I had a setback this week in my preparations for the Hartford half marathon. I did a seven-mile run on Sat 1-Sep. The first two miles were run under threatening clouds; the middle three had steady rain the whole time; the last two were sun-lit. My feet were very tired when I was done, but everything else felt fine.
The following Monday was the Labor Day holiday from work. The remnants of Hurricane Issac threatened us with rain for most of the week, so I decided to forego the rest day and do a four-mile run. I felt okay, which was good considering the long mileage I'd logged just two days before. I can't recall now if I stepped on something and felt a twinge in my left foot. But I wasn't concerned when I done.
I woke up the next morning and felt a lot of pain between the balls of my left foot. It was sore enough and in a spot where I feared a stress fracture at first. I put the thought out of my mind, because there wasn't any swelling. But the pain was sufficient to persuade me to take a break and stay off the road.
I consulted with a number of people about it. I have two daughters who are familiar with such things. My oldest is preparing for her third marathon next month. She got ready last Saturday by running a half marathon in 1:35. The two girls ran 18 miles together a couple of weeks ago, so they know something about running and the injuries that go along with it. Both counseled patience; all I needed was rest and exercises. I got some suggestions for exercises that were sobering. I did calf raises with my heel hanging over a stair that showed my left foot to be dramatically weaker than my right. I have to pay more attention to those. I've done yoga for five years now, but I think I'll have to redouble my efforts. Hips, knees, calves, Achilles, feet - all are connected. My left side is markedly stiffer than my right. A daily morning yoga session before work is an order.
A co-worker steered me to Fleet Feet in West Hartford. I knew that my minimal shoes were due to be replaced; I bought them last year on 22-Oct. The soles are worn away. I picked up a beautiful new pair of blue shoes and a green "Rubz" ball to roll out the knots in my feet. Damn, but that thing hurts! My left arch is in agony when I start using it. The pain subsides after a few minutes, but I'm very tender there. I'll have to be diligent about using the ball, too.
Conditions outside are spectacular today, so I decided to hit the road for a three-mile jaunt in my new shoes to see how my feet would hold up. I warmed up with 30 minutes of yoga, rolling out the knots with the ball, and some strengthening exercises. My times weren't impressive - they haven't been all along - but my feet withstood the road without a problem. They're tired, but there's no pain - until I step on that damned ball.
I've lost a week, but I don't think that's the end of the journey. I'm still hoping to run the half in a month. I'll know better after my next long run on Saturday.