Flex on Foot Pain with a Toe-Spacer
Similar to a pedicure toe separator but with an extra kick AND a medical purpose
New to PRC is Pro-Tec's solution to toe and forefoot pain. Ever have those runs where once you're finished, or maybe even during, your forefoot or toes are on fire, burning, tingling or giving you sharp shooting pain? We may have a product that can help alleviate these forefoot and toe-related ailments!
The Pro-Tec Athletics Toe Flexor is a foam toe spacer with four vertical foam bars that increase the space between each toe, giving your toes and forefoot a good stretch to reduce tightness and strain to that same area. That's awesome news for anyone with bunions and/or metatarsalgia (pain in the forefoot associated with increased stress over the metatarsal head region); this dandy new tool may help treat symptoms that come with these running related injuries/complications!
- What's it made of: High-quality foam, soft yet firm, just like your favorite pillow.
- When to use it: During times of inactivity—slip them on, sit back, relax and give your toes a great, relieving stretch!
- Different levels of stretch: Use the medium Toe Flexor for a moderate stretch, and if you really want a maximum stretch try out the large Toe Flexor.
- Where to get it: They're $15 each at Portland Running Company or online at shop.portlandrunningcompany.com.
Brittany Long is a graduate of Portland State and a former varsity runner for the Vikings. She works part time at PRC and spends the rest of her time studying the human body. (11/6/13)
Is Joy the Missing Piece of Your Training Puzzle?
Why I lose it and how I get it back
I hate to admit it but there are times when training stresses me out. Each time I have to take a step back and ask myself, "Why?" After all, running is my hobby, my stress relief, my social hour. At least, that's how it's supposed to be.
When I'm stressed out there is always a common theme. I become fixated on the end result instead of focused on the day-to-day process. I forget to find joy in the crisp fall air and the wind blowing through my hair. Instead I focus on interval times, online pace predictors, and times run by my friends in their races or workouts. All of these things fuel fear and doubt about my own fitness and ability to achieve my goals. I’m guessing some of you can relate.
I first encountered this stress in college. When I first started running in college I was mid-pack. I was simply enjoying the sport and my teammates. As the first few seasons progressed I kept knocking time off my personal bests. It was fun and exciting. When I would go to a race I was curious as to how much I had improved.
Then my senior year people started talking about how I could win Nationals (I had finished sixth the year before). It was the first time I realized that the years of daily training had propelled me to a new level. This realization stressed me out. I couldn’t relax because I felt pressure to perform.
I started looking at the results for other schools and comparing my race times. I had a decent season, but it was not filled with the same sense of joy as before. It felt forced.
Here are some tips that I remind myself to follow when I lose the joy and satisfaction our sport should bring. They get me back to that state of mind in which I'm enjoying the day-to-day running. As in my early college years, I'm curious as to how the training will play out on race day, but the whole process really has me excited. Follow these tips, and I hope you will find the same groove.
1. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s easy to say but hard to do. It’s important to realize, however, that some people are better at shorter or longer distances. Some people can push themselves to the brink in workouts while others don’t find that sweet stride until race day. Remind yourself that you can’t draw a conclusion about your fitness based on others.
2. Have confidence in the process. Training is blue-collar work all the time. And blue-collar work builds character. It also forms the foundation that holds you together on race day. So remember, don’t get tied up in workout details, just get out the door and put the work in. It will pay off. If you need to, ditch your Garmin!
3. Don’t be afraid of your goal. When I look back on the times that running has stressed me out I realize it’s because I was scared by the goal. Instead of being curious if my work would lead to something awesome, I had this “what if I can’t do it?” mentality. A good goal is one that you have a chance at but is not guaranteed. The goal is there to motivate you, not to scare you.
4. Focus outside yourself. I recently had a foot injury. I found that as I ran all I was thinking was, "Does my foot hurt?" or, "Am I tired today?" Since I realized this I have been trying to focus outside myself. I think about how great it feels to be outside in this beautiful fall weather, to meet up with friends, or to hit the trails.
So just get back to the basics: Run with confidence, trust your training, get gritty and do the work!
Christina Overbeck Crawford runs for the Portland Running Company Race Team. She contributes a monthly column to our website and newsletter. Her next big race is the California International Marathon on Dec. 8 in Sacramento. (10/25/13)
Crawfish Approaching: How to Escape with a Personal Best
There are very few races in the world that I have run more than the Crawfish Crawl 5k, and I have only run it three times! (That's tied with the number of times I have run Pints to Pasta.) The original Crawfish route included a rather nasty hill at the most inopportune time—two thirds of the way through the race as you were getting pretty tired, without measureable downhill to make up for it—but the current configuration is about as flat as you can get. It’s a traffic-free, out-and-back course into Cook Park. Weather is typically perfect, a little overcast and little or no wind, so it just screams "Personal Best."
I have won the Crawfish Crawl twice, but only since I became a Master's runner. To me this race is a perfect transition from thinking about track racing to thinking about fall road races. If you're prepping for Hood to Coast, it’s a great race to measure your fitness and to give you reason to talk to your team captain about how well you're running and how Leg 4 is much more your cup of tea (given your recent 5k PR at the Crawfish) than the rather brutal Leg 5.
