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:
- 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.