Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ultra Quest

I exchanged a few emails recently and one of them somehow triggered a small torrent of thoughts and feelings for me. It seemed like a good thing to stick most of it on my blog, since it was all kind of blog-like...

I'm not sure my ultra-experience is like everyone else's. I had Guillane-Barre 12 years ago. My hands and feet were 99% paralyzed. I could barely move them - they were completely useless. My immune system ate nearly all my nerve tissue away. They gave me immune-globulin to confuse and reset my immune system, then I re-grew about 15-20% of my nerve tissue. But that apparently varies wildly around my body. My broken arm barely hurts, and that's causing problems. In two weeks, it hasn't healed at all. I guess I've been moving around too much. Pain would help limit that. So I'm operating on a fraction of the average nerve-tissue. I quit running, most of my life. I ran some in high school and college, but not seriously. I never referred to my running as "training". I quit, and there were several feeble attempts to start back up again. So about 12 years ago, I had Guillane-Barre, a great son, and failed marriage. There was a mix of thoughts and emotions - mostly what a loser I was. I trained myself in technology, quizzed-out on exams, and changed careers from machinist to technology. But that wasn't enough. When I turned 45, I had a mid-life crisis. My dramatic self-taught career change taught me that just about anything is possible, but I still felt like a loser. Most people's physical performances start to subside in the 48-52yr-old zone. I figured I had 5 more years to see what I could do. I had only ever gone 10 miles once and 11 miles once. Those were my longest two runs in my life! So when I ran (okay, I walked most of it) the Goblin Valley 50K, it was an eerie experience. What if you were an interstellar astronaut, and you're used to traveling all over the galaxy, never more than several light-years away from the nearest star, planet, or chunk of something, and somehow you manage to go way beyond. Suddenly there's nothing familiar around, and you can turn around and look at your own (entire!) galaxy and now it seems so small. And everywhere you look, there are galaxies EVERYWHERE - like stars where in your old galaxy. Suddenly your mind and soul are seeing life on a totally new, exhilarating SCALE!!!! I suppose people who gradually migrated to ultras, and had more ordinary lives, haven't had such a powerful experience. However, there are LOTS of people like me who start running ultras. That's why the average age of an ultra-runner is in the 40's, not the 30's like it is for marathons, and 20's for short stuff. Often, hard life experiences migrate people's psyches towards ultras - cancer, alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity, MS, divorce, dealing with suicide from a loved-one, getting out of prison, and countless other hardships lead people to try something that is considered "impossible" by ordinary people. I don't want to talk down on "ordinary" people, because we're all ordinary. It's just that for some people who have lived ordinary lives, and gotten a glimpse of "the end", they tend to want to be "extra"-ordinary. Ultra runners often tell each other that we're all either running away from something or towards something - or both. But I think some people are doing neither. They're running "around"; around their normal life, looking for meaning that they've previously missed. Like gold miners sifting through old mine-tailings looking for missed granules of gold. Sometimes venturing beyond their ordinary life, but mostly staying within their old life, with the same relationships, but not accepting the old status-quo. Like the interstellar astronaut not just traveling for the sake of traveling, but looking for dark-matter, the center of the universe, primordial grains of sand - anything that helps explain where we came from, why we're here, and what holds it all together? The odd thing is, even people with religious backgrounds, who have been fed the answers to all these questions their whole lives, are not immune to traveling on this