Well, it appears I spoke too soon in my last post.
At the end of October, I believed I was on the edge of a breakthrough. I had taken 10 days off running and built up my mileage slowly. I was running all my runs at an easy pace and I felt good.
In November, I still felt good, but I didn’t update my blog. Perhaps I knew deep down that all was not right.
I resumed workouts the first week of November, starting with 2 x 10 minutes at half marathon pace. It went well, so then I continued to run one workout a week for the next two weeks.
I ran a Turkey Trot and I won it! It was hilly, and not particularly fast, but fast enough to win it in 19:55. And I felt good after. I ran a hilly 11 miler two days later, and that felt okay, too.
And then things started to crumble. My alarm didn’t go off the following Tuesday, something that seriously never happens to me, so I missed my workout. I was going to run after work, but it was pouring rain–40 degrees and pouring. I decided to run easy on a treadmill instead, and push the workout to later in the week.
I did this even though I know treadmills are bad for me. No one ever believes me when I say treadmills are bad for me, but I swear they are. As proof, I have my cadence data from that run. My cadence on a treadmill is about 5.5% lower than on a normal run. I think that’s enough of a change in my form to have an impact.
Two days later, I got up to run my workout, and what do you know, my calf pain is back. After 10 weeks of conservative recovery, I was back to square one.
Finally, I sucked it up and I set up an appointment with my orthopedic doctor. While all summer I had been operating under the assumption that the problem was my Achilles’ tendon, she thought it was a muscle problem – my soleus, to be exact.
She said soleus based on the fact that straight leg calf raises felt okay, but bent leg raises were painful, straight leg hops were okay, bent leg hops were no good, etc. But because I have a history of stress fracture, she wanted me to go for an MRI. She said calf problems can appear secondary to a stress fracture, so she wanted to be safe.
I had my MRI on Saturday, December 10, and received the results from my Doctor on Friday, the 16th: soleus strain.
No stress fracture, no Achilles’ tendon issues, just a soleus strain. It’s likely that I’ve been retearing the same calf strain since July. And each time I restrain it I make it harder to heal, because there is just more, and more scar tissue. In hindsight, it’s very easy to kick myself for messing around with this injury for literally months before going to a doctor about it.
Now, I’m facing four to six weeks off running, plus a bunch of physical therapy and another long, slow build up. Luckily, I’m already two weeks into this layoff, so hopefully I’m already halfway there.
With all the extra time I now have on my hands with no running, I’m figuring out how I want to restructure my 2017 running calendar, since I won’t be running the Charleston Half (which I had already traded down from the marathon), and I don’t think I’ll be ready to really race and do well at Grandma’s Marathon either, my original goal marathon for 2017.
I still have time to figure it out, but whatever my plan ends up being, it will be conservative.
As always, I’ll share my plans for building back up when I have them, but if you found yourself on this blog because you suspect you have a calf strain or maybe Achilles’ tendonitis, learn from me: don’t wait, go see your doctor!