My left foot and ankle hurt. Both knees are sore. My right ankle and right hip flexor don't feel too good. Two of my toenails are black.
Ever since I increased my running mileage from three to anywhere between five and seven, the lower half of my body has responded negatively. My muscles feel great and I'm getting back into decent shape, but it appears that crucial joints -- ankles, knees and hips -- are taking a hit.
I'll start with the black toenails, since this is the most humorous ailment (to me, at least). I was at my girlfriend's house one night, sitting on the couch after a 6.5-mile run. It was the longest run of my life and I was feeling it. We were both extremely curious why one toenail on each of my feet was black. They also hurt a little.
I knew that basically I had ruptured some blood vessels underneath the nail, but I didn't know why. Nor did I know if it was normal.
So we did a Google search and found the answer.
I was glad to see I was not alone in this affliction. In fact, it seems that a lot of runners get black toenails at one point in their lives. I found out there are multiple reasons -- from ill-fitting shoes and socks to bad orthotics. We also noticed that a sudden (and large) increase in mileage can be to blame.
Click here for a good blog entry I found on this subject.
The next day, I ran the same 6.5-mile route. My toes were hurting even more, so I resorted to a home remedy late that night. It helped a little. (Note: Not for the squeamish)
The pain in my right hip flexor comes and goes; it actually feels fine today, and I ran more than six miles yesterday. I'm not too worried about it. Might be a stretching issue.
Funny story about my left knee. About five years ago when I was living with my parents after college, I used to play with the family dog in the backyard. I'd throw a tennis ball at the chimney on the side of the house, and then she'd chase it as it kicked back towards me. It was a fun game.
One day we were playing this in the middle of the summer. It was hot. The dog was panting. I threw the ball at the chimney and watched it hurtle through the air toward me. The backyard was slightly sloped away from the house, so the dog would essentially be running downhill right at me as she chased after the ball.
But instead of getting out of the way as I normally did, I wasn't able to move quick enough. Mocha was an 85-pound chocolate lab, short and very pudgy. She was running full speed at me, her yellow eyes fixated on the green tennis ball that bounded away from her. When I realized I wouldn't be able to move I braced myself and turned to the right.
What followed was the collision of all collisions. Mocha ran straight into the side of my left knee and I fell to the grass in a heap. The pain in my knee was excruciating. I tried standing up but couldn't.
I was able to get back on my feet a few minutes later and limped gingerly back into the house. I could barely walk. It was bad.
Stupidly, I did not get any medical treatment. I look back on this day now and realize I probably did some ligament damage. Over the years I'd feel a twinge here and there while working out, and always blamed it on the dog (in a joking way -- it wasn't her fault). And now, since I've been running more than I ever have, my left knee aches after a workout. I feel it directly underneath the kneecap.
File under: bonehead moves.
My left foot also hurts. The bottom of it feels incredibly tight when I try to flex it. My father had some issues with plantar fasciitis last summer; I hope it's not that. The inside of my left ankle ain't feelin' too good either. It might be shin splits, but the pain is literally on the upper half of the protruding ankle bone. More on what I think of this in a minute.
The right ankle is sore too, although it feels better today. My right knee's been giving me some trouble as well, but I attribute that to when I whacked it on the side of my desk last week at the office. The kneecap hurt all weekend.
Here's what I think the problem is regarding my ankles: flat feet. I have a slight arch but not a perfect one. When I walk around the house barefoot, my ankles hurt even more because I am getting zero support. And when I look down at my feet, my ankles push to the inside as my foot lands. Again, no support. I think this is causing the insides of my ankles to absorb much of the force when I run, as opposed to my entire foot. Hence the pain I'm having.
Flat feet can also wreak havoc with your knees, hips and back because everything is out of line.
I bought a swanky pair of Nike running shoes over the summer so I don't think they need to be replaced. Nor do I want to. My initial plan will be to purchase some over-the-counter orthotics that will give my feet the support they need. Hopefully this will help out. If not, there are running shoes with more support built-in. That's another option.
If those fail, I'll have to visit the doctor and go from there.
Did I tell you I'm just about a month away from turning 30? If you saw how I hobble around my house at night, you'd think I was a bit older than that.
Here's to running.
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