Evening 5K and some extra miles

I went out pretty fast in the 5K this evening. At the 1 mile marker, a lady was yelling out times, and mine was 5:49. Uh oh. Yeah, too fast. Naturally, I couldn’t keep up that kind of pace, and I finished in 21:01. Still good enough for 2nd in my age group. I even got a nice little framed certificate:

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After I got home, I went out and did an extra 6 miles in preparation for the 10 miler this weekend. Man, I’m starving right now.

Be proud of your runs

Today’s run was a short little 2 and a half miler. The point of it was to just warm up a little and then do some strides to get the legs turning over more quickly. In case you didn’t know, strides are short segments at a much faster but not quite 100% effort pace. In addition to getting you used to going at a faster pace, they supposedly help clear the legs of lactic acid. I have a 5K tomorrow, so going faster and clearing junk from my legs might be helpful.

A run like this feels kind of like a letdown after several days of runs 7 miles or longer. But the fact is, every run is worthwhile and something to be proud of. Even those crummy runs in which you end up walking a lot or cutting short because you just don’t feel good. I always feel a sense of accomplishment and a bit of pride after every run, especially when I realize that even a bad run is probably a better use of time than what I might have been doing otherwise.

I’m even proud after races that don’t go quite as planned. I’m a little nervous about tomorrow’s race, because I don’t think I’m in great shape. But when I get to the finish, whether I end up near the front of the pack, or much further back, I’ll still feel the same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I always do. Maybe it comes down to the fact that I get the same release of feel-good endorphins no matter the outcome. Whatever the reason, I just like it.

Any thoughts?

One of the features of this blog is that it allows me to see how many views I am getting, and from where the views are coming. The past few days, I’ve gotten more views than usual, and from many different countries.

Curiously, I seem to be getting no comments these days. It would be interesting to hear some input from readers. Find anything interesting? Think I’m completely wrong about some things? Let me know, if you feel so inclined.

As far as my running, it seems the more I do it, the better I feel. Two days in a row of nine mile runs. I’m trying to build up my fitness for upcoming races. I still have a ways to go yet, but everything feels good. Including the bunion! I’m telling you, that Correct Toes thing works.

Correct Toes definitely working to relieve bunion pain

Today I ran 9 miles in a shoe which normally gives me problems, the Saucony A5, which is a tight-fitting racing flat. I had removed the insoles from the shoes to give my feet more room inside, but the bunion on my left foot would still rub the inside of the shoe and hurt a little for several miles until I warmed up.

I felt so confident that the Correct Toes are working that I put the insoles back in today and laced the shoes up tight. There was nary a complaint from my left foot. I never felt my bunion once during the entire 9 miles. I would say that’s a ringing endorsement for this product.

I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet this device would help problems further up the legs that are caused by the hallux valgus deformity (big toe pointing out toward the other toes).

Relax!

A big part of efficient and pain-free running is being relaxed. Tension can cause us to use more effort than necessary, resulting in fatigue and possible injury.

One place where recreational runners tend to carry tension is in the face. How often have you seen casual joggers with scrunched-up, pained expressions on their faces? Perhaps you do this yourself. I know I have. Let’s face it, there are some days you might not feel like running. This sort of attitude may then show outwardly in the expression on your face.

Elite runners, on the other hand, tend to have a slack, impassive sort of expression on their face for most of the race. Of course, near the end, when they are giving it all they have, they may look like they are struggling some, but for the most part their faces remain relaxed. Here are a couple of great American runners, Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenhein showing what I’m talking about:

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During your next run, try to be aware of this. Allow your face to go slack, let your mouth hang open a bit and especially relax your eyes, letting your gaze fall down toward the ground 10-15 ft or so ahead of you. You may notice that this relaxation in your face then spreads down to the rest of your body, making your run much easier and more enjoyable.

Correcting a deformity and eliminating bunion pain

When I started running more seriously almost two years ago now, I noticed that I favored some shoes over others because of the way they fit. Many running shoes rubbed the top of the large joint at the base of my big toe, but only on the left foot. I didn’t think much of it–I just assumed I was slightly asymmetrical and had a larger knuckle on that toe. For this reason, I’ve always preferred shoes that are wide and roomy in the forefoot. 

This has limited, somewhat, the number of shoes I can comfortably wear. I also noticed over time, that shoes which were once comfortable now caused a little tenderness in that spot I mentioned.

I’ve made it clear on this blog that injury prevention is a top priority of mine. I never considered this an injury, but it became apparent that this issue needed attention. That spot had grown increasingly irritated, and was certainly not resolving itself.

In looking at my feet, I noticed that the big toe on my left foot turned outward toward the other toes more than the big toe on the right. I learned that this deformity is known as hallux valgus, and often leads to bunions. It turns out that the sensitive spot on my foot is a dorsal bunion, and it has probably been developing for years. In this picture, you can see how my feet differ, and you can even see the red area where my bunion is:

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There are products you can buy to help this problem, and one of them is called Correct Toes. It’s a toe spacer device made of soft medical-grade silicone. This device separates all of the toes on one foot, but when I bought mine, I cut off all of the spacers but the first two, because I didn’t see any need for separating my pinky toe and the one next to it. Here’s a picture so you can see what I’m talking about:

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As you can see by comparing this picture to the other one, the position of my big toe on my left more closely resembles my right. After wearing this for several days (during runs and during the day doing normal stuff in addition to when I sleep) I can say that the pain in my bunion is almost gone. Shoes which once caused a problem in that spot do not hurt now. You can still see some redness in that area, but I expect that spot will always be a bit tender after years of living with this condition. I’m hoping that after I wear this thing for a while, my left big toe will stay in the new position on its own. Already, I had to kind of wiggle my toes around a little to get them to adopt the position you see in the first photo.

Anyway, I highly recommend this product if you have a similar issue with your feet.

Rotating shoes to reduce injury

I’ve touched on this topic before, but I want to talk about it again in a little more detail.

In addition to improving our form, changing our footwear helps us avoid injury. I never wear the same pair of shoes twice in a row. I have several pairs of shoes (mainly minimalist shoes or racing flats, of course) most of which I purchased at a deep discount from such place as runningwarehouse.com and runningshoes.com. If you wait long enough, chances are a pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on will eventually be marked down to make room for a newer model.

I suppose that changing shoes every day changes our gait a tiny bit and perhaps changes the way our foot strikes the ground. This seems to keep the legs from getting into a “rut” and I think has been one of the reasons I haven’t been injured. I even have a couple of pairs with a more elevated heel and more cushioning that I’ve thrown into the mix. Running in minimal, low drop shoes can eventually take its toll on your calf muscles, so more cushioned shoes with a higher heel give these muscles a break.

It seems that running often becomes more about managing injuries than anything else. I have truly enjoyed the challenge of finding a way to do this a lot without being in pain. Some may say that running 30-50 or so miles a week isn’t very much. Well, it’s certainly a lot for someone who used to think running 4 miles was an epic distance. There are many who run far less and still get injured. I’m convinced that having many pairs of running shoes is an important (and easy!) way to stay injury-free.