The whistle pig whiffed. The groundhog goofed. The woodchuck choked. Punxsutawney Phil botched his forecast. Six more weeks of winter? That was a fail. Saturday, February 20: sunny, breezy, seventy degrees. It looks like we’re going to get a week of this. This is not the winter weather Phil predicted.
But I’m not complaining.
Typically, I make a big show of accepting whatever weather Mother Nature throws at me. Running the North Carolina sand dunes barefoot on a scorching summer afternoon. Commuting by bicycle in a sub-zero freeze. I once ran a wooded hiking trail during a hurricane. My mantra is “You can’t control the weather, just make it work.” But in truth, I like comfort as much as the next person. Sunny, breezy, seventy-degree comfort. I think I’m getting soft.
For the past few years I’ve ended my trail-running season with some fairly long races. Then, with only four or five months until my usual early-spring half marathon, I plow right through the winter to hang onto my mileage-base. Last year, winter running wasn’t so terrible; most of my runs were temperate—in the thirties and forties. Two years ago, it was so cold, my water-bottle froze shut. Two years ago, there was nothing soft about me.
This seems like a pleasant winter for running. Not too cold, zero snow. But I didn’t run this winter. My Fall 50K abused my aging body. By November, I had a full-blown case of Plantar Fasciitis. For my non-running readers unfamiliar with this ailment, it’s inflammation of the fascia muscle in the foot. It feels similar to stepping barefoot onto a lit cigarette… with every step.
Since becoming hobbled with Plantar Fasciitis, I’ve learned quite a bit about it. First off, I now know that almost everyone I’ve talked with in the past four months has already had it. Second, every one of them swears it’s impossible to cure. Finally, each of these people cured their PF with a secret but fool-proof remedy. So, take notes, because I’m about to spill. The only way to cure Plantar Fasciitis is…
- Freeze a water-bottle and stand on it for forty minutes each day; or…
- Sleep in a boot; or…
- See a physical therapist for a battery of exercises for your already overtaxed muscles; or…
- Get monthly cortisone shots; or…
- Surgery; or…
- Quit running for life; or…
- Soak your foot in rainwater collected from a rotting tree stump on the night of a lunar eclipse.
I made one of these up. So which remedy did I pick? I decided to take the winter off running and add lots of stretching. It’s too soon to say how I made out. I’m just beginning to restart my running program.
I’m a superstitious guy. I worry about jinxes, taunting the gods, disparaging the natural order of things, that sort of stuff. I’ve spent all winter fretting about those secret cures I’ve ignored. I figure if I really want to run through the nice spring weather, I should be trying anything and everything to cure my Plantar Fasciitis.
My friend Lisa is a veterinarian. And like me, she’s also an aging athlete. She’s had Plantar Fasciitis too, and just like everyone else, only she knows the cure. She swears by Cold Laser treatment. You haven’t heard of it? I’m not surprised. It’s a low level red-light laser that stimulates healing. But many uses of Cold Laser therapy aren’t FDA approved. I’m pretty sure you won’t find it in your local orthopedic practice. You might find it in Mexico, or Sweden, or any other country with a progressive government regulatory body that isn’t primarily focused on earning money for pharmaceutical companies, but not in America. The one local place you’re likely to find Cold Laser therapy is at your local animal hospital.
Yes, while you, as a human, can’t benefit from this non-invasive, non-toxic treatment, your cat or dog can get on a regular therapy program. Your pet can get the benefits of increased blood-flow and reduced inflammation for their soft tissue injuries. The animal pharmaceutical industry is nowhere close to the lobbying juggernaut comprised by our domestic human drug companies. Therefore, Cold Laser is widely accepted for our animal friends. Since I know a vet, I’ve completed four treatments.
Last weekend, sunny, breezy, seventy degrees, I was lacing up my shoes for my first run of the year.
Sophie: Where are you going?
Me: I’m heading out for a run. I’ll be back in like, twenty minutes.
Sophie: What? What happened to your thirty-mile runs? You’re planning on getting more exercise than *that* aren’t you?
Sophie, my fourteen-year-old daughter, perfectly channeling my long deceased mother.
And she’s right. I went out for my 2.5 mile run. And you know what? I sucked wind. My four months hiatus has wreaked havoc on my cardiovascular system. That mileage base I’ve so carefully protected over the past three years is completely gone. I’m starting from scratch. I’m now a non-runner.
But so far, Cold Laser therapy is working. My body seems to be responding to Lisa’s treatments. Every week or so, I’ll add an extra half-mile to my ‘long’ run. Maybe push myself up to a five or six-mile run and then hang out there for a few months. And hopefully that Plantar Fasciitis won’t come back.