Sunday, October 12, 2014

My Body My pain. Beyond compare..Barefoot to Shod

After the 2014 Jan SCMM PB something did not go right. Perhaps I overdid the pace or it might be heel landing on Bare feet. Towards march I started having heel pain. More pronounced in the right foot a bit of niggle on the left. My Buddy Umesh was going through something similar and he attended physiotherapy sessions.
The Heel pain played on my mind. Perhaps it was Wrong after all to run bare foot. Jeetu / Nitin mentioned that my posture needs correction. I tried to ensure front foot (toe landing) and the pain worsened. After which I started running in Decathlon walking shoes that have thin sole.
The pain did not subside. Early morning it was at worst.  I discontinued from running. It’s MY pain and no advice is going to make things right. 

The stubborn mind of a mule speaketh. The runner became a painter and I started sketching in frenzy. As soon as the artist takes over, I tend to become unorganized at exercise. This time the artist took over all my senses. The sketches became better than before. My wife Ila was deeply concerned. She asked me to keep a check on myself, medical examinations but the artist was violent now. Any distraction and Mr Hyde took over. I wanted to be submerged in art. I ignored my meals as I was deep into my sketches. I ate because I must and Ila was checking on me.

Sketching had become a passion and my goal was to complete one sketch at night and one before work. My wife has supported my crazy pursuits to excel in any field and she must have been through lot of pain.
We still went to the racecourse to do our weekend runs. I would try to find excuses to remain at home and paint. I did not utilize the monsoons to improve my running. The sketching was important to me to maintain work life balance. It has been a key player to reduce work fatigue and be better at work. Afterall we need to work hard and better as it brings home the bucks.
Nitin Mentioned about the Pune running event in October. To keep a goal I enlisted for the event. Do I need to pay for running a simple 21kkm has always been a question for me. But we pay to “celebrate” and the last years run “felt good”.  Then I also set another goal i.e. to do a full marathon in Chennai in Dec. Then another one to run SCMM in Jan.
I was now going against all the rules for ultimate “free running” that I set for myself. I realized that I got to pay to keep the horse on track. (And a wild one indeed.) Enough of painting horses and my key marathon rolemodels.
My weekend runs at the racecourse (now with shoes) restarted. My pace had gone for a toss. And a 10km run would leave me with knots in the calf and these were causing me the heel pain. Painful roller massages helped to relieve the knots and pain in heel got lesser.
I invested in Sketchers mid foot landing shoes. The arch support was needed for the wounded. The shoe becomes a “plaster” that is needed after injury. The freedom of BF was lost but if I needed to run I needed this padding. Running in thinner sole shoes brought back the heel pain.
Master Jeetu had mentioned that for barefoot running, the posture needs to be right. It would bring pain otherwise. I have no choice other than running with shoes as the posture needs correction first. If the ankle is weak it will always impact my heel and the end result is Plantar Fasciitis. (Hopefully I am in my first phase of this ailment.)
It’s perhaps because I do not pay attention to warm-ups or post run stretches. So runners who are ignorant might take this as an advice. It’s not BF or shod issue. Injury can hit when least expected.
 It’s just that you did not pay enough attention when required; Or when you try to overdo your natural pace without much of exercise.
I was a bit better prepared when I landed in the BMCC ground on 12 Oct. But I had not stretched beyond 9km weekend run. At the best I was barely able to maintain my old pace.
21km was so easy last year with a PB and it’s a too long race this year. Would it bring back the heel pain? Even a 10 km run needs to be supplemented with a warm-cold foot bath that reduces pain.
I met my old buddies, Muthu, Rafiq etc. After warmup we went to the start line.
6AM the race is flagged off. I wear no watch and I do not carry a mobile this time. There is nothing that gives me alerts on my pace. I plan to give it best at all junctures in this race. Its important to keep a check on the body and adapt to what keeps it supple.
Umesh is running with me. My crazy friend has cycled 160kms just the day before. Now he is going strong. His recovery has been stronger than mine and he is again proving himself as a strong endurance athlete. ‘I ought to focus on myself. Not at what Umesh can do.’ Comparisons are false if the baseline is wrong. I need to do the best for my body as we need to run strong in Chennai.
‘Parag! Look up’.. I shift my gaze to the sky and a remote controlled helicopter is whirring above us taking pictures. Technology put to a good use.
I see an energetic girl push through the crowds. It’s Ankita from Free runners. Great improvement and I can barely keep up with her even at my best.
I keep changing my pace uphill and downhill to get the best efficiency. Running with shoes is good for me esp at down slope where my ankles take an impact otherwise. Uphill is much better without shoes. My thoughts are occasionally disturbed by my friends who are either volunteering or running. A lot of people overtake me but I stick to my pace.
At every booth I stop and gulp water / electrolyte. A young chap snatches a glass from behind me as I wait in a queue. What manners.  I know that his glass will not end in the dustbin and I win my bet.
I cannot throw my trash on the road. I run with empty bottles to discard it at the next waterbooth. Why cannot others do this simple thing? Why put additional strain on volunteers? We speak about Swacch Bharat!
The 10km turnaround. I pat my Chennai Marathon Buddy, Mayuresh.
Leg Muscles are getting taut there is someone with a spray but I decide against it. I choose the electrolyte instead. Ankita is pacing another friend from Free runners. (I realize later that She has reduced pace to make sure that she assists her friend for her firs 21km. What comradeship. You see this only in Marathons)
The last uphill slope is a pain but I choose not to walk or look towards the top of the slope. Posture is imp. I swing the arms. ‘This is just a 21km. If I don’t feel good at end of it, 42 km at Chennai will be tough.’
I remember last year’s event where my leg muscles got balled up running downhill. I am cautious this time. End line appears and I jog to the finis.
Slow jog to pick my medal and I meet another Veteran. Dr Sandip Doshi is a fit gentleman. He cross trains doing long cycle rides and runs.  We have met only on FB. Both peer at each other , a flicker of recognition and we shake hands. It’s his 3rd 21 km in 3 weeks. And he is lot older than me. Such people keep me inspired to do better.
I take my medal and walk back to meet Umesh. A banana and then an apple peps me up.
Umesh must have done it in close to 2 hrs. What a strong lad. I take his leave as I want to ease my limbs.

At home the hot immersion relaxes the ankle pain. I doze away, wake up at 12 and we have a nice family meal at Wadeshwar.
The pain is bearable but it is not a painless run as in past. The stiff muscles did not allow me the racecourse run at the evening and the wild horse got back to his watercolor pad.

What shall happen in Chennai will be seen in Chennai. Why worry?