Ice Ice Baby

Ice Ice Baby. That was the advice at least. Unfortunately, late in the evening, when I finally got around to attempting to address the malaise that had all but robbed me of my running mojo since my completion of the West Highland Way Race back in June, I forgot to engage my brain. The term ‘fidiot’ springs to mind, a ‘blog friendly’ description for an act that may yet rob me of my 2016 ‘Triple Crown’.

Lets set the scene!

My body felt not too bad in the aftermath of the aforementioned West Highland Way Race and, certainly, the DOMS was far less severe than I had anticipated, passing after only a couple of days stiffness. I did, however, lose the desire to run, as I suspect was the case with the majority of my fellow runners. It was ‘good’ to see from social media posts that I was not alone in having the post race blues, wanting to eat everything, and generally feeling lethargic. At least I was not alone on that front.

When the day of the Clyde Stride Ultra Marathon came, I set about mowing the lawn, which was about the height of my athletic endeavours that day. As much as I love the Clyde Stride, I was glad not to have made the mistake of running the race post West Highland Way Race, as I did back in 2012. Memories of toiling for over 1/2 of the race reminded me that recovery was a much better option for me.

Since the West Highland Way Race I have actually started to increase the frequency of my runs, mostly with short 5-6 mile runs of a lunchtime, attempting to make the most of those sunny days that we have been fortunate enough to experience whilst, at the same time, attempting to miss the torrential downpours that now appear to accompany the hotter weather.

I’ve enjoyed exploring routes along the River Dee, close to my work at The University of Aberdeen, egged on by a work colleague who is equally keen to get away from the PC for a short while, and, in keeping it short and exploring new trails, I have all but restored my running mojo.

One issue persists however.

Since the West Highland Way Race, my heels have been particularly tight, something that I thought/hoped would have eased by now. However, less than a week out from The Devil O’ The Highlands and still plagued by painful, tight heels, I decided to act.

I started with gentle and not so gentle massage, with some, albeit limited, success.

At this point, I decided to ice both my heels, having found a sports ice pack deep in a cupboard. As soon as Harris was in bed, I recovered the ice pack from the freezer and got horizontal in front of the TV.

When Leanne appeared, she did suggest that I should perhaps have something between my skin and the ice pack. I shunned this suggestion however, eager to achieve the maximum effect on my poor sore heels. Enough was enough!

The pain levels should have provided some indication that all was not well. However, given the severity of pain from the actual tightness in the heels, I cast aside my concerns.

I’ll just say it again at this point – ‘fidiot!’

Waking early the next morning, I found my heels in immense pain and in no way ‘healed’.

Instead of the relief that I longed for, I instead found that one heel in particular was very, very red and more than a little swollen.

That was Saturday morning.

So, what did I do at this point?

After some brief procrastination, I set out for a run, with the excuse that I needed to test out GU gels that had just arrived from The Ultra Marathon Running Store as I didn’t want to use them for the very first time in an actual event i.e. at The Devil.

Whilst testing the gels is, at least, sensible, the whole running part… well, ‘fidiot’ springs to mind!

I can happily report that the gel testing aspect went well and that I am actually looking forward to using GU at The Devil O’ The Highlands and possibly at Glenmore 24 (admittedly never thought I would see the day that I returned to using gels!)

Not so happily, I can also report that, upon my return home, I noticed the first signs of blistering on my left heel, something that has progressively worsened over the course of the weekend.

Ironically, the level of blistering is far worse than anything I have ever done to my heels whilst running!

‘fidiot’, ‘fidiot’, ‘fidiot’!

So, hopefully there’s enough time that the heel will at least be on the road to recovery before I embark on the 42 hilly miles of The Devil O’ The Highlands. Failing that, I will be easily spotted. The runner towards the rear of the pack, limping along from the outset!

So, not the best of weekends on the running front, all things considered, and, just to top it off, my Altra Superiors ripped, consigning them to a far earlier grave than I had hoped. This and the bruising that I experienced on approx 1/3 of both feet at The West Highland Way Race whilst wearing Altra Lone Peak 2.5s, means I have some choices to make when it comes to what’s on my feet for the rest of 2016 and in to 2017.

I would like to try the Topo MT-2, as used by Paul Giblin at Western States 100 as my wide feet benefit from a spacious toe box. However, as with the Altras, availability is a huge issue and, given my recent heel issues, it’s perhaps time to look at something that does not have zero drop heel differential. I’m currently torn between sticking with Altras, waiting for stock of the Topos, trying New Balance Leadvilles or Brooks Cascadias, or returning to Inov-8s. Choices, choices, choices!

On the bright side, I’m looking forward to my first Devil O’ The Highlands with Jonny ‘Fling’ as RD. I haven’t run the Devil since 2012, back when I completed my first ‘Triple Crown’ and, just as I recall doing in 2012, I will relish reminiscing to myself about my West Highland Way Race experiences as I run along the less travelled (certainly as far as I am concerned) section of the West Highland Way route.

I very much doubt that my 09:50:55 Devil O’ The Highlands PB is in any danger, certainly going by my performances so far this year, so I will not even entertain any thoughts on that front.

When (positive thinking) I cross the Devil O’ The Highlands finish line on Saturday, it will be my 23rd ultra marathon completion, my second ‘Triple Crown’ completion, and the start of Team Mac’s holiday, with the family heading to Coylumbridge on the Sunday. Happy days!

To all running, supporting or marshalling at The Devil O’ The Highlands, have a great day.