Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hanging Out at the Manchester Marathon

Last week I took an easy run through the Cape Cod Marathon. I felt fine afterwards and wondered what I would do this weekend. I ran 8 miles the day after the race and started thinking about doing the Manchester Marathon this week. Then my class at school got sick. By Tuesday, I had nine of my 27 students out (some with the flu). I did not think this was good for my health and felt a bit off (either a very mild case or from a Tetanus shot I got on Tuesday). I did not run again until Friday.

I had been rethinking things about my foot and ankle and decided to try something different for that run. There is a very short article in The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Editionby Clair Davies on Morton's Foot (you can see the whole article here). I have a copy of the book from a few years ago and was looking into it again after getting some interesting feedback from an anonymous poster with similar problems as mine. It was on one of my silliest posts (or at least the pictures) and I often was tempted to take it down, but I figured someone could offer some good advice someday on it. I got some good advice.

While doing Feldenkrais movement therapies. I have been noticing that my back and hips are moving more freely (particularly with these movements as they are done lying on the floor). It got me thinking that maybe it is not my back and hips that are the problem and I was again looking at my feet. This poster advocated trigger point therapy and Posture Control Insoles. It was also suggested that I look at my TMJ joint. I had used the Posture Control Insoles a few years back. At first, I had incredible success, but then my body adapted and they stopped working for me. I also found that the insoles were rough on my feet and I developed many calluses.

Last month, I revisited them again and bought a different style from them called ProKinetics® Natural Body Balance insoles. I tried them for a couple of days a few weeks ago and did not like the feel of them. There is some gel under the heel. I got rid of the arch, but it still did not feel right in my shoes. I decided to glue the extra and thicker wedges onto my regular thin shoe insoles on Wednesday. I ran 8 miles Friday and felt wonderfully balanced with a much straighter left foot that didn't cave in. Of course, I also noticed my calves were a bit sore from the different push off and balance points.

The point of these insoles is to correct Morton's foot. Typically, Morton's Foot is diagnosed as a long second toe (compared to the big toe). I don't have this. Morton's Foot is really a long 2nd metatarsal. Well I do have that (by a lot! )The ProKinetic Insoles have a wedge shape pad to be placed under the big toe and its metatarsal so that the foot doesn't roll inward and turn the toes outward and create problems all up the leg. Clair Davies suggests using Dr. Scholl’s Molefoam® Padding to build up under that toe. It sounds a lot cheaper than the insoles (particularly if you only want to use the wedge). I also found some recent message board postings from female cyclists with similar problems here. One poster called KnottedYet on page 3 says you can treat this with both accommodations and corrections:

The pad under the first met head is an accommodation.
Stretching the tightened structures of the forefoot and strengthening the muscles of the foot (and really all the way up to the hip) is a correction.

She later posts some exercises to treat this and bring it under control;"

Dropped Met Head Program
To be done over the course of 6 weeks, and maintained there-after.

Consists of two parts: first stretching, then strengthening. Done in that order for every session.

Stretch by folding your foot like a taco shell. Hold your bare foot in both hands. One hand on the left, one hand on the right. Thumbs parallel on top. Line up your fingertips between the 1st and 2nd met heads or on the 2nd met head, whichever feels better. Press down with the heels of your thumbs while you press up with your fingertips. You are essentially folding your foot in half lengthwise. (restoring your metatarsal arch and then some) Hold for 5 seconds. Do 10 times in a row.

Strengthen by working the muscles of the forefoot that support your metatarsal arch. Make a fist with your toes as tight as you can. Hold it for 5 seconds. Splay your toes out as wide as you can. Hold it for 5 seconds. Do 10 times in a row.

Week 1: do the session 3 times a day, spread through-out the day. (morning, noon, and evening for example)

Weeks 2-6: do the session 6 times a day, spread throughout the day. (every 2 or 3 hours, for example)

Maintain by doing however many sessions you feel you need to keep your met arch lively.

Interesting stuff that I am starting to do!

The ProKinetic Insoles add the idea of proprioception to the mix. Here is how they describe how the insoles (or wedge) work.

