PTTD…not to be confused with PTSD

While i feel, at times, like i’m suffering from PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder- from my run 1 year ago, when i almost had to crawl from miles 3 to 5 to get to the car on what was supposed to be a 10 mile run, i’m not. I’m actually suffering from PTTD- posterior tibial tendonitis dysfunction. Well now, that’s a mouth full.

PTTD is a fancy way of saying that i have screwed up feet. I haven’t always had screwed up feet. I used to love my feet. Now my feet are nothing but sources of pain and reasons that wearing open toed shoes is not easy (hence the missing toenail in the picture above!). Apparently last fall when i was having awful pain in my arches after my runs, i should have paid more attention. I just assumed that i was compensating for my stress fracture and had probably changed my form up a little. That’s probably the case but it was also my body sending me some warning signals.

Believe it or not, i didn’t completely ignore these warning signals- kind of hard to ignore pain so bad that walking around after a long run became almost impossible. I got insoles and keith (thanks keith!) spent lots of time massaging my feet after long runs. As much as that helped, i didn’t realize there was a bigger problem. For a solid year, we’ve blamed all my issues on my hips and glutes and never really thought that my feet might actually be the culprits.

I have always had flat feet but for whatever reason now i also have fallen arches. You can have flat feet and strong arches (although flat) but now i just have flat feet and weak arches. There is a tendon that runs from the inner arch, behind the ankle, and up the tibia- ie the posterior tibial tendon. It’s kind of like a bungee cord that acts a little like a spring when running and walking. My bungee cord is no longer a bungee and, instead, is a super tight rubber band with no give and a lot of stress. The concern here is that this tight rubber band could just snap. Your arch actually serves a purpose- it provides some shock absorption as you come down on your feet. I have no shock absorption so i have to be careful that this band doesn’t snap in half. So now while i’m feeling pretty good about the healing that is going on with my stress fracture, i have to be extra careful getting back in to running to make sure i don’t have a rupture on my hands…or feet 😉

What to do about it? Well, lemme tell ya. I spend lots of time working on the strength of my ankles and feet. I stand on a balance disc while brushing my teeth. I pick up dice with my toes. I walk down the street on the side of my feet and backwards on my toes. (i can’t really imagine being my neighbor, by the way!) I also walk around smelling like Tiger Balm as i spend lots of time every day massaging my tibial tendon with this smelly goodness. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’m just so happy to have a diagnosis and something specific to work on. I still spend time on my hips but i made a vow to my feet never to ignore them so much again.

Moral of the story- your feet need some lovin‘ too…..and by lovin’, i mean massage and strength training!

Cross training is for the birds

This seems to be the general consensus amongst oodles of runners. I know it’s hard to find the time to cross train. I mean, who has 5 minutes to spare to do some core work?! Whew! That’s an awful long time. Plus, what’s the point? Why in the world would you need to strength train if you’re a runner and not a body builder? Why would you need to spend time biking or swimming if you’re a runner and not a triathlete? Come on, why on earth would i do yoga? I’m a runner, not a yogi!

Well, unfortunately runners tend to be a stubborn bunch of people. Cross training is crucial to the overall health of your body, mind, and running. Of course, in order to be a better runner, you have to run. I don’t discount this at all and i stand firmly against the school of thought that some (ahem…some cross fit people..) that as long as you’re doing something, you can be a runner. This is not the case at all. You have to run to be a runner but you have to cross train to be a better runner.

So, now the thing that is going through many people’s brains is the “i’m fine with the runner i am…i don’t care if i get any faster…i don’t have a goal of doing any more than i’m doing…” school of thought. There’s always room for improvement whether it’s in flexibility, strength, or endurance. This is where cross training comes in. Think about the movement of running for a minute- you’re always moving forward in the exact same motion. You’re essentially working the front and back of your body – but only parts of it- your hamstrings and quads as well as your core. You’re expecting these muscles to give you their all but you’re not doing anything to help them. Instead you’re just beating them down. Your core wants to be strong. It has to propel you forward, keep you balanced, lift your legs, and hold you upright. Your quads are in full force on a down hill and your hamstrings and glutes are the only reason you can get up a hill. These muscles work the hardest on a run but lots of other muscles are suffering too- do your shoulders ever get tired on a long run? What about your back? Calves? Arms? Unfortunately, we don’t run backwards or on our hands so we have to do things other than run to help these muscles get stronger and more flexible.

