We all know that running is on of those hard and amazing at the same time kinda things. It takes different tolls on our bodies both good and bad. As much running and training as we do… there does come a point where it can be beyond stressful for the body… and our bodies will react in different ways. The most obvious and common occurrence is an injury from overuse. Id like to share some of the not so obvious things that have happened to me and my body after some big ultra races I have completed.
1. After completing the Coastal Challenge in February 2014 – a 6 day stage race of 230km in Costa Rica, I lost all feeling in my left big toe. It was completely numb. It stayed numb for almost 4 months. The doctor told me if the feeling didn’t come back within 6 months chances are it would never come back. I guess I got lucky! It was an awkward feeling, through off my balance at first and I had to get used to it… and then one day when I was at work… I felt my toe again. Weird.
2. A week or so after completing the Squamish 50/50 in August 2014 the entire inside of my mouth became shrivelled up… thats the best way to describe it. It was severely wrinkled including my tongue, it was raw and I struggled to eat or swallow anything for over a week! I was told it could have been due to the high amount of stress I put my body under about 26 hours of running… my saliva glands were not happy. It was very painful!
3. Chaffing! Happens to the best of us… this was my worst case… in a place that I could photograph and share at least… After the 2015 Squamish 50/50 – 26hours of running
4. After running the VAN100 a few weeks ago… the entire bottoms of both of my feet peeled completely off. My feet were wet for about 30 hours straight causing a mild case of trench foot, when my feet heeled well the skin was no longer attached… it was time for a new layer anyways!
5. The Squamish 50/50 in 2015 caused me to loose all but 3 toe nails! Thats a record for me… I am proud of! Lucky I’ve still got 5 in this photo.
6. This one isn’t uncommon but after every race my feet swell so much that the only “shoe” that fits is my crocks for about a week. Over the years of long distance running my feet have grown 3 times as wide as they used to be. I have a pair of sandals from a few years ago that I measure with… they did use to fit.
7. Another common occurrence of course is blisters… have you ever had one bigger then the toe its attached to?? Yes I sure have! After running the R2R2R – Grand Canyon South to North to South Rim. about 20 hours… I had the biggest blister I’ve ever had… lucky for you I don’t have a photo of it!
8. The oh so cool permanent Dirtan… I call it. Is it a tan or just dirt… it looks like dirt but doesn’t wash off??
9. Not able to get up in the morning… I have driven my body to complete shut down… After the Coastal Challenge in 2014 my body was unable to recover properly… I couldn’t get out of bed let alone stand and be at work for 8 hours… I had to go in for IV’s of nutrients for 6 weeks in order to get my body and levels back up to normal… I still go for these today, less often however they make a huge difference in my performance and keeping my body running. I also drink liquorice root tea… my blood pressure is very low and this helps increase it a little.
10. I have fallen asleep during a long run… R2R2R. Being calorie deficient.
11. I may call this one an injury though no one could ever really tell me what it was caused from… for about 3 months my knee would fill up with a hard… jelly type of fluid around my left knee causing extreme pain and of course forcing me to take some time off running… what a shame I had to wear shorts everyday! It even forced me to crutches!
12. Consuming a large amount of salt! My taste buds prefer salty food over sweet! I put salt on lots of my foods like watermelon and dates…This may not seem to crazy… or maybe it does… not day goes by that someone doesn’t comment on me adding salt to my foods. I sweat a lot of it out people have to remember… therefore can consume!
13. Since leaving the road and join the trails I have gained about 30 pounds… not all of it muscle… my body has changed shape, size and added fat to it. It was a hard transition at first but now its nothing to even think about… with a strong body that does what it does nothing else matters. What ultra running has taught me the most is how to treat my body, what it needs and when. Often I can pinpoint exactly what it needs that very second. Its an incredible thing to spend 20 hours running and know how to make your body work.
14. Of course ultra running has made me a HANGRY MONSTER! I eat all of the time… and when I don’t… be ware!
All of this long distance running has changed many things within my body… and we learn to love it… we learn to roll with it. Its the best way to live life.