Sunday, August 21, 2011

Skirting Injury

This whole past week I have  been dealing with the after-effects of the Kings Peak in a Day (KPIAD) run. Mostly, it has been my calves that have been screaming at me.  The last couple of miles of KPIAD I had a couple of sharp Achilles twinges on my left leg, and after I got home and rested my legs for a couple of days, I realized that it wasn't really my Achilles that was hurting, but rather the Soleus muscle that runs under the calf muscle (the Gastrocnemius).  The Soleus attaches into the Achilles (or Calcaneal tendon, as my muscle therapist likes to call it.  I respond by calling it the Achilles.  I think it kind of bugs him just a little bit that I continue to call it that.  That, and the fact that I call the lateral posterior lower leg tendon the Peroneus, and he calls it the Fibularis, but I just like to think that I'm sticking with what the Greeks named these things, and the Greeks knew their anatomy well enough to name it, so... )

Anyway, I diverge.  So, my Soleus muscle was really hurting.  I mean really.  Like, "just place your fingers on the head of the fibula and I wanted to throw up" kind of hurt.  The Soleus had become so tight, that it was increasing the tension on my Achilles and thus causing the Achilles to ache.  (FYI ~ don't even Google fibular head pain if you are a runner, because it will come up with all of these horrific syndromes that you just don't even want to know about.  Trust me on that one.)  And with about 3 weeks left 'til Wasatch, I was really starting to freak out that I wouldn't recover in time, or that I would do more damage by continuing to train on an injured limb.

So I went to see James on Tuesday (my muscle therapist) and he worked on both my fibular heads, my Soleus (Solei?) on both sides, and my Achilles.  I didn't feel a whole lot better by Tuesday afternoon, so I fired off an email to my coach, Ian, to let him know that I was feeling really reluctant to run my planned 30 miler on Saturday, followed by a 90 minute run on Sunday.  His response was nearly immediate and very serious.  He changed my whole training plan for the week, significantly reducing my mileage and asking me if there was any way I could cross-train and give myself some extra rest.  He bumped my long run to Sunday to give me an extra day of rest and reduced it to 3 hours (instead of 6).

So on Wednesday, it was off to the pool I went.  I don't even remember the last time I swam a mile.  Probably in 2006 when I did the Shermanator triathlon with my cousins.  Dude, 5 years ago? Wow.  Well, it took me 45 minutes to swim the mile, but it's always taken me about that long.  I did a couple of nearly flat jogs of about 3 miles in Park City, one of which was on the Rail Trail, which I must say is a lot nicer for skate skiing in the winter than it is for running in the summer.  Yuck.  I swam another mile on my lunch break on Friday, cruised an easy 3 miler on Saturday in Park City, and by Saturday afternoon I had the nagging thought in my head that I still was not as recovered as I wanted to be.  My calves (mostly my left one) were not screaming anymore when I touched them, but they were still super tender at the fibular heads, albeit somewhat improved as I was able to jog without having any stabbing pain in the Achilles.

Hmm.  What to do.  I had the three hour easy run on my schedule on Sunday, and I really wanted to be able to do it.  I had been talking on the phone with my friend Brian in Colorado on Friday night, as he has been having some medial knee pain (I'm thinking it's patellofemoral syndrome from increasing his mileage too quickly) and we had talked about acupuncture for over-use injuries and I started really thinking about going back to Master Lu.  I didn't want to spend the money, but hell, I wanted to be able to say that I'd done everything to get this problem licked.  So far:  reduce mileage, cross-train (swimming), muscle therapy (twice, because I went back to James on Thursday too), stretching, foam roller, stick massager, kinesiotape.  I even took some Ibuprofen for a few days.  Seriously ~ acupuncture was all I had left in my quiver of tricks.

So, Master Lu it was.  When I explained to him what was going on, he smiled at me and told me (for about the millionth time) to do Tai Chi instead of running.  Yes, yes, Master Lu, I know...  Running *bad*, Tai Chi *good*.  But I want to be in the mountains, Master Lu.  So he took me back to the acupuncture room and stuck a bunch of needles in my calves and Achilles and I got the standard, "Now.  You relax."  Right.  And actually, I did.  I nearly fell asleep face down on the table.  I moved my legs a couple of times just to change position and also to stimulate the needles a little more (I always do that, to get a little better activation of the dry needling process) and I swear, the one in my popliteal space of my left lower leg was a cold type of pain that I thought would make me throw up.  I dared not move my leg again.

After 30 minutes, Master Lu returned, woke me up, and took out the needles.  I thanked him for the nice nap.  He asked me to return next week, and I rescheduled for Wednesday, after my muscle therapy appointment with James on Tuesday.  Should work out nicely.

Of note ~ as I walked to the car, I bent down to touch the area on my fibular head on my left leg where the nauseating pain had been, and (not surprisingly) it was nearly gone.  Gone!  I ran my 3 hour route on the Shoreline today (Sunday), expecting to have some sort of lower leg shut-down accompanied by excruciating pain, and it never happened.

I am in awe of how fortunate I am to have a coach who listens, a muscle therapist who is truly a genius, and Master Lu whose magic needles and acupuncture skill are not of this world.  Thanks be to all who keep me running.

(Post script:  Photos today are from the Shoreline Trail above Salt Lake, but on an adventure with the dogs in the Spring of 2010.  No photos were taken on the run today, but I didn't want to post without photos today.  The view from up there never gets old... )

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I hope you keep feeling better up to the 100.
    Take care and happy running.
    Love ya, S