I finally have a bona fide running war-injury: a perfect set of runner’s toes. Just a fancy term for black toenails!
Please do not faint (although I myself almost fainted when I saw them). Apart from a dull, constant pain that nothing Ponstan can’t cure, I hardly notice them. And if I don’t wear open-toe heels or flip-flops, so would you. I will not post pictures even if you pay me. No one needs the horror, thanks.
So how did I get them? Around Week 2 of my training I decided to break in a new pair of trainers and in my zealousness to be able to run for 30 minutes continuously and log in 30km worth of runs in a week, I ran in those trainers for 5 straight days. These were what I found out:
- I should have bought trainers that are 1/2 to 1 full size bigger than my street size. My fault. I didn’t look this up before I bought them. It seemed counterintuitive coz when you buy heels, and I have a lot of experience buying heels, you buy one that fits perfectly. Apparently feet expands a lot more than it usually does when you run and when there is no extra room at the front of the foot, the friction will make the tissues under the nails bleed and bruise and voila, runner’s toe. Once this happens, nothing much I could do but wait to grow it out (or for it to fall off. The nails, not the toes!)
- Socks matter. While I always run with socks, I was not using the right kind of socks. Who knew there are so many rules to running?
- The band-aid industry has profited significantly since I started training. Plus, it is a bad bad idea to run 5km daily in a pair of new trainers for 5 straight days. The blisters were worthy of awards. I used up 3 packs of band-aids the next couple of days just to be able to wear shoes to go to work.
- Yoga works in place of regular stretching exercises. The first time I ran for a full 30 minutes, I was in pain the next day despite doing stretches after the run like recommended. Then I read that yoga could work better – I am no pro but I know my downward dogs from my cat stretches. I use the instructional DVD called Simply Yoga by Yolanda Pettinato for guidance since the last time I went to a proper yoga class was more than a year ago. One full round of sun salutation after each run and I haven’t had any muscle ache since. The downside is it adds another 30 minutes to my routine so these days I try very hard to start my run at 8pm or thereabouts so that I can finish before 9.30pm.
- Shifting weight with running is an excruciatingly slow and frustrating journey. Tomorrow is the start of Week 4 and I have only managed to lose 1kg since. I still have 4kg that needs to disappear and I have no idea when that will happen, if at all. I was also told to expect for my jeans to be tighter around the calf as muscle forms (what?!!).
- Rest days are important, that’s why all training programmes have rest days. I find it very tempting to run willy-nilly every day especially when I notice little improvements like better speed and longer endurance. It sounds unbelievable but I actually have to force myself to switch to walking/hill training or using the recumbent exercise bike on rest days because it is very tempting to run and try to beat yesterday’s pace. In case you haven’t noticed, I am extremely competitive, even against myself.
- I can, and have done it regularly since Week 2, run for 30 minutes continuously and had a personal best distance of 5.3km during a time trial – which far exceeded the original target that I set for myself i.e. 5km in 45 minutes. It was a nice surprise. Of course it would have been nicer WITHOUT the black toes.
This is the training schedule that I use, courtesy of Complete Running Network. I am at Week 4 but I am using Week 5’s instead (I was able t0 cheat because I have been running regularly since April so it wasn’t exactly a shock to my system). Yes the aim is to be able to run for 60 minutes continuously by Week 8. I can’t keep a straight face as I type that. Realistically I don’t think I can make it, but I am sure gonna try.
- Exercisers debate stretching (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Find the Perfect Socks for Your Running Shoes (onlineshoes.com)
- The Black Toenail: Runners, keep your feet primed with shoes that fit (nationalpost.com)
- Top 5: Fitness Shoes (beso.com)
- New Ideas on Proper Stretching Techniques (webmd.com)