parallel journey. Maybe because their religion fills the void quite well for some parts of their mind and soul, but not all of it. And yet most of the people on these journeys practically never think "consciously" about these higher subjects. Some seem almost unaware that they're on this sort of journey. Training programs... I noticed that the most disciplined runners tend to be the ones who gradually migrated to ultra-running, through gradual progression. They're more likely to have finish-time goals, but also training goals, diet goals, weight goals, etc. They think with more structure. We all have the same emotions, and love running, but logic rules how they train and race. People like me, however, are far less likely to use structured regimens. We run/race almost entirely because we like it. We have more injuries, slower finish-times, more DNF's - and more fun in life. This isn't always absolutely true, but generally is. Statistics are often made-up, so that's what I'm going to do... For disciplined runners, the reason they run is maybe 40-60% because they love it. But for runners like me, it's probably closer to 80-95%. Disciplined runners often rebuke fun-runners for being crazy or stupid, and they warn fairly accurately that the fun-runner is about to get injured. Yet in spite of that, those who run just for fun have few regrets. We all run for (similar, but) different reasons. There are also those who run to prove something to someone, or show-off. (I'll bet 95% of those are younger males, but again, that's a made-up statistic.) This is an external reason. One of the reasons I have tried to finish the Leadville 100 is to teach my son through vicarious example that the concept of "impossible" is too often nothing more than a state of mind and emotion. If you want it, go for it. Don't make up self-defeating excuses - that will lead not only to failure, but sucks all the fun out of the endeavor. This is similar to "showing-off", but not quite the same. As long as my training/racing doesn't cause me to neglect time with my son, it is a positive thing for both him and myself. Training depends on your "base" and/or athletic history. It also depends on why you run (above paragraphs). If you get too structured or the training type is too intense, then you'll burn-out and either quit running, or quit ultra-running. So to avoid that, we need to constantly self-monitor, "am I having fun? is this doing it for me? can I sustain this?" One way to get the best of both worlds is to mix-it-up. Do unsustainable speed-work some weeks, then revert back to some more junk-like fun/adventurous running. "Junk" training or miles is defined as having no performance-enhancing value. The good thing about junk miles is it can give you "some" rest (if you don't do too many junk miles), yet keep you from losing what you gained during more intense, unsustainable training. The bad thing about junk miles is it can mentally train you to get used to running without speed, can overload your system with useless accumulated-stress, which then causes injuries, especially on your next speed work-out. Unlike marathons and shorter, where you can get all the necessary caloric needs from stored glycogen, body-fat, and sport-drink, the longer the ultra, the more the need you'll have to eat real food while you race. Most people have no idea how much energy digestion takes. It's a LOT! While digesting, you tend to feel less energetic. If you eat during training, it helps train your stomach to digest quicker and more efficiently. It also trains your mind to expect a little lethargy during digestion, so you eat smaller amounts, and don't get psyched-out by a little lethargy. You don't always have to inconvenience yourself by eating during training, but you can eat a small amount before your runs. During longer, self-supported runs, you'll need to get used to carrying your food. You need to figure out which foods are best for you when on-the-move. Some can only manage Gu, while others eat almond-past, some trail-bars, some mashed-up potato chips, etc. If you wait until a big race to discover this, it can lead to disaster (bonking, diarrhea, vomiting, etc). What joy, huh?

