Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why Injuries Suck: Part 7,926

My house is so clean, you guys. Also, I have been planning meals, grocery shopping, & preparing days' worth of food ahead of time like it's my freaking job. These are the types of things you have the time to do when you can't run and have gobs of mental & physical energy to burn off as a result.

I have some advice for you and that is that if you ever decide to injure yourself bad enough to interrupt your running for multiple weeks, don't do it just before / during the holidays / travel. Over the course of mid-December, my achey left calf got progressively worse and worse even as my runs got shorter and less intense until, after an easy 4-miler in Spokane, I could no longer really put weight on it.

Since then, it's all been kind of a blur of limping & travel & phone calls in airport terminals various & sundry to about a dozen doctors and clinics as I desperately tried to find someone with a medical degree who could fit me in & maybe tell me what the heck is going on. (This is why late December is a terrible time to injure yourself. Obviously no one can see you unless you're dying, and afterward they're swamped trying to take care of everyone who managed mild-to-moderate damage to themselves during the holidays.)

For the first two weeks, I could barely walk & couldn't bear any weight at all on the ball of my foot, & was routinely waking up at night in really surprising amounts of pain. In the last week I've been able to walk pretty much normally as long as I keep to less than say half a mile at a time, but there's still a reasonable amount of pain, even just to the touch in some places, and running is still so, soooooo far from happening.

I couldn't get in to see a sports medicine doctor until this coming Wednesday, but I did manage to get in for x-rays on the 3rd. Predictably, they didn't show anything; stress fractures generally don't show up on x-rays until they start to heal (usually ~4-6 weeks later), so even if that's what it is, only an MRI or bone scan would catch it.

(Don't ask me what that other stuff means; apparently they aren't concerned about any of it, but I'm still curious to know.)

I spent Thursday dejectedly explaining the situation to my PT & getting his take on it. His bullet points:

  • Kind of presenting like bone, but impossible to confirm without MRI / bone scan.
  • Regardless of the bone situation, there is definitely a pretty bad muscle strain in a few different places.
  • Realistically, the bone situation kind of doesn't matter since the treatment is still "don't run on it until it stops hurting."
  • WOW, your left calf is *obscenely* tight, ie bad strain = completely not surprising. (And yes, cupping did indeed ensue.)

We'll see if the sports medicine doctor has anything new to add on Wednesday.

So this week has been emotional and hard. The hip muscle I tore last May has been feeling great for a couple of months now and I was just starting to get back into the rhythm of training and building mileage, so suddenly finding myself saddled with another injury and likely *another* month of no running has been utterly demoralizing. It's also been tough trying to come to terms with the fact that (sigh) there is just no way I'll be ready to run a marathon on March 2nd. Even if my leg magically gets better tomorrow, it's not as if I'll be able to jump right back where I was. Once my leg is pain-free, my PT says I can start with a quarter mile to a half mile of jogging per day, & gradually work up from there based on how it feels, which is obviously very very far from what I'd hoped to be doing seven weeks out from NVM.

I don't know yet whether I'll be able to run KP Half or not. Absolute best case, it will most likely just be as an easy training run, as I haven't been able to do enough speed / tempo runs (and probably won't for a while) to feel confident about racing it.

So. All that sucks.

Still. The way I see it, my options are "Sit at home & feel sorry for yourself" or "Do whatever you can & like it," which is not a particularly difficult choice.

Please direct complaints to 1-800-waa-waaa, ext. Life Is Hard.

Until things get better, I am taking full advantage of my gym membership & loading up the week with strength sessions, yoga classes, & spin workouts, plus whatever bits of martial arts my leg can handle. I've been trying to simulate the runs I would be doing via minutes & effort level, & gradually figuring out how to translate certain paces into Watts.

Ie: 2 miles warm up, 3 x (800 @ 6:00/mile / 1:00 jog), 30:00 @ marathon pace, 3 x (800 @ 6:00/mile / 1:00 jog)

Becomes: 15:00 ~85 Watts, 3 x (3:00 @ 130 Watts / 1:00 easy), 20:00 @ 90 Watts, 3 x (3:00 @ 130 Watts / 1:00 easy)

(I had to hack off 10 minutes in the middle that day due to time.)

And: 2 miles warm up, 4 x (1600m @ LT pace / 2:00 jog)

Becomes: 15:00 @ ~85 Watts, 4 x (7:20 @ 105 Watts / 2:00 easy)

Yes, it's a little like living on protein shakes & rice cakes instead of actual food, but it's also keeping me half sane (and hopefully keeping me out of a massive cardio hole somewhat).

* * *

Grand Total: 44.5 miles (biked, obviously)

    * 29.9 easy
    * 6 speed
    * 8.6 tempo


a.m. 8.5 easy / lunch time yoga


a.m. strength work / p.m. 3.8 warm up, 3 x (.8 @ 5K effort / .2 easy), 4.6 @ marathon effort, 3x(.8 @ 5K effort / .2 easy) = 14.2 miles

I've learned some new cool strength exercises lately, so it was fun to try them out. More on that later....


a.m. 8.6 easy / lunch time yoga / p.m. karate + light strength


Rest; super-tight schedule with not a moment to spare.


