Let’s talk injuries…

The mind is a wonderful thing, it can be wildly constructive and lead to wonderful things and it can be just as destructive at the same time.

Back in July, after counting up my monthly miles, I had it in my head that I could hit triple digits. Heck, I was following loads of people on social media hitting 100+ mile months and if everyone’s doing it…

So in August I hit my goal of 100 miles ran in a month (110 to be exact), I felt great and unstoppable. Every day I was lacing up and heading out on 4 to 5 miles of pure running joy. I felt little to no pain or soreness, life was great.

Plantar Fasciitis, almost every runner that I know has had to deal with plantar fasciitis. It’s par for the course if you ask me. If you haven’t suffered from it, consider yourself lucky. I was able to identify the problem early and was able to treat it with a series of proactive stretches and massage. Remember that plantar fasciitis is the symptom, you need to treat the cause.

Treatment:

Stretches: SmashWeRX on YouTube, this series of stretches will help you prevent and treat your plantar fasciitis injury.

Self-Massage: Dr. Bruce has a video on an awesome technique and if done consistently I have found it has almost an immediate effect.

Stress Fractures, September rolled around and I was determined to hit my goal of triple digits again. And so every day I put on my trust shoes and out the door I ran. I noticed a twinge of pain in my left shin, but ignored it. After a mile or so, the pain would subside and it was easy to put the pain behind me.

By the end of the month my 100 mile goal was in sight, but my motivation started to dwindle. My mornings became a little harder to get going as well. I now would wake up to what felt like a bruised shin on my left leg. I could put weight in my leg without issue, but just the impact with the ground while walking would cause me to hobble. I would foam roll my legs, but as soon as I would hit a pinpoint spot on my shin, shooting pain would stab through my leg. And as the sun slept in and would rise later and later it started to take more coaxing to get out of bed. After much internet research, denial, and eventually seeking outside advice I have come to the conclusion that drastically increasing my monthly mileage lead to hairline fractures on both of my legs.

How to identify stress fractures:

I caution anyone looking to increase mileage to not exceed an increase of more than 10% each month. Treatment is no running for 6-8 weeks, and I would strongly suggest seeking the advice of a medical professional.

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Book Review: Running with Raven

I’ve read my share of running books, some deal with addiction, overcoming tragedy, tales of endurance, fighting demons within… all of them captivating in their own way.  And all they have their place on my bookshelf, especially “Running with Raven” by Laura Lee Huttenbach aka White Lightning.

I couldn’t put this book down.  I know I’ve heard people say this and I have used this lightly in the past, but I literally carried this book with me and just could not stop myself.

“Running with Raven” is wonderfully unique.

Without giving too much of the entire biography away, the gist of the book is about Robert “Raven” Kraft, a dedicated runner who faithfully logs 8 miles every evening in South Beach Miami. Raven is a wonderfully colorful character that embodies all that is good in the world and in the running community. His commitment to the run gives new meaning to the “standing up for what you believe in” mantra. Reading this book riles your senses and you’ll find yourself believing in, and rooting for, Raven.

Runners who join Raven and run the 8 miles become a part of his story, it’s almost therapeutic reading of Raven’s empathy toward others as well as his remarkable memory of other runners birthdays, nicknames, and little details only a true friend would know. As much as Raven remembers about them, they too bring Raven into their lives and make him a part of their story. Running the 8 miles with Raven earns you Robert’s friendship and a nickname: your place in the Raven Run history – A rite of passage and badge of honor in the Raven Community.

The book has a documentary feel and draws you in as you learn about Raven and those that join him. Raven has touched the lives of many, and has inspired thousands. The book details all aspects of Raven’s life, so much so, that you almost feel as if your sitting on the couch right there with Robert as he shares his life’s story. You learn everyone’s story as Raven rattles off every detail of those that have earned their nickname.

