Tag Archives: running

Footwear on trial

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!

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Hurry up and wait!

I’m late! Indeed, I am overdue in delivering week four of ‘things you might not know’!  This won’t actually shock anyone who knows me.  I’m always late paying parking tickets, and it’s virtually guaranteed that I will never return a library book on time.  I’m also behind on my running program, but that’s a story for another day.  Alas, this week, you’ll get back-to-back posts to make up for my tardiness.

Sometimes, it really doesn’t pay to be late, particularly when it comes to being diagnosed with arthritis. I have mentioned here before, inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) needs to be treated early and aggressively.  But did you know that some of the most effective medications can take weeks or even months to show results, and multiple medications might be needed to control the disease?  Here’s a great analogy from an Arthritis Society publication:

“Think of arthritis like a fire in the joints.  Imagine there was a fire in your kitchen. If you left it burning, it would eventually destroy the kitchen and likely spread to other rooms in the house. The same is true for rheumatoid arthritis. If you leave the fire of arthritis burning, it will eventually damage the bones and cartilage. The idea is to get the fire put out as quickly as possible to prevent the joints from becoming damaged. Again, if your kitchen was on fire, it might take two or three fire trucks with their hoses to put the fire out. The same is true for arthritis. It might take two or three different medications to put the fire out.”

There are many promising treatments available that can slow, or sometimes even stop, the progression of the disease.  Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are a class of medications used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. DMARDs slow down the biologic processes that cause the persistent inflammation (pain, swelling and stiffness) in the joints. DMARDs are important because they help to prevent damage to the joint.  (Unfortunately, DMARDs cannot fix joint damage that has already occurred.)  The challenge is, DMARDs generally work well but they take time to work. Most DMARDs will start to work in about six to 12 weeks, but some may take longer – up to three or four months.

Likewise, biologics are a class of medications specially designed to treat inflammatory types of arthritis.  Like DMARDs, biologics are used to suppress inflammation and help prevent damage to the joint, and the two can be combined.  But biologics also take time to work. Some people may notice the effects of the medication  within days or weeks, but others may take three to six months to feel the effects.

Six months is a long time to wait if your house is on fire.  That’s why early diagnosis and treatment is so important.  It’s also why continued research into arthritis treatment is necessary, hopefully to develop new treatment options that will work faster, to help minimize the amount of permanent damage that people suffer.

Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for the next instalment.  I won’t make you wait so long this time 🙂

The tortoise and the hare, and other training lessons

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.

“But you said running a marathon was crazy!”

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.