Turkey Trot

This morning, I’m going to run a Turkey Trot.

When I went back to the doctor on November 12, which was eleven weeks post-op, he said I could do some light jogging.  I was ecstatic, and that afternoon I went out and ran a mile.

My foot was fine.  The rest of my body was wondering what the heck I was trying to do.

Thankfully, anything with the name “Turkey Trot”  is likely not going to be competitive.  I think the course is three miles, and I honestly don’t know how much of it I’ll be able to run.  I haven’t run more than a mile at a time since I had my surgery.  I could maybe push it and run two miles, but three?  I might collapse in a heap because my legs have forgotten what it is to run.  And by that time, my foot might be swollen enough to rival the gigantic Snoopy balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

But I’m still going to try.  Because it’s only two weeks until my second surgery, and then three months after that before I’ll be permitted to run again.

So, I might just be trotting, or even walking — heck, maybe just strolling.  But I’m going for it anyway.

Considering Barefoot Running

I was reading my Runner’s World Magazine this month, and there was a great big article in it about barefoot running.  Barefoot running is rather a craze right now, and people wanting to run barefoot but simultaneously protect the skin of their feet have been buying shoes like the Vibram Five-Fingers.

Here’s a photo of these shoes, courtesy the Vibram website:

They are certainly interesting looking.

The pharmacist where I work occasionally wears his FiveFingers to work.  They are brown and kind of suede looking, and it really makes him look like he has gorilla feet.  He says they are very comfortable, though.

There are also a lot of shoe companies marketing minimalist shoes, like the Nike Free Run+…

Photo courtesy Finishline.com

…or the Terra Plana Evo…

Photo courtesy Amazon.com

…or the Ecco Biom.

Photo courtesy Eastbay.com

But the point of this post is not the shoes, interesting though they are.

I’ve been thinking about barefoot running, especially after reading the Runner’s World article, which seemed pretty balanced.  Proponents of barefoot running say that we were meant to be barefoot, meant to run barefoot.  We weren’t born with shoes on our feet, and if we ran barefoot, we’d have fewer problems with injury.  Humans weren’t intended to have these thick-soled, high-heeled, cushiony things at the ends of our legs.  If we ran barefoot, they say, we’d be more in tune with our bodies and how they are feeling.  Most running shoes sold today encourage a heel-to-toe running form, whereas running barefoot causes the runner to land more on the ball of the foot.  The supporters of barefoot running say that a heel-to-toe form leads to back pain, plantar fasciitis, and other injuries.  They say that running barefoot or in minimalist shoes strengthens the feet.

Skeptics say that there’s no evidence to support the idea that running shoes cause injuries.  They say that running itself — the hard surfaces, the pounding — is what causes injuries.  (Supporters say there’s less pounding when you run barefoot because you land more lightly.)  They say that it’s when people switch from modern running shoes to barefoot running that they really get hurt.  (Supporters say that’s because the runners didn’t make the transition gradually and allow their feet to get used to the changes.)

When I examine the arguments, those who support barefoot running seem to have a stronger case.  It feels like the opponents are just saying, “Nuh-uh.  Can’t prove it.”

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  Did I have more problems with my bunions because of the kinds of shoes I was wearing?  If I had been running barefoot, would I have needed surgery to relieve the pain I was having?  Of course, there’s no way to know that, and now that I’ve got one foot done, I’m not going to cancel the other surgery just to find out.  But maybe it could have been a factor.  I don’t know.

When I’m able to run again, I’m not planning to go out in my bare feet and run through the streets.  Or even the sidewalks or the trail in the park.  There’s too much gravel and broken glass and tiny pieces of metal that could cut me or dig into my skin.  And I don’t know yet what kind of running shoes I’ll buy.  I’m used to having to search hard to find shoes that can accomodate both my bunions and my overpronation.  (But if I were running barefoot, would the overpronation be as much of a problem?  I wouldn’t be landing on my heels as much, so maybe I would not have the problem of rolling my feet inward as I step.)  Next spring, I’ll be bunion-free, and that will certainly change the kinds of shoes I’m able to wear.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to try a minimalist shoe… especially one that looks as strange as the FiveFingers.

But maybe I’ll try kicking my shoes off and running a couple of laps around the soccer field while Chef plays pick-up games at lunchtime.  Or maybe I’ll go down to the park, take off my shoes, and run in the big green space in the middle of the paved path.

It certainly can’t hurt to strengthen my feet and become more aware of my body as I run.

Do you have experience with or an opinion about barefoot running or minimalist shoes?  I’d love to hear it.