Once the book was complete, I felt inspired and even reflected on my own running journey. Everyone is going through something, this book reminds me that running solves almost anything. Even though the book ended, Raven’s story continues to this day. Oddly enough, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to know if Raven was still out there, faithfully running everyday. I wanted to know if the legend continues.

Raven recently “followed” me on Instagram and although I question the validity of the account it seems legit. Check out @ravenrunsouthbeach but maybe not after you read this awesome book!

September Miles! Triple Digits

Welp, I did it again! I got my monthly goal of 100+ miles in a month… and it feels awesome. It might seem like I’m going backward, but October I’m going to reel things back and reduce my mileage.

And here’s why.

As you can imagine, after increasing my average monthly mileage from 70 to 100 miles, I was bound to find new injuries along the way.  Calm down Uncle Jim, my knees are fine – what I did discover:

I was having issues with tenderness in my plantar fascia.  Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common ailment among runners and easily treatable.  I won’t go into all of the details (Google is your friend), but I found my heels and arches were often sore following a long run. After a quick YouTube search, I was able to pinpoint that the issue is in the calf-muscles and not properly stretching AFTER my runs.

I found that giving myself a somewhat painful and deep tissue massage along my calves and plantar fascia, I was able to reduce and relieve the pain.  Also, foam rolling after runs has helped drastically reduce soreness and tenderness.

Second, I’ve been experiencing some tenderness in my lower left shin, almost like a wicked bruise that won’t go away.  I’m not sure if this is a stress fracture on my lower leg, or if a tendon is just bruised and needs to heal. Either way, I’m taking it easy to hopefully not exacerbate any injuries, I don’t want to take any chances.  Also, I don’t know how to describe exactly what I’m feeling other than the pain is similar to a bruise.  I don’t experience pain when I walk or put weight on my leg, so it doesn’t seem like a fracture is an issue, again just soreness.

The Hershey Half Marathon next weekend, and for the most part, I have only logged 18 miles in the last 11 days.  This upcoming week (before the half marathon) I’m not going to run at all, maybe a slight jog around the neighborhood – like I said, I just want to take it easy.

Hershey Half Marathon

Only 40 days away from one of my favorite races: The Hershey Half Marathon! If you have never run this race, it’s one you should totally consider. It was my submission for The BibRave 100.

The course has rolling hills, and traverses the Hershey area- you’ll take in sites of the theme park (as you run through it) onto the cozy side streets that make up the town, and right through the Milton Hershey School dorms where the students cheer you on with nothing but positive amped up energy.

Trust me, it’s an amazing experience- plus the medals and swag each year are pretty awesome.

Training has already begun- ish. Basically, the plan of attack is this:

1. Increase monthly mileage throughout August and September (which I’m on track as far as that goes). The goal is to just get in more running time on my feet and follow this up with…

2. Incorporate one 13+ mile long per week by mid-September into October.

I’m trying to condition my body to run 4 miles every day and then sneak in a Half Marathon once a week to prepare for the distance. Every year I end up sabotaging myself by not getting in those long runs and conditioning myself for the 2 hours I’ll be on my feet.

I’ll do this up to the week before the race, rest for a day or two, maybe run some low mileage runs but give myself a little break before the race.

The goal this year is to finish right at 2 hours, or less. As long as I beat my previous years, I’ll be happy with that.

Asking for a friend: Double or Single Knots?

A recent Facebook poll on my favorite Running group asked if we preferred double, or single knots on our running shoes. The results are a mixed bag, with a few write-ins for Velcro (I’m not sure if they are serious), Lace-locks, and bungees.

I’m a little torn b/c I’m an in-between kinda guy, maybe not in the Velcro. Okay, I realize that was joke, but still. Allow me to explain- it all boils down to the shoe laces.

**SCIENCE ALERT! What follows is a highly scientific and comprehensive review, I am a professional, do not try this at home, results will vary!**

My Brooks Launch 4’s laces are perfect for a single knot, they are semi-round /oval, soft with reinforced ridged edges. The laces don’t stretch or flex very much, but there’s enough give that they hold a knot very well. When tied correctly, a single knot will suffice for all activities.

