Testing the waters today with a different kind of ultra than I am accustomed to. The "Pickled Feet" 6/12/24 hour and 100 Mile race will start today. I will see if I can last 6 hours of 2.5 mile scenic dirt loops along the Boise River. Brandi and I will run from 6 pm to midnight. I am approaching this as nothing more than a long, fast workout and some fun. If anything acts up, I'm dropping. You hear that self...dropping! I've had some tendonitis-y feelings in the left shin of late- the same that I've had every March since I started running. Not too bad this time, but definitely cause for concern. It only happens in winter and is gone when it warms up- Juneish. Not sure what it is, but I have thought about it for thousands of hours, picking my brain for answers. I welcome any and all advice and comments as to what this "condition" is and how it may be handled. It could help me to put this in writing and get a different take on the "problem."
Here are a few leading theories:
1. I run too fast, too often? Nope...I kept all that in check this winter.
2. Too much volume? Nope...it has come whether I run 20 miles per week and cross train, or more miles, like during this winter.
3. Cold related- tissues are too cold? Nope...I bundled up every single run this winter. Wore compression sleeves a ton this winter.
4. Hard and consistent surfaces? There are no trails for me to run while everything is buried under snow. I run the TMill, roads, etc to do what I can. I manage this the best I can, but I feel it is a factor.
5. Vitamin D deficiency? My tissues seem to degrade by winters end from getting basically no sun at all
for 5-6 months, then I get inflammations throughout my body- headaches, shin splints, hip pain, etc. I supplement 3x daily and eat a diet high in D, but it is just not the same as a mountain run without a shirt on. I have read that a long run with good sun exposure can create 10x the Vitamin D than the USRDA level. Dr. Phil Maffetone says Vitamin D is like steroids. When the sun comes out, I can feel my strength grow daily. Last year, that did not happen until late June. This year, I am hoping this comes along a little sooner.
This is one of the many hardships of living in the high country for me. When the sun comes out, I have been bulletproof from July until December.
6. Arthritis in my genome? About 15 years ago, I got iritis in my right eye. This is a terrible inflammation of the iris (colored part) of the eye. It lasted over 1 month and required specialists and steroids to cure it. I was worried I would lose the eye. It looked like it was going to fall out. Part of my treatment was testing me for an arthritis gene that makes me prone to inflammations. Sure enough, I had it. My closest relatives on my mother's side have suffered from arthritis and pain all their lives. My joints are fine, so it is not true arthritis in my case (arthro=joint, -itis=inflammation), but I feel this has something to do with my pains. I can feel it coming on and it is accompanied by headaches- one of the key reasons I quit running when I was 12. I just could not stomach another headache. Once the tissues get inflamed, it is weeks before I can kick it. I feel as if I have missed a good 2/3 of the training I am capable of because of these issues- mostly the shin splints. Everything I have accomplished in running has been on a less than 40 miles per week average.
7. Biomechanics? Probably. I need help here and I know it. I have studied and tried to apply what I've learned, but I feel there are still strength differences causing my injuries in my shins. I know from my shoe wear patterns that I supinate- meaning I strike on the outside of my foot and fail to pronate adequately- or roll onto the medial side of my foot and push off the big toe. This causes a few things to happen. My peroneal tendons and muscles (up the lateral side of lower leg) are punished and the medial shin muscles (posterior tibialis) works hard to pull that supination over, but winds up shearing the connections of that muscle from the shin bone. Occasionally, the anterior tibial muscle will act up- the one that lifts the foot toward my face- from trying to take on jobs it is not built for, once the other muscles fail. The entire left lower leg falls into chaos and I have to take time off.
8. Not enough physical therapy (PT), stretching, rolling out? Impossible. I do this stuff 10 times as much as I run. Maybe I do it too much and cause tissue aggrevation?
9. Wrong shoes? I've tried them all. My shins are crap when it's cold and hard as steel during mountain running season.
10. Diet? I have experimented with this with great attention to what seems to help or hurt. I eat super clean- mostly wild game meat and vegetables. I had the same troubles when I ate whatever I wanted- no better no, worse.
11. A blessing? Maybe. All this forces me to rest during much of the winter and cross train with things that balance me out. This makes for a great summer, but causes all sorts of grief when I try to race in the early season.
Feel free to armchair MD this one. Not sure it will help me this year, as Spring seems to be creeping up on the Mountains of Idaho and with it the trails begin to melt. I know I have it pretty good, and this is a petty thing to concern myself with such grief. However, figuring out this puzzle could unlock the next levels of my fitness and bring me closer to my dreams.
|Challenger Track Club...fer life! This was the Old Man's jersey. I still have mine, less than half this size.|
|Cows...just a different kind.|
|Jug Mountain Ranch SNOWY 45K Fat tire bike race.|
|Manning the SCOTT booth with Julie and her Maker's Mark.|
|Brandi represents team "Shrink and Pink"|
|Packing up. A great day of volunteering for me and racing for B.|