Sunday, April 22, 2018

Run With Endurance...

Not every race is going to be perfect. Sometimes more perseverance is required. Just keep your eyes focused on what's ahead, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and breathe.

Friday, March 30, 2018

It's Complicated...

Again, I am not a medical professional in any way, and am not giving medical advice.

As I have been following the recommended treatment for PTT (Posterior Tibial Tendonitis), I have noticed that the protruding area below my medial malleolus, which I had assumed was my inflamed tendon, was quite hard and bony. That always seemed very strange, so I decided to research it further...

What I found is that approximately 10% of the population has the same protrusion just above their arch, and it is called an "Accessory Navicular Bone" -- lucky me. It's basically an extra chunk of bone that has been present since birth, but is only now deciding to cause trouble for me. Once it does start to cause trouble, it they call it Accessory Navicular Syndrome -- here's a good article discussing this: Accessory Navicular Syndrome

Here's what the article has to say: "Many people with accessory navicular syndrome also have flat feet (fallen arches). Having a flat foot puts more strain on the posterior tibial tendon, which can produce inflammation or irritation of the accessory navicular." 

The article also states that the "accessory" can start to present problems due to "excessive activity or overuse". Yep, that would probably be the cause.

Here is a photo of what a protruding accessory navicular bone looks like (not my feet).

As shown in the photo, the accessory navicular on my left side protrudes further than my medial malleolus, especially when I bear weight on that foot, and my arch drops to the floor. I also have the accessory on the right foot, but it is not as pronounced as the left, and that arch has not fallen to quite the same degree.

Much of the information out there on the web suggests that surgery is the best way to take care of this condition, but some of that info also suggests that it can be a very complicated surgery with a long recovery time, as there is often tendon attached to the area slated for removal. I did find one YouTube video from a podiatrist who suggests that surgery is over-prescribed, although I don't know if he is taking distance running into account. Here is the video:

I have been trying to keep a stubborn, bullheaded, attitude about running, and even got 5.5 miles in yesterday afternoon; but this really does present complications to my overall plan. The current plan is to tough it out and complete half marathon #10 in 27 days, but after that; my plan will likely involve visits to my doctor, and likely a podiatrist and/or physical therapist. 

At this point, if I could back my mileage off and only run 10K races, I would be thrilled. Until I have a doctor tell me that I need to stop running, I'm rolling with my theme song for the next 3 weeks: Marchin On by OneRepublic

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Flat Feet, Over-pronation, and Running

The following is not intended as medical advice. If you think you have similar issues, you really should see a doctor or physical therapist.

Ever since I was first fitted for running shoes, I've known that I over-pronated to some degree -- in other words, with each foot-strike on the ground, the inside of my ankle rolls inward, my arch flattens, and things don't line up like they are supposed to.

"Stability" shoes did the trick for me up to about 10 miles per week, but once I got beyond that, I had to jump to full-on "motion control" shoes, as I started to get posterior tibial tendon pain as the miles increased. Motion control shoes have a "medial post' built into inner base of the shoe to keep your ankle from rolling inward; but unfortunately, they have limited support for the actual arch. My motion control Brooks Beasts got me through 5 half marathons in the spring/summer of 2016; but since April 2017, I have struggled with more foot pain due to this overpronation.

As you can see in the following diagram, the posterior tibial tendon starts under the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone), and runs up the back side of the tibia. Overpronation and a flattening arch put extra strain on that tendon, leading to pain and inflammation.

A while back, my doctor had recommended looking into orthotic arch supports from a local "sports medicine" specialty store, so I finally decided to stop in and see them. Their recommendation was not expensive custom orthotics, but a good quality off-the-shelf insert that would provide some cushion and support. I'm still not quite back to full-on running yet, but just wearing the orthotics around feels so much better, and I find the inserts they recommended to have a very natural feeling arch for my foot. I just bought a second pair for my everyday shoes, so I don't have to worry about transferring sweaty insoles.

As I stated above, if you have pain in your foot, you should seek the advice of a medial professional (which I am not); but it doesn't hurt to do research online to at least narrow down where the pain might be coming from. Here's a great video that I found while searching YouTube -- Bob & Brad are great:

My pain is exactly where they stated it would be -- originating in the arch area, with greatest pain focused directly under the medial malleolus, and sometimes radiating up the tendon past my ankle. Here is a video showing their top treatments for this disorder -- it seems to support everything else I've read online, although this is very simplified. There's a full list of exercises you can do to strengthen this area.

Another option that I'm trying out is the use of KT Tape (Rock Tape is similar). While it doesn't really "treat" the issue, it can provide added support, and take strain off of the tendon. I've heard that it is best to have a professional apply the tape the first time, so you can see what it feels like, but of course YouTube has videos for doing it yourself. Actually, a professional applies it in the video, but they show you how to do it -- and it is an awkward procedure when applying it yourself.

I am in the process of combining the old "R.I.C.E." recovery treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), but am also incorporating some of the treatments mentioned by Bob & Brad. I still have not abandoned all hope of running my 10th half marathon, which is scheduled for April 21st (just over 3 weeks away). 

