A Marathon Stopper?? Advice from Runners Welcomed

It’s been over 2 months since my last blog post so a lot has happened.

I just got back from our yearly vacation to Santa Cruz and the Bay area. It’s my spirit home!

I am now in week 12 of Chicago Marathon training and there are 32 days left to that big day!

Shit is Getting Real


My Chicago Marathon Running Attire


The runs are getting longer and harder. It doesn’t help that the weather is still hot and humid here. I’ve trained more often on the treadmill than I was comfortable with. I think treadmill running is the most boring and possibly the worst kind of training but it’s all I had many times when the weather was so hot. I also believe that the treadmill training may be hurting the mechanics of my run. I often dread my long, Saturday runs all week long so that screws with you mentally.

I did get in some greatΒ runsΒ in Santa Cruz on the beaches, along the coast and a challenging trail run. That hardly even felt like running, though.

I do most of my long runs outside when possible. My schedule over the next couple of weeks is getting tough and there doesn’t look like a let up on the heat.

September Training

But with all that said, an issue has arisen that has me very nervous about being able to train and even run the marathon. I am working desperately trying to resolve it. After about 13 miles or so, my left foot and toes start cramping up. It does so to a point that I am totally unable to run. I usually stop and take my shoe off, massage my foot and go back at it. A few times, it stopped my training run. I can run with a tight hamstring and most anything else but it is impossible to run with a severe foot cramp. My toes actually turn upward and the pain is unbearable.

______________________________________________

Here are the things that I have tried to get rid of it:

  • New shoes and half size bigger to allow for toe room. A professional running store pro helped me.
  • New, expensive socks such as Xperia, Features and Injinji
  • Salt tablets (sodium loss from sweating)
  • Foot stretches and exercises prior and after a run
  • Plenty of water on my run
  • Rolling calves and feet (before and after)
  • I’ve even tried to consciously change my gate and foot placement
  • I’ve cursed
  • I’ve cried

________________________________________________

I’ve basically self-diagnosed my issue as being caused by muscle fatigue caused by muscles higher up the leg chain than my foot muscles. It messes with the running mechanics. I can only deduce that the piriformis muscle strain on my left side is causing the mechanics of my left leg to be at issue which may be causing the foot cramp in my left foot.

Today, I went to one of my local running stores (UltraMax Running) and talked to very nice and helpful young, gentlemen runners. They listened, asked questions and made suggestions. They seemed very concerned and cared about my issue. One ask me if I had an injury of some kind in the last year or so. I did and still have that piriformis muscle issue on my left side! The same side where the foot cramp occurs. He said that all the leg muscles are tied together and an injury in one place can cause muscle strain and issues in the other. He also showed me how to do a proper foam rolling for the piriformis muscle, hamstring and calf. He said a strained calf muscle can cause feet issues. I bought a pair of CEP compression socks today.


I have used the CEP calf compression before. In fact, I trained for my first marathon with the calf compressions and I have not this time. Maybe wearing them again may help. I’ll give it a try this coming weekend. I also bought Hammer Endurolytes at $25 a bottle to try on my next long run. He told me if I took when when I started cramping, I had waited too long. He suggested taking 2 before I start and 1 every hour I run. I’ll do that.


In spite of this potential show stopper foot cramps, I’m very excited about being fortunate enough to be running in the Chicago Marathon. And in addition, I will be running with a friend, VeganRunnerNerd. She lives in Iowa and I live in Missouri. We are now training together virtually but 3rd week in September, we plan a real life run together in Iowa! Yes, I’m excited.

On an odd note, I was asked to write a contributing story for an online health magazine “Healthline Media.” It is undergoing editing now and they will let me know when it’s published. A paid story with freelance agreement and everything! I can’t wait to read what I wrote! The series will be entitled “What Made Me Run a Marathon.” It will also detail my weight loss and my healthy lifestyles journey.

This is very likely my last marathon. Unless by some miracle, I can get into the “Big Sur International Marathon” which is a long shot. I don’t mind the marathon, it’s the damn training!

I probably don’t have any readers left on my blog because I do such a poor job of updating but if any runners read this post, I welcome advice for my foot cramps.

