I was doing so well! I’d found my sweet spot – the speed at which I felt I could run forever (4.0 on the treadmill) and because my stamina was so good, I didn’t care that I was slow. Speed can come later. I’d even changed my running form and gone were the shin discomfort, plantar fasciitis & knee discomfort! Success! Hooray! Huzzah! I really felt like a runner! Then I did something foolish.
Thursday last week, after sitting in the car for over an hour, I stopped for gas and in my boredom as I waiting for the tank to fill, I stood stretching my cold calves against the curb at the gas pump. Oh, and did I mention I hadn’t had enough water that day? Yeah…not smart. I felt fine, other than noticing that my calves felt tight, until I got on the treadmill at the house.
I was all set to do the first day of week four of my C25K training program, having successfully run day two of week three in the morning on the day before and day three of week three that evening. Hmm…perhaps I should also have let myself rest a day before attempting the first day of week four…yeah this was just a trifecta of bad ideas. Anyway, the warm up walk was going fine, but then I started running at my happy 4.0 pace. I was less than a minute in when my calf – specifically, it felt like my soleus – started to hurt…bad. I stopped running and started walking, but even that was too much. Forlorn (and only a little over 8K steps into my daily goal of 10K or better), I got off the treadmill, went upstairs, wincing all the way, and did some research. I had myself convinced it was a cramp – like a charlie horse. Still, I iced it a while, just to be safe, elevated it and rested it. Being at my parents’ house, I didn’t have a way to compress it that I could think of. That night I also massaged Tiger Balm into it. The next morning, Friday, it was significantly better, although still a bit sore. It wasn’t sore to the touch, though, which is why I thought it was a cramp, and walking around actually helped it to feel better. I took it easy the rest of the day, aside from walking, and was rewarded by feeling even better on Saturday morning.
Are you hearing the ominous warning music? If this was a running horror flick you’d have been yelling, “DON’T DO IT!” at the screen as you watched me change into my running shoes that morning. Still, there I went, hopping onto the treadmill, doing a long walk (45 minutes while I watched an episode of “Once Upon A Time” on my tablet), then starting up my C25K, week 4, day 1. Oh, I was so happy. I ran that first three-minute stretch and felt strong, same with the next stretch of four minutes. Oh, sure, there was a little tightness in my calf, but I wasn’t worried. I just kept on with the plan. The discomfort got worse, but it wasn’t unbearable, so I finished out the whole routine. Afterward is when I thought, “Dang. I probably shouldn’t have done that.” Then, that evening, I noticed it. A slight swelling at the back of my calf. Well shit. I did Rest, Ice & Elevation & took an anti-inflammatory. This morning I did a little more research and when I read the description of a level 3 strain, I cried a bit. (I’m even more emotional since my dad’s passing, so no shock to me that I wept about this strain.) Giving it some thought, though, and having my nurse boyfriend look at it, we agree that it seems more likely that it’s a level 2 strain, which is still not good, but would likely not require surgery. I don’t love that I need to rest it for 6-8 weeks, but I love that WAY more than surgery and three months of recovery.
To be sure, I’m going to make an appointment with an orthopedist, but in the meantime, I’ve done the full RICE routine, asking the bf to wrap it for the Compression part and it is feeling better as I carefully walk around the house. I’ve also looked up cardio routines I can do without using my calf – mostly upper-body stuff I can do sitting on an exercise ball – so that I don’t lose all of my fitness by the time I’m ready to run again. I don’t love going to the doctor, but if I can get some good instructions for how to heal this properly and keep me running for a long time, it’ll be worth it.
Now, more than ever, since I can’t for a while,
Run on, y’all!