Running Rehab, Genghis Khan, And Toe Yoga

Cemil in Johnny's of Carrboro

FitOldDog enjoyed an interesting conversation with Cemil, about Empire Building and Genghis Khan, at Johnny’s in Carrboro. Learned a lot! Photo with permission, by FitOldDog.

Earth from space

The beautiful, brutal biosphere, where everything is connected in one big network, even Genghis Khan and FitOldDog’s toes. Photo by NASA.

Cemil taught me a thing or two about Genghis Khan during our recent chat at Johnny’s; it even influenced my subsequent running rehab. work at the gym.

Our conversation started with Cemil asking me what I was writing. I told him that I was working on the 2nd Edition of our Plantar Fasciitis Treatment e-book. I, likewise, asked Cemil what he was writing about, and he said, “Genghis Khan’s empire building.” He also said that Genghis Kahn had a ‘bad rap,’ being associated with violence, but they were violent times, while he brought some order in the form of Empire. I then asked Cemil if he liked Genghis Kahn, as he knew a lot about him (article will be out in about a year, he said, on the UNC Academia Network). He thought for a moment, and replied, “Yes! Overall, I’m impressed by what he achieved.” I learned a lot during that conversation, which modified my impressions of Genghis Kahn, but I’m sure that even Genghis Khan had good years and bad years

My 2014, triathlon race season came with lots of problems, largely due to a bike wreck in 2013, as it turns out. Failure to obey the most important rule of cycling, Keep The Rubber Side Down, resulted in my meeting some really nice people, and it (a) hurt my hand a lot, but I got over it, (b) took me to the Cleveland Clinic for repair of my displaced abdominal aortic aneurysm stent graft, and (c) really messed up my running in 2014. This, I discovered as I returned to training after that second aortic surgery (December 2013).

FitOldDog on treadmill running rehab

FitOldDog does running rehab on the treadmill, and wonders about his toes, engaging and disengaging them, and assessing the affects on his stride and throughout his body – the goal is safe, low-impact, relaxed running, like Dennis Kimetto. Photo by FitOldDog.

So, I’m in running rehab.

FitOldDog’s philosophy of  injury rehabilitation:

Setbacks, unless they are completely incapacitating, are opportunitiesyou have a chance to reinvent yourself, this case being my running. I watched the video of Dennis Kimetto setting the new world marathon record in Berlin (2:02:57 – Damn!!!), and I was inspired to try to run like him. Relaxed. Smooth. Using his whole body. Great posture. Kicking back his heels, as he engages his gluts. Looking a bit like a kid, running for fun.

But first I had to fix the plantar fasciitis in my left foot, and some very tight areas elsewhere in my left leg and hip, due to my hip displacement – it was displaced for about one year! The process involved pelvic correction, massage, and application of the FitOldDog Plantar Fasciitis Treatment, the last stage of which is carefully controlled exercise, finally leading to a judicious and slow return to running.

My approach, once I’m ready to run, isFitOldDog water running

  • Cancel all races,
  • Water run for a few weeks,
  • Then start carefully on the running machine (treadmill), gradually increasing load (duration and pace),
  • Targeted strength training in the weight room, combined with LOTS of gentle stretching and rolling,
  • Finally, return to trails and
  • Then the roads.
  • Continuing strength training and rolling to keep plantar fasciitis at bay.

It works, but it takes up to several months of consistent effort in a bad case, so I have plenty of time to think about emulating Dennis Kimetto.

The fascinating conversation about Genghis Khan, with Cemil, in Johnny’s Coffee Shop, just before my workout, reminded me to consider my toes as I ran. Toes are a critical component of your personal body network, where, as I’m sure you know, everything is connected.

Toe Yoga

Toe Yoga is one of Rebecca’s tools in her training video designed to fix flat feet, or fallen arches; one cause of plantar fasciitis.

Which brings me to Toe Yoga!

The conversation with Cemil about the Empire building skills of Genghis Khan, led naturally to our consideration of the nature of networks, of which Empires are but one example. As I was subsequently driving from Johnny’s towards the gym, for some running rehab, the role of body networks in my running ran through my mind. This led (naturally!) to the function of toes, a critical component of our arch machinery, responsible for fine tuning energy flow through the foot as you strike (should I say, embrace), the ground. My body movement teacher, and co-author, Rebecca, puts lots of effort into training me to activate my toes. I’m slowly learning how to control them separately, using Toe Yoga. So I decided to make my toes one focus of this workout on the treadmill.

Give it a try. Watch your toes (in your mind) as you run. Try engaging them more or less. What happens to your stride and the rest of your body? Anyone out there with great toe-work-while-running advice for FitOldDog as he enjoys his running rehab, dreaming of running like Dennis Kimetto?



  1. Pauline Watson says

    The ABC’s of Running – part 1:

    I have toe issues as well due to recent surgery for osteoarthritis, and have been doing my A B,C drills. I find B, which involved pawing the ground, helps engage my toes.

  2. ” really messed up my running in 2015. This, I discovered as I returned to training after that second aortic surgery (December 2014).” You’re running a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you?

  3. Genghis Khan was the Isis of his time. Keep working jt!

    • I often wonder about the reality and the actual person, when it comes to historical characters, and myth merges with reality. I’ll be back on the IM course, but not until I’m really ready this time. -kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.