Plantar Fasciitis, Part 5

The Running Phase of Therapy
Change your mindset. Accept that you are no longer a “distance runner”. You will be again, some day, but not now. Now you need to work your way up to 5K, and you need to do it very carefully so that you don’t cause regression and permanent scar tissue. If you run too soon, too far, too fast, and with improper form, you will not heal – ever. Some people run and race with PF the rest of their lives. They do it because they love the social aspects of running and racing, they want to keep their weight under control, and they’re impatient, but their PF takes the enjoyment out of running, and they run slower, with pain, the rest of their lives. If you’re going to recover, you need to keep your eye on the prize – whatever will keep you on-track. Depending on how bad your PF is, it might take you up to four years to recover, but optimally, even with serious PF, you should only miss one year. Accept that. If you need to mentally/emotionally focus on a specific race, do that. If you need to mentally/emotionally let go of any racing ambitions, do that. But stay on track. Don’t run until it’s time, and only run as far or fast as beneficial.

Never add exercises without stretching first. Stretching cold tissues is hazardous, and can lead to further injury, so like you have been doing, stretch gently and hold a long time. In fact, if you start out correctly, you’ll be spending more time stretching than exercising.

Initially, you start with walks. Most people walk on their heels, even if they normally run on their toes, but you need to walk on your toes when healing with PF. This doesn’t feel natural for most people, and this causes them to tense. Concentrate on loosening and opening your hip motion while taking the same short steps you should take when running. The only difference between your walks and your runs is you won’t get airborne. Don’t over-stride and don’t follow-through too far back.
With each and every step, squeeze your arches, but don’t let your toes curl under. Try to keep your heel off the ground. It's most important to keep your plantar slack if you have falling arches, but even if your plantar is too tight, it is bad to yank an inflamed plantar. Stretching is good for a tight plantar, but trying to stretch it out with the quick yanks that happen during walking/running is the wrong way to recover from a tight/inflamed plantar. All stretching should last several seconds.
In fact, do this everywhere you go. PF therapy should be a constant effort. Once you have your theraputic walk memorized, do it at work, while shopping...everywhere.
Ice your plantar 2-4 times a day, even if it doesn’t hurt. Elevate and compress too, if ice alone isn’t enough. In fact, you’ll have to get used to this process. You may never be able to stop icing.

Taping may help to protect your plantar. This is done with three lengths of athletic tape. This won’t last for too long, but it should give you at least 15 minutes of protection, and maybe as long as an hour of benefit.

Strengthen your feet, shin muscles, and lateral stabilizing muscles. This is done while standing. Do toe-raises, heel raises, stand on one foot and rise onto your toes and hold it. Balancing exercises are important.

Eventually, you will add short runs to your walking; maybe only 10 steps, at first. These runs should concentrate on knee lifts – evenly on both sides. With proper running, follow-through doesn’t involve trailing ground contact, but instead involves snapping the foot off the ground and bringing the heel up towards your butt. Practice ballistic action with the full range of motion – as long as it doesn’t involve over-striding. Feel the free elastic energy. Bounce on your muscles and tendons, minimizing ground contact. Do this very carefully. Don’t try to bounce into orbit just yet. Jab the ground quickly, correctly, and float to the next contact. Try to float, but don’t worry about floating far. Concentrate on each and every step. If you can’t do it correctly, and you can’t do it without pain, return to walking.

If you can, try walking and running barefoot. This takes away the “crutch” of modern running shoes and forces you to use natural processes to produce spring and shock absorption.
Strongly suggested… buy Vibram Five Fingers and wear Injinji socks. These slippers will give you a small degree of skin protection and keep your skin away from the normal animal feces (from geese, rodents, traces from dogs, etc.) that are found everywhere. Five Fingers will force you to use the muscles you’ve neglected while wearing running shoes. Your first run in Five Fingers might be brutal to your calves. Suggested: wear them walking for a couple of weeks and then run a mile or less the first time. Try to run with your heel never touching the ground. When you can’t keep your heel off the ground, return to walking.

When you really are ready to start running, it may take you a week to recover from one mile. And your “one mile” might actually be an accumulation of short runs during three miles of walking.
When you start running again, be very careful because endorphins may mask regressive stresses. Go by numbers. Increase your mileage carefully and systematically. If you still aren’t recovered from the week before, don’t do as much as you had planned. Return to stretching, icing, and walking, if you have to. If you over-do it, you’ll be one of those who take four years to recover.

If you’re running, then it’s also time to start jump-roping. This is good for getting your knees up, and teaching you to bounce. Jump-roping is all about elastic energy. Remember that the plantar plays a very central role in ballistic action. Protect your healing plantar by flexing your arch muscles to the max. If every muscle in your feet ache from this effort, but your plantar is fine, then you did it correctly.

Even though you’re now exercising, never forget that stretching is more important than exercise. And keep icing regularly. ALWAYS ice after exercise, even if there’s no pain. Massage several times a day.

