Deb and I went for a walk this afternoon. For a long time, we’ve wanted to get into the habit of taking daily walks, but my frequent travel kept getting in the way. We walked at a fairly casual pace, so it wouldn’t aggravate my leg.
It’s not unusually cold for December, but there was a wind chill today. After about 15 minutes, my feet started to get cold. By the time we got home, one foot was painfully cold. It was a familiar feeling.
When I was young, my hands and feet would often get painfully cold when I was outside on a winter day. Wearing warmer gloves or boots never seemed to help much. When I get cold, my blood vessels constrict, limiting the blood flow to my extremities. It’s a condition called Raynaud’s Syndrome. What I experienced today was all too familiar, but it was nevertheless surprising. I haven’t felt that in my feet in a long time.
I took up running in college. At first it was sporadic. In my late 20s, I started staying in shape year ‘round. In my late 30s, I started doing ultramarathons, and I picked up my mileage. Since then, I haven’t experienced symptoms of Raynaud’s in my feet.
I still experience it in my hands, and over the years I’ve noticed it in my forearms too. I’ve noticed it more frequently in recent years. Still, it seemed like my feet were cured. I developed such good circulation in my feet that they were always the first part of my body to get hot when I started exercising. Sometimes my feet would perspire the moment I thought about running.
Last summer, I started noticing circulation issues in my legs. It was shortly after I had to cut way back on running because of the groin strain in my right leg. I was still racing on weekends, which kept me from fully healing, but I was no longer doing the day-to-day training.
I suspect my Raynaud’s Syndrome has been getting worse with age, but running 50-60 miles a week promoted such good circulation in my legs and feet that it effectively masked the condition. It was only after I stopped running that I noticed circulation-related issues in my legs. Today was the first time recently that I noticed it in my feet. It was a chronic problem in my youth.
I’m still hopeful that my legs and feet will get back to feeling normal if I can get back to running for an hour or two each day. I hope to get there, but I have to wait. This week, I’m finally beginning an extended break from running marathons. As I begin my recovery from injuries, I’m emphasizing rest. In time, I’ll be able to resume running, but I’ll be careful to ramp up gradually. It could be months before I’m doing enough running to see noticeable improvement in my circulation.