Saturday, May 23, 2015

3 Steps to Treat Achilles Tendonitis

For the last six (yikes!) years, I've struggled with Achilles Tendonitis off and on. Mostly on, sadly. Despite taking off months from running, every time I returned, I could immediately feel the hot strained feeling of lurking tendonitis. Now, after about eight months without pain, I'm happy to share the three things I did to return to running.
  1. Rest. The most dreaded of treatments - not doing anything. Whilst resting, ice. Rest some more. When you think you've rested long enough, rest for another month. During my last "Rest" phase, I took up rock climbing. It saved my sanity and my fitness.
  2. Strengthen. Before returning to running, strengthen the muscles around your ankle and calf. Heel lifts turned out to be my healer. Start standing on one foot on a flat surface. Press up, from a flat foot to tip toe, and back down. I started with 10/side and was shocked at how tiring that was. After a week or two, up the number to 15. Then move to a stair and let your heel sink a little. Feel the burn.
  3. Lift. Ask your doctor if one leg is longer than the other. If slightly yes, try a mini insert under the heel of the shorter leg. I believe my feet were made to run without a full-foot support but I also have a 1/4-inch difference in my leg lengths. This means that one tendon has to reach further to touch the ground. While covering mile after mile, that poor tendon gets a bit weary. Boosting it just a bit seems to alleviated some of that strain. 
Running shoe inserts

These inserts are available on Amazon. They are stackable so you can lift a little or a lot. The grey ones are more invasive - longer and higher. I didn't like them but a single clear one under the liner of my left running shoe has been a game changer.
Keeping in mind I'm not a medical pro, I'm just related to one, give these steps a shot. As my orthoped told me, there's no harm in trying because, if you can't heal yourself, the next step is a surgery that takes almost a year for recovery. So, may as well rest, strengthen and make minor adjustments first.

Happy running!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What to Wear Running in San Francisco in May

Temp: 50F/10C
Humidity/Precip: Moderate/None (we're still in a drought)
Wind: 10-15mph
Distance: 6 miles
Terrain: Hills

What I Wore: Capri tights, long-sleeves with thumb holes (see previous post), visor

Did It Work: Not really. Once again I was freezing. Karl the Fog is here, along with his friend Oceanic Winds. Even though I ran almost the whole time, it took 1.5 miles to stop shivering.

What I Would Change: Warm the head, heart and hands: Tank bra under the top to keep my core warm. Running hat that covers my crown. Wrist warmers - I've been told that wrists are the key to heat - vs. mittens which just seems embarrassingly extreme even if my teeth were literally chattering at one point. Plus, wrist warmers are easier to take off and tuck away.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What to Wear Walking in 55 degrees

Weather: 55F (17C), setting sun
Wind: 10mph
Humidity/Precip.: Moderately high/None
Terrain: Hills
Distance: 3 miles

What I Wore: Capri tights, low socks, 3/4 sleeve T-shirt, ear warmer

Did It Work: No. I'm just getting back into walking with a dash of running and I seriously overestimated how quickly walking would warm me up. Freezing! When my hands stopped feeling functional around the 3/4 mile mark, I started jogging just to warm up.

What I Would Change: Swap the T for long sleeves with thumb holes and this outfit works. But only if you really do plan to run or you're hiking uphill. Between the breeze and the humidity (around 80%), it was too hard to warm up without significant exertion. Especially because there weren't any warm, sunny patches along the route. Add a light jacket if you want to power walk, only.

Note on hills: Walking up hill can be harder than a mini jog. When we walk, we try to plant the whole foot. This is tough on the achilles and bottoms of your feet. Rise up onto your toes and take tiny steps, almost like you're jogging in place. This will ease the strain, get your heart rate up and eventually take you up that monster hill. Bernal Height Park in San Francisco, I'm looking at you! (see photo)

In the end, climbing hills is totally worth it, usually. Great views, real feeling of accomplishment and a great workout.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Quick-dry Gear for Travel

Little home experiment helped me decide what gear to pack on a two-week international trip.
Criteria: functional in my destination's temps and quick dry so I could rinse and repeat.

Test gear: silk long underwear, Lululemon yoga pants, REI long underwear top, Puma tank, Under Armour multipurpose top, Arc'teryx dress and Atom jacket.

Experiment: washed all of the above items in cold water and then hung them to dry to see what would be 100% dry after 12 hours. This seems like a reasonable turn around time when traveling, plus it's how much time I had!

Expectations: I was absolutely sure the silk long underwear and the Under Armour top would be dry as bones. I doubted that the Atom jacket, which has a hood and thick stretchy fabric panels would be dry. Same with the soft and thick REI top and the Lululemon pants. Puma tank was up in the air.
Outcome: What the heck?! The silks were still damp, bordering on wet. The Atom jacket was ready to wear. Same with the tank, shirt and the dress. Second shocker, the REI top was dry and back to its usual softness. Lulu performed as expected: damp.

Result: Packing (and need to buy more of) the Arc'teryx. They rock. Also will be packing the UA top and Puma tank. Sorry Lululemon but the yoga pants are staying home with the silk long underwear.