Cross training is not going for a slower run or walking. You’re just mimicking running; only slower. Cross training is something that is working muscles that will support you while running. Cross training will help you to maintain your cardio fitness and will improve your overall strength and flexibility because you’re moving muscles in a way they’re not used to moving. Swimming, cycling, yoga, and strength training are, in my opinion, the best types of cross training for runners. They all provide benefits that can only help you as a runner.

I don’t know a single runner that couldn’t benefit from some flexibility and strength training. I know it’s hard to find the time to add in cycling and swimming so if you’re running 4 days a week, i think it’s important to focus your cross training on yoga and strength. The excuse of “i don’t have the time” needs to go out the door right now. Everyone can find the time if you want to find the time. Five minutes of core work and some hip raises while watching TV can certainly be done. A quick 40 minute class on monday mornings is worth it if it means you’re learning things you can do on your own as well as teaching your body to crave the cross training. If your core is weak, your posture is going to start to falter and your form is going to suffer- this will probably cause some back fatigue and could potentially lead to some knee pain as well. If your core is weak, when you start to get tired, you’re probably going to swing your arms across your body rather than keeping them forward, which is just going to cause back and neck tightness. A weak upper back will cause poor posture. Weak glutes can cause hip pain. Weak hips can cause knee pain. Tight hip flexors can cause a shortened stride which results in a slower time. Tight hamstrings can cause knee pain. I could go on and on and on but i imagine you get my drift.

Why not want to be a stronger runner? Even if you never do anything more than what you’re doing now, why not do what you’re doing now but do it better? You’ll thank me in the long run…(pun not intended 🙂 )

Preparation is crucial


Running is not easy. At some point in your running career, you’re going to get up at what feels like the middle of the night to go for a run, bundle up so much that you can barely move your arms, feel sick after a run, miss out on some social event because you’re in training, and possibly even suffer an injury. During this same running career, you’re also going to feel proud of your accomplishments, meet new people, have PR’s, trade some unhealthy habits for healthy ones, be glad you drug yourself out of bed, be glad you ran in the cold, see parts of your city you’ve never noticed, improve your heart health, lower your cholesterol, and, most importantly, have fun!

If running were easy everyone would do it. Did you know that less that 1% of the population will ever run a marathon and approximately 3% will run a half marathon. It is definitely hard to do and requires a lot of training but with the right preparation, you’ll make it a little easier…and more enjoyable.

It’s definitely no fun to start a run and 6 miles in, feel like you’re dying. It’s not because you really are dying. It’s because you didn’t prepare and give your body the things it needed for that run. When you feel like crap after a run and can’t get out of bed for 2 days, it’s not really because your run was that hard but because you weren’t prepared for that run.

Preparation is key! It’s not just about what you eat during the run but also what you eat the night before, the morning of, during, and right after. With a little planning, you will be treating your body with a lot more respect and it will, in turn, work better for you.

If you’re running a long run on saturday, your meal on friday night needs to be somewhat thought out. Complex carbs with a little protein is ideal- whole wheat pasta with chicken or pizza are good examples. The morning of a run, don’t show up on an empty stomach. Your body has been in a fasting state for 10 hours or so and it needs fuel. If your yellow light is on in your car when you head out for a road trip, you shouldn’t expect to get too far. Instead you’re going to stop and fuel up before you get on the road. Do the same for your body! If you’re running over 45 minutes or an hour, you always need to eat something before the run- bananas, english muffins and peanut butter, and oatmeal are all good examples. During the run, it’s crucial that you plan for fueling. If you don’t plan, you don’t have enough, you don’t think about it, and your run suffers. After the run, your muscles are sore because you have suffered little micro tears and you’re exhausted because your tank is empty again. You want to get some protein in within about 30 minutes of your run- chocolate milk is a favorite amongst lots of runners- of course, don’t go for the full fat stuff because that’s just silly but a low fat chocolate milk or muscle milk is perfect. This will speed recovery, enhance muscle building, and increase hydration and it will also hold you off until you can get a real meal an hour or so later.

