Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quick Update - Achilles Tendonitis

After pulling the plug on pacing at Superior I figured I should loop back with an update.

I took a few days off and the achilles seemed to calm down so I tried to run long last weekend. It went ok, I decided to stop after 10 miles as I didn't want to push it and I had some twinges of pain but for the most part it went ok. I got in some mid-week runs and thought maybe all would be well.

So today I headed out to get in a longer run, my goal was to get in 16 miles and to keep the pressure off me and my achilles I decided to run the river bottoms. I also decided to just dial in a slow pace to keep pressure off (plus it was probably all I could do). I ran into John Taylor after about 4 miles and we talked for a few minutes about Superior and Hokas. I was running towards Simley House from the Cedar bridge, he was going the opposite way. I hadn't really decided exactly how I would get in 16 as it is only 12 miles to there and back. I debated heading down the Big River Trail to add in the extra 4 miles but wasn't sure so I turned around at Lucky's and headed back. I was still filling ok until about 10 miles and then sure enough the achilles started to hurt.

I had done some internet research on what could be the cause of achilles pain when running downhill and this is what it said "As you run downhill, the tendon stretches to allow the forefoot to go farther down the hill." Since I wasn't running downhill on this run I thought about what else the article had said (btw - the picture from the article is exactly where I have pain, except it's my right achilles) :

There are many causes for this type of tendonitis, but the most common causes are:
Achilles Tendon
  • Overuse: Doing too much too soon.

  • Tight leg muscles: Muscles that are tight and rigid will transfer a greater amount of force through the tendon and cause greater stress and chance of injury.

  • Pronation / Uneven surfaces: Feet rolling to the outside which places a lateral stress on the tendon. Runners that run consistently on the same side of the road may get this injury from the affects of road crowning (road slopes to the shoulders or side, making one leg work harder than the other over time).

  • Pronounced Heel Strike: Runners that land too far back on their heels can experience this injury. Check your shoe wear for signs.
I ruled out the last one as I don't have a pronounced heel strike but the other three were possibilities.

So back to today's run, did I abort after 12 and then regroup next week? No instead I decided to change shoes as it was occurring to me that maybe my problem is that I am overpronating too much in my minimalist shoes. I love running long as it gives me time to problem solve. I should correct something here, technically I have't been running long in my minimalist shoes but in my Peregrines, 295's and 110's none of which have much in the way of support. I was concerned to run in my minimalist shoes because of the lack of protection from rocks, maybe that was a mistake as I think my form is better when I run in them. When I got back to the Cedar bridge, I checked and sure enough I had my Inov-8 330's in the trunk. I had run all of 30 miles in them before I went to minimalist and I think they are my most supportive shoes, it's why I bought them. I put them on and decided to head out to the road, thinking maybe I could get in a few miles more and if I had pain, well simple enough to turn around and head to the car. I ran towards the power plant as I have never been down that road. As I ran, no achilles pain, granted I was on the road and I still wasn't pushing the pace but I think the shoes seemed to have helped. I was able to run past the power plant and turned around after 2 miles with no achilles pain, I was just getting too hot from being out on the open road. 

So on my next long run I think I will run in my 330's and see what happens.

Have a I given up on minimalist, absolutely not, but I have to be practical and it may take another few months to strengthen my feet and calves to where I can get away from needing some support and it's possible I may never be able to get away with it for long runs. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Plans, Plans and Plans.........

2012 has been a year where my initial plan started out fairly simple, work myself back in shape, run a few ultras and end the year healthy.

Well, that plan went off track at Chippewa where I had to face the reality that my previous injuries still required some work. So plan number 2 was to work my way back and focus on Surf the Murph especially once I saw the schedule conflicts for Superior and many other fall races. So after Chippewa, I went minimalist to allow my ankle to get a workout on every run. The truth is that has worked up to a point. I have worked to modify my style of running into the minimalist light stepping mid-footed strike and again up to a point it has worked well. Notice I keep saying up to a point. Well the point is that I think I lost a lot of fitness over the last 2 years and am slowly getting it back and that has led to a lot of slower efforts which I thought was related to the style change but alas now think it is just me being in pathetic shape.

I tried to modify my plan just a bit when my old friend Scott H. asked if I could pace him through the night at Superior. Well I really wanted to as my conflict for Superior was on Saturday and pacing Scott would be Friday night. Yes I had some tough logistics, pace Scott all night Friday, drive to Collegeville to watch my youngest daughters college XC meet and then drive to Hugo to watch my oldest daughter participate in the Warrior Dash.

Well, the logistics didn't do me in although I still had to convince my wife that pacing Scott was a good idea, ok maybe not good but maybe manageable. What did me in was my training or said even more accurately, me.

You see in order to pace Scott for 20 to 30 miles, I needed to be able to run 15 to 20 miles so over the last few weeks I worked on upping my long run mileage which was what I actually needed to do for my STM training as well so it all kind of made sense to me. So two weeks back I went around 12 miles, last weekend around 14 but I had issues which I blamed on my shoes. So this weekend I went out shooting for 16 and hobbled through 14 again. I went to Murphy vs Lebanon as I thought the hills at Murphy would be a good test. They were and I failed. My issues are pretty simple, left calf and right achilles/calf junction. The left calf makes sense, it is the one I tore 2 years ago and I have worked on getting it healthy, the right leg issues are new, well not new but at least 10+ years since I last had an issue with it. My ankle pain is pretty much gone which is great news but the achilles/calf thing is really bothersome. At Lebanon last weekend and at Murphy on Sunday, I had achilles/calf pain running downhill not uphill which really didn't and still doesn't make sense to me. Meaning if it was from the minimalist shoes and upping my mileage then by my way of thinking it would have caused issues going up hills not down them.

So on Sunday, I sent Scott an email letting him know that I couldn't pace him as going to Superior with a strained calf and a sore achilles/calf just seemed like a recipe for disaster. Add in that a pacer is not supposed to be the one in trouble and it was pretty much an easy decision even though I really wanted to try and help him out.

Ok, I can be stubborn so yesterday I decided to give it one more try and I went out to run 6 or 7 miles in Lebanon. The run went fairly well for about a 1/4 mile until the achilles/calf pain came. I walked a few steps and then I decided that if I stepped carefully I could proceed with less pain. It worked for 3 or so miles and then the pain was constant and sometimes sharp which forced me to walk. Even then I had to walk carefully. So maybe my decision was the right one and I needed to back off.

Then today I tried to run at Terrace Oaks, it would have been my 7th day in a row, a new modern record for me :-), so I had to make the attempt. I made it down the first hill, turned around and proceeded to walk back to the car. My pain wasn't imagined, it's real, so I am taking the day off.

Now about my plan, I still plan on running the 50k at Murphy and will focus my training at getting me there.


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