Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last week I started running again after being forced to take a week off because of a pulled calf muscle. Everything felt good with no pain and not even any soreness. Then on Saturday I was out on a short, slow run when the calf started getting sore. It got progressively worse until I gave in and walked up the hills. Later in the day it went from being sore to being painful. How depressing.

It would have been nice to have taken more time off, but I have a 20k race this next Sunday and a marathon the week after that so it is critical that I heal quickly. I thought I had until the latest setback.

So Sunday I went to the gym and did 2.5 hours on the elliptical trainer instead of running around the lake. This was followed by 30 minutes of the same on Monday. The calf was feeling better with just a hint of soreness so I ran again yesterday. I figured that if I couldn't do it then I'd probably be in trouble for the race this weekend. I'm happy to report that I was able to run 2.5 miles of warmup followed by four 1000m intervals and another 1.5 miles of cooldown. The calf was sore, but didn't get any worse and it feels good this morning so I think I'll be ok.

Just to be safe I won't do much more running for the rest of the week. The plan is to do the rest of the week's runs on the elliptical trainer with a few short runs on the treadmill to keep the running muscles loose.

Being injured is depressing. I felt great and everything was going really well right up until the injury. Now I have to worry about reinjury and conditioning and whether or not I'll be able to finish up my race series. I suppose it's hard to understand, but in the same way as running and achieving challenging goals make me feel really good, these periods of struggle can be disheartening. I'm trying to make the best of it and I'm grateful that other than this my season has gone very well. Hopefully I'll come through it stronger than ever.

It's been unseasonably warm this week and very humid, but the forecast if for a strong arctic air mass to plunge into central Texas tonight. So, the weather for the race should be in the low 30's. That's a little on the cold side, but it's better than the alternative. I'm hoping that the cool air will stick around for at least a week so that I'll have good conditions for the Dallas Marathon. I'm cautiously hopeful that despite the injury and disrupted training I'll be able to run well in both races.


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Good luck, as usual.

MattMan said...

Bull, I've been following your post-injury saga for a while, and... well, I've been hesitant to say anything, but here goes. I think you're pushing too hard and rushing the healing process. There, I said it.

I would think that torn muscles (or whatever happened to it) take weeks (read: 4+) to heal with little or even no strenuous activity on the injured parts beyond everyday necessities like walking. By continually testing your limits to see if it's healed yet (like you're telling it to hurry the hell up), I'm afraid you're shooting yourself in the foot (or the calf, as the case may be).

Of course I'm a total amateur, don't know what I'm talking about, and haven't run for about 2 years because of an over-use injury I inflicted upon myself. :)

Seriously, though, dude, don't be so hard on yourself. You're not a teenager in high school anymore. ;) If you don't take sabbaticals for good injury recovery, your body will shut you down permanently at some point. So what if you miss a race or two -- there's always next year and spreading out the training more to lower the degree on the improvement incline and to throttle back from the higher risk of re-injury.

Not trying to lecture or criticize or anything like that here, I'm just concerned and asking you to look closely at what's going on. I see a lot of myself in your posts, on how you really want this and push yourself to excel.

It's ok, really. If you need to heal, show those of us who are being inspired by your running how to do that instead of driving ourselves further into the ground. If missing a race, or volunteering to help with the race instead is what you think is the right thing to do for your body, then do it -- no on will think any less of you, nor should you.

Ok, I've said my piece (and clogged your comment section, sorry). Here's to your speedy and full recovery. :)

Bull said...

You're probably right but don't worry too much. This weekend will be the test. If the calf hasn't healed then I'll drop out of the race and do what you say. Part of what interests me the most in my running is testing and extending limits and I really don't know what is reasonable for this particular injury although what I'm doing is right in line with what I've successfully done with similar injuries over the past year.