Lunch time strength work / p.m. 3.1 warm up, 4 x (1.9 @ LT pace / .33 easy), 1.5 cool down = 13.2 miles


Since my gym is down by my office on the Peninsula, there's not a lot I can do on the weekend besides basic strength stuff. Which was just as well, since Don & I were both sick as dogs with some kind of nasty cold/sinus thing. At least we don't have the flu!

Next week's goal: Get rid of leg pain, run some amount that is not zero.


  1. Oh boy. I'm so sorry, and I hope you get better soon (and hope you find out what the matter is at that doctor's visit). In the meantime, the bike is a fair substitute. Does your gym have a pool or is there a public pool nearby?

    1. No pool at the gym, but there is one near my house that I've gone to occasionally. The trouble is that it's only open for lap swimming 6-7am MWF, which is STUPIDLY early (and no hours on weekends!).

  2. Injuries blow. Hoping you a quick recovery.

  3. I'm SO sorry to hear about this!! Will you be getting an MRI anytime soon?

    Related - I just listened to a podcast featuring Chris Vargo, an elite ultrarunner. He said that when he injured his achilles last year, he did tons of cross training - elliptical, bike, and swim jogging. He was able to run a big race only a few weeks after coming back from his injury - and I think he won?? (I know he came in 3rd at North Face.) He really recommended simulating runs on the elliptical or the pool, which sounds like what you're doing on the machines. Good luck keeping your body strong and your chin up!

    1. We'll see what the doc says Wednesday. I'm kind of betting no MRI since the actual diagnosis doesn't change the treatment, but we'll see. I'm hoping I'll be able to start adding in elliptical soon. There is a pool fairly close to me in the city which I've gone to in the past, but it's only open for lap swimming 6-7am MWF, which is REALLY stupid early. (And they don't have weekend hours!)

      I think the main trouble with cross-training for me will be that I can't really simulate a long run that way. But agreed, anything I can do is better than nothing!

  4. Argh! I'm so sorry! The injury train has been picking up passengers all over the Bay Area, it seems. I hope you get some answers Wednesday, and I'm here for commiserating!

    1. OMG SERIOUSLY. Hope your IT band is better soon!!

  5. I remember going through this same thing last year where you know something is wrong before a race, and you are going crazy trying to find any sort of specialist who can tell you what it is and fix it (or really, just tell you that you can continue to train through the pain). It sucks and it is frustrating, even if the spots behind the couch are dusted and vacuumed. Hoping you hit your goal of running more than 0 miles soon!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, at least at this point I've been through this enough times that I know better than to be like, "So MAYBE I can still run?????" I mean I might be able to get to the point that I could just finish, but I'm not really interested in just finishing. It's been feeling a little better, though, so hopefully I'll be running again soon. :)

  6. Was there any trauma event that may have brought on your ankle injury? That is a real bummer. I don't know what to suggest other than to hopefully get a full on diagnosis about what it is and hope it resolves soon.

    I've been basically healthy for a while now, I hope to keep it like that. I'm starting to question if I should aim for racing in the future or not, or just keep my runs to basically training runs all the time. I think eventually I will get back to racing, but if you go all out in a race, the injury risk goes up a lot. I need to figure out where that middle point is of racing without getting injured.

    1. No trauma that I can think of, and no big changes in terms of mileage or shoes, so it's really pretty random. It may just need some rest.

      Glad to hear you are doing better! Definitely nothing wrong with putting racing on the back burner while you just get back into running regularly & enjoying it.

  7. So it's basically what they call a "stress reaction"? It appears from the report that there is thickening at the muscle insertion, which would be that annoying non-diagnosis of stress reaction. I bet you have some muscle damage, too, which could be why there is so much pain. REST that thing. I'm really sorry you are struggling through this. I've been enjoying reading your comeback from injury and hoped you'd be healthy long-term. Total rest is best, though. I'd even ask for a boot or crutches. It just needs to settle down. Good luck, girl, you'll get better soon and come back stronger. This just means it's time for a break.

    1. Yep, definitely some muscle damage. I'm really curious to hear from the sports doc. In the mean time, trying to rest up as much as I can. Hopefully the triumphant return will continue soon!

  8. PS - while injured I started some long, complicated sewing projects. It worked. I had no more free time than when I ran 45 mpw!

  9. Being injured sucks.. but you have a great attitude about it. Keep up the cross training and you'll be back running soon. I had a calf tear a few months ago and couldn't run for a while, ended up improving my swimming so much. So I guess something good came out of it.

  10. I'm so sorry about the injury and the lack of answers particularly!! Hope the sports medicine guy has some thoughts today. Hugs.

  11. Yes, injuries are such an aberration, mentally as well as physically. They are also an impetus, to put your mind and body through therapies and treatments, which will not only heal tears and scars, but perhaps take these into a higher psycho-somatic terrain, making you discover certain endurances which you may have not contemplated before.

    Javier @ US Health Works - Tukwila Center