Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Step in the Wrong Direction....

Dang it! My calf is on fire when I run again. I tried the gentle approach, but I guess it wasn't gentle enough. Walking doesn't bother my calf. I was fine with jogging 4-miles the other day with lots of walk breaks mixed in and then a 4-mile walk afterward, so I tried 4.5 miles with a little less walking on Saturday. I ran/walked at a 9:1 ratio for 4.5 miles, then walked 4.5 more (9-mile training run with my half-marathon group). I did jog just a little in the last two miles since I was feeling so good, and I guess that's what put me over the edge.

I felt great during the run, but Sunday and Monday, I could tell my formerly pain-free calf was achy again when I put all my weight on one foot, like going up and down steps. I crosstrained lightly to get the blood flowing on Sunday and Monday (18 minutes on the Arc Trainer one day, walking 1.5 miles slowly the next), then tried running today. The first 1/2 mile was very painful. I walked a bit, stretched, and eeked out a couple more miles at a 1:1 run/walk ratio. That was better, but it hurts now afterward.

I'm feeling a bit back to square one. I wish my doctor had more seriously considered posterior compartment syndrome. The more I read, the more I think it's not a muscle strain at all.

I will be coaching my half-marathon group for 3 more weeks. After that, I can let go of all the long distances for a while and get stronger on just 2 and 3 milers with a 1:1 run/walk and then less and less walking. But for now, I feel like I need to be out there with them, putting in the miles in some form or fashion. This weekend, however, I think I'll most likely be just walking the 9 miles. On race day in 3 weeks, I'm pretty sure I'll be primarily, if not totally walking. I've never actually walked more than 4 miles. Walking 9, 10, then 13.1 miles is going to be interesting.

I've also started teaching a Running 101 class at the YMCA on Thursday mornings, but it's mostly beginners, Thank God. I can run/walk the 2-3 miles (or just walk!) during my recovery. This is WEEK 14 in Injuryville, I think.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Road to Recovery

Ever hear the saying, "The road to recovery is paved with good intentions?" No, wait, maybe that's the road to hell....

This time, I'm going to do this recovery-thing RIGHT. No more skipping from point A to point K (my newest physical therapist's words), I'm going to go from A to B to C to...... you get the picture.

Last week, I was allowed to run 2 miles nonstop. Whoo-hoo. This week, I can run 3 miles nonstop. Next week, I'll work my way up to 4 miles. Even though my calf feels AWESOME at this point, I cannot let myself build up faster than that. I'm going with the conservative approach this time.

The only problem is my next 13.1 race is in 4 weeks. If all goes well, I'll be up to 7 miles by then. Looks like someone isn't going to PR and will be run/walking the race! I'm actually hoping to maintain a 9:1 or an 8:2 run/walk ratio in the race. The great thing is there will be absolutely NO PRESSURE in this race other than to have fun and finish without re-injuring myself. I'll be babying this calf and stopping to walk, stretch... sit a minute--- WHATEVER it takes on race day. I really didn't enjoy my last half-marathon, so maybe I'll have fun with this one.

My Women's Half Marathon training group is going so strong. They are putting in the time, logging the miles, and really getting excited about race day. They have avoided injury so far. We are taking a fairly conservative approach to training, and it's paying off. (Note to self....)

The walkers are totally hard core. They walk at a 15-minute or faster pace. I'd rather run a slow and easy 12 or 13-minute mile pace than walk thirteen 15-minute miles! I've been running part of the workouts with the runners and walking the rest with the walkers. It's been good to spend some time with both halves of the training group. I have grown to be good friends with several of these ladies, and, as with my other groups, I'll be sad to see it end.

Honestly, for me, I have little passion for running right now. There, I said it-- right here on my very own running blog. I enjoy my coaching job, but when I've faced disappointment after disappointment and aches and pains all summer, my own running is a bit.... tarnished.

I'm really excited about cycling though. Isn't she pretty? It's an entry-level women's road bike. It comes in baby blue, too!

I've been cycling a lot at the YMCA during this injury, and I've been wanting a road bike for a while. My 40th birthday is in about 3 weeks, so I can ask for a fairly big present. It's not every day one turns the big 4-0.

I was excited about turning forty, actually. I thought maybe I'd be slightly more competitive as the youngest in the 40-44 age group instead of the oldest in the 35-39 age group. But then I got injured and have to start back at square 1.

It looks like there is a 5K in a couple of weeks. I'm thinking about doing it. I need something to get my excitement back for running. Even though I won't run it fast, at least I'll feel like I'm back in the game, you know?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Update: Do I Run Like Phoebe?

