Sunday, October 7, 2018

The "I" Word

At least the tape looks fun!
If you read my Indy Women's Half race report or my September monthly recap, you know I'm injured.  I used to consider myself a highly injury-prone runner, but I have been very healthy since my last injury (which was relatively minor) in January 2016.  I've had niggles that I've been able to address with foam rolling and strengthening, or at most an ART session, but overall my body has done really well, especially considering I've been running by far the highest mileage I've ever done.  The longer the injury-free streak, the easier it becomes to start feeling immune to injuries, and I admit I was there, especially because I haven't had any injuries while training with my current coach. 

My current issue is a peroneal muscle strain.  The pernoeus is two muscles that run alongside the outside of the calf and act as stabilizers.  Strains in them for runners are usually caused by overuse.
It started at the end of August with a hamstring niggle.  When I'm building up mileage, I sometimes get a little niggle in my right hamstring, which I've been able to resolve without too much effort each time it has occurred (this was the third time, and I've never needed even a day off for it).  August was the highest mileage month of my life, and I had the little issue with my hamstring that I was able to train and race through from the end of August to the beginning of September.  While I was addressing that, I felt a little twinge in my left calf, and chalked it up to all being part of the chain.  My hamstring was 100% back to normal by mid-September, but the calf twinge hung on.  It was very minor and most of the time I didn't feel it, so I figured I'd up my eccentric calf raises and foam rolling and it would be just fine.  I am super in tune to my body and notice anytime anything doesn't feel perfect, but have also learned that most of those tiny things go away within a few days with no training adjustments.

The week of September 17, my calf became somewhat more bothersome, but it would always loosen up after I'd run a few blocks or at most a mile.  I became more aware of it, and the first time I became pretty concerned about it was after my long run that week.  It felt fine during the run but afterward was not happy.  It was also angry after I spent all day on my feet that Saturday.

The week of September 24 (the week leading up to the Indy half), my calf continued to bother me and I didn't enjoy my runs because I was worried about it.  Race week went like this:
  • Monday - I had ART on it, because I wanted to be extra proactive since it was race week, and because I planned to jump right back into training post-race.  
  • Tuesday - It slowed me down during a run for the first time.  I also wasn't feeling the best, and after I completed my track workout on Tuesday morning, a full-blown stomach bug hit me and I was unable to keep much nutrition or hydration in that day.  The worst symptoms of that abated within less than 12 hours, but left me depleted.
  • Wednesday - I felt weak and hadn't recovered from Tuesday's workout, but I ran anyway because I didn't want to miss the mileage, and because it was a much shorter than usual Wednesday run at 7 miles.  This was the first run my calf hurt throughout and at the end, but it was still minor and mainly just tight feeling.
  • Thursday - This was the second run it hurt throughout and at the end, but I hoped that the reduced volume of my 3 day taper would resolve it.  It also didn't seem any worse when I ran strides than when I was running easy.  I went in for ART again and my coach also taped it up and told me he didn't think I'd have any issues racing with it since it is a stabilizer and not a major muscle.
  • Friday - I only ran 3 miles plus strides, but it felt about the same or slightly better.  I wore compression socks and elevated it most of the ride to Indy, hoping for the best.
  • Saturday - You can read about that here, as well as more about my reasoning for refusing to DNS or DNF, but after this race running on it (or even walking) was no longer an option.
Looking back, I wish I'd have stopped running after Tuesday's workout and illness.  Maybe if I'd have taken days off then it wouldn't have worsened.  Clearly I shouldn't have raced either, but I think being unable to recover from Tuesday's effort (due to lack of nutrition and lack of sleep when I was uncomfortable and sick) really hurt it.  It felt markedly worse on Wednesday than it had before then.  Historically, I've had other injuries that came up following running while sick.  However, I pretty much always run when I'm sick (not that I'd advise this!) and 95% of the time I'm fine.

I've also read that most injuries come 2-3 weeks after training errors, and the main error I see looking back was not sleeping enough.  Training as much as I do while being a full-time working mother, I never sleep enough, but the week I traveled to and raced two 10Ks early September I missed a lot of rest.  I know I am pushing the envelope with the mileage I'm running, but I also believe I need it to have a chance at accomplishing my goals.  I think I can handle the mileage in itself, but when you combine the mileage with working 45-50 hours a week, big events every weekend, lack of sleep, family life, etc. it is a lot.

Initially I was in so much pain that I was convinced my season was over.  However, each day I've made improvements, beginning even the day after the race, which was a pleasant surprise - with how bad it felt on Saturday, I fully expected to be unable to get out of bed on Sunday, and was highly concerned about whether or not I'd be able to get around at work the next week.

Right now, I am still on the road to CIM, so I have cross-trained too much a lot this week, at minimum trying to match what I'd be running each day.  Starting with 90 minute workouts on the bike and in the pool has been interesting, since I hadn't done either for almost 3 years!  I am also working on my glute medius weakness, which may have contributed to this (even though I was doing diagonal sits and clamshells with a band like crazy before this occurred!).  I am not sure I will be able to run CIM, because I'm not going just to finish a marathon -- but I'm not sure I won't at this point, so I am working to maintain fitness with abandon.  Although I miss running like crazy, it's been nice to have a clear direction on whether or not I should run; the week before the race I felt very unsure about what to do every single day and it caused a lot of stress and anxiety.

[Follow up post about my exit from the road to CIM is here].

I'm by far the most at peace I've ever been with a running injury.  I've always have very little stress about things that cause many people much stress (e.g., finances, world news, job interviews, etc.) because I trust God so much, but this is actually the first time I've been able to fully and completely feel that ways about time off running.  I trust that it will all go as it should, whatever way that is, and I'll do the best I can along the way.  That doesn't mean there haven't been some serious lows this week or that I haven't been pretty moody at times, but I know I'll come out the other side.
I have amazing cross-training friends Monday
with bike shorts edition
I have amazing cross-training friends Friday
I-still-own-a-lap-suit edition


  1. That tape looks like you drew on your leg in photoshop. I'm so impressed with all your cross training, that's so hard!

    1. Having friends to cross-train with and having a spin bike at home really helps. A couple of months ago we'd been discussing dropping our YMCA membership because I was only using it once a week (for strength stuff I could do at home and a shower after a group run), but now I am SURE glad we didn't!