Tinsel on the tree

We decided not to decorate the house for Christmas this year. KK was headed to Brizzy on business, my leg was in a moon boot. The jolly feeling just wasn’t there and it felt like more of a schlep than anything else.

But I kinda regret that now. Since my nasty visit to the hospital last week, my condition has improved 100%!

Two visits to the physio confirm that my ankle has healed nicely! In fact, my healing timeline is ahead of schedule! I was originally meant to be out of the moon boot only around 22nd December. But guess what? I’m ready to kick it off and walk in an ankle brace! Forced bed rest was actually a good thing!

The strengthening homework has started: stretches using the band, standing on a pillow while someone throws a ball at me and balancing on each leg.

My physiotherapist, Shelagh, also gave me some mental homework. To walk in the garden.

I haven’t stepped out into the garden since my accident. I’m terrified. That’s where the accident happened. I’ve been too afraid in case I step wrong again. So this morning, I walked out onto the patio and sat on the step. I touched the grass. The birds were chirping like mad and excited to see me. It felt good! *deep breaths*

Christmas is a time of presents, family and gammon. But the main message of Christmas is life; the story of the birth of Christ. The gift of truth, love and hope.

I’ve come through a dark patch but there is light on the other side. The healing has begun and there are so many reasons to celebrate and be happy!

Tomorrow I just might walk out onto the grass. And maybe put the Christmas tree up, tinsel and all. I’m feeling kinda jolly!

Tips for treating that dreaded Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries among athletes, affecting approximately 10% of runners at least once during their lives. It sparks fear in most runners because it’s a stubborn injury that can take weeks, even months to heal.

When I was struck down by plantar fasciitis (a little dramatic, I admit), I started to do everything I could to treat it. And I mean everything! Here’s my top 5 treatments:

Plantar Fasciitis treatment

1. I changed my running shoes from Asics to New Balance. Best decision ever to follow the advice of an Orthotist. The tests he performed were so interesting and have made a huge difference. My NB’s are so comfortable.

2. One of my Running Junkie mates recommended the FS6 foot sleeves from Hunt Orthopaedics. These compression socks are designed specifically for sufferers of plantar fasciitis. I wear the sock around the house or whenever I don’t have shoes on.

3. I bought the B4Play ball from Sportsman’s Warehouse. This gadget ties itself around your ankle so while you watch TV, you can comfortably do your exercises with no hassle at all. The best part is that it’s designed specifically to treat plantar fasciitis.

4. This photo is me as a baby, crying. I still enjoy a good, ugly cry. But whatever you do, you need to deal with the frustration that a stubborn injury brings. It demands patience. Plantar fasciitis is a debilitating injury that can take months and even years to go away. For a runner, it’s a death sentence but be patient. Try something else while you wait. I tried hot yoga at the gym and it’s fabulous!

5. Physiotherapist & friend Francis hooked me up with a Strassburg sock. I sleep with it every night religiously and for me, it has made the biggest difference. The compression part irritates me & sometimes I will pull the sock off in the early hours of the morning in my sleep, but it works. I’ll say that again. It works!

6. Calf stretching & massages. My bio Mari alerted me to new research in the beginning & I’ve been disciplined in following her stretching program. It’s worth the read.

There’s a whole range of other treatments which I haven’t even begun to explore yet. Needling, taping, electroshock therapy. The list is endless. What have you tried that’s worked for you?

It’s been almost 6 months since I started treating my stubborn heel. Six difficult and long months. It’s taught me an incredibly valuable lesson in patience. It’s forced me to stop and rest. I think out of everything, for me as a runner, that’s been the hardest part. But it’s humbled me. I long to be out there, running pain free. The time is coming. The foot is healing. Eventually!

I’ll keep you posted!

I took a gamble on Om Die Dam & it paid off

My foot is still not better. Even though I’ve been quite obsessive with all the treatments, socks, granny shoes, massaging and exercises, it still aches. I was about to surrender my Two Oceans half marathon entry but then spotted on KK’s training program that he was running the Om Die Dam (ODD) 50km race. It got me scheming…

  • I had not run a 21km race since last year’s Two Oceans half marathon
  • I need to run a 21km race for this year’s Two Oceans half marathon
  • If I get halfway and struggle with my foot, I can walk to the end. Time on feet, right?
  • The race has a 4-hour cutoff for the half. Ample time!

So off we drove to Harties early Saturday morning. We haven’t run ODD for a couple of years. The congested traffic, the crowds, KK wasn’t running many ultras. It was a race we rather avoided. This year was different. Parking 100ms from the start, well-organised and 24/hr manned spotless port-a-loos in every corner. Always a good sign.

