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Ultra Running with Jen – Recovery and race time!

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Hey folks..

I’ve been a little quiet after finishing the Elizabeth Furnace 50K (report) back on March 11th. Nearly a month has passed with a lot of radio silence.

So what have I been doing you may or may not have been asking yourself?

A-whole-lot of nothing!

That’s not entirely true. Fact is, I took a lot of time off. The two races – 70 miles and 50k – in 3 weeks took a toll on me physically and mentally. I felt good in the sense that I didn’t experience too much soreness, but I just didn’t have the will to workout. I still participated in the CrossFit Open and did fairly well; happy with my results, doing as well as I had expected. I just didn’t attend many classes or even get in very many structured workouts at home. My other job started to take over, and I would get in what I could, whenever I could, even if that just meant some KB swings, pull ups and push ups, and a quick 10-15 min on the air assault bike. Most importantly I needed sleep to recover, and that’s always a work in progress.

I did get in some good trail runs on the weekends, but I spent a lot of time taking care of my feet. As hand care and hand maintenance is essential in CrossFit, so is making sure your hooves are good to go from one training session to the next.

Here’s a general idea of my routine in pictures..

I start with making circles. Nothing fancy, and I might prop my calves up on lacrosse balls to give them some work, too, but I’m just trying to loosen up my ankles. Go in both directions. Then a little foot rub. I’m not necessarily working the muscles, but just trying to create separation between the skin/fascia and the bones and promote blood flow. This is one I do daily after a long day on my feet walking dogs. My feet feel instantaneously better. Next is creating separation between the toes. I spread them individually, then I ‘hold my foot’ similar to someone with their hands folded. This took awhile to get used to, but there should be a natural separation between the toes. Wearing tight shoes all the time takes this away. Do this quick test – can you spread your toes apart? No? Maybe you should try this drill.

This is a variation of the toe hold, combining it with the ankle circles while using thigh/knee to roll out the lower leg.

Then I like to work on strengthening my arches. If you have ‘flat feet’ or collapsed arches and wear ‘motion controlled’ shoes or even orthotics or inserts – try this one. Warm up by spreading your toes then squeezing them together 10 times. Then raise your big toes while pressing the others into the ground, then press the big toes into the ground and raise the others. Do that 10 times. Check out this beautiful arch!

It acts as a natural “spring” and helps support your body weight. An insert takes away the ability of the arch to do its job. So if you rely on inserts to relieve foot pain or improve your gait due to fallen arches, I see it as akin spraining an ankle and forever using crutches. You won’t get back to walking naturally unless you work on that ankle mobility (or weak arches) to rid yourself of those crutches (inserts/orthotics). As you work on hip mobility to improve your squat, work on your arches daily to improve the health of your feet. There is a good chance you will see results in your squat with improved balance and a stronger stance.

Finally, a little TLC with a foot soak.

Nothing fancy, just some Epsom salt and lavender. Once they are nice a soft, hit the edges with a pumice stone. I don’t want them too soft. Similar with my hands, I don’t want to completely rid my hands of calluses. I still like a little ‘roughage’ so my feet aren’t sliding around in my socks, which can lead to blisters.

Finally, I naturally carry stress in my upper back, so some ‘trap smashing’ with Yoga Tune Up balls is a must.

This is daily practice as I walk with a backpack when walking dogs, and I’ve been training with a hydration pack and the constant bouncing can cause me to be even more tense. I have to constantly remind myself to relax my shoulders or get my ears out of my shoulders.

So.. just a small glimpse into what I’ve been doing the last few weeks.

This is all leading up to The Bull Run Run 50 miler this Saturday, April 8th. If you are so inclined to come out and cheer, the best spot is at Fountainhead Regional Park where I pass through twice (directions from DC at the end), although I’m not sure when I’ll be through.

This is my 11th attempt and I’m hopeful for finish #10. I won’t be carrying my phone with me so no pictures, but I’ll try to poach some from others to include in a report.

Thanks for all your support.


*From DC, take 395 to 95S, exit at Lorton Rd (exit 163), take a right on 123, then a left on Hampton Rd (fire station). Road winds around until the sign to the park on the left. Additional instructions back to Hemlock can be found HERE.