Friday, April 10, 2009

The calf saga, continued

After two insanely long weeks of no running whatsoever (including one torturous week of no cardio workouts at all), on Tuesday I finally ventured forth from my apartment in running clothes, brand new orthotics nestled snugly within the soles of my New Balance 826's.

Suddenly feeling like a pompous dweeb in my running tights, I began walking.

I walked not just because I was trying to take it slow and easy, but because I was scared. If the pain returned then so would the frustration and the self-loathing. Not being able to run due to an injury has been far more depressing than I thought it would be. I have read first-hand accounts of the anger, depression, and frustration that injured runners struggle with on a daily basis as they heal. I would sympathize but in my heart I didn't truly understand.

Now I do.

I have tirelessly been doing all I can to help my calf heal. I bought a foam roller and The Stick, two pieces of physical therapy paraphernalia that no runner should be without. I religiously kept my calf wrapped in self-sticking athlete's tape, and when the tape no longer self-stuck, I borrowed from Limerick's bottomless stash of Vet Wrap and began using that.

I saw a physical therapist for a free injury consultation and he concurred with what I had known all along--mild strain. He recommended that I purchase orthotics for my over-pronation (when I run, my feet--particularly the right foot--roll inwards upon landing). He also gave me a routine of stretches I can do for my calf.

That very evening, my husband and I visited Naperville Running Company (which is fast becoming one of my favorite stores!) and there, one of the employees helped me choose orthotics for my running shoes. I also bought a pair of Zensah calf compression sleeves to replace the Vet Wrap. To my distaste, the only color available in my size was pink but I bought them anyway.

That alone tells you how dedicated I am!

And so, every night I have been doing the following, in order:

  • Remove the calf sleeve
  • Do the prescribed stretches
  • Use the foam roller and The Stick
  • Put the calf sleeve back on (and there it will stay until the next evening, showers being the exception)
  • Ice the calf for 20 minutes
I also ice the calf in the morning and, at work, I will borrow an ice pack from the freezer in the hair-raisingly-disgusting employee break room and ice my calf on and off throughout the day.

And back to Tuesday. I walked for a quarter mile. Tentatively, I broke into a slow jog. My calf felt okay. I jogged further. Still okay.

After a little over a half mile, I felt a slight twinge of pain in the calf. Right away, I slowed to a fast walk. It continued like that for another mile and a quarter, with much more time walking than running.

I was disheartened but not discouraged. The next day at work I decided to schedule an appointment for a sports massage on my calf. The physical therapist I had seen highly recommended the massage, anyway.

The past 24 hours have been excellent for my calf!

Yesterday evening I tried another walk/run. This time there were no twinges of pain and I spent far more time jogging (at a yawningly-slow pace but hey!) than walking. I walked at the start and ends of the run, and I walked up the steepest part of the hill at the end of my route.

I was elated! I was so happy to be out and running, pain-free, on the limestone trails that I had a huge smile on my face. I probably looked like a maniac but fortunately, no one else was around to see.

Then today at lunch I went back to the therapy office where I had my original injury assessment for the sports massage on my lower legs. It hurt at times, and the therapist noted that she could feel the strain (not to mention several other knots here and there). She said I was doing all the right things and to keep it up.

My marathon training is scheduled to begin next weekend. Originally, I thought I would be starting it with a 35-miles-per-week running mileage but now it will have to be lower. No biggie; I'll be happy to just stay on schedule for the training.

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