A slight change of plan

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 lackΒ  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.


26 thoughts on “A slight change of plan

  1. Dang! Know that feeling well but listening to professional advice is best. There will be other marathons and next time – hopefully – you’ll be fitter, stronger and know more about yourself. Good luck and big kudo’s for volunteering at a race you could have been running. Pay it forward πŸ˜‰

    • My physiotherapist is a pretty kick ass runner so I am doing everything she tells me. At least I know what the problem is and can start working on improving the cause (tight hips) of my symptoms (tight calves – bodies are strange?). And I’m hoping to send some good karma out to the universe with my volunteering (although I’m actually being paid in t-shirts!).

    • I’m glad to hear that dry needling worked for you. I had never heard of it before and it was pretty unpleasant and I’m still not convinced it helped. My muscle was still sore for the next couple of days but it felt a little different than the strain (that might not make any sense!?!). And you’re right – knowing the source of my problems has calmed me down. I know what I need to fix and have a plan!

  2. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Hang in there Irish there are great things ahead. This version of Irish is better the old version because you listened to your body this time. When we are both 100% healthy we’ll have some big fish to fry and PR’s to chase πŸ™‚ I also saw my specialist this week.

      • FLRunnerBoy says:

        I know exactly what you mean! I’m battling right now with whether to defer on next months half. I’m getting better but the hamstring is such a big muscle to heal 100%. It’s slow going over here.

      • It’s such a hard call! You need to recover properly but you also want to train well too. It took me a while to wrap my head around that decision. I hope you can figure it out and get better.

  3. Bummer about the running hiatus, but it sounds like you’ve got the right attitude. I’m glad your doc is someone you can trust. When I hurt my foot and went to my GP, I didn’t feel like she cared all that much and didn’t get much out of the visit. Next time I’ll skip the GP and go straight to a specialist.

    • Good doctors are like gold dust! Hard to find but when you get one you like you stick to them. My physiotherapist usually has a 3 week wait so I got really lucky this time. And I totally trust her to get me back to normal. Sometimes GPs will just tell you to stop running and don’t have anything more useful to share. I hope you don’t need to see a specialist any time soon!

  4. Wow those hips and the treatment sound painful. I agree, 13 weeks is definitely cutting it short. But before you know it you will be back out there and training and this will seem like forever ago. Plus you get to do some research on another fun race. Is Grandma’s Marathon too far of a distance? We will be going there this June πŸ™‚

    • I’m definitely trying to think about all the awesome runs that I’ll be doing in a couple of months time. And I think I’ll try some local trail races in the summer too. Grandmas sounds fun! Maybe some other time. Are you guys both doing the full?

  5. charissarunning says:

    Aw, booo… this is definitely how I felt when I got the “two weeks no running” talk from a specialist too :/ I’ve already made changes to my race schedule too, but I’m hoping I won’t have to make more. I’ve never tried dry-needling or anything, but I really hope it helps for your situation! I’m sorry about your marathon but I agree it will be better to get healthy first and then worry about training for a big race. Sending you tons of good healing vibes!

    • Thanks for the good vibes! At least I’m able to switch to shorter distances (except for the marathon which doesn’t even let you defer – boo!) so my longest race is 15K in April. Hope that you’re feeling better!

  6. i think the best thing to do while injured is volunteer and stay involved in the running community. we’ve all been injured before so you never know who you might talk to that will help you see the light at the end of the injury tunnel. Get better!

    • Thanks! And I totally agree! My husband is running his first ultra next weekend and he suggested I volunteer for it. To be honest I never even thought of it until he suggested it. But it should be a great way to stay involved and the weather is calling for 65F and sunny so that won’t be too bad either.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of dry needling before and I am not sure I want to to know more! ouch! I’m sorry to hear you can’t run your races, that’s rough. Volunteering is awesome though so hopefully that works out for you. Get some rest and heal and I am sure you will come back stronger than ever!

    • Oh my God the dry needling was awful – easily the most painful thing that I’ve experienced in a physiotherapists office (and that’s saying something!). I enjoyed my first volunteer experience this weekend and will get to do some more next weekend. All the fun of race day without the pain of actually running!

  8. Oh man! It sounds like we both went through a rough patch due to our hips. I had my checkup with my doctor yesterday and he said the MRI results point to really tight hips. We discussed hip stretching methods like crazy! I have been attending stretchy yoga classes as much as possible this week as a result. I hope you recover quickly and feel better soon!

  9. Always a tough call to make, but in many ways making the decision early is better than going through a cycle of marathon training then having to pull out at the last minute.
    Fingers crossed the time off and other treatments now sort it out once and for all.

    • Thank you! I think so too. I think rushing back into full training mode is a recipe for getting injured all over again. Getting back to normal and then doing a couple of easy and short races is the way to go.

  10. Glad you got some professional advice..sometimes it’s hard to hear but your legs will thank you later. Being told to not run is a mind eff (pardon my French), I’ve been there! Focus on the allowable cross training, and, now is the time to get creative- look for something else to keep your mind entertained. I like the idea of volunteering at a race! Or something completely unrelated…maybe buy a new cookbook and try some new baking projects of your own πŸ˜€ (I watched that baking show for the first time recently, it was awesome). Hang in there and I wish you a speedy recovery!

    • Thanks! I think it was a slight relief to hear her say to take two weeks off running. Now I can just focus on cross training and don’t have to worry about getting ready for a marathon anytime soon. And volunteering means I still get to experience race day fun. Watching that baking show makes me want to eat cake everyday…..

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