~ChicagoMarathon32Days~


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16 thoughts on “A Marathon Stopper?? Advice from Runners Welcomed

  1. yoooooo hooooo *hand in the air* I am still here!!! πŸ™‚
    wow, impressive! so good with your training! on the toe thing? gosh… i dunno hey… i get cramps down the left font of my foot like where the foot bends and OMG i know the cramp, its crap! I have often been seen sitting not he pavement, massaging in tears…

    Hang in there, you have time to iron the niggles out…

    i LOVE the treadmill… truly, i find that i can totally zone out and the time flies… i listen to podcasts… my current fave is Primal Indurance Podcast… i have to listen to the episodes over and over again cos *lol* i don’t hear them, thats how much i zone out! I find the treadmill is kind of my meditation…

    1. I love that word “niggles” πŸ™‚ I get thigh cramps often too but after the run. I am either getting too old or running is not for me! But, I’m a masochist, apparently. I don’t mind short treadmill runs but running 16 or 17 miles on one is often painful. I haven’t tried listening to podcasts but maybe I will try. The least I could do is learn something while suffering through a run. πŸ™‚ I’ll try primal indurance. I do zone out to something off netflicks. I’m watching True Blood again now on HBO. I binge watched Dexter on my last marathon training! Great to hear from you.

    1. I’m doing pretty good, Rob. I hope it pays off but it may kill me first! haha I hope you and your family are doing well. I am hoping you are not still a BlackHawks fan. πŸ™‚

  2. I can’t wait to see you and hang out with you and run with you!!! I wish I had some advice about the foot cramps, but hopefully the running store guys know what they’re talking about and their advice will help. I can’t remember, did you post something on Slow Runner’s Club? Those guys are awesome! I’m having problems with black toenails which are painful and I posted something to the group and got some really helpful advice. Bottom line: I have to buy a new pair of shoes. Turns out that I haven’t been wearing a big enough shoe, so NONE of my shoes are good for marathon training. 😦 Luckily, David didn’t want to kill me when I told him that I needed to buy more shoes! LOL

    1. It’s funny but my feet have grown from size 8 to 9.5. haha Women runners always comment that boobs get smaller and feet get bigger. My boobs are smaller too! haha I will post something to the slow runners for suggestions. I really am concerned and desperate to find a fix. I can go through almost any pain running but feet cramps stop you dead. I have black toenails all the time and after each half or marathon, the big toenail comes off. It’s painful and I have worn gel toe caps to help protect it. I order shoes and then tell Kevin! Better to get forgiveness than permission, one of my strong beliefs! haha

  3. Still here, and guess what? We ran the same race! Wish I knew you were going to be there, I’d have said hello. That was a challenging race for me, a road runner – trails are a whole different thing! But a pretty area, and so much fun to particiapte in.

    As far as your toe problem, it sounds like the guy at the running store gave you some good advice – stay ahead of the cramping with the electrolytes (I’ve never taken salt capsules, but would if I needed them – I sweat a lot here in Texas). I hope that does the trick for you! Also, I love the compression socks – not sleeves – I have a pair from a different brand but didn’t know CEP made just socks…I’ll have to get a pair. Good luck with the rest of your training!

    1. That would have been cool! Did you run the Race by the Sea? It was a trail run along the coast at Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz. Beautiful but challenging! I have my fingers crossed on the electrolytes and compression socks. I think compression may be more for recovery and I do like the calf compression. I normally have issues with things restricting my feet but I’ll give these socks a try. I have a 18 mile run on Saturday and the temps are down a bit here in Missouri so I’ll find out! Thanks for dropping by and happy running to you. πŸ™‚

      1. I love your blog. I’m reading now when I should be working! That 2.5 miles was hard! haha We did it last year also. I would like to do the 12k but our time is so precious there that we are ready for the next thing after the run. I placed 5th in my age this year and 4th last year 😦

    2. I love your blog and particularly that you love Santa Cruz! One year, we did a trail run through the redwoods near Big Sur. It was challenging and exhilerating. I do like CEP calf compression and I worry about wearing the socks. I have this thing about my feet feeling restricted. But I’ll give it a try. Thanks for dropping by. πŸ™‚

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