Plantar Fasciitis, Part 4

Specific Therapies…
The Non-running Phase
There isn’t much you can do to heal PF, unfortunately. Mostly, you need to stop the advancement of the condition, avoid regression, and help the body to heal itself.
Reduce swelling with ice, compression, and/or elevation. Swelling reduces circulation, and can cause stagnation, which leads to scar tissue. Large amounts of scar tissue, left untreated, lead to heel-spurs, which may require surgery.
Use massage to avoid the development of scar tissue, or break up scar tissue. This increases circulation. Squeeze out stagnated fluids so that fresh fluids can flow back in. This is the single best thing you can do to improve new building-blocks entering the damaged area for healing.
If you try to massage an area which is already swollen, it will be difficult to force any benefit. If swelling is that bad, ice, elevate, and/or compress before massage.
Icing reduces swelling, but it also reduces circulation. Just as with swelling, trying to massage cold tissues will provide minimal value. If you massage cold tissues, though, it will not cause harm, it will just provide minimal return.
Massaging warm, swollen tissues may cause even more swelling. If you massage warm, swollen tissues, you need to use ice/compression/elevation immediately afterward to avoid causing more damage than therapy.
Some therapists say to massage with a golf ball or a hard roller, but many other therapists warn never to massage with hard objects. Instead, use a tennis ball, a hard foam roller, your thumb, or spiky-ball designed for plantar fasciitis.

Stretching must be done carefully. For the most severe cases of PF, it will be destructive to stretch at all, at first, but stretching is one of the most important therapies for PF. So even if you can’t “stretch”, you should at least take all slack away to avoid tightening-up during the period of total rest. When beginning actual stretching, the emphasis should be on minimal degrees of stretching, but maximum amounts of time spent at stretched angles… gentle for a long time.
One of the most effective long-gentle stretches is achieved with an orthotic boot designed specifically for PF, or by using the Strassberg Sock.

However, use caution with PF boots and socks! Not widely communicated, you have to use these devices correctly according to your specific cause of PF. If your plantar is too tight, and you have a high arch, then you need to stretch everything from the back of the knee to the tips of your toes (the plantar and calf.) But if you have a falling arch, stretching a failed plantar will make your injury worse, not better. In this case, you need to work on your calf, which is pulling on your heel and elongating your failed plantar. In either case of PF, the calf must be stretched, and a PF boot or sock will do the job. But if the arch is failing, always use arch supports inside the device, or you will see marginal benefits.
As things improve, don’t stop long-gentle stretching, but do add other stretching. Still, longer stretches are better than shorter ones.
Stretching should be whole-body, but most importantly from the hips down – don’t neglect the IT bands or lower back muscles. The back should be evenly strengthened and stretched to make sure there are no imbalances. Even proper arm dynamics can affect your plantar.
If you have falling (low) arches, when you stretch your calf standing up, and this coincidentally stretches your arch, squeeze your arch muscles to avoid pulling on the plantar with much force. If your plantar is too tight, then you want to stretch the plantar. Just don’t stretch too hard or you’ll continue to aggravate and swell your PF.
Gurus of normal athletic stretching preach that in order for any stretch to do any good, you must hold it for at least 20 seconds. For PF therapy, though, you need to take this further. Stretches should be held for a minimum of 60 seconds. It’s even better to stretch in phases, spending 60 seconds with virtually no stretch, then move a bit further and hold another 60 seconds, move further…
Some therapists say that when you stretch, you get a good feeling in the stretched tissues. They say with PF recovery, this is actually a bad sign – you’ve stretched too far. You need to avoid going quite that far until you’re back running again on a regular basis.

Two calf stretches help. One stretches the upper calf and the other the lower calf. One calf stretch requires keeping the heel down while keeping the knee straight and leaning forward (increasing the angle of the ankle). The lower calf stretch starts in basically the same stance but requires that you keep your heel down while bending the knee forward. Doing the calf stretch wrong, and stretching too vigorously, can actually lead to PF. Your plantar isn’t supposed to stretch much – it’s supposed to stabilize your arch. If you do calf-stretches with a relaxed arch, and you pull too hard, it can damage the plantar, especially if you’re already in an over-trained state. Whether your plantar is too tight or too loose (failing), pulling on an aggravated and swelled plantar can be counter-productive, depending on the stage of recovery and type of PF being suffered. One type of stretching/recovery program isn’t correct for every type of PF. However, ice is the one universal and absolutely critical therapy for all types of PF.