KK and I split up before the start. He wanted to slip into his starting pen early, I wanted to take my time lubing up and getting into ‘the zone’. I had not set a goal time. I was hoping to run under 3:10 but had no idea how under-trained I was. Perhaps 3:20 was more realistic?

My half marathon time ranges between 2:44 and 3:15. But this was the first time I had taken such a long break, focusing instead on 10km distances. Would it come back to bite me? I was also unsure if I would undo months of resting & care of my foot. Only one way to find out. *stupid thinking*

Mentally I had done my homework. In the days leading up to the race, I had envisioned running the distance. I wrote down a few positive statements on my pacing chart that I planned to whip out & read when I hit the dark patches en route. I was ready.

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The fish eagle crowed (the start gun!) and off we ran. I had bumped into friends, Billy & Christa, at the start of the race & when she mentioned that she wanted to run 3 hours, I thought, “Okay Bron, stick with them.” But soon found this to be impossible.

In the first few km’s their pace was too fast. I was struggling. I desperately wanted to keep up with them thinking that if Comrades race veteran Billy was pacing, I’d be fine. But they slipped further and further away. Getting to that finish line was all in my hands now.

I slowed down to a more comfortable pace and looked around, trying to take my mind off the run. I had completed 7kms in 1 hour. Was this too fast? Typically, if I can run 7kms every hour, I make the 3-hour cutoff gun. I was on track. I was confident. Was I overly confident? Perhaps. Definitely. I was over-thinking.

Just as I was about to pull out my pacing chart, a friendly face popped up alongside me. My ex-colleague and friend, Thiren. We started chatting away and it was just what I need to take my mind off the run as we neared the 14km mark. 2 hours had passed.

It’s quite amazing what the body can achieve if the mind believes and I declared to Thiren that we would make 3 hours if we pushed ourselves. I started to see that finish line! He was struggling with calf pain and managed to run to the 18km mark together before he trailed off.

I wasn’t done yet. I felt fantastic. I was strong. Hurting, but still strong. As I reached the 19km mark, I spotted Billy’s familiar white Comrades cap. I had caught them! What joy! I was thrilled that we had both achieved the goals we had set out at the start. It was 3 hours.

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I crossed the finish line, elated! My foot had survived. It wasn’t sore (YET! The afternoon was hell). But my mind had achieved what I needed it to do – believe that I could manage the distance. The body explodes with feel-good hormones when you finish a race. The best part is that this feeling lingers for quite some time afterwards…and boy was I happy!

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Two Oceans, here we come!

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My tips on buying running shoes

Before I start, let me admit that I am by no means an expert! But what I do know is that when you’re frustrated week after week and unable to run because of a foot injury, you do whatever it takes to find a solution.

This has been my action plan so far: I returned for regular sessions with my bio, Mari. She issued me with a training program to strengthen my weak hamstrings, glutes, back etc. I was sent to an orthotist to have my feet analysed. And he instructed me to buy new shoes. All in all, I have a pretty good idea of why my foot aches and what I need to do to recover.

There were some surprises along the way. Stories from runners, learnings from physiotherapists and reviews on many running websites all seem to say the same thing.

Here’s my tips from what I know:

  • Don’t buy the same shoe year after year after year. *guilty* The manufacturers make tweaks here & there and sometimes it changes the shoe completely. I recall that when KK had foot injuries, he was also advised to change from Nike Pegasus. Apparently the shoe design had been revolutionised and didn’t suit KK anymore.

Take a look at the comparison of the Gel Nimbus 16 next to the Gel Nimbus 18 in the pic below. Different, right?img_6341

  • Don’t buy a men’s shoe just because you’re looking for a wider fit. *guilty* See how wide the Nimbus 18 above looks? Stupid me for not realising that Asics were so narrow. Look at how wide the New Balance 1080 appear! img_6365
  • Buying running shoes from a specialist sports shop such as Sweatshop is better than Sportsman’s Warehouse. But running up and down that 20 meter lane while the salesman watches you run didn’t help me. My advice is to rather have a podiatrist or orthotist do a proper assessment of your gait and feet.
  • I was instructed to look for stability shoes with a cushioned heel and cushioned feet and to avoid anti-pronation. Huh? How the hell would I find this combo? When I gave the specs to the salesman, he didn’t even flinch. Instead he brought out boxes for all the major shoe brands for me to try on.
  • Mari also recommends the Running Warehouse website where you can do all sorts of comparisons based on specs such as pronation control, stack height and even weight.

What have I missed?

The exercises and stretching continues and some days I wake up thinking I’m fine, just to feel that stabbing pain in my heel ruin my entire day. If anything, it has taught me patience and the importance of resting. Not less running. NO running. It’s been tough.

Hey, if you’re buying new shoes soon, send me a pic!