Muscular injuries are worse than skeletal. Way worse.
When I had a stress fracture back in 2014/2015, there is no doubt that it sucked. It took forever to heal and I had no motivation to cross train. But when I did get back into running, I was back to running I was able to return to real training quickly.
I started running again in mid-March, and I was back to real workouts by mid-May. And not just one real workout…I was running two workouts a week just two months into my recovery.
Fast forward to my latest injury – my calf strain. I’m six months into this recovery process and barely back to workouts.
What do I mean? Let’s take a look. In May 2015, 10 weeks into my recovery, I ran 2 x 2 miles at half marathon pace on Tuesday (28 minutes of effort) followed by 8 x 400 meters at 5K pace, plus 2 x 200 meters at mile pace on Thursday (about 15 minutes of effort).
This year, 27 (!!) weeks into my recovery, I’m finally up to my first two workout week. Those workouts? 1-2-3-2-1 minute on/off with equal rest (9 minutes of total effort) on Tuesday and 6 x 2 minutes on/off on Friday (12 minutes of total effort).
The worst part? I’m still constantly worried about re-injuring my calf. I worry about every niggle and have to be careful not to push too hard.
I’m 27 weeks into my recovery from this muscular injury and I wouldn’t dream of running a race yet. Twenty-seven weeks into my recovery from my stress fracture, I had run a PR at the 5 mile, 10K and 1 mile distances, and I was only nine weeks out from the Philadelphia Marathon, where I ran a 15 minute PR.
This all leaves me very frustrated with my progress. There is so much I want to accomplish before age starts slowing me down. And before possibly starting a family, and the inevitable slowdown that will come naturally as part of that process.
I’m really hoping I’m near a breakthrough with my calf’s healing process, but with scar tissue (especially for an injury as deep in the muscle structure as mine was), it is hard to tell. My physical therapist says the muscle feels good – nice and smooth. But I still feel strain in the area each time I push myself and stress the muscle a little further.
Maybe the answer is that I’m not pushing enough, and I’m just delaying the process as a result. But after about six months on the sidelines, I’m not prepared to push the limits there if the risk is re-injury.
On the bright side, my workout today, my second this week, went really well. I averaged a 6:18 pace during my six 2-minute “on” sections. And according to SmashRun, it was my fastest 8-mile run ever, barely beating out a run from February 2016, about mid-way through my Boston Marathon training cycle.
So there is room for optimism if I can just remain patient. A part of me is secretly really hoping that I come back from this injury as successfully as that stress fracture…i.e. with a 15 minute marathon PR. We’ll see.
I’ve mapped out a really conservative future running plan for myself, and that helps keep me motivated. I am hoping to run my first race since my injury in February – a 5k – and I’m registered for Grandma’s Marathon, which is now just six months away.
For now, “patience” will be my mantra, even though at times I really just wish I could fast forward to a time I’m feeling confident in my running again.
PS – The cover photo is from my honeymoon! We just returned and this seemed like a good use for the kind of dramatic photo. (My husband loves taking pictures of me when I’m not looking…)