Clinical treatments may include ultrasound, phonophoresis, neuroprobe, contrast baths, or cortosteroidal injections.
Phonophoresis is the use of ultrasound to push topical ointments into the skin. This sounds like gibberish. For one thing, your plantar is almost solid, with no blood vessels flowing through it. Most medical doctors will tell you it’s impossible to get topical ointments down below the dermis, no matter how hard you rub, poke, or even use ultrasound. But if it gives you psycho-emotional comfort, and it’s not a substitute for remedies that “work”, then go for it.
Acupuncture has been proven to increase circulation in certain areas. Even if you could get $20 acupuncture (not likely), PF takes so long to heal that you’d have to spend thousands of dollars over very many months to see even a small improvement, at best.
Acupuncture has also proven to reduce pain. If this works for you, you could try it.
Some acupuncturists use electric probes on their needles. This is an implementation of neuroprobe. Acupuncture works – make no mistake – but it works varying degrees on different people/injury-types. It’s up to you if the amount of money and time you sink into it has a worthy return-on-investment. I’ve never known acupuncture to hurt an injury – that’s the good news.
A “contrast bath” is when you ice your foot for 20 minutes, then warm it back up again, usually in hot water, and then you ice it again. Icing shuts down the swelling, but icing also causes such severe contractions that it squeezes out old fluid, like wringing out a sponge. Heating it back up again causes fresh, nutrient-rich fluid to flow back in. Icing it again wrings it out again. And finally it will warm up again on its own, again letting fresh fluid and nutrients in. The plantar itself is solid enough that the fluid will not have much benefit, but the reduction in swelling is good, the increased health of the surrounding tissues is good, and ice baths are free.
There is a lot of witch-doctory out there, old-wives-tales, snake-oils, and dim-witted or misled advice for PF. Beware.

Plantar Fasciitis, Part 3

If you develop PF on only one heel, then you probably are imbalanced, left-to-right. Having PF on only one side doesn’t necessarily prove that you have an imbalance left-to-right, but it does look suspicious and should be checked out. This may be a contributing cause of the specific case of PF.
If pain is too debilitating, soft padding and springy arch supports may provide relief. This may be necessary in the worst stages of PF, but it should be kept in mind that orthotic remedies are very similar to cushy running shoes which lead to PF in the first place. Use shoe and orthotic remedies with caution. If your arch has failed (past-tense) then you have no choice. You must rebuild the arch. Muscle strengthening alone will not be sufficient. You must use both strengthening and structural support. There’s not just plantar and muscle change that must take place. You must also reshape the cartilage of the arch. This is not a quick process, and can take four years of therapy in the worst cases. Without therapy, it simply will never go away. If pain ever goes away, it will be after scarring and arch failure, and the patient simply gets used to the failure. This type of failure means the natural mechanical benefits of the arch are forever gone.
The first part of your strategy should be to stop aggravating the injury. This may involve complete inactivity for a period of months.
Return to the basics of proper running mechanics. Develop proper “spring” and elasticity, and strengthen the muscles of the feet and ankles. Also practice proper weight transition through your stride, making sure your arms, body and legs – your entire center of gravity – are properly positioned at all phases of your stride. Foot muscles should be strengthened for shock absorption and smooth control, but the best shock absorption of all is “free elastic energy” response from limber, healthy stretched muscles and tendons.
Never over-stride. The foot should land directly beneath the center of gravity. The foot should have very short ground time. Long strides should be achieved through air-time, rather than leg reach. Improving natural bounce is essential to remaining injury-free.

