Heel Spurs: Learn From My Fail!

Heel spurs suck. In my case, the pain is actually from plantar fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis. The spurs are small bony growths where all these tendons attach to my heal bone. The spurs irritate the tendons, the tendons tighten, causing the spurs to grow, irritating the tendons more...

My heel

My heel

I put off dealing with this for nearly three years. It took a very slow and painful Tahoe Rim Trail 100 finish to get me to really take this seriously. Over the years I had gotten used to running with some amount of pain and at a slower pace. I jokingly called it "getting older". TRT took everything to a new level.

As it turns out, my heel spurs were also aggravating a groin pull that just wouldn't heal (no pun intended) completely. My doctor described my stride as "pogoing" off the good foot, putting an awkward strain on my hips and groin muscles. Anyway, by the time I lined up for this years running of the SF New Years Eve 24 Hour Run I had already seen a doctor with the intention of scheduling surgery. That run was a disaster, I dropped out after about 30 miles.

The shockwave therapy machine, the part that actually does the shocking looks like a microphone

The shockwave therapy machine, the part that actually does the shocking looks like a microphone

I was eventually referred to a podiatrist in Stanford's sports medicine department. He recommended Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy. I had a few treatments. They ranged from not bad to fairly painful. It's non-invasive and the recovery time after each session is pretty short.

Did it work? I'm honestly not sure. I never felt "instantly cured" as some claim. I am definitely much better. While undergoing the treatment, I stopped running and increased my cycling and weight lifting. What you might call "active rest". I roll out my calf muscles and my heel a few times a day. I use a frozen water bottle as the roller. I'm not sure which percent of what thing has contributed to my recovery.

My recovery cocktails 

My recovery cocktails 

Ultra running takes up a lot of time. Time I had to fill with something. I chose mixed drinks. Even slightly buzzed the truth is pretty obvious. Putting off dealing with this injury cost me a few years of quality running and a few months of recovery time. Learn from my fail: When you hurt, go to the doctor.

Leadville Run 100

"The race across the sky." I live at sea level so the altitude was a huge factor in this race. The highest point  is 12,600 feet. The average elevation is 10,200. All that climbing may have been tough, but the views were amazing. This is a race, IMO, where all the usual pacing advice is wrong. You have to haul ass for the first 50 miles & then hang on until the finish.

Leadville the actual town is really cool, with an interesting history. The surrounding mountains are fantastic. This is definitely a destination race.

Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

"The world's oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race." This was one of the toughest runs that I've ever done. The temperature was over 100 degrees for most of the day. It was even warm at night. By the end of the run my stomach and feet were a mess. I did come away with a shiny new belt buckle & an even greater respect for Gordy Ainsleigh.

I intend to run this race again. I want to finish stronger, not necessarily faster (that would be nice), but more "under my own steam". I'd also like 50% less blisters and 100% less vomiting.

The 200 Mile Relay (solo)

It took me two tries but I completed the 200 mile course in 2010. Five of us attempted solo runs of the entire 200 mile course that year. Four of us finished (including 2 of my close friends). At the time, none of us knew what to expect. We'd never met anyone who'd run 200 miles. We knew that Dean Karnazes and Yiannis Kouros (the best athlete you've never heard of) had done it.

The distance was 100 miles farther than I'd ever run before. The last 25 miles took nearly a day of constant effort. In all, I spent just under 68 hours on the course.

My friends and I managed to raise about $1500.00 for Organs-R-UsThe last 4 photos are from the actual 200 mile run, the rest are from training runs along the course.

Healthy obsession: Long-distance running

By Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle. This was written right before my first attempt at running 200 miles.

Anthony Dunnigan, 36, of Palo Alto could be called an ultra ultra runner. His best event is the 200-mile, which he will be running Friday from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, to benefit Organs ‘R’ Us. For more information, go to www.dunnigan.net/200miles.