Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pain vs. Injury

Okay, so I spent the last two weeks teaching some internal company training classes.  Two weeks ago I started in Dallas.  I was really looking forward to the time on the road because I wouldn't feel as guilty about spending two or more hours each night running.  Near the end of class on Monday (4/12) I found a guy who ran cross country and track in high school.  He told me that I run MUCH slower than he usually does but I thought, what the heck, I see if I can keep up with him.  I washed my Vibrams on Sunday and put them in a plastic bag a little wet.  I forgot to take them out when I arrived at the hotel so when it was time to run they were still wet.  BIG mistake (more on this later).

We left the hotel for a light three mile run.  The pace was faster than what I was used to but not crazy fast however, after about two and a half miles I was getting a bit winded and I got a cramp for the first time since I started running again.  I walked for a bit and then we started running again.  As it turns out, we got turned around and the three mile run turned into six miles.  Luckily my running partner was nice enough to slow down but around the four mile mark I started noticing that the top of my foot was a bit sore.  By the time I returned to the hotel I could tell that something was wrong.  When I got up to my room I noticed a couple of things.
1.  I had HUGE blisters on both feet on the balls of my feet and toes.  I mean blisters with blood in them.  Very ugly.
2.  After my shower I noticed that the top of my foot was sore... sore enough that it was difficult to walk.  I wasn't sure exactly what had happened but I ended up staying in that night and just going to bed.

The next day my foot was sore throughout the day but not so bad that I couldn't walk normally etc.  I thought this was a good sign because there was a really cool lake in Dallas, White Rock Lake, that I found on map my run and I thought it looked like a great run.  After class I was feeling reasonably good so I thought, well, there is a line between being injured and just being in pain.  Pain is something I have learned to deal with in the past... the trick is figuring out when you really have an injury.  I decided to go for it.  The run started off pretty well.  My foot was a bit sore but nothing major.  I ran from the hotel to the lake which was pretty uneventful... lots of sidewalks etc.  Once I arrived at the lake I was in heaven!  The path was great and there were TONS of other people walking, biking, etc.  About an hour and a half in I ate a cliff bar and kept trucking along.  About two hours in I hit the bad side of the lake.  Apparently one side is paved, well kept, and easy for people to get to.  The other side is crap... the path is really bumpy and falling apart and very few people were on it.  After about the two hour mark my foot started getting really sore.  I thought well, I can get back to the hotel in about and hour and a half if I can just muscle through it.  That just didn't happen.  The rough trail made my foot hurt even worse and I slowed from a decent (well decent for me) nine minute pace to about a twelve minute pace... then I slowed to a walk in a few areas.  I finished running around the whole lake and then decided that I didn't want to run the remaining six miles back to the hotel.  I called a taxi to come get me.  The next morning I could barely walk!  Yeah, it was bad.  I ended up limping around all day long.  After that I decided to stop running until it felt better.

Fast forward one week to Houston.  Monday afternoon rolls around and my foot is feeling pretty good.  Some slight pains every once in awhile but overall it was feeling great.  I was staying down town again and found a great six mile run around the bayou.  The best part about it was, according to the sites I looked at, there was a running path and a trail right next to it for running.  I started out slow and my foot felt fine.  So I started picking up the pace.  So far so good.  One mile, two mile, three mile... wow, feeling great.  Three and a half miles in BAM.  Foot pain returns with teeth.  I don't know exactly what I did to mess it up again.  I don't remembers stepping on anything or hitting the ground wrong.  I think that it just wasn't healed and it took three miles for it to start hurting again.  I was near my turn around point so I just decided to walk the remaining three miles to the hotel.  They were long, slow miles.  I tracked my run using MapMyRun Plus on the iPhone and discovered that my fastest mile was 7:01.  My slowest mile was 25 minutes. 

It's now Sunday and I haven't run since then.  After doing some reading and talking with a podiatrist friend of mine I think that I may have a stress fracture.  I have to pay for my medical expenses out of pocket so I'm not going to bother going in for an x-ray.  There really isn't much they can do for it anyway.  I'll just rest it for this week and most likely the coming week and see how it's doing then.  It is really frustrating because the Laurel Highland Run is just around the corner and I should be tackling my longest runs in the next two or three weeks.  It will be interesting to see how these weeks off affect my overall training.  Unless something else happens I am still planing on running the ultra.  We'll just have to wait in see.

The moral of this story.  It is important to understand the difference between pain and injury... but if you have the choice don't be an idiot like me... assume it's an injury and take it easy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Getting the 'Funk' out of the Vibram KSO's

During the winter I found due to the colder weather, even during long runs, the KSO's didn't really smell because me feet weren't sweating.  As summer approaches many of you may start to notice that your KSO's have a certain "funky" smell about them.  If you think about it, this makes total sense.  The KSO's are basically a pair of socks with rubber glued to the bottom.  My socks smell after just one day of use and REALLY smell if I do anything that results in sweating.  So how do you get rid of the smell?

The Vibram website indicates that the KSO's should be cleaned as follows:
"Vibram FiveFingers are machine washable.  Use gentle, warm water cycle with liquid or powdered detergent.  Hang to air dry.  Make sure to keep the KSO Trek, Performa, and Moc away from direct sunlight or heat source while drying."

This works fine however, I have found that simply using detergent doesn't get the funk out.  Here is what I do to keep them clean.
1.     After going for a run, or some other sweaty activity, I wear them into the shower.  There I rinse out most of the dirt that has built up since the last washing.  I usually fill them up with water from the shower head, swish the water around and then dump them out.  It usually takes three or four times before the water looks cleanish.
2.    Drop them in the washing machine with detergent AND put in a full cup of baking soda.  I try to let the machine fill up with water and let the baking soda dissolve before throwing in my shoes.  Additionally, to avoid the knocking sound the shoes make in the washer I try to put in at least one towel.
3.    Once they are done washing I simply pull them out and let them dry.  My shoes usually come out semi dry and if I let them sit over night they are completely dry by morning.

This process does a good job of getting them clean and funk free.  In order to avoid washing them two or more times a week I have tried a number of other remedies… dumping odor eater powder, baking powder, and those odor eater balls.  They all kind of worked but not really.  My conclusion was the only true way to keep them smelling decent was washing them and airing them dry. 

I'd love to hear from other Vibram owners if they have discovered any other ways to keep them smelling clean.