Plantar Fasciitis, Part 2

Simply put, plantar fasciitis is caused when you stress your plantar beyond its structural strength. This is basically true of all injuries. Nothing breaks – or begins to break, tear, etc. – until you stress beyond its structural integrity. When you demand more from tissues than they can withstand, they begin to fail.
Much stress is accumulative – tissues normally develop tiny micro-tears, which heal quickly. The healthier the athlete, and the better their diet, the faster they heal. Still, if you don’t allow normal micro-tears to heal before stressing again, micro-tears become bigger tears, which take longer to heal, and scar-tissue accumulates, which is almost permanent and can lead to other injuries.

PF Cause...
There are numerous ways to develop PF, but all instances are caused by exceeding the strength of the plantar attachment and/or demanding more than the plantar can sustain.
Extremely weak, sedentary, and over-weight individuals have extremely weak muscles (which doesn’t allow proper shock absorption), and bad walking form. They often walk straight-kneed, landing on their heels, inflicting direct trauma to the plantar attachment area. When walking, this heel trauma is followed by shifting the weight forward, yanking on a relaxed plantar, surrounded by weak muscles that are doing nothing to help.
At the other extreme, athletes may be trying to conserve energy by relaxing as much as possible – including their arches – causing some atrophy of the foot muscles.
Modern shoes do an amazing job of making running easier, allowing bad foot-form while running. Minimal footwear normally causes discomfort over time and forces runners to use foot muscles to produce all bounce and shock absorption, but soft, springy shoes lead to laziness.
Athletes who are most likely to develop PF tend to be heavier than average, older than average, run many more miles than average, or a combination of these factors. People who specialize in downhill running put far more stress on their plantar fascia than people who specialize in uphill running.
It’s not necessarily that an athlete’s foot muscles are “weak”, but they are not strong enough in proportion to what is demanded.
With the popularity of ultra-running, and consecutive hundred-mile-weeks, coupled with modern running shoes, PF is more common than ever, even for skinny teen athletes.

Common symptoms of PF sufferers are very tight calf muscles, weak shin muscles (imbalanced with calf), weak or insufficiently strong foot muscles. Many suffer from cramping calf muscles during the PF development stage.
Falling arches tend to cause your ankles to sag inward and your toes to point outward (duck-footed) even if the heels are still pointed straight. Sagging ankles lead to over-pronation. Over-pronation may lead to PF, or falling arches may lead to over-pronation. Either one may cause the other. Not all these symptoms are experienced by all PF sufferers – it depends on what type (cause) of PF they have.
If your plantar is too tight, your toes may point straight or inward, and you might suffer from under-pronation. Under-pronation may lead to PF, or tight arches may lead to under-pronation. Either one may cause the other.

In “Brain Training for Runners” by Matt Fitzgerald, Tim Noakes, they say over-striders try to land softly. “Unfortunately, the softer you land, the more “free” elastic energy you waste, because it dissipates before you can reuse it. You transform yourself into a loose spring.”
Free elastic energy is a quick process, like a pogo stick. If you were on a pogo stick, and you tried to use your legs to lengthen the amount of time on the ground, you’d see the wasted affect. You’d actually expend more energy to accomplish less.
Fitzgerald and Noakes call the proper use of free elastic energy “ballistic action”, which is short and fast. “Many distance runners believe that the ideal pattern of muscle action during running is sustained and gentle. The idea is to use energy evenly throughout the stride, landing softly, staying relaxed, and avoiding wasteful “peaks” and “valleys” in muscle work. In reality, the best runners have a ballistic style of running.”
The fact is, even distance runners who are well aware of these principles often fail to properly implement them. They get tired after long hours, or they don’t rest/sleep enough, or they have other foot issues that keep them from being able to fully implement ballistic action.