Crazy Eights: XI

1. I really miss running.  Especially now that the weather is nice and cool, I get pretty envious when I see people in my town out for a run.  *sigh*

2. I’m fully back into my Pilates classes now, so that’s helping me to be more satisfied with my level of fitness.  It’s not a cardiovascular workout, though.  Last week I rode a stationary bike at the YMCA.  It was nice to do something to get my heart rate up a bit, even though I was kind of sore later.  I’m also considering using the elliptical machine because I think that will put less pressure on my foot than walking does.

3. Christmas is just over two months away.  Have you started shopping?  My knitted gifts are nearing completion; I have two started and one more to start, and then some small finishing up to do on several.  I think I’ll get done in time.  Gifts for Chef are a whole different topic.  I have ideas, but I haven’t begun shopping yet.  I’m starting to feel the pressure.

4. Oh, gosh.  One of my dogs just flatulated.  It is a far more horrible smell than when humans do it.  Dog gas is horrendous.  Chef and I have been known to bury our heads under the covers when it happens at night.  Or pull our shirts up over our noses if it happens while we’re watching television.  The dogs don’t seem to notice, though.  Or when they do, they flatulate next to us, and then leave the room.  RUDE!

5.  I recently bought three pairs of pants.  They are all the same brand, same style, and the same size.  The army green ones fit.  The gray ones fit.  The khaki ones are too big.

6. I’ve been thinking more and more about trying to start a small business of my own.  I am not sure what it would be, though.  I have ideas, but I don’t know if I have the motivation and dedication to make them work.

7.  The other day, I had this random phrase flit through my head: “Walking through the world in a corduroy suit.”  I don’t know why.  Did I hear it somewhere?  Is it in a song?  Did my brain just randomly put those words together?  It has been puzzling me ever since.

8. You know my husband?  Chef?  Well, I like him.

Rediscovering Running

Finally, the heat wave broke.

If you live in North America (and I’m sure most of you do, except for Chef’s aunt in Argentina — shout out to Aunt Kim!), you know that this has been one hot summer.  Certainly it seems to be the hottest summer in the last four years or so.  And when the temperature is 97 with a heat index of 115 (36 and 46 for my Canadian friends — Yo Thelma!), it’s freaking hard to go running outdoors.  Even assuming I didn’t have to be at work at the ridiculous hour of 6:30 am, it has been oppressive even in the mornings.  And I simply got out of the habit of going to the Y.

At last, however, we got some relief this week with temps dropping a good 10-15 degrees and humidity dropping from 70% to 40%.  And that change allowed me to make nice with my old friend, running.  I dusted off the Nikes and went out for a couple of miles.  And two days later, I did it again.  And I remembered why I love running.

The solitude.

The connection I have with my town when I’m not in my house or my car, but just by myself out in the community.

The feel of my lungs expanding, my feet pounding, my arms and legs and heart pumping.

The breeze on my cheeks.

The stress and worry of the day sloughing off with each step and each breath.

And now, I have to get a lot of running done in the next few days because my surgery is Friday.  With surgery on the other foot likely in November or December, I won’t be able to run again until February or March.

I think I might cry.

Please pass the tacos. And the cookies. And the running shoes. And a double helping of serenity.

On Thursday, I was an emotional eater.

I got to work, and it was just one of those days when I just didn’t want to be there.  I was feeling grouchy.  Then one of my co-workers gave me some information about a higher-up, and what this higher-up did made me angry and frustrated because it was a stupid thing to do.  Later, one of our nurse practitioners came to my office to see me.  She had a problem she hoped I could help her out with.  I didn’t think I could do what she wanted, but I told her I’d try and then get back with her.  I made a phone call, found out what I needed, and not 10 minutes after she left my office, I went to find her to tell her the news.  When I asked others if they knew where she was, three people said, “She’s not here today.”  Hello?!  She was just in my office.  After that, I had what felt like a bazillion phone calls regarding patients not wanting to pay their medical bills, and these calls were topped off by emails asking me to make a bunch of decisions that I’m not really equipped to make.

And this was all before ten in the morning.

So I went to the break room.  A pharmaceutical rep had brought coffee and bagels.  I didn’t need a bagel.  I wasn’t hungry.  In spite of that fact, I slathered a giant blueberry bagel with cream cheese and I ate it.

The late morning didn’t really go much better, and at lunch (which was brought in by another pharmaceutical rep) I filled my plate fuller than I really needed to.  After my mid-morning snack, I didn’t need to eat much for lunch, but the food was from one of my favorite restaurants, and it smelled sooooo good.  Oh, and I was still feeling grumpy.  The fact that my skirt was feeling a little bit snug unfortunately didn’t seem to make a bit of difference.

