Minute 1: How to get rid of plantar fasciitis
We’ve had the privilege of a bout with plantar fasciitis and surgery for a torn meniscus. If we had to assign 1 ailment to a friend and 1 to an enemy, we would wish for meniscus surgery for the good guy and PF for the bad guy. We were skiing 4 weeks after the surgery, but the bout with plantar fasciitis seemed to go on forever. Some medical experts say that PF can linger as long as 18 months. That’s why we were intrigued this week when Footwear News produced this list of “The 12 Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, According to Experts.” For athletes lucky enough to have avoided the ailment, here is a quick background. PF involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot. That doesn’t sound that too nasty, but the pain associated with the inflammation is worse than stepping on stray Lego with bare feet. It is typically the worst first thing in the morning, which is why some folks wear special braces to bed at night. (In our case, that didn’t help at all.) As for shoes that provide relief, according to the new story, the Asics Gel-Kayano 28 is the best overall shoe for bouncing back from PF. There are also recommendations for different foot shapes along with trail and pavement options. Beyond proper footwear, you may want to check out “The 5 Best stretches and exercises for plantar fasciitis and heel pain” or this advice from the Cleveland Clinic: “4 Home Remedies for Your Plantar Fasciitis.” In our own case, the most successful treatment was professional massage therapy for the lower calf, just above the Achilles tendon. After trying several other remedies, that relatively small investment paid off. The good news for your wallet is “that self-massage techniques are just as effective as massage done by a therapist” according to this article. #FootFault
Minute 2: Do you run further than the average American?
For endurance sports nerds like us, this week is like CES, a new iPhone release and a Marvel movie premiere combined. This is when analysis from our favorite fitness app hits the streets: “Strava’s Year In Sport 2021 charts trajectory of ongoing sports boom.” This year Strava analyzed 1.8 billion activity uploads from more than 95 million athletes. Overall, activities were up 38% on Strava, reflecting increased fitness activities during the pandemic as well as strong growth in the number of Strava subscribers. The average American run in 2021 was 3.7 miles in 35:29. The average bike ride was 13.8 miles in 1:07:00. A good summary of the data for runners is here: “Did you run further than the average American this year? Here’s how you stack up.” One victim of this growth in more traditional activities has been Peloton. The stock peaked at $171 early this year and has dropped 77% to $38. Details from the Washington Post are here: “Peloton feels the burn as Americans head back to the gym.” #RunRate
Minute 3: Big races will have big fields again soon
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon just announced that it will expand its field by more than 50% for its October 2022 edition. This year, only 26,109 runners crossed the finish line, but with Covid restrictions easing, the field will grow to 40,000 participants next year. Although normal registration closed at the end of November, there are still plenty of charity bibs available by clicking here. In a similar vein, the United Airlines NYC Half will return with a full field size of 25,000 runners on March 20, 2022. The race is one of the signature events for NYRR and fits well with many spring marathon training plans. The NYC Half was canceled in both 2020 and 2021, but will be the first NYRR event with a full field since the onset of the pandemic. Like Chicago, registration is closed, but charity bibs opened up last week and are available here. Boston recently announced that its 2022 marathon will see a slightly smaller field size than in a normal year, but still almost the size of 2021. The BAA also covered its new Covid requirements here: “126th Boston Marathon Field Size Established as 30,000; All Entrants Must be Fully Vaccinated to Participate.”
Minute 4: Masters racing opportunities
A friend of ours who lives in Idaho told us recently that Sun Valley is the world HQ of 55-year-old bad asses. Based on a recurring ad we are seeing on Instagram recently, there may be a lot of flights booked from Boise to Florida next May for the National Senior Games. That’s where athletes aged 50 - 100+ will compete in an Olympic environment for medals and bragging rights. Normally held every 2 years, the games were interrupted by Covid, but are back in 2022. During 2019, the last year of competition, more than 13,000 athletes participated, so there’s room for a broad range of talent levels. In order to compete, you must qualify at a state event (list of qualifying events here). Registration will open for the national event next week. To give an idea of how fast you need to be to qualify, the standard for 1500m is 5:24 for a 55-year-old man and 7:03 for a 55-year-old woman. (Here are the Minimum Performance Standards.) In the words of gold medalist Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, 105, “When you get old you should have a lot of passions. Passions keep you going. They make you want to live and want to do. Get out there and make new friends and do something new every day.” In addition to the NSG, USA Track & Field also offers a comprehensive set of national championship events for masters athletes. To give a feel for those standards, at the USATF outdoor track national championships earlier this year, Rick Becker set an American record in the men’s 65-69 10,000m in 37:16 while Lisa Veneziano set an American record in the women’s 55-59 10,000m in 38:42.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
As we mentioned, Peloton has had a tough ride over the past few months. More bad press came from a very unlikely source this month – the relaunch of HBO’s Sex and the City. (Skip to the next story now to avoid this spoiler alert.) Apparently, Mr. Big suffered a heart attack while riding his bike and Peloton’s real world reaction to this fictional event was a little ham handed. CNBC has the details in “Peloton selloff continues as ‘Sex and the City’ reboot adds to exercise company’s image issues.”
Stereotypically, the Peloton user is a fairly wealthy athlete, able to drop thousands of dollars on a stationary bike. We are reminded of an Outside magazine article we read a while back that points out Peloton riders are not unique among endurance athletes: “Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports?” One theory from the story stuck in our minds. “Triathletes who I interviewed for my research talked about how the pain that they experienced during training and racing was one of the primary reasons they did it.” “To overcome this pain and get across the finish line served as a significant form of achievement and demonstrated an ability to discipline their bodies.”
Strava just opened entries for its 2021 Year in Sport Photo Contest with some good prizes on the line. The winners and honorable mention shots from last year were inspiring and you can check them out here. Not all of them are submitted by professional photogs, so if you have a good shot on your iPhone, feel free to send it in. Categories include activities on pavement, activities on dirt and portraits of athletes.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, mentioned in Minute 4, might be the quickest centenarian on the planet. While most would be happy just to be walking at age 105, Hurricane continues to push the boundaries of what those in their senior years are able to accomplish. In 2017, she became the 100m world record holder for women over 100 and recently set a new 100m record for women over 105 with a time of 62 seconds. After the race she advised others to “stay healthy and keep running”. She also added “It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends. But I wanted to do it in less than a minute...” If this video of Hurricane blowing away the record doesn’t put a smile on your face, you may need surgical repair of your facial muscles.