For those who have somehow ducked my whining and balloon-ankle photos on Facebook, I am currently in the middle of my first real injury of my running “career”; and while I’m sure there is no optimal timing for any kind of injury, mine happened right towards the latter end of a strong, productive period of fast marathon training where I was showing solid improvement each and every week.
Having brought my half-marathon time down to 1:30, and with 5-weeks yet to peak for that sub-3 marathon at Rocket City, December 10, I did the most stupid thing a marathon trainee could do – raced a short, 15K trail race.
Cruising downhill, and having a couple of close calls and all-out falls already, I was wondering to myself if racing this thing was really a good idea or not… then, C-R-A-C-K, OOMPH! I stepped in a hidden, leaf-covered hole, heard a snap, and dropped to the ground crawling around and screaming at the top of my lungs like a wounded seal.
All those heart-exploding speed training episodes, the half-marathon PRs, those sadistically painful, yet pleasurable, workouts where I swore Jennifer Vogel, my coach, was trying to kill me…
Just like that. Game over.
Oh, But it Gets Better
RICE, they say…
Well, this is what happens when an idiot like me, with great intentions, tries to follow directions…
I frost bit my own $%* ! foot. Say hello to my blistered ice burn:
I blame the seven Vicodin the day after; and yes, they were prescribed.
Well, not seven, but, well, you know how it goes…
I felt no pain.
I should never do drugs. Any drugs. I do not know moderation.
A Student of Discovery
It’s sort of a paradox, really. I’m well known for being unconventional, hard-headed, arrogant and a little crazy in my thinking. People much smarter than me advise me. I don’t listen. Doctors, other runners, friends, family, they all experience this with me. Some continue, some give up.
(thanks to those who don’t give up, by the way)
I’ll bet I’ve seen more head-shaking and gotten more “told ya so” comments and emails than anyone else on earth.
Thing is, I’m a student of discovery. The proverbial “gotta touch the stove to see if it’s hot” kinda dude. I really don’t believe anything until I experience it, and usually, the way my brain works, believe the opposite until I prove otherwise.
It’s a disease.
Enter Vibram Five Fingers
I had pretty much written off Vibrams. For one, it’s not really barefoot training. Barefoot training is “without shoes”, and I live in the city, so when I want to train barefoot for all its benefits, I train barefoot on a treadmill to avoid debris, rocks and glass.
Second, ironically, new Vibram models are starting to look more like shoes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I find that my Mizuno Wave Universe, or my all-time favorite, the Saucony A4 racing flats work best.
But, once I could walk again, though still hobbling, limping around with my lower lip all poked out and sad, I came to realization that I was most comfortable, with less pain, when I was barefoot.
Desperate to run, and yes out of better judgement from docs and friends, I tried running about five (5) days into recovery – and everything hurt. Even big-ass, balloon Hokas hurt like crap, and out of all of my shoes, and I have a lot, they were the absolute worst with this injury.
But, off in the corner, still stained with a little dog poop stuck to ‘em from when one of the new puppies found the same corner, were the old Vibram Classics. Quite a bit dusty, with a couple of small rips in the toes, and a little curled-up from lack of use, but still wearable – and just as damn hard to put on.
I chuckled at how goofy they looked, ‘cuz, I’m sorry, but Vibram Classics really are ridiculous looking shoes, and I stepped on the treadmill to give it a go.
Day 11 of Recovery
And, I haven’t worn anything else on my feet since.
An Idiot’s Guide to Why This is Working
I promise, I don’t know anything. I’m really, really stupid when it comes to doing the “right” things for training and recovery, so take all this with a grain of salt; but as this student of discovery thing I talked about, I think I have some good ideas why this is working so well for me:
- I have a neutral gait. Therefore, I do not need any stability or corrective orthodics.
- Because of this neutral gait, when barefoot, my foot is in its most natural state.
- In Vibram Classics, my feet stay flat and as close to ground as possible.
- Because of this more natural state, and low center of gravity, my foot is never being pulled, pushed, nor sliding around in any one direction that causes pain or aggravates the ligaments further.
- The Classics have a super wide collar. This prevents any squeezing of the foot or tender ankle.
- This lack of collar-squeezing, combined with increased foot freedom discourages additional swelling
Here’s the thing: I think shoes, and especially the huge sole-lift of the Hokas, were hurting me because they squeezed my foot and created instability. Even folks without injury have complained that the Hokas created instability for them, so it only makes sense that the same would be the case WITH injury.
When your ankle is that sensitive, even the slightest movement in the direction of, or away from, the injury center is enough to cause agonizing pain and aggravate the ankle sprain even worse.
What do you think? Am I crazy?
Ready for Even More Stupidity?
Tomorrow will be day 12 of recovery, and I’ve decided I’m still running the Atlanta Half Marathon.
…in Vibram Classics, of course.
I’ve never run more than six miles in them, so this should be interesting.
I know, I know, but would you consider thinking I’m less stupid if I said I’m running side by side with my wife? She doesn’t “race”, but instead runs 5:00 and walks 1:00, over and over again, until she finishes. I think it’s called the Galloway Method, but she could care less if it was called the jack sh!t method. I get the biggest kick out of Babette’s approach to running. No real training, no stress, no outrageous goals, no ego – just all fun and smiles and games.
She’s also never had a DNF.
I suspect if I can complete the full 13.1 in Vibrams, at her pace, I’m looking at 2:30 minimum on that hilly intown course.
But who cares? At least I’m running, and while I love to run fast, It’ll be cool to chill alongside Babette for this Thanksgiving event.
I know a lot of people think I’m nuts, but I’m used to it. If I’m wrong in my approach, then I have to live with it, no one else; but aren’t we are always told to go with our gut and do what feels right?
This feels right.
I believe that I can heal myself actively and nutritionally. Like an animal.
The moping game is over. The sadness is over. The “woe is me” is OVER.
I have to try it my way because I believe its the right way for me.
Maybe not everyone – Hell, maybe not anyone…
But it feels like its right for me.
Eye on the sub-3 at Mercedes
So nope, I won’t get to chase that 2:55 marathon goal at Rocket City, and while that really bums me the #$%! out, I’ll just set my sights a little further out in the year and come back with a furious focus.
I can do that. I will do that. And if you’re a betting kinda person, put your money on me.
But I’m still running Rocket City, and even though he’s been training like Rocky IV in Russia, I’m still gonna beat the crap outta’ Weezy.
Whatcha got, kid? Come get me. The prey is wounded, sucka.