Plantar Fasciitis, Part 1

Over the past 15 months, I've received more erroneous info on PF than beneficial. It has been enormously difficult to figure out the correct remedies for my own PF because there are too many one-type-of-PF mentalities out there and too many people dish out virtual absolutes about what you should do without realizing there are different collections of situations that lead to PF and therefore various proper therapies. One of the problems is I was given lots of advice that is correct - but wrong for my specific type of PF (falling/failing arch). I found lots of medical studies online, but none (not even specialist reports from sports orthopedic surgeons) describe all the various types of PF and various therapies like I have here. Yet all of my PF report has been gleaned from various reports and learned friends. There just isn't any single report that seems to have all of this in one place.
There have been a few times in the past many months when I figured I knew it all and my report would be accurate, but then I'd hear/see/read more that blew the problem into a more complicated mess. Again, i think I have it right, but these five reports are subject to change.
I hope this helps other people who have PF to get on-track immediately.

Definitions and diagnoses
Fascia is connective tissue. Its purpose is to keep your soft tissues positioned at the proper locations. The plantar fascia continuously elongates during the contact phase of gait. It goes through rapid elongation before and immediately after mid-stance, reaching a maximum of 9% - 12% elongation between mid-stance and toe-off. During this phase the plantar fascia behaves like a spring, which may assist in conserving energy. In addition, the plantar fascia has a critical role in normal mechanical function of the foot, contributing to the "windlass mechanism”; the plantar fascia being the cable, the metatarsal head the drum, and the handle, the proximal phalanx. Plantar fascia is not a muscle, not a tendon.

Muscles are dynamic cells which can actively change length.
Tendons are elastic tissues which connect muscle to bone.
Ligaments connect bones to each other, most importantly at joints. Ligaments are meant to limit the range of motion to keep joints inside the optimal range of structural integrity.
Fascia most often connects soft tissue to soft tissue, but some fascia connects bone to bone, such as the plantar fascia. The difference between ligaments and fascia is that ligaments have no mechanical roles. Ligaments bend, flex, and stretch a minimal amount. Fascia is meant to stretch even less. The role of the plantar fascia is similar to a hoist-cable on a crane, but inverted.

There are generally two causes of PF, but one way can be divided two different ways. One is blunt-trauma; the other two are from the plantar tearing. Tearing can be caused by over-stretching (low and falling arches), or it can be caused by tightness (arches that are too high), which may or may not then lead to falling arches.

Plantar fasciitis (PF) can be the first stage of “falling of the arches”. The plantar starts to tear, usually from one of the attachments, and most commonly from the heel.

Some misdiagnoses occur when other injuries nearby are mistaken for PF.
Sometimes, rather than the plantar tearing off the heel, they develop fractures near the plantar attachment.
Enthesitis (Inflammation Where the Ligaments Attach to the Bone)
Inflammation of the enthesis, where the joint capsules, ligaments or tendons attach to the bone, is a hallmark of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). This can be felt in multiple areas of the body where your doctor can check for pain and tenderness. The sites are sometimes referred to as "hot-spots." They can lead to swelling and tenderness along the back, pelvic bones sacroiliac joints, the chest, and the heel. The heel can be significantly affected, in which case the pain and tenderness can have a serious impact on a person's mobility. The two areas of the foot that can be affected are the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel, and the plantar fascia at the base of the heel. Reiter's syndrome is part of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These two are not sport-injuries, but chronic conditions.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jim Romero's 70th

Jim Romero's 70th - interviewed on the news
The link above is about Jim Romero's 70th birthday. Jim is one of the original inspiring people I ran with who helped me lose my mind and decide to run ultras. Okay, so I had already previously lost my mind in many ways, but Jim helped me lose it in an additional way.

He is an amazing, positive, warm, and caring soul. He doesn't simply inspire to run, but to live more fully. Yet he never lives his own life more-fully at the expense of others. He places family first, in all things.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Second Opinion

I was told by a sports orthopedic surgeon that I don't need surgery. Also, the latest x-rays show two things... The sock I've been cramming in my armpit to help pry the crack shut works. But... so much of the jagged edges started filling in over the first three weeks that the crack can never fully close.

Now that the two halves can contact each other, they can fuse, but it also means more pain. There's still almost no pain, which kind of freaks me out. No pain meds necessary. I hated them - so hard to wake up the next day.