Using my extensive and highly scientific methods of measurement we see that the shoelace has approximately a 5/16″ stretch for every 6″ of shoelace. This is not sponsored or endorsed by Lowes.

My Hoka Bondi 4’s laces are complete garbage (sorry Hoka) I would double knot those bad boys only to have them fall apart – even when tied correctly! I gave up on those solid ridged laces and replaced them with iBungee laces. The bungee laces have treated me very well and I actually feel like my feet breath a little better.

No stretch test- it’s bungee folks. Don’t get carried away.

My Merrell Agility’s are a double knot kinda of shoe. The laces are flat with no hard ridges, single knots seem to slip up too easily because they stretch a fair amount while running. Plus, when it comes to trail running, I’ll take the added assurance of a double knot.

Again, utilizing extensive and highly scientific methods of measurement we see that the shoelace has approximately a 13/16″ stretch for every 6″ of shoelace.

My Mizuno Wave Rider’s laces are round, super soft, super stretchy, and yet hold a perfect knot. I have these tied in a lace lock fashion, so I’m sure that is an added bonus.

Using my extensive method of measurement we see that the shoelace has approximately a 1-3/8″ stretch for every 6″ of shoelace.

My New Balance 880’s have a flat shoelace with a center reinforced stitch. These laces hold a single knot extremely well, and have very little to no stretch. No stretch has its drawbacks especially if you tie them too tight.

Finally, using my highly scientific method of measurement we see that the shoelace has approximately a 1/4″ stretch for every 6″ of shoelace.

iCare 5k

Every year a nearby food bank hosts a 5k almost in our backyard. Blessings of Hope has a huge yard sale, auction, food vendors, activities for kids, and of course a 5k race in beautiful Lancaster County. The company is predominantly Mennonite so it attracts the local Amish and Mennonite community at large. Turn out is always HUGE.

This year the 5k drew a much larger crowd as well. The course was the same as the previous year, a nice easy run on the back roads of Amish Country. There is a slight incline, at the very start, but for the most part it’s nothing too crazy and very runner friendly.

At the very beginning I noticed a lot of kids hanging around the starting line- in fact there were a lot of kids and I thought how fun it will be to blow past them at the half way mark. The announcer’s voice boomed over the handheld speaker as she yelled “GO!” and we were off. Truth be told: those Amish kids took off and I didn’t see a single one after that. Even though my first mile was complete in 7 minutes, and my second mile at 7:20, those kids were fast and long gone.

The course was beautiful as always, and the atmosphere and iCare event was a lovely experience. Even though I hit a few PRs, fastest mile (7:11), fastest 2 miles (14:31), I still finished 25th overall. I placed 3rd in my age group and received a fidget spinner medal- all-in-all, it was pretty fun.

Last year I ran a lot slower, with an average of 9:00 min/miles and placed 2nd in my age group. So this year I’d say the amount of competitors was a lot higher and the skill levels were just as high to match. This is a fast course and we saw some really fast times! Looking forward to next year!

It’s a GIVEAWAY! (kinda)

Honey Stinger Fans rejoice, I have coupon codes worth 37% off your total order when you buy all your favorites from http://www.HoneyStinger.com!  This is a one-time coupon, to be used at checkout, for 37% off your entire order so STOCK UP!

I’ve given away one coupon code to one of my amazing Instagram followers, and he’s also a pretty cool dude to boot, for correctly guessing the make of my car (Subaru). That leaves me with two remaining coupon codes left to share with the masses!  So if you aren’t following me on the Instagrams, I suggest you do, have a look at my latest post and keep those guessing rolling in!

Official rules:
1. Enter code at checkout to receive 37% off
2. Codes good for orders on honeystinger.com only
3. Codes valid for non-Hive athletes only
4. Codes must be used before April 1st, 2018