If you’re dieting, that’s no excuse to treat your body poorly. You still have to follow the rules stated above to have a productive run. Plus, those extra calories in the morning and on the run are long gone after a long run but you at least have the energy to still be a functioning part of society as the day goes on.

as a reminder, here’s an old blog post which addresses some specifics… (originally posted oct, 10)

i’ve had a lot of people ask me about the specifics of fueling during a run- exactly what do i do?  well, whether or not i end up doing what i’m supposed to, i always have a plan.

it’s always good to have a plan.  you’re more likely to do what you’re supposed to do if you have it thought out, especially if it’s a long run or race.  the last thing you want to do is worry about when or if you should eat or drink.  when keith did his first 70.3 (half ironman), i wrote his fueling schedule on his arm in permanent marker.  this worked well because it was already thought out and he was able to follow along rather than stress about what he should be doing.

obviously, everyone is different and every day is different so you always have to listen to your body.  with that being said, have a game plan and tweak it as necessary.

if i’m running 6 miles or less, i typically don’t do anything for fueling- water or food.  this may not work for everyone though.  i drink water and only water all of the time so i stay pretty hydrated.  my body is able to work pretty hard for about an hour before needing anything specific.  do not let this keep you from drinking water though.  if you think you need it on shorter runs, then, by all means, drink it.

let’s talk specific runs.  i’ll give you some scenarios that work for me.  REMEMBER, we’re all different so don’t take this as law but try to learn from it and figure out your rhyme or reason for fueling on runs.

9 miles:  i will drink a sip or 2 of water every 10 minutes, starting at the first 10 minute mark.  one good gulp is usually enough to wet your palate, cool your body, and not swish around.  knowing that i will be running for 90 minutes or so, i will start eating something around mile 4.  i usually take a mile to eat a full serving of whatever it is (for me, either gu chomps or sport beans).  so, by mile 5, i’ve had continuous fluid and approximately 90 – 100 calories.  keep in mind, you’ll want between 100 and 250 calories per hour- this will depend on your size and your ability to burn calories.  i will continue to sip every 10 minutes.  around mile 7 or 7.5 i will have another serving or 1/2 serving of either chomps or beans.

1. * look at the serving sizes on your gu, beans, chomps, etc- it may not be 1 serving per item (chomps are 2 servings per bag)
2. * if you’re running with a sports drink, follow the same rules as far as hydration HOWEVER, you will want to wash down any sports gels, etc with water.  the carb mixture of the sports drink along with the sports gels is typically too much for the body to properly absorb.  if you’re running with sports drinks during the race, use the water stations to get water to wash down your sports gels.

half marathon:  drink water every 10 minutes; gu chomps (2=1/2 serving) at mile 4 and 2 (1/2 serving) at mile 5.  mile 8 – 9 sports beans, mile 11- gu chomps – 1/2 – 1 serving, depending on how i feel
1. *this is only 280 calories for the entire 13 miles- approximately 1300 calories burned
2. *you can take in more than this but i would NOT take in less

try to play with a schedule like this on your next few long runs to see how you feel.  you will eventually find what works for you.

the most important thing for you to remember is FUEL YOUR BODY BEFORE IT NEEDS IT!  no, you don’t need fuel at mile 4 but you DO need it at mile 6 (on longer runs) so you will need to take it and give your body time to process it.  if you wait until you are hungry, thirsty, or fatigued to try to do something about it, you have waited too long.  it is almost impossible to make up the deficits caused by improper fueling.

questions?!  what works for you?

A day worth smiling about

Today has been a good day! Georgia had her last visit with her surgeon and was told she is allowed to “be a dog.” Yay!! Of course, “being a dog” for bulldogs is quite different from being a dog for other breeds – she still can’t run in the park or go up and down the stairs or play hard for more than about 5 minutes at a time but, for her, she gets to be a dog.