Get to the race early and run out to the turnaround so you can see where the course narrows. As it’s an out-and-back you are going to come up against runners behind you. We all want to take the shortest route, so you may need some fancy footwork to dodge a few people.
Given this part of the race can slow you down, I have approached it as a race of two halves. I try to get to the turn a little ahead of goal pace and then do all I can to maintain that pace for the next mile, as this is the most congested stretch. Once back on the main path back into the start/finish area you can pick up the pace again. Make the railway trestle your goal (it’s a long straight so it helps to focus on something), and once you're through here you have about 600m to the finish.
As with all Run with Paula events, Crawfish Crawl is well organized, clearly marked, and on time. Overall, a great race at a perfect time of year. Enjoy!
Ian Gillespie is a former professional runner who now races the Masters ranks with Portland Running Company's own Race Team. He won last year's Crawfish Crawl 5k in 15:00. This Saturday's race starts at 8 a.m. sharp.
Are You Ready for Some Foot Ballz?
Fit a little footy into your recovery routine
I have so many good intentions when it comes to injury prevention. I really mean to foam roll my IT band after a hard workout, and I always try to remember to use The Stick on my calves after a long run on the trails. More often than not, however, I tend to let those things fall to the wayside. Sometimes it's because the only thing on my mind when I return home from a run is, "What's for dinner?" Other times, it is just pure laziness on my part!
A few weeks ago, I discovered something that has since become my new best friend: the Foot Rubz Foot Massager. It has the appearance of a golf ball with little nubs all over it—160 of them, to be exact. My husband thought it was a cat toy, and since we have no pets, he thought I may have been subtly hinting at something. It is, of course, what the name implies—a foot massager!
The first time I tried it out, I was surprised by how good it felt just to roll the massager under my feet without applying much pressure. It felt just like a nice, relaxing massage. When I tried applying some pressure, I immediately felt the massager (with my guidance, of course) working out tightness in my arch. The dense, rubbery material provides just the right amount of firmness and all of the little nubs make the ball very easy to control. I had been having some recent issues with my right arch, and after just 1–2 weeks of using the massager regularly, the tightness disappeared from that arch.
The best part about the Foot Rubz massager is how convenient it is to use. For one, it's hands-free. I've been using it the entire time that I've been writing this review! I also love that I can just leave it under my desk and use it throughout the day, sometimes even sub-consciously.
While the Foot Rubz Foot Massager isn't a replacement for the foam roller and The Stick, as the latter items can target many more areas, using it has been an incredibly easy and beneficial addition into my daily routine.
Liz Anjos runs fast for the Portland Running Company Race Team. She is PRC's official piano instructor and cultural correspondent.
What I've Learned about Summertime Nutrition
As a runner, the most frequent topic I am asked about is nutrition. I often avoid the topic because I’m far from a nutrition expert! As the weather starts to get warmer, however, it has reminded me that I have learned a few things about summertime nutrition.
Prior to moving to Portland I endured some extremely hot and sticky weather living in Chicago and Michigan. I would watch all my friends and the rest of the city get fit as summer progressed, but I found myself feeling more and more fatigued. I eventually figured out that my problem was nutrition! Here are some things I have learned:
1. Force yourself to eat after your run. There is an optimal recovery window of 30–45 minutes after a run, but it can be a challenge to eat when you are overheated. My trick: cold shower and then a smoothie. I include frozen fruit, banana, water, and a protein source like nuts, Greek yogurt, tofu, or protein powder. Sometimes I add greens. Try kale, spinach, or wheat grass. It packs a lot of nutrients into a cold, refreshing and tasty drink.
2. Make sure you eat enough on hot days! The heat saps my appetite…well, at least my appetite for healthy foods. Instead all I want is a cold drink and ice cream. I have to force myself to eat nutritious meals. I’ve started making salads with sweet potatoes, beans, grains and veggies with sides of fruit. It’s a refreshing meal on these hot days and extremely nutritious.
3. Carry water or a sports drink. I don’t have any literature to support this, but from my experience if I let myself get dehydrated on a run I feel more fatigued the following day and subsequent runs.
4. Embrace what’s in season! All the fruits that are in season (melons, blackberries, strawberries, marionberries, etc.) are perfect for the summertime. They have essential electrolytes such as, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium and are also rich in water. I feel so much better in the summer when I eat a ton of fruit! I think the Midwest has figured this out because every time I visit family in Michigan the table has a huge, tasty fruit salad on it!
5. Understand that your nutrition needs are different than non-runners! This sounds obvious but if you are like me, summertime means traveling and spending lots of time with friends and family. For me this usually means squeezing my runs in before others wake up. Make sure you carry small nutritious snacks (such as a bag of nuts, a banana, your favorite bar) with you throughout your day as your revved-up metabolism will be begging you to refuel before your friends want to eat. Too many consecutive days of caloric debt will make you feel awful and will probably make you skip a run.
Enjoy the summer!
PRC Race Team's Christina Overbeck Crawford contributes frequently to our website and newsletter. She won this year's Portland Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon in 1:19:48. (7/3/13)