Confession: I was running injured since at least June of 2011. Maybe even before that. Finally after a particularly painful run just after Christmas I decided I needed to face the music. I was thinking about doing a 50 miler in March yet until this point I hadn't thought about getting healthy to do it. I just figured whatever it was would just go away. I was wrong.
In 2010 I had some heel/ foot pain in my right foot. I hate unnecessary trips to the doctor so like many runners when things don't feel right and it isn't resolved by ignoring it I consult the internet. I figured it was plantar fasciitis. I kept running on it because it only really bugged me first thing in the morning and the first 1/2 mile or so of the run. Then it warmed up and I was fine. After my September 2010 marathon, I took it pretty easy for a few weeks and when I started building up again the pain was gone.
Fast forward 6-8 months and a similar issue crept up on me on my left foot. PF again I assumed. I kept procrastinating taking time off because I had a race. Then, I had another one. Eventually the pain spread/transferred to my left achilles. This was more worrisome but I still figured it would go away when the racing season was done. When my main races were done at the end of September, I started to have tons of fun exploring the trail up the local canyon. I couldn't rest now because I was having too much fun. So I kept at it. I did start to ice and stretch my achilles thinking it would help. It sort of did.
I was perplexed because despite the discomfort I could still walk and run on it and I was still able to run some good (for me) times when I wanted.
For whatever reason when I was thinking about my first 50 it finally struck me that it was perhaps not the smartest idea to start training for something bigger than I had ever attempted while I was somewhat injured. I realized I had to do something.
I had a conversation with a friend from Daily Mile that is an ultrarunner (Endurancejer aka Jerry Armstrong) and he pointed me towards some things I could do while I was resting. Rolling on a ball first thing in the morning, stretches, etc. That seemed to help.
My last run before my break was on Tuesday December 27th. My next attempt at running wasn't going to be for a while. I tried to be as patient as possible. In the mean time I knew I would need to do something else for physical activity, mostly for my sanity but also to avoid getting too fat. I started going to CrossFit more regularly and swimming on a more regular basis. I tried, pool running, the elliptical, spinning, and rowing. I've also been doing more warmup and cooldown routines that seem to help. I discovered a couple of exercises that helped immediately to stop my IT band from flaring up. Awesome! I just need to figure out the trick for all my other niggles.
I finally decided I wanted to run again on January 11th. I planned on going 2 miles and if I got carried away, 4 at most. I ended up doing 4. I could tell that was farther than I should have gone. I gave it a couple more days and tried again last Saturday. Each run I felt a little better but I still feel like I might be aggravating my achilles more. This week I tweaked my back at CrossFit on Monday so I haven't been back there yet. I did run on Tuesday afternoon and again this morning. Sometimes I can't tell there is anything wrong but then I step funny and am reminded.
I mentioned earlier that I started swimming more. I have swam more this month than any month ever. I'm over 9 miles so far and still have over a week left in the month. I only swam 30 miles all last year. Now my shoulder hurts, probably from too much too soon in the swimming department. Is there such thing as swimmer's arm? I may have to research that one.
The lessons from all of this are many and are still coming in but this is what I've let sink into my thick skull so far:
- Treat issues when they come up and never procrastinate treatment for 8 months.
- Taking an extra day off here or there is better than being forced to take time off.
- I need to do more than just run to be a healthy runner.
- I am more and more interested in doing another triathlon.
- As much as I love running, there are other people and things that should take priority.