Now i’m not sure why she would want to since being my baby has been pretty darn good over the last few months but maybe, just maybe, she will like for me not to hover quite so much. We’ll continue to carry her up and down the stairs but i believe we’ll be saying “bye” to the mattress that has been a permanent fixture in our den for the past 6 months.

She will actually go back to her surgeon one more time- in about 6 months- just so he can “lay his hands on her.” I’m fine with that though.

I’m so happy for baby G. She’s been through a lot over the past 6 months and she’s worked hard to rehabilitate her little atrophied muscles. She never once whined or whimpered, even when we knew she was feeling her worse.

Today was a good day! We’re all smiling from ear to ear 🙂

I believe i can fly

Today i was allowed to let my feet touch the ground again. For the first time in months, i went on a walk and….drum roll….was even allowed a little bit of running.

I went to physical therapy today and my PT said the glorious words, “i want you to try a walk / run today or tomorrow and see how you feel.” I couldn’t quit smiling. The weather couldn’t be more perfect, the sun is shining and i’m about to go for a quick run. Woohoo! Not so fast. By “walk / run” he meant that i could go on a 30 minute walk and throw in ten 20 second striders. Ok, bubble was a little deflated when he said ten 20 second striders- that’s only 3 minutes and 20 seconds of running out of 30 whole minutes. Ok, at least he said “striders.” I perked back up and he quickly backtracked and said, “by striders i don’t really mean striders. i just mean 20 second slow jogs.” Ugh! Ok, ok, i’m still excited that i get to feel the earth under my feet.

So home i went and threw on running shoes the second i walked in the door. Keith happened to be home so i talked him into accompanying me on my exciting adventure. Off we went. After about 10 minutes of walking we jogged for a whopping 20 seconds. I know that doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but i was like a kid in a candy store. It was a really great 20 seconds and i had 9 more of them coming! We walked, chatted and occasionally threw in a 20 second jog.

As we started our last 20 second interval, Keith (in his funny keith way) sang the words “i believe i can fly” as i pretended to be crossing a finish line, hands in the air and a smile on my face. That was a great 3 minute and 20 second run today. I sure hope to be having a lot more of those soon 🙂

Running on….doughnuts!

I know some of you have heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge and, unfortunately, some of you have not. It sounds like the greatest race ever known to man 😉

Runner’s World posted a funny and somewhat sobering view of running on doughnuts that i thought i would share.

Sugar Rush
Run two miles. Eat 12 doughnuts. Run two miles. Sounds simple enough.
By Charles Bethea
From the February 2011 issue of Runner’s World

I could ball up the last three doughnuts and toss them under a car. Or into the bushes. One was already mashed up in my sweaty fist. I was ready to hurl it from that crowded, sugar-stinking, trash-heaped parking lot when I noticed a young spectator standing beside his mother. He frowned at me. I ate the doughnut. Then another. Bile began to rise. I stuffed the 12th into my mouth, dropped the doughnut box onto the giant pile of empties, and ran off with my doughy tumor.

The eating portion of the four-mile Krispy Kreme Challenge had taken me just over 13 stomach-stretching minutes.
Proving that yes, in fact, you can have too much of a good thing.

I had certainly started the day feeling optimistic about my capacity for overindulgence. It was a freezing February morning in Raleigh, North Carolina, when 4,300 other racers and I had gathered around North Carolina State’s 115- foot Memorial Bell Tower at breakfast time. We’d all paid for the rather dubious privilege of dashing along a two-mile route, eating 12 glazed doughnuts, and retracing that same route back to where we started– some 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat ago. My history foretold greatness in such an event. I had grown up eating a Krispy Kreme or two most days after school; I took dates to the neighborhood shop to see if we could stomach each other. I still salivated when I saw the glowing “Hot Now” sign, which more often than not sent me veering into the drive-thru, where they generously ask: “How many dozen would you like?”

