Heavy Running

HomerWriting a blog is at the same time both exciting and fearful. Returning readers are used to your ramblings, your sense of humor (such as it is), your hot buttons, and your propensity to ramble and shoot off topic from time to time. Readers of other blogs, however, are not accustomed to you, so you have to both get your personal message out but at the same time tread carefully on established ideas and beliefs. I will attempt to do so without ruffling too many feathers.

But let’s be honest, challenging the status quo and ruffling feathers can be fun….

Each part of the triathlon has been an issue for me at one point or the other. While I have managed to get some other control, most notably the bike and swim portions, others still cause trouble, i.e. The Run. As the title of my blog insinuates, I am a big guy, once tipping the scales over 300 pounds (303 to be exact). I have since lost over 50 of those, but running still has been an issue, mostly due to my girth and the pounding my knees and feet take over a long course, but also due to psoriatic arthritis and degeneration in hands, knees, ankles and lower back. Running is painful the majority of the time for me. I have never had a long course race, marathon, half marathon, or 70.3, that did not end with me having sore feet and sore hips. I can only imagine the pain waiting for me in two weeks after the Disney Marathon.

I have done extensive shoe research, spending entirely too much to end up wearing them for 100 miles and ditching because they never “feel right”. Along with the shoes, I do a lot of reading. This is a normal thing for me when I get interested in something. An interest causes a direct correlation to my Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook library increases. I will buy a book just for a specific article or chapter. This, along with talking to fellow runners and triathletes, offers numerous ideas on how to combat this issue.

“Get a gait analysis at a Running Store” 

Done more than once …. not sure I buy into its usefulness 100% because it usually leads to the comment of ….

“Get insoles”

Again, tried, but actually hurt more when I used them. And don’t even talk to me about compression socks, especially in the beginning. I have tried them again recently with none of the issue I had before, so may be revisiting this one.

“Try shoes with more cushioning”

This actually seems to have helped. At the recommendation of my coach and a local running store manager I picked up a pair of Hoka OneOne’s. They are big, but weigh about 9.5 ounces. I have had no pain since trying them. I have been going back and forth recently with other shoes and finding the year I have spent in the Hoka brand seems to have helped me even with other shoes. I also have a feeling that the Chi Running/POSE method is playing a role in this. I am still not fast, but I competed a triathlon in the beginning of the year with no foot pain, and that is a minor miracle in of itself. Recently I have also tried the Altra brand and finding the same success, but with a bigger toe box. Bonus!

“Lose weight”

Really? Never thought of that.

Usually it is well-meaning, but the problem with talking to MOST coaches (you know, those that cling to the “carb loading” ideal even though study after study show it does not work, or worse yet … push chocolate milk as a recovery drink?) and fellow runners is that they have never been heavy. They do not understand the pain and issues associated, so their advice and plans, while well-intentioned, do not work as well for those of us running heavy. Running heavy causes many issues, from torn Achilles, to shin splints, to rolled ankles, to torn meniscus and strained ligaments. It’s a never-ending search for the “perfect run”, the one that you can finish with no pain (yes, I know that all races have some pain associated, but not this kind of pain). The irritating part is that, aerobically, I feel in good condition. I am never out of breath and usually feel I could keep running, but the pain in the balls of my feel is so bad I can barely hobble to the car.

Until then I run on. I swim on. I bike on. I deal with the pain as it comes. I train through what I can and rest when I feel I can’t (let’s be honest though, I train even when I shouldn’t). I am being chased by the spectre of the 300 pound man who stared back at me in May 2010. He is relentless and insistent. My own Mr. Hyde.

And he will NOT win …

I have completed over 20 Sprint Triathlons, 3 Half Ironman’s, 6 Half Marathons, and 1 Marathon, proudly finishing last in his age group in every single one, but never having a DNF. I hope to continue that streak in 2015.

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