He told me to join a gym and use the bike - a lot.
Wear the sling for 10 weeks. Already done it 3 so 7 to go.
I can run in 5 weeks on flat terrain. Trails are another matter. I can't afford to fall hard again. In fact, that means no Aspen Golden Leaf in late September. But mild trails in 8 weeks. So trail running is going to be hard to do this summer.

Meanwhile, I'm posting the Denver Trail Runner Thursday runs this month, even though I can't actually run them. I've been getting some walking in, though. We were at Apex Park. It rained. Everything is lush and green this time of year. Sage and everything else was growing so fast you could almost see it squirting out of the ground. And the scent! Man, right after rain, with the sage and everything, it is the best smell in the world!

I had my son help me replace the radiator in my old CR-V. Although the radiator is good as new, there's still a long list of things to fix. He wants to learn to be an auto mechanic when he graduates in a year. Let's see if he's still interested after busting his knuckles on stubborn bolts, etc. It's enough to make you real religious. Why, I talk in tongues all the time, when I work on cars.
- replace windshield
- fix the shorted-out electrical system that drains the battery dead in 3 days
- fix the gimpy moonroof
My Subaru Forester has lots of great luxuries, not the least is that everything works. The moonroof is HUGE!!! The stereo kicks pooster. But considering the design and engineering functionality, nothing will ever beat the old CR-V design. Everything is slightly better than the Subaru, if only it weren't so old and broken-down. Too bad Honda abandoned the great old design and basically turned the CR-V into a miniature mini-van in 2002.

In spite of lots of BS at work, and my broken arm, and my broken-down CR-V and drained bank account from buying the Forester, I'm very happy and contented these days. Very happy. This is an awesome country to live in. If only we wouldn't destroy the ocean, and others stupid stuff, but I do appreciate freedom, and that the average American really cares, even if they don't agree with each other and bicker about it. At least we can bicker about it without worrying about being sent to prison for subversion. I can go to work without worrying about being hit by a bullet or getting blown up.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Well, not quite. I still have the CR-V, but I also have a 2006 Subaru Forester XT.
I like Honda, but the newer CR-Vs don't have the right rear seat design to fold flat for sleeping.
Nothing beats a Jeep Cherokee rear for flat and spacious, but their mpg sucks.
Ford Escapes, well, they're Fords. Otherwise, the rear design is good.
I might have found a more satisfying vehicle, but I've been searching with what very little free time I have, and this one seemed okay for the price. It lacks the ground clearance I prefer, and the power will take some getting used to. But the back is big enough and flat enough to bed me down before and after races (if I'll ever stop jacking myself !up! and can get back to it).
The old CR-V will get worked on by my son and myself. Maybe he'll drive it a while, or maybe I'll park it at Goodwill like I did the last one.
But at least I'm not marooned in town anymore.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Exo-skeleton

I got tired of not getting any sleep, and the lack of stability, so I made a cast out of 1/2" foam, Velcro, a cinch strap, and some duct tape. Voila! A redneck shoulder cast!

First step is to wrap my bicep in Ace bandage, and put on a short-sleeve shirt.

Then I cinch up my strap-on! (tehehe)

Then slip my sling on over the bottom of the foam cast.

Finally, over all that goes an additional shirt (with my arm inside) to help plaster it all a little more firmly in place. Usually a sleeveless running jersey works best.

During the days, however, the bones just keep moving around. I doubt the broken bones have even begun to heal.

And during all this, my old CR-V has died, so I'm walking and taking Lightrail. Kind of hard to shop a new car, get to doctor appointments, etc. Friday, it boiled-off an entire radiator full in three miles of uphill driving. Fill it and its empty in three more miles. Downhill, I drove 20 miles back home without having to stop. The radiator fans weren't working, but when I tried to fix them, they mysteriously started working again, before I could find a problem. I wasted all of Memorial Day putting a temporary epoxy patch on my radiator leak.

So no spare time in my life these days. Hoping my CR-V will get me to the dealership tomorrow to look at a 2006 Subaru Forester.