The MRI was clean, so there is not a tear or herniated muscle. The doctor said it's a grade 2 or grade 3 calf strain. That is good and won't require surgery---just PATIENCE and physical therapy.

I was referred to a physical therapist within the orthopedic doctor's office. I had a nearly two-hour evaluation this morning. He watched me run, tested my muscle strength with several muscle groups, my balance, and took down my life story.... and then some. It was the most thorough evaluation I've ever had!

I'm a little thin-skinned and his criticism (I mean "critique") of my running form (or lack thereof) was a little hard to take. Yes, I know I need better posture. Yes, I know I am a heel striker with a short stride. No, I didn't know that my left foot curves out when I'm moving it forward mid-stride. No, I didn't know I spend more time on one foot than the other during my gait. (Do I have a "lazy leg"?) For the record, when I was running on the treadmill, it even felt SLOPPY to me. I think I'm out of practice. I've run only 1 mile about 3 days per week for the last two weeks. Apparently I look like this:

As for muscle groups, my quads are STRONG. He couldn't "break me" when trying to press my leg down while I was pushing up. But my glutes and lower abdominals are weak. My ankle and calves and left hip are week. My ITB is tight, but my calf range of motion is good. I need Pilates.

I don't have a return-to-running plan yet, but I will by next week. He wants to consult a physical therapist runner friend of his. For now, it's just run 1 or 2 miles at a time and cross train. I can handle that.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Little Peace and Quiet (in the MRI Machine)

I FINALLY went to the doctor about my calf injury--only took me 10 weeks! I saw an orthopedic doc who came highly recommended on Thursday. He took my history and had me do two things-- squat down and then lift up on my toes while he watched my calves. Then he placed his thumb right in the sore spot. Ouch. He said I possibly have a tear or a hernia in the gastroc muscle of my calf and I needed an MRI to be sure.

I had the MRI appointment on Friday morning. It was my first MRI. The big kids were at school and my mom kept my 4-year old since I was pretty sure I couldn't take her with me. It was nice to have a little time to myself--despite the circumstances!

The lower half of my body was all that was in the machine. The tough thing about an MRI is you have to remain completely still-- especially the parts inside the machine, but really ALL your parts. The minute you hear the clanging noise, you know it's taking films. Just before the machine starts, the technician buzzes in and tells you how long each portion will take. At first it was 30 seconds, then one minute, then all the way up to 6 minutes. The funny part is that the moment a long one starts, something inevitably ITCHES. For me, it was my left knee--itching like crazy. But I didn't dare move. I had to pay $350 for my portion before insurance! So for 6 minutes, I tried to think about anything BUT the itch. It's really hard to will yourself not to scratch! I just tried to get my body deeply relaxed-- at one point about 50 minutes in, I almost fell asleep. It kind of felt like that end part of a yoga class (I don't remember what it's called) when you breathe and are just still.

The peace and quiet (other than the clanging) was kind of nice.

I get my results on Tuesday.....

In the meantime, I Googled "calf hernia." I don't think this is what the doctor meant:

Poor little fella!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Top 10 Ways NOT to Recovery from A Calf Injury

1. When the physical therapist's advice is to only run short distances slowly, take on a new personal training client who needs speed work exclusively and wants to pay you to pace her. Run with her at least once per week, running faster than you are supposed to.

2. Continue running with your half-marathon training group over long distances and hills. Feel like a slacker when you take walk breaks and they don't. Don't take the opportunity to do the miles on a bike or walking.

3. Bounce around from physical therapist to physical therapist, but don't see an actual orthopedic doctor. Be sure to spend all $500 in your physical therapy deductable without having an definite diagnosis because you are too impatient to wait to see a doctor and want results NOW.

4. Don't have tests such as an MRI to determine if it is indeed a calf tear (because that would require a visit to a doctor and you don't want to wait the requisite 1 to 2 weeks it takes to get in).

5. Continue running 12-18 miles per week and keep running long runs, such as 8-milers, as long as you walk some of it. But don't run too slowly, so you don't look bad.

6. Squats with the kettle bell can't possibly make your calf hurt more. Do them often.

7. Make sure you spend even more money on things like the foam roller, The Stick, and orthotics ($20-$50 each) for a "quick fix."

8. Be as impatient and as frustrated as possible. When it feels better, immediately go out and do TOO MUCH. Then when it hurts even to walk, back off again and feel depressed. Seek new/different advice.

9. Read everything on the Internet on calf strains, calf tears, and even a "calf heart attack" and how they can linger for years. Feel even worse.

10. Repeat the above FOR TEN WEEKS.