Foot Problems

We tried bumping up my rest again, but my times still rapidly deteriorated after the first couple 400m’s:

Date Distance Run Time Rest Time
2017-12-04 400m 1:17+0:01 2:30
400m 1:17+0:02 2:30
400m 1:17+0:04 2:30
400m 1:17+0:07 2:30
400m 1:17+0:12 2:30
400m 1:17+0:14

And my shins were getting worse. So the next day, I booked an appointment with Dr. Caitlin Painchaud of Chicago Sports Chiropractic. It was the smartest decision I made.

Some people can wiggle their ears, and some can’t – the difference between these types of people is that the wigglers figured out how to get their brains to talk to their ear muscles, while the non-wigglers didn’t. Turns out, there are certain muscles in my feet that my brain simply doesn’t know how to talk to. Dr. Painchaud was able to diagnose this by asking me to do simple things like spreading my toes apart. I stared at my foot and the task felt as impossible as trying to bend a spoon with the power of my mind.

As a result, I’ve been running all wrong. My foot muscles are not properly flexing, absorbing contact with the ground, or pushing off to generate force. I can get a reasonable time on my first couple 400m sprints by compensating with other muscles, but those muscles, not being optimal for that role, tire quickly and then basically shut down. On my remaining runs, then, my feet basically become lead blocks that drag behind me, and I’m not able to generate any force to drive forward. Without any flex, each stride becomes a hard thump that pounds away at my shins.

Learning this was such a revelation to me. All the symptoms I had been experiencing – the shin pain, the difficulty pushing off, the sensation that my feet were just sloshing around in my shoes – they all started to make sense.

Thankfully, according to the doctor, this is fixable. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been doing a regiment of physical therapy exercises everyday, and I’m seeing great progress. I can spread my toes now. I haven’t sprinted since December 4th, but when I jog, I can feel a new set of muscles in my feet engaging. I feel super excited and confident that when I return to the track, I’ll have the foot muscle endurance to finish my 6×400’s at pace.

In the meanwhile, my current weekly regiment is slightly modified. Before, my typical week would look like: 2 days yoga, 2 sprint days, 2 lifting days, 1 long-run day. Currently, it looks something like: 1-2 days rest, 1 day yoga, 2 lifting days, 2-3 cross-training days (cycling or elliptical).

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