Well, I’m still hanging in strong as the world’s slowest healer. The good news, though, is there is clear evidence of progress. (And delicious donuts have been had.)
As mentioned in my last post, my soleus calf strain is taking a painfully long time to heal. To recap, I was diagnosed with a strain in mid-December. I took about six weeks off running, then slowly built up to 15 miles a week of running over five weeks, only to learn that my strain wasn’t yet healed.
Now, I’m five weeks into my second block of time off–16 weeks after my initial diagnosis–and the follow up to my follow-up musculoskeletal ultrasound has revealed that while the strain has healed quite a bit…it’s not yet back to 100 percent.
On February 21, my first ultrasound revealed a tear of the medial soleus measuring 5.1 cm x 0.4 cm x 2.0 cm. Yesterday, on March 28, the follow up ultrasound revealed my tear now measures. 2.7 cm x 0.3 cm x 0.6 cm.
Here’s what that looks like:
The good news is that the current strain is about a fifth of the size that it was five weeks ago.
The bad news is the doctor recommends an additional four weeks off, and a third follow-up ultrasound, before I get back to running. That will put me at a total of 20 weeks of healing for this injury–a full seven weeks longer than my stress fracture the winter of 2014/2015.
The other good news, however, is that the ultrasound showed no intramuscular hematoma. That means my current cross-training regimen of barre and spinning isn’t causing any damage, so I can continue with that for the next four weeks. I have to be thankful for that.
The other bad news, though, is that I had to let go of all my 2017 running goals and come to peace with the fact that this is going to be my first marathon-free year since before I ran my first marathon in 2013.
Sure, by the time I start running again in late April, I could build up my mileage high enough by the end of the year to run a marathon. But I wouldn’t be able to build it up and run a race I would be proud of.
You see, returning to running after a muscle strain will be different than returning to running after a stress fracture. Muscles are far more susceptible to re-injury. And given that I had a tear in a muscle that is particularly important when running fast, I can’t rush back into speed work. I don’t currently see myself returning to workouts again until July. With a wedding in September, a fast marathon just isn’t in the cards.
Instead, I’m going to shift my focus to the half marathon. That is a race distance I can comfortably build a base for by the end of the year, and that will allow me to gauge where I am relative to my goals without a full marathon build up.
I’m still tinkering with my goals for now, but I’ll be sure to share them once I hit the pavement again. Until then, I’ll be hitting the bike and the barre. A lot. After all, I have a wedding dress I need to fit into, whether or not I’m running. And who can say no to a donut as cute as this?