I realize that at some point I need to follow my own advice and go visit an actual physical therapist; but right now, this is where this stubborn old mule is at.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Oregon Spring Quarter Marathon

It was a good day. Noah and I ran the Oregon Spring Quarter Marathon today, and we both had a lot of fun.

Noah got 1st in his age group, and I got 2nd in mine. I was also awarded the 1st place Male "Masters" medal because the overall race winner was in the masters category, and couldn't get both medals. Thank you to everyone who supported me in my recent injury recovery efforts! This was totally unexpected.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 2017

I have now been blogging (off and on) about my health battles for three years, so it's time for an update. 

I went to the doctor yesterday and weighed in 70 lbs. lighter than I did 6 years ago, and somehow 5 lbs. lighter than a year ago (maybe 5 half marathons since then had something to do with that). My A1C numbers have been good the last three years, so the doc says I'm out of the pre-diabetic danger zone, and he doesn't want to see me for a couple years. Woo-hoo! Thank you, running and healthy eating! 

Keep battling out there. All the hard work pays off in the eventually.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Support and Encouragement

Let's talk about support and encouragement for a minute.

It seems to be human nature that when someone is going through a difficult time, or trying to accomplish something challenging, we offer support and encouragement. This support can come in many forms -- it could be as simple as kind words and encouragement to continue the battle, or it could be sending a card, or even making meals and helping with household chores; depending on what exactly a person is going through.

During the time that I was struggling to lose weight, I found the encouragement of friends, whether in person or on social media, really buoyed my resolve to keep going. I can honestly say that I don't think I could have done it without the occasional, "You're looking great, keep it up!", or even posting a comment on Facebook saying, "Go get it!". It was these positive thoughts that filled my head as I ran that first Volcano Half Marathon, and it was those people that I immediately wanted to thank as I yelled, and typed, "I did it!". 

This entire experience of discovering fitness, combined with recent thoughts on the importance of exuding positivity rather than negativity, has really taught me the value of encouragement. But just as encouraging others during struggles seems to be a natural response, so does complaining about things like your job, yard work (I struggle with this one), the weather, your town, your boss, your pastor, your local places of business, etc. It isn't easy to stop yourself from complaining about something that bugs you, but I truly believe that it must be done -- or you risk letting that negative mentality affect all of your thoughts. It is my goal to build others up, whenever possible, rather than tear them down.

I will admit that I have fallen for "the dark side" of thinking in local Facebook groups in the past, but I have made a concerted effort to only make positive posts. It takes real discipline, especially when there seems to be a perfect setup for a snarky, sarcastic comment. I have to slap my own hand and say, "No".

As I look at my friends' posts on social media, I see a vast array of interests, hobbies, and vocations posted -- you name it; dogs, cooking, gardening, home improvements, CrossFit, running, what they are doing at work, volunteering, their kids, vacations, brewing beer, drinking coffee (even roasting their own coffee), and on and on. How often do we think to ourselves, "Oh great, there goes so-and-so posting again about such-and-such"; rather than maybe offering words of encouragement and support. It really doesn't take any more effort than the negative thoughts, once you've trained our brain to stop with the negativity.

One of the things I have really enjoyed about the running community is the mutual support and encouragement. I first discovered it with that very first half marathon, and I have experienced with every race since then, as well a with the Molalla Running Club (especially with the running club). 

Sure, there are runners who only care about beating everyone else, or being close to the front every time, but the vast majority are middle of the pack runners who choose to race because of the supportive community that is there. These people remain and encouragement to me to this day. It's attitudes like the following saying that are prevalent in the running community, and the ones that continue to inspire me.

It's doesn't matter how slow you run, just don't stop moving forward.

Encouraging others is something I am still working on. For some people, like my wife, it seems to come more natural than it does for me. But I have seen first hand what encouragement can do, and I am committed to continuing to make a positive contribution to my community, whether it's social media or real life. Who's with me?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Food For Life

One of the most difficult parts of trying to live truly "glutton free" is keeping processed and artificial foods out of your diet. I have done my best to eliminate the big offenders from my diet -- things like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and genetically modified organisms; but I will admit that I have a long way to go in making my daily diet consist completely of natural, organic, whole foods.

Why do I mention this? Well, yesterday I made a connection through Molalla Running Club (and the Run Molalla Series) -- a connection with a group in the Molalla area called Food For Life, which focuses on community education of whole food diets, locally sourcing real food, and living a healthier life through your food choices. I have not yet attended any of the meetings, but I'm excited to make the connection.

Here's a link to their Facebook page:

One of the main points of "The Glutton Free Diet" is watching portion control and calorie intake, and you can't do that in a healthy way if you don't eliminate the empty calories that come from things like soda pop and prepackaged snack foods. You have to make sure that the food on your plate is full of the nutrients your body needs to get you through the day -- preferably with as little help from supplemental medications as possible.

I look forward to learning more about Food For Life in the coming months. It's great having a resource like this in our area that is committed making a positive contribution to the community around them.