Just two days after my mile repeat workout, I noticed some pain in the lower calf/shin area a few miles into the long run. I kept running, hoping that it would go away, but it didn't. I know that shin pain is nothing to mess around with so I headed home and ran only 7 miles. I was able to get an appointment with my sports doctor just two days later and he told me it was a bone irritation, on its way to a stress reaction or stress fracture. Sure enough, this is exactly how my shin felt in the weeks before I was formally diagnosed with multiple stress fractures back in 2011. And it was in a similar spot.
In addition to this bone issue, he told me I had "high hamstring tendonopathy" which is inflammation of the hamstring where it inserts to the butt. I had been feeling this problem for about a week prior, but I thought it was just general soreness/tightness and I wasn't too concerned. I basically feel this when I bend over to pick something off of the ground, or when I put pants/shorts on and have to stand on one leg while bending down.
My theory on how I got the shin problem (left shin) is that the right high hamstring area was bothering me while running so I altered my gait to strain the left leg. And my theory on how I got the hamstring issue was
|My feet don't like Mizuno Inspires|
This ball of foot issue was the first "thing" that hurt me when everything else was 100% so I am thinking there might have been some sort of domino effect.
My doctor told me that I should run 1 mile per day to "load" the bone and stimulate healing. I waited a few days before taking this advice because I could feel it while walking around, and I didn't want to run until I was pain free. Once I started my daily 1-milers, I felt like it made the shin worse, so now I am back to not running at all. (It's now been two weeks since I first noticed this shin issue and stopped my normal training). The good news is that bones heal and heal well- they aren't nagging injuries so if I just take the time off and let it heal and gradually get back into it, I should make a full recovery within the next 2-3 weeks. Will I be in the best shape of my life for Chicago? Probably not. But I am hoping to be in decent shape so that I can successfully complete it and be able to have that experience.
|Exercises for High Hamstring Tedonopathy|
The first week of these injuries (last week) I went to the pool almost every day for pool running and swimming. I was very determined to minimize any loss of fitness. This week, however, I started my new job and have not been able to fit in going to the pool. My commute has been about 1 hour each way because I am driving at peak rush hour and not able drive on 66 inside of the Beltway during those times. In a few weeks I will start "flexing" and hopefully cut my commute in half. I have been able to devote time to strengthening exercises, though, and I am feeling much better in both the shin and the butt.
This weekend and next week I plan to spend more time in the pool, and possibly on the elliptical if it doesn't bug the hamstring too much. I had worked myself up to 57 weeks in June and was on a "cutback" week when this injury hit me. Greg had urged me to take the cutback week sooner but I didn't think I needed it and I wanted to get in as many high mileage weeks as possible before starting the new job. I hadn't been injured in a year in a half (except for the mono) so I was feeling pretty confident about staying that way.
I stopped running as soon as I felt this shin problem, so it could have been a lot worse. I could be looking at a stress fracture, which would definitely rule out Chicago. I was smart and conservative, and put my health above my desire to keep training at a high intensity.
I don't really know when I will be able to run again and at what intensity but I am surprisingly okay with that! For the first time since I started running, I am okay with not knowing when I will get better and just taking things one day at a time and doing my best to cross train. I think it's because I'm not so hung up on my time at Chicago. I really just want to be able to run the race injury-free and have a strong finish.
Also, I realize that I have more "separation" from running than I have in the past, which has been a goal of mine for the past year. Separation means that I don't define myself as a runner. Running is something I do, not who I am. Before, when I was really wrapping a lot of my identity into running, it would be heart breaking to not be able to run. But now, when I am taking the time to appreciate all aspects of who I am and what I have in my life, running is just a piece. It sucks that I can't run, but I know I will get better eventually and I'm doing the best I can right now.
Although the timing isn't great because I'm supposed to be training for Chicago right now, it's good in the sense that I didn't have the added pressure of trying to run a ton of miles during my first week at the new job. In addition to the long commute times, there have been happy hours and dinners galore, so the days have been extremely long. Enjoyable and exciting-- but also long and tiring. I was thankful that I was able to devote 100% of my mental and physical energy to getting to know my colleagues and diving right into my role.