At my age, you’d think I’d have a pretty good understanding of myself. Life is, after all, supposed to be a journey of self-discovery. The last couple of months, however, have provided me a couple of new insights about myself that I wish I’d known much earlier.
The first revelation came when I got my tri bike fitting. The fitter used a series of cameras and a computer for the analysis. That allowed for a dynamic (moving) assessment, instead of the static (stationary) I’ve had before. He found that my left knee had a tendency to turn out during the back half of my pedal stroke. He never would have seen that using a simple angular measurement. His immediate question was, “Are both of your legs the same length?” Of course, I thought. I’ve never had any reason to believe otherwise. Oh, how wrong could I be.
The second, related, but separate revelation came today; I pronate, which I’ve never done before. I’m recovering from a flare up of Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot. I’ve been following the standard “RICE” approach… Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, and the pain and discomfort is subsiding. But I was concerned that it wasn’t happening quickly enough. That meant one of two things was going to happen; the problem would persist and prevent me from finishing the duathlon and triathlon that will complete my Chasing Fifty Challenge (not likely), or I would rush back into training before I was completely healed, reinjure myself, and not complete the challenge (much more likely). So, at a coworker’s suggestion, I headed to a local orthotics specialist for an analysis. He showed me that I do, in fact, pronate, probably as a result of aging and degrading of the muscle and bone structure in my foot. That’s what helped bring on the PF.
He also confirmed what the bike fitter suspected… my left leg is about 3/8″ longer than my right. While the two conditions are not related (the length discrepancy didn’t cause the PF), they do exacerbate each other. The extra pressure on the left foot leads to overcompensation on the right foot to maintain balance. While it would not cause PF in and of itself, once the condition started this probably made it worse.
He made some suggestions to help speed the PF healing and prevent future flare ups, in addition to the ice and rest. Probably the best part was that he didn’t tell me to stop training… his focus was on how to get me back into training as soon as possible while still healing. I now know a lot more about the mechanics of the foot than I really ever wanted to know. I also know a lot more about me, which I wish I’d known earlier.
The upside of the injury is that I’ve shifted some effort to swimming and cycling, which is paying dividends. My long ride this morning was 40 miles through some really remote, but beautiful, areas of the county. The route was based on the hill workout I did earlier in the week, but I took a couple of “offshoot” roads to extend the distance from 30 to 40 miles. The first side road took the route further south than normal. I saw that on map my ride, but didn’t fully grasp the effect until I turned onto the road itself. Instead of a series of rolling hills along some ridgelines, the southern route was a rapid series of short, intense climbs across the ridgelines. A little surprise, but a great workout. The best part was that there was even less traffic on these secondary roads, so the majority of the ride was more peaceful. I think this is my new favorite 40 mile ride.
Since the PF is still healing, I’ll skip tomorrow’s long run and substitute either a swim or another ride (but less than the 40 I did today). I’m anxious to get back to running, but not before the foot is ready. Who knew I could be so patient?