Plus, I was fit enough. I was a regular runner who’d done triathlons, half-marathons, and an ill-advised 57-mile speed hike. Four miles was a warmup. So when a race official at the start casually predicted that a quarter of us would end up puking in one of the gray buckets lining the course, I wasn’t worried. Following the strategy of the previous year’s winner, I hadn’t eaten breakfast–or dinner the night before. All I had to do was eat 12 doughnuts and trot a few miles in the cold. Piece of cake.

Around 8:30, the mob on the starting line began chanting: Dough-nuts! Doughnuts! More than 50,000 of them waited for us at the local Krispy Kreme–hot, I hoped. The horn sounded and the crowd lurched. With my belly empty, I immediately fell behind. The course ran along a stretch of residential neighborhoods and commercial properties, passing tattoo parlors, an all-girls’ school dating back to 1842, and the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters. A runner carrying a boom box blasting the Rocky theme song raced by, backward, as we crested a small hill. His hat looked like a bonbon. I was so hungry it was hard to breathe, or think. Soon, though, I smelled sugar.

Seventeen minutes and a few seconds later, I faced a mountain of cardboard doughnut boxes, taller than nearby cars, stacked near the Krispy Kreme entrance. A volunteer grabbed one and handed it to me with a few instructions: “Eat them all, show the empty box to an official, then run back.” I began urging dough nuts down my throat two at a time, breathing hard. Runners were strewn about the parking lot, standing, sitting, leaning, lurching, all ingesting fried dough–most frantically, a few fastidiously. One middle-aged man leaning against a phone booth appeared to be crying as he gorged himself. I crouched unsteadily in a handicap parking spot, tasting little, swallowing my pride along with the saturated fat. The doughnuts were cold and hard, like those at gas stations. I felt no giddy delight. Glaze was all over my face. In my nose. Coating my hands. The sugary mass was swiftly hardening in my stomach.

Still chewing the 12th doughnut, I started the second half of the run. As I swallowed, I felt a candy-binge energy take hold. I passed a kid who had dusted me on the first leg, bent over in the bushes. I ran past throngs of spectators, two or three deep beside the road, some laughing like jackals. I sprinted the last few hundred yards, passing a man with a three-foot wide doughnut on his head. I crossed the finish line in 49:15, good for 618th place. My second running leg had taken 90 seconds longer than the first.

Racers listed toward the water station, where officials advised us to go easy on the fluids–doughnuts expand fast. I caught a ride back to the hotel, and took a nap. When I woke up, I was dripping with a cold sweat. I rubbed my eyes, and discovered more stowaway glaze. What the hell I ate it.

Who’s in?!?!

Made with love…and cinnamon

I love to eat. I love to bake. I love to make homemade baked goods. I love knowing what is in my food and not worrying about random preservatives that i can’t even pronounce.

I started making my own granola a few months ago and it’s been a big hit at my house. It’s nice to have the option to change it up and make it healthy, kind of healthy, or not so healthy and still know that the ingredients are natural and good for you.

Since i love to share too, i thought i would share my recipe:

Star’s Granola

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds, rough chopped (i buy whole, unsalted in bulk since i snack on them all the time)
1 cup walnuts, rough chopped (also buy these whole in bulk)
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup honey (i like pure organic- i buy this in bulk too)
1 cup pistachios, rough chopped
1 cup craisins
1 cup dried cherries or blueberries

*preheat oven to 275 degrees
*on a large baking sheet, make a mound with the oats, almonds, walnuts; add salt
*melt butter and mix with honey; pour over the mound of oats and nuts; stir to blend (this is barely enough liquid to coat the oats and nuts- that’s ok; you just want enough to give it a slight flavor)
*spread evenly on baking sheet; sprinkle cinnamon – i don’t measure this but i sprinkle a light layer of cinnamon over the entire cookie sheet (if you don’t like cinnamon, you can skip this part)
*bake for 30 minutes
*meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix pistachios, craisins, and dried cherries (you can use any dried fruits here- i just happen to buy these in bulk so i always have them on hand)
*once the oat mixture is out of the oven and cooled, add it to the bowl of pistachios and dried fruits; mix well
*store in a gallon size baggie

Enjoy over a heaping portion of fruit and yogurt!