Two weeks ago I made an appointment to get into physical therapy because I had a nagging, and supremely painful, Achilles injury. I know getting in to PT is often a scheduling nightmare so I should have been grateful they could get me in 10 days after I called, but all I could think was “10 WHOLE days?!” I had already not been running for 3 days, which was challenging after having a great December and easily racking up 20 mile weeks at the end of the month.
On the eighth day, I tweeted, “I have not run in 8 days and I am going to punch someone in the throat about it.” Handling this setback with nothing but maturity and grace… and a lot of time on the stationary bike. Let my save my absolute rage for the stationary bike for another day.
I had my PT appointment on Tuesday and it was akin to a long Runner’s Confessional. I first totaled all of the injuries my left, lower leg had suffered since 2007 (seriously). Scar tissue build up in foot from a childhood break surgically removed, bone graft, and titanium screw placed; multiple stress fractures in the tibia in 2011; debilitating plantar fasciitis in 2013 that almost resulted in my first DNF and did result in me becoming completely apathetic about running for most of that summer; a decidedly, but ultimately self-diagnosed, sprained ankle in 2014 (Rocky Mountain National Park is indeed rocky and thus full of tripping hazards); a post-sprain plantar fasciitis flare up in late summer 2014; and the cherry on top– this new Achilles pain.
The reason I gave the therapist this lengthy history is because I think I can pinpoint some critical mistakes made that could have prevented subsequent injuries. For example, when I had my foot surgery I was on crutches for 10 weeks and in a boot for another 4 weeks. By the end of that, I had lost a significant amount of muscle in the left leg and it was an incredible amount of work to regain strength and balance. But I cut my PT short to go back to college and continuing my PT exercises was the furthest thing from my mind during my senior year. Then, when I broke the leg in 2011, the doctor said part of the reason for the break was probably weakness in my core, butt, and thighs– all the big muscles that support your body. With those big muscles undertrained and overused, once they fatigued my leg bones took a much more severe pounding. I did some PT, but as soon as I could run pain-free, I abandoned the strengthening exercises for more miles.
All this to say: I think I had been cheating myself for years and paying a very real price. As I was detailing all of these injuries, confessing to all the times I had scoffed at PT, and then providing annotated details of every workout I have been doing since I first hurt my Achilles, the therapist stopped and said, “This is intensely thorough information and actually super helpful. But you kind of seem on the right track, having given the tendon some rest. What is the anxiety about?”
Obviously, I had left the part about wanting to punch people in the throat out of the detailed history…
The anxiety is about the most fabulous running event line up already in the hopper for 2015 and the total and complete fear that something as annoying as my Achilles tendon would mess that up.
Look at this baby! I am doing the TC Summit Challenge again this year, which includes the 4 TC races you see below. I am absolutely not going to wear new socks to the TC Red, White, and Boom! Half. I am also repeating the Goldy’s 10 Mile, in part because it is a great race and in part because it falls at the perfect time to prep for the Lake Minnetonka Half in early May. This is a new race for me, but I have heard supremely positive things about the beauty and relative flatness of the course. The Get in Gear and Women Run the Cities feel like staples to me– I don’t do them both every year, but they are events I can always count on to be well-run, fun, and fit well into any training plan. They are both perfectly situated before other big events, so they can be a great way to practice strategy or just enjoy the race day feel without committing to big distance 2 weeks in a row.
- February 14: TC Valentine’s Day 5K
- March 7: TC Hot Dash 5K
- April 11: Goldy’s 10 Mile
- April 25: Get in Gear (Probably 5K-Not Registered)
- May 3: Lake Minnetonka Half
- May 16: Almanzo 100 (This is a bike race. I am not now, or ever, running 100 miles.)
- July 4: TC Red, White, and Boom! Half
- September 27: Women Run the Cities (Probably 10K-Not Registered)
- October 4: TC 10 Mile
Without saying it quite so bluntly, and trying to seem more interested in my overall health than just my running schedule, my main objective at PT was to answer the question, “When can I run again?” To my relief, the therapist said, if I do my exercises every day this week, I can run on their treadmill next week. Next week! I also love that I can run while he is there, so that if something is funky, we can address it right away. So last night, even though it was late and I was tired, I battled through 20 single leg squats (good god- the thigh burn!) twice, and an oppressive battery of heel raises of the bottom of the stairs.
I am so excited, my running shoes are already packed for the appointment. On my 3rd rodeo, I have finally decided not to cheat myself.