Monday, February 10, 2014

Horses, Hearts & Toes! Oh My!

I didn't have many options for my long run on Saturday because of all the snow and ice.  I knew from the Greater Long Island Running Club's Facebook page that the SUNY Old Westbury campus was plowed.  I decided to check it out.  The campus police have been ticketing runners' cars so I parked at St. Paul's Church across from Route 107.  I started my run at 11am.  It was a calm, sunny 23 degrees.

The campus roads have gently rolling hills.  It is perfect training grounds for runners and cyclists alike.  I saw both of them, but mostly groups of cyclists.  Since I was doing a 20 miler, I had time to explore.  I took a detour early on which led me to the Empire State College campus and a gorgeous horse farm.

Some time around the 5 mile mark, my toes on my left foot started cramping up.  I could feel the third toe jutted in an odd angle to the top of my sneaker.  This forced me to run on the outside of my foot.  It was awkward and painful.  I tried different postures, but nothing seemed to help.  I was pissed.  This is becoming a recurring theme during my runs.  I did another loop of the campus and then returned to my car at 10.78 miles.  I had some Super Candy and Gatorade.  I didn't feel like doing two more loops so I set out to do the next 9+ miles on the streets.  Miraculously, the cramping ceased.  I headed one mile north on 107 and turned right on Fruitledge Road for another mile.  I turned around and headed south on 107.  At 16.5 miles, my iPhone went dead.   Ugh!  I had to guess the remainder of my mileage.  I ran down to Muttontown Road and turned around back to the car.  When I mapped the route on Map My Run, my guess was almost spot on.  The run ended up being 20.22 miles, somewhere around a 9:10 pace.  Last night I googled toe cramping.  There are some toe exercises I'm going to experiment with.  Hopefully, they help. 

Last week at the gym, I checked my heart rate while running on the treadmill.  At ten miles, the heart rate monitor read 95.  Um, this seemed unusually low.  Blogger and techie friend, Emerging Runner said most treadmill monitors are inaccurate.  I checked my resting heart rate at home.  My resting heart rate of 55 apparently is great for a 42 year old female, putting me at "athlete status".  I'm psyched about that.  Even if my toes are falling off, at least I have a healthy heart!

Do you have problems with your feet or toes cramping during your runs?  Any solutions?

How is your heart?  February is Healthy Heart Month!


  1. My doctor told me my heart sounded "athletic" during my checkup in October. That's probably the best thing you can hear from a cardiologist. I should to take the time to capture resting heart rate. You're supposed to do that right after you wake up, as I recall.

    The toes thing is hard to diagnose, but it could be that all the distance you've been putting in has made your feet swell enough to throw off your alignment. I know that running causes our feet to expand. I've gone up almost two sizes in running shoes since I started in 2008.

    Can you borrow someone's running shoes that are 1/2 size larger than the ones you run in now? That might help you understand if it's you or your shoes.

    1. I took my heart rate in the afternoon. I'll do it again in the morning before getting out of bed.

      That's annoying if my dainty, delicate, petite feet (ignoring the blisters, black toenails, and sand paper bottoms) grew. They're perfectly proportioned with my ankles! Although, I'll be able to wear my 12 year old's shoes since her feet have already outgrown my size 6s.

  2. The third toe coming up into the top of your shoe would be in extension. The extensor digitorum longus muscle is deep to the tibialis anterior muscle, a little to the outside and in front of your shin. It acts to raise your foot, bring your toes up toward the ceiling, and helps move your foot out to the side. If it's spasming, you could be overdoing any one or combination of those movements while you run. To stretch that muscle, just pull your foot and toes in the opposite direction of what I described above. Stretch after running, and not before. This could also be the result of a nerve entrapment between the muscle and connective fascia. Neither one is very serious, just annoying.