Christmas has finished. It’s official. The decorations are down, the tree is looking forlorn awaiting its fate and it’s back to work for a full week for the first time in nearly a month.
Generally, the Christmas period has been a lovely one for me with lots of gatherings with friends and family, however my running Christmas was not as I’d hoped. Since getting back on the road after a short break post-Oxford half I have suffered with a niggle in my right foot. The harder or longer I ran, the longer it took to go away. That was until I visited a physio for the first time in over a decade.
I managed to get an appointment with Liz at the Witney Physiotherapy Centre on the day after Boxing Day. A quick chat to explain my running and injury history and then followed a series of observations and tests for Liz to try to establish what the mystery niggle was. The good news was it appeared that nothing major was afoot (excuse the pun!). My muscles are generally long (except my hams, which I was aware of) and strong (except my glute meds, which I wasn’t aware of) so nothing obviously causing me a problem.
Liz gave me a few things to help work on my over-pronation, my tight hams and my core strength before strapping my foot, putting it through it’s paces again and then sending me on a 5k run, making sure to stress this should be the last for my current pair of trainers.
Now, I’d been for a 5k the day before so that my foot was in its sensitive state for the appointment so it’s no real surprise that my post-appointment run was the most uncomfortable I’d experienced since the onset of the niggle, so much so that I couldn’t even manage 5k. I followed my usual post-run routine and only took the tape off later that afternoon.
Considering the discomfort level had gone off the scale I was expecting to have at least 3 or 4 days of discomfort – the longest it had taken for my previously for my foot to feel normal again. Imagine my surprise that the very next morning it was almost back to normal.
I don’t know why it hadn’t taken an age to recover but for safety’s sake I took a week off before going for a gentle run in my back-up trainers. I managed just about 6k with only marginal discomfort.
The one thing I had left to do from Liz’s instructions was to get a new pair of running shoes. Yesterday was the first opportunity to get myself to my nearest running shop: Up & Running in Headington, Oxford, some 15 miles from home.
What I got from my visit was, primarily, fantastic customer service. I wish I had asked for the staff member’s name as he was helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and was happy to listen to my running history (re: my niggle) and my running future (re: my new Run England running group, Run England Cogges).
After a few standing and running observations he, like the physio, was a little puzzled as what he saw. Seeing the slow-mo pictures of me running in neutral shoes showed just how staggering my over-pronation is yet while squatting, he said my mechanics looked good.
He had a thought: perhaps my feet were growing!
Well, getting wider at least – he suggested that with my now-regular running, my feet were spreading out and as a result, perhaps my old shoes were just squeezing my feet too much and therefore causing my discomfort. Seems to make sense. So he returned from the back with a pair of Mizuno Wave Alchemy 12 – a pair he said would deal with my over-pronation and at the same give my famously fat feet some space in the generous toe box.
I couldn’t believe how comfortable they felt, and light, yet reassuringly supportive.
We were going to try a pair of Brooks – the new version of my back-up trainers – but they had no 11s in stock so that made the decision easier! Away I came with a bright, white pair of new running shoes but I’d have to wait until the morning to try them out; we were out for bowling and a meal for a friend’s birthday.
The morning came soon enough and I killed two birds with one stone: successfully christening the new shoes whilst tracking some loops for my new running group. In total I managed 5.55 miles at a steady pace of around 8:40 per mile.
As I sit here my foot fells fine so I’m back up and running! (Again, sorry for more avoidable puns, I couldn’t resist!)
After my run I made sure I kept up with my Janathon challenge of a plank a day in January. And here’s today’s effort:
Plank duration: 1m 32s
Improvement since day 1: 30s
Janathon planks: 6 out of 6
Plank streak: 6