Or rather a giant change of plan. So I’ve been dealing with a calf strain for the last couple of weeks. One slight strain followed a week later by an even bigger calf strain. Not fun. Two weeks off running and then a tentative return to run-walk intervals. Last Friday I managed 4.9 miles and felt pretty good but this deteriorated over the weekend so much so that I had to bail after 2.5 miles on Sunday. Things were achy so I decided it was time to get some professional help. Mainly to get a recovery plan and to pay someone to make the decision about how much time I had to take off from running. I’ve lost some faith in my own ability to figure out how to get over this and I am a sucker for advice from a MD/DPT.
Luckily I was able to get a last minute appointment with my physiotherapist (who happens to be in charge of the running clinic at the local orthopedic center). So we had a chat about what happened since I last saw her back in August. Basically, I didn’t take enough time off after my marathon – 1 day per mile raced (not a total break but taking it easy) so about a month of very easy running before starting back up again. Note to future self.
Next she checked out my leg. It turns out that I have the tightest hips ever. She was literally amazed at the lack of flexibility in my hip – it’s never good when your medical professional thinks you are some kind of freak of nature. It also turns out that tight hips can seriously affect your stride resulting it extra work for your calves. It was no surprise then that my super tight left hip was the probable cause of my calf strain. I guess it’s a reminder that having one piece of your gait out of stride (pun intended) can mess you up. The plan is to increase hip mobility. And two weeks rest. No running. Or jumping – so no more all day jump rope fests. All other cross training is OK.
I also got some soft tissue massage and graston technique which was mildly uncomfortable. And then we got to the torture part of the visit. She asked me how I felt about needles. Well, does anyone really like needles? She was quick to point out that it wasn’t acupuncture but something close called dry needling. The theory (at least as I understood it) was to release trigger points in damaged muscles using small needles (don’t ask me how this differs from acupuncture – I think the trigger points might differ). I was willing to give it a try – anything to get better, right? But it was not pleasant at all. Initially, it felt like getting an injection – followed by significant pain and involuntary muscle spasms. It was pretty painful to me and the pain in my calf lingered for the rest of the day (which to her credit she warned me about). My calf was still pretty sore today but I think this was from the dry needling. I’m still on the fence about whether it has helped or not.
As for my race plans…….I have a 5K scheduled for this Saturday. Obviously, I will not be running this. I do plan on picking up my mug and $20 Brooks gift certificate. And I’ve decided that the glass is half full and I’m going to volunteer at this race. One of my favorite local running stores (where I just got a brand new pair of non-Brooks running shoes) is organizing it and I hope that the series becomes a regular event. I’ve also signed up to volunteer at an ultra race that my husband is running in Moab in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping to spread some good karma into the universe!
I have a half marathon on March 21st that is looking a little iffy right now. Luckily, they have a 5 miler on the same morning (new distance!) that I can switch to the day before. The marathon is a different story. Right now I’m 15ish weeks out and with two more weeks with no running that would leave 13 weeks to complete a marathon training program. Personally, I feel that this is not enough time for me to properly prepare to run 26.2 miles. This race doesn’t allow for deferrals or switching to the half marathon so it looks like I’ll have to eat this one. I’m a mixture of bummed out and relieved. Sad that I won’t be running my second marathon this spring. But relieved that I don’t have to put pressure on myself to get into marathon shape in a short period of time. My main focus now is to get healthy again.
I’m not going to lie I had a mini pity party – complete with junk food (thanks Superbowl) – but now I’m going to make the most of my doctor-recommended break. And my advice to you – go to your trusted medical professional ASAP. And in my personal opinion physiotherapists are the way to go. Also, if you have the PBS app on your streaming device – you need to check out the Great British Baking Show. It is seriously addictive.