The afternoon continued to be not so great.  Then I got home and had a fight with Chef.  I was upset and angry and frustrated and I really really needed to go for a run.

I put on my shoes and headed to the park with the plan to run three miles.  The first half mile, I ran really fast because I was mad.  Then I started to pray that God would just help me to release my anger and my frustration.  Have you seen the movie The Green Mile?  And the one guy sucks evil or sickness out of a person and then breathes it out and it looks like flies coming out of his mouth?  I was imagning that each breath I blew out was all the anger and frustration I had in me.  Then I imagined that the breeze I was running into was blowing layers of grumpiness away.

By the end of the third mile, I was in a much better frame of mind.  I decided to just sit for a while in the park, enjoying the beautiful weather and the shade of a giant tree.  I ran back home, making a small detour to check out the progress of the Chinese buffet that is going into the old Dairy Queen in town.  Then I ran back home.

My run was good therapy for my frustrations.  And hopefully it burned off a bit of that bagel, too.

Cardinal Greenway Five Miler: June 19, 2010

When I got up last Saturday, it was just barely raining.  I have lost the visor that I used to always wear for runs in the rain, so instead I wore a hat that didn’t fit very well, along with my bright fluorescent yellow NF Endurance Team shirt and black shorts.  Since the rain stopped and didn’t start again for the duration of the race, I wished I hadn’t worn the hat at all because it wasn’t keeping rain off my face and was just making my head hot.  I ended up carrying it for most of the race.

I didn’t expect to do well in this run.  I hadn’t been training, really, and it was hot and humid.  And my hat didn’t fit right and my bunions were kind of hurting.  But I figured, hey, at least I’m out here, running.

The course was originally planned as a 10K (6.2 miles), but construction on the trail forced organizers to shorten it to a 5 mile race, which was just fine by me.  (See lack of training, previous paragraph.)  The volunteers at each mile let me know my time, and it was around 11 minutes per mile for the whole race.  And at the time, I was discouraged by that, but then I realized that for me, that’s still pretty good.  I even got third place in my age group, which really should have been second place if they’d had me in the age group that reflected the age I actually AM rather than the age I will be by the end of this calendar year.  But still, I got a ribbon.

And that might be my last race for the year.  What with having so little time and energy and motivation to run, along with foot surgery coming up this fall, I doubt I’ll be racing any more.  But I hope to be back on the race circuit again next year.

A Phase and a Decision

I’m going through a phase right now.  I think lots of people do — they get really excited about painting watercolors, or playing classical guitar, or scrapbooking, or geocaching.  But they do it for a few months and then the excitement about the activity passes, and the phase is over.

My phase right now is not running.

I do enjoy running, but right now I feel like there’s too much going on.  I’ve got a yard to clean up so I can have a bigger garden next year.  I just got done painting a canoe.  I’m planning a garage sale.  I need to rearrange furniture and stuff in storage in two bedrooms to make space for a houseguest who is coming in July.  I’ve got tomatoes nearly ready to pick and herbs growing so well that I need to figure out what food to make with them.  Plus, it’s hot and muggy and it’s been thunderstorming almost every day for the last week.

Running has taken a back seat.  I still manage to run a couple of times a week, but it’s not as often as I usually like to run.   I miss running, but I’m convinced we’ll be reunited again.  Someday when the weather and my schedule coincide in a delight of perfect harmony, I’ll run again.

In the meantime, I’ve already signed up for some races.  I’ve got a five-miler on Saturday.  No problem, though.  I’ve been running enough that I can do five miles without too much trouble.  However, there is a 15K in September that, in April, sounded like a great thing to train for.  Now… do I have the time and the motivation to train for a nine mile run?  There is a companion event on the same day — a 5K walk.  I’ve contemplated just doing that instead.  But it will be much harder for me to be excited about getting up in the morning and driving out to the site for a walk.  It’s much more motivating to do that for a run.  But nine miles is far, especially if you haven’t trained for it.  Last year, I had trained for it, but I was recovering from having had the flu a week and a half before the race.  It was a hard, hard run, and I came in last, which is not the best experience in the world.

I have about twelve weeks between now and the race.  That’s plenty of time to train for a 15K… if you actually spend the time training.  I’m just not sure I can.  Or will.

But right now, I want to go for a run, and my schedule foils my desires.  And other times, my schedule permits it, but there are many other things to do.

I’d better stop thinking about this, or my brain might explode… in which case, running won’t even be an option.

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