, boring. The run became more about how long it took, and less about enjoying the scenery. Going for a run became a chore. As life got crazier, I started running less, which is the opposite of what I should have been doing, because I still couldn’t afford a therapist. So finally, I decided to slow down. To a ridiculously slow pace. I still tracked my mileage, but I set an alarm on my Garmin to make sure I didn’t go too fast. There were people out there who walked faster than I was running. And I loved it. Less stress, less injuries, more fun. Slow was the new fast.
I still run that way, but my love affair with running has still had its ups and downs. My last half marathon was over a year ago, and was a narrowly averted disaster (a story for another day). I took a break for a while, and now I’m ready to get moving again. My decision to take on the Joints in Motion challenge will help bring some focus to why I am running, and will help keep me motivated. I have given myself plenty of time to build up my base mileage again before kicking it up a notch, which will help keep my injury-free. But even when race day comes, I’ll be in no big hurry to cross the finish. This race really is all about the journey.
So although I won’t be taking any naps along the way, I won’t be going all out crazy as I get myself ready for Lausanne. I will be cruising the neighbourhood at leisurely pace, letting the dogs sniff the fire hydrants, and maybe stopping to smell a flower or two myself. I hope you’ll follow along.
I might have said that once. Okay, I think I said it a lot. I probably said it at least three times for each half marathon that I’ve run. So that’s like, two dozen times. And really, let’s be honest – it is a little nuts. So if I think that running a full marathon is crazy, then why am I doing it?
Mostly, because I believe I can do it. Well, I’m pretty sure I can do it, but it will be a challenge. But if I’m asking all of you to support my campaign for arthritis, then I owe it to you to make my own investment. Not just in the effort that it takes to raise money (which I don’t underestimate!), but the effort I invest in taking on a physical challenge that’s going to take some chutzpah.
Running a race of any distance is challenging in its own right, and anyone who takes it on has a reason to be proud. I’m fortunate enough to have completed eight half-marathons. Right now, for me, the full marathon is my Mount Everest. The crazy distance that takes a level of effort, commitment and discipline that feels like a goal just beyond my reach. But I have a good reason to try (that’s you, Mom), and I’m confident that I can do it. And with your help, I’m confident that I can reach my fundraising goal too.
So yes, it’s a little a crazy, but it’s for a great cause and I think it’s worth it. I hope you do too. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to running a marathon in Lausanne, Switzerland in October 2012.
I am participating in the Joints in Motion program in memory of my Mom, Karen, who passed away in March 2011. As part of this program, I will train for and run a full marathon (42.2 km) in Lausanne, Switzerland in October 2012. Along the way, I will raise money and awareness in support of the Arthritis Society‘s research, programs and advocacy work that is so important to people living with arthritis.
My mom fought rheumatoid arthritis for as long as I can remember. I mostly didn’t understand it when I was growing up, but I saw the negative impact it had on her health – debilitating pain, side effects from the cocktails of medications, and her inability to participate in regular day-to-day activities that so many of us take for granted. Today, I can only wonder what her life would have been like if there was a cure or better treatment for arthritis. This journey is a way for me to honour her memory, and to do something to support the millions of people who continue to suffer from various forms this disease.
You can also support my journey by sending this link to a friend, and by sharing any ideas you might have on how to raise funds and awareness for arthritis. And do stop by here from time to time to see how things are going. Thanks for visiting!