Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Running Vacation and Injury Woes

Let's begin this post at about 5:40 am, the Wednesday before vacation.  I've just completed the warm up at my Boot Camp class and now we're doing high knee drills (3, 30 second bursts) with a partner.  Except I feel an excruciating, tearing sensation in my left calf as I do my first set.  My calf immediately tenses up and I know something is wrong.  I know I complain about a lot of things and worry about every little twinge, but this was different.  It stopped me in my tracks.  My teacher instructed me to take it easy for the rest of the class (easier said than done, but I did get out of Indian runs) and ice it as soon as I got home.  Like the paranoid person that I am, I did exactly as she said.  And then I googled "calf strain".  Most information indicated that a 2-4 week rest period would be required for healing.  I could see myself getting fatter by the day.  How was I going to make it 2-4 weeks without any form of vigorous exercise?  I did Jillian's Yoga Meltdown that Thursday and then took it easy at Boot Camp that Friday.  My calf felt better and I only noticed twinges of pain every once and awhile.  I figured if I didn't run on Saturday, I'd be all set to be able to run on vacation.  Perhaps this wasn't a significant injury afterall!  I was really looking forward to running on vacation 1) because it was someplace new to run 2) it was my only form of readily-accessible exercise. 

So my first morning in Hilton Head, I set my alarm for 6:10am, hoping to avoid the heat and humidity of South Carolina.  It was 79 degrees with high, high humidity. No such luck!  I headed out with my handheld water bottle and figured I'd see how I felt and go from there.  Well, I felt great, so I just kept running.  Around 3-4 miles my calf started getting a bit tight.  By 5 miles it was a big old knot.  I ran/walked that last mile, to round out a 6 mile run.  I was a bit disappointed and knew that if I had stuck to my original thought of doing only 3-4 miles, I'd feel fine.  Of course while running, I realized I had missed 2 runs last week and was going to fall short on my goal of 1000 miles this year, if I didn't make them up.  Running math is always a bad idea for me, but somehow I figured that if I ran 5 miles every day of the week, I'd only be a few miles short.  I stretched my calf really good when I got home from that first run and went about my day.  Day 2 of vacation starts out the same way, except this time I decide to run out on the beach.  I get my 5 miles in and feel good.  Day 3, same thing.  Day 4, I get up a bit later than usual, and head out the other way on the beach.  I come to a dead-end of sorts at about 1.5 miles, so I turn around.  I figure I can always make up the mileage on the other end of the beach.  Except by mile 3, my calf is starting to hurt again.  I stop and stretch and end up run/walking the last few yards.  I was really bummed that I ended my run early, but knew it was probably best.  Day 5 arrives and I decide to try out a new path and only do 3 miles.  I tell myself that perhaps it's better to get a planned short/good workout than a shortened/bad workout in.  My calf is a bit tight by the end, but no big deal.  Well fast forward to about 4pm that afternoon.  My five year old insists I do a "cannon ball" into the pool, and I gladly oblige.  I get a running start and jump off, yes on my left leg.  To which I let out a scream and grab my leg as I make a huge splash into the pool.  The intense tearing sensation returns and my whole calf tightens back up into a gigantic knot.  Oops. I hobble around the rest of the night and decide that there will be no run in the morning for me! 

As I lay "lazily" in bed the last morning at the beach, I realize that I am indeed the stupidest person on earth.  Why did I ever think running every single day would be good for me?   Even during my last marathon training, I only ran at most 4 days/week and only 2 of those days were back to back.  I'm pretty annoyed at myself, because come June 28th, my next marathon training is set to begin.  I try not to think about it, hoping that this injury will resolve as quickly as the last.  I knew I wouldn't be able to work out for the next 3 days, so I hoped that would give it a good rest.  I come home to find the latest issue of Runner's World waiting for me.  As I flip through the pages, I get confirmation that I really am the stupidest person on earth.

1) I exceeded the 10% rule.  I ran 6 miles the week before vacation, 23 miles the week of vacation.  Oops.

2) Running on the sand is harder and can lead to injury if not done properly. Start slow, take walk breaks and gradually increase distance.  I did none of these things.

3)  The softness of sand can strain muscles and tendons because they're stretched further than when running on a firm surface. Hmmm.....

4) Run early, before the sun gets above the horizon.  6:30am was not early enough.

5) Let injuries heal completely. So I made this one up.  But it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?!

So what's in store for this week you might ask?  I did low-impact aerobics/weight training yesterday and felt pretty good.  I attempted a 3 mile run this morning, but my calf wasn't having it.  I ended up walking the whole thing.   The bright side of my husband being gone for the next few days is that I can't go out and run!  I plan on sticking with yoga and weight training and *maybe* attempting a short run on Saturday.  We'll see.  I guess I'm torn with what to do.  I don't want to lose all of my running fitness going in to marathon training, but I don't want to risk further injury either.  I'm thinking a visit to the Sports Medicine clinic might be in order?  I really just don't know what to do.  I've never had an  injury that I just couldn't "push through".  It's frustrating and annoying and I see people freely running and wish it was me.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to run freely again?  On top of all that, it's also new shoe time.  I have about 434 miles on my current shoes.  I'm thinking of changing brands again.  And I'm thinking I may visit a podiatrist to make sure I'm in the right shoes/inserts. I want to start this marathon training out right!  But seeing as I don't actually have any foot issues now, not sure how I'd get in to see a podiatrist.  Perhaps that means my shoes/inserts are okay?  See, I really am a worrier at heart.  My list could go on and on, really....but why bore you with all that in this already novel-length post?  Anyway, thanks for the "running lunch" tips from my last post.  At this point, I'm just hoping I can run at lunch!  Go out and enjoy your run for me today....you never know when it could be your last! :-)


Jodi H said...

Nicole- I am so sorry about your calf. I can relate...same thing happened to me last year when I was training for the Columbus 1/2 Marathon. I went to a sports massage therapist and he was able to give me relief. I then continued (and still do) to go to him through my marathon training. Rest up and I will run for you tomorrow! :)

Anonymous said...