Friday night I debated with myself whether to enter the Manchester Marathon and try out the insoles during the race. I know that this is a real STUPID move to alter your mechanics so quickly, but I was feeling experimental. The weather looked nice for the race so I entered. Realistically I didn't think I would finish using the insoles. I was particularly worried about a knot it my fight calf, but you never know what will happen if you do not try so I entered at the last moment.

It was a great day for a marathon today. I drove up the road to Manchester and saw a few friends before the race: the highly trained Mike Wright and Carl Hefflefinger (who had a bit of an Achilles strain). At the gun, the runners (marathon, 1/2 marathon, and relay runners) took off together. Mike Ward caught up at about 1/2 mile and we talked a bit before he pulled ahead. Let me just say that this is one hilly race, and where did they get all these uphills with so few downhills? After about one mile, people started passing me. Lots of people kept passing me. I have never had so many people pass me like this. I was passing no one. I was feeling sluggish and trying to get a feel for if my legs would even work with these things in them. I also had a tight lower back, sort of like last week but not as bad. My hips were certainly rotating differently although I cannot say I was balanced. The course kept having uphills and people kept passing. I was running with people that I normally far ahead of in a race and I was unnerved by all the passing, but I just wanted to run comfortably and I didn't have too much confidence in completing the race at all. Whose dumb idea was this?

At about six miles after running through a wooded path (nice) for a while I came to some port-a-johns. Then I had to wait a minute to get in and lost about two minutes in all (but I felt better- I made another stop later in the race- I lost about 3 minutes in all). Finally, I passed some people, but I just felt like I was chugging along at a very slow pace. Fortunately, my calf wasn't hurting at all. My hamstrings were tightening up however from the changed stride. I passed Carl Hefflefinger and his Achilles was sore and he said he was going to drop out. Why can't I be that smart? Actually, I kept thinking it would be a good smart move on my part, but I knew my half marathon time would be so pathetic if I did.

At about 11 miles, a lot of the 1/2 marathoners were dying and I finally started passing people. I passed one person who had the same awful stride that I did so I chatted it up with him. I ran with him until the split where the 1/2 marathoners went to the finish and the marathoners continued on their way. I took the marathon turn and now I was committed. I hit the 1/2 marathon in 1:46:30 something and realized this was going to be a much slower day than the Cape.

However, once we got rid of the 1/2 marathoners I started enjoying the day. There were fewer runners on the course, but always a group in sight. I started picking off runners at a fairly good pace. In fact, from this point on, no one passed me (except two relay runners). As I gained more confidence in my legs and feet, I started running faster. I enjoyed the faster pace more and the constant passing of runners. It was still hilly, but there seemed to be more downhills. I enjoyed this section of the course and the miles flew by. I felt better during the last 6 miles than I did at Falmouth last week. I was running well, but was trying not to "kill" my legs. After a while, I realized that I had a chance of going sub 3:30. I kept passing people and tying to pick it up. I passed the 3:25 pacer (but he was off pace) and then with a 1/2 mile to go I passed the 3:30 pacer. He said he was on pace. From there I took it in and finished in 3:29:22. It was one of my slowest marathons ever, but I enjoyed the day (well the second half) and I was curious about what the course looked like and now I know! That was the hilliest marathon I had ever run, except maybe for a marathon I ran (some walking) in March 1983 in Newton, MA called the Garden City Marathon. My certificate says it was the N.E.A.C. Marathon Championships and that I finished 149th in a time of 3:34:06. It is nice to know that I can still run hills faster than I did when I was 24. I do not remember much about that race except that I used it as a training run for Boston, the many hills, the big houses, and the walking.

And my legs were trashed after today’s race! My hamstrings are quite tight and my calves and ankles are a bit sore. I survived the addition of the wedges, even though it was not a smart thing to do. So I made the good choice after all in running the race.

Here are the results. Mike Wright killed the course with a 2:54:24 and Mike Ward (who just turned 50) raced his second